By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) - Shortly after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney enjoyed cookies and soft drinks with the Rev. Billy Graham and his son Franklin Graham on Thursday at the elder Graham's mountaintop retreat, a reference to Mormonism as a cult was scrubbed from the website of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
In a section of the website called Billy Graham's My Answer there had been the question "What is a cult?"
Answer: "A cult is any group which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from the biblical message of the Christian faith."
"Some of these groups are Jehovah's Witnesess, Mormons, the Unification Church, Unitarians, Spritualists, Scientologists, and others," the site continued.
No longer. On Tuesday, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association confirmed that page has recently been removed from the site.
“Our primary focus at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has always been promoting the Gospel of Jesus Christ," Ken Barun, chief of staff for the association, told CNN in a statement. "We removed the information from the website because we do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has become politicized during this campaign."
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Romney is a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, members of which are known as Mormons.
The information about cults can be found on cached sections of the website on Archive.org from June 5, 2010.
The theological question of where Mormons fit on the religious spectrum has drawn more attention because of Romney's candidacy. Mormons consider themselves to be strong Christians. Many traditional Christian denominations disagree, though rank-and-file members have their own views on the matter.
The removal of the post from the Graham group's website was first noted by the New Civil Rights Movement website and then later by the Asheville Citizen-Times, which reported that the information on cults was accessed as recently as Thursday afternoon.
Last week's meeting between Romney and Graham was their first.
After the 30 minute sit-down in Montreat, North Carolina, just outside Asheville, Romney campaign spokesman Rick Gorka told reporters that Billy Graham led a prayer for the Romneys, saying "I'll do all I can to help you. And you can quote me on that."
The evangelist who has been called America's pastor and has prayed with every American president since Harry Truman said in a statement following the meeting that "It was a privilege to pray with Gov. Romney — for his family and our country."
Graham met with President Barack Obama in 2010 and with Sen. John McCain when he was the presumptive Republican presidential nominee in 2008.
"I will turn 94 the day after the upcoming election, and I believe America is at a crossroads," Graham's statement continued. "I hope millions of Americans will join me in praying for our nation and to vote for candidates who will support the biblical definition of marriage, protect the sanctity of life and defend our religious freedoms."
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When asked about Graham's beliefs about Mormonism, Graham spokesman A. Larry Ross said in a statement that "Through an inclusive evangelistic ministry spanning more than 60 years, Mr. Graham was called to preach the transformative message of the Gospel to the whole world, regardless of one’s religious background, affiliation or none. As such, he never proselytized, targeted or labeled specific people, groups, faiths or denominations.
"Neither did Mr. Graham attempt to divide his audience before he had opportunity to preach to them. He has a genuine love for all people, and faithfully proclaimed the love of God to everyone, providing opportunity for them to respond by making a faith commitment.
"Mr. Graham’s calling is not to pass judgment, but to proclaim the biblical truth that Jesus is the only way to heaven, allowing every individual and group to fall along that plumb line," the statement went on.
"He further stressed that salvation is the work of Almighty God, and that only He knows what is in each human heart," the statement said.
The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest Protestant denomination, lists the LDS Church as a theological cult. The Catholic Church also does not recognize Mormon baptisms as being theologically compatible with its own.
The LDS Church has long bristled at being called a cult. Mormons note the many similarities and overlap between their teachings and that of other churches but point to their belief in other scriptures like the Book of Mormon as the reason they split with other churches.
In the 2012 campaign Romney has been generally quiet about his church, though his role as a lay church leader was prominently featured in the Republican National Convention, and his campaign has allowed members of the press pool accompanying Romney to film him attending services.
I will fully endorse the comments of the pastor's posting earlier in this board.
Compromise his religious beliefs just to suit his political beliefs. I AS A PREACHER, PASTOR/TEACHER. LET ME BE VERY CLEAR THERE'RE MANY OF OUR LEADERS IN THE BODY OF CHRIST WILL SIN. MANY WILL CLOSE THEIR EYES TO THIS FALSE CULT – JUST FOR THE SAKE OF VOTING Republican.
Anyone that puts politics above their true Christian belief is NOT a Christian. You ether believe in Christ as a savior or not. No middle ground cultism or mormonism. It is one thing to say that, in politics, I do not care about his religion, but it is totally different to attempt to mislead Christians by hiding the fact that Mormons are not Christians. The end does not justify the means.
John, it sounds like you think what someone's personal religious beliefs are should have a bearing on if they can be elected or appointed to public office. Is that correct?
i expect nothing less from the religious community.
'...transformative message of the gospel...' what? it is the everlasting word of God. nothing transformative about the gospel. that is a manipulation of man.
Except that the gospels were chosen and edited by man. So you can believe god gave man some scripture, but if you actually trust that man made edits that were pure and god-driven, then you might as well believe that all politicians and people in power (which is what they were) are pure of heart as well.
