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."
Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter
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."
CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories
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.
Mormonism is only a cult religion. They have stolen many elements of their faith from mainstream protestantism and catholicism and freemasonry. It is proven that Jesus Christ did not preach to the American-Indians. It is proven that the 13 tribe of Israel if it existed did not come to the new World in giant wooden boats. It is proven that the book of mormon is fiction. If their were golden tablets display them now and let scholars study them. It is proven Joseph Smith's translation of Egyptian papyrus was false. It is historical fact that Joseph Smith was a murder, rapist and bank fraudster. It is proven Brigham Young massacred non-mormons in Utah, was a rapist, and sympathized with the Confederacy. The Mormon cult has flip flopped in 1890, 1978 and 2011. Mark Twain called the book of mormon chloroform in print and wrote about the polygamist and rapist Brigham Young. Mormon temples are not open to the general public. What are they hiding ??? I can walk into the Vatican. Mormons need to prove that Jesus Christ was a polygamist. Mornons needs to prove there is a planet kolob. Mormons need to prove alcohol and caffeine are evil. Where in the bible does it say Joseph Smith will stand at the right hand of God to judge anyone ???? Where in Jackson County, Missouri is the garden of Eden ? Prove your faith and don't tell me it is an act of faith to believe. Where in the bible does it say the leaders of the church are 12 so-called prophets and that they must live in Salt Lake City, Utah ? Where is Nauvoo and Salt Lake City mentioned in the bible ? Don't even mention the fictional work book of mormon. Chloroform in print.
@ John the Historian, is a load of lies and opinion, and says more about you, than anything else.
I disagree. Mormonism is a religion, not a cult. It may be a religion that you find disgusting, but they are a religion.
Definition of cult can be twisted depending on who you talk to, but generally if a "religion" believes in a god or gods, it is a religion. If it reveres a person or aliens (Scientology) or something besides a god, it is a cult.
There are religions that behave badly, ostracize former members, brainwash, etc., just as there are cults who do the same. The litmus test is do they believe in god(s).
It is proven that Jesus Christ did not preach to the American-Indians.
Yes. And, this is why christianity can't be the "1 and only way" to God. American Indians were creations of God, just like the middle-easterners who had contact with Christ.
The Mormons that truely practice their religion are good citizens. They believe in Community Service, they believe in obeying the law of the land. They do not smoke. They do not drink alcohol. They truely believe that each of us are brothers and sisters. In my book, Mormons show us how to "Come Unto Christ". They teach of Christ, they believe in Christ, they testify of Christ. Thank Goodness for the Mormons!
"If it reveres a person or aliens (Scientology) or something besides a god, it is a cult."
Then christianity is a cult. It worships the person called jesus christ, and evelated him to the level of god.
Not smoking and not drinking do not equate to "being a good person."
"The Mormons that truely practice their religion are good citizens. They believe in Community Service, they believe in obeying the law of the land. They do not smoke." So do the Jehovahs Witnesses Mike, do you believe them to be a cult? If so then what critera are you using? What about the Baha'i faith? Or Scientology? All of the members claim to be living moral lives being good citizens and believe in community service and obeying Ceasars laws.
If you look at Mormons as a member and say "Nah, we arent a cult because I wouldnt be a part of a cult and everyone here is so nice!" Then you are repeating exactly what the members of Jones town did as they happily headed down to their commune, but a little while later they were wondering how they got there as they were forced to drink the poisoned cool-aid.
"Then christianity is a cult. It worships the person called jesus christ, and evelated him to the level of god." Yup.
How this, judge each religion by their merits and what they produce. That is how you will know the truth of them.
As for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; they are honest hard working, none of their "clergy" are paid, NONE. How many Baptist and Evangelicals can say that?
They love Christ, they hold and keep the Family unit as paramount in their lives. The LDS Church is renowned for its charity and its ability to organize its members in various regions of the world to respond to emergency and facilitate distributing goods immediately after a crisis, often before aid programs such as the Red Cross or the Salvation Army come to assist. In 2008, the LDS Church responded to 124 disasters in 48 countries. It members are good citizens, and are encouraged to sever one another in any capacity they can.
Does anyone have a calendar handy? Am I mistaken or are we in the 21st century??
With all due respect and like or not, there was One Church founded more than 2000 years ago. It's called the Roman Catholic Church. Many of all of the rest now born of human foundations are either cults and the others are sects. Here in the US they use a fancy term – "denominations" but sects they all are in reality...
And Catholic priests are, in reality, pedophiles - where does that fit into your original Roman Catholic Church?
With all due respect, whether you like it or not, you have no authority to claim to know the mind of god
donna: i think it has to do with c-o-m-i-n-g in the name of the lord "oh, geezus, oh g-g-god!"
Right form the LDS website, Members of the church of Jesus Christ ARE Christian?
We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.
We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
did they also mention how they believe in casting off non believers and having family members treat nonbelivers as though they don't exist, which results in suicides from some every year?
Why don't you just say it? Mormons will believe anything their "living prophet" tells them to believe! Doesn't have to make sense or have any foundation in logic!
If the choice is between Truth or Logic. Truth, always Truth now and forever.
cheezburger, I don't know anyone in the church who 'casts off' family members. I do, however, know a number of people who joined the church and their families cast them off.
And the WORST part of this cult is that Cheezeburger is right - they ABSOLUTELY WILL DISOWN any family member who leaves the Church - Mormons are really good at excluding "non-members" and the church teaches them to abandon anyone who isn't "active." They then turn right around and swear to God that they don't do that! Liars! And it cracks me up to hear the numbers of members the Church says it has - once a Mormon, always a Mormon and they include people who don't believe the hogwash and leave "the church" on their growing member list - they never remove anybody - and they baptize members at EIGHT YEARS OLD and non-members AFTER THEY DIE - that's how their numbers keep climbing! Well, that and brainwashing! This church is American's Taliban!
And they'll lie through their teeth, denying that they perform those posthumous baptisms.
Not too long ago, they were busted baptizing dead jews – something they SWORE they'd never ever do again.
Until, of course, they get caught again