I think that phrase refers to the supposed power of the Gospel to transform the reader, not that the Gospels transform.
thank you MEII... that makes sense to me now. God bless you.
To Mark H:
RE your statement: Learn more about Christianity VS Mormanism.
The answer to you is that some of us have. Our despute is due to the mission Graham' website and career claims to follow, and what is happening now and how that is contradictory. It might behoove you to find out about both faiths instead of telling us, who have made an informed decision by studying both religious books, to do so. Believe it or not, there are some comments on these blogs from those who try to thoughtfully consider all sides to an issue before expressing themselves in any manner. The Christians who know the Bible take Billy Graham's turn-about as a cop-out, a sell-out, and as tryhing-to-blind us to the reality of the Mormon church's distortions of Christ's teachings. It won't work. He has damaged his career by doing this and he has given Christian Republicans more to think about now, and not favorably towards Mitt Romney.
Lol. Mormonism is a cult, built atop Christianity, another cult, built atop the rehashed fable that resulted in the OT.
Billy Graham IS compermizing the gospel for self gain it is A LIE Mormonism is a cult it is taught in all chistian bible colleges these are the last days. Billy will answer to THE ALL MIGHT GOD FOR THIS LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLIE
A man definitely change and evolve in his conscious thoughts and spirituality. I see no problem with this, but he is a hypocrite for also not taking down the "cult term", to the other religious beliefs on their website.
Now to address all of you unbelievers for attacking religion. You are correct, in that many of different beliefs have started wars over the foolishness of doctrine. This goes to show that man has a hard time changing his ego, and rigidness. It's so easy for so called spiritual leaders to gather the weak flock, and lead them astray. I say if you truly believe in spiritual self, then start by looking inward. The creator will definitely reveal spiritual truths to you when you knock on his door. There is no right wrong religion if it leads you to first acknowledge a CREATOR.
When I was a boy in the Mormon Church we would sing "We Thank Thy Oh God For a Prophet. Later it became "We Thank Thy Oh God For A Profit". Mitt is the perfect Mormon,
The Prophet Moroni: it's the profit moron.
i moron, moroni was an angel, oops.
The link below shows what Romney really believes. This is the man people want running the country....really?
Dude, if you are going to mock the song, try to remember it's actual name first.
Just playing politics and playing with terminology-whatever... all is vanity. So, "a cult is any group which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from the biblical message of the Christian faith." But what is the Christian faith? What is a Christian? Neither term or its concept is found in any unadulterated Scriptures. Christianity is what you get when pagans hijack sacred writings and then pretend that they were written about them. I am so grateful that I am not a pagan "christ"-follower.
One man's cult is another man's religion. Everyone's religion looks like a cult from the outside.
So money can change religion? Like we can pay people to believe differently? Here's 20 bucks from now on your a Mormon. For shame!
Money, politics, religion. All are truly interchangeable. They are each just an expression of power.
Look at those sad little sheep. Any wonder how blacks were enslaved? They are buying this white mans BS hook line and sinker.
the religion of political expediency.
And in other news, the majority of the world's population continues to recognizeChristianity as a cult.
And in other news, a minority of the world's population continues to recognize that all of the worlds religions have only their own interests at heart, not mankinds, and use lie's and deciept to rob humans of their hard earned wealth.
When is the mental illness (religious belief) going to lose its socially acceptible status?
A lot of stuff people do in the name of religion would get them locked up or commited in a sane society....
It took a long time for an equally gullible population of sheep to finally accept that the Earth is not flat.
You got to stand for something, or you'll fall for anything.
so long as they don't fool you into standing for a religion.
BTW, this paraphrases a quotation from Gordon B. Hinckley, an earlier prophet of the LDS Church.
This is ridiculous. Unbelievable that the Graham family has been persuaded against their core beliefs about the Mormon religion. They have just tossed aside something they have been preaching for many decades. I wonder what it took to change them from their long, firm held beliefs. Any anonymous large donations to the BGEA recently? Just asking, since the Billy Graham that I grew up knowing has always viewed Mormonism as a cult. This is a real stunner to me! ~Jojo
i'm sure it isn't the first time.
This is the best way for me to explain how all religions are cults
well u will learn the hard way when you pass away and you end up in hell!!! PRAISE THE LORD!!!!
All religions are cults.
btw this isn't Billy's doing – he's totally senile now. Like Depends senile. Reminded to chew senile. It's the work of his odious son Franklin who controls his ministry empire. Not that Billy wouldn't have done the same thing, but give credit where it's due.
You might be right about the odious Franklin's influence... but just btw, urinary tract problems do not signify senility. I'm sure that they are pesky & uncomfortable, though.
Notice in the photo where Graham is staring? It's not at Mitt's slimy smirking face, it's off in the distance, likely looking back over his long history with religion and asking himself "Where did I put my keys?..."
In that picture it looks like Billy is putting his depends to the test!
Never mind my post... I re-read yours and see what you meant about the diaper deal.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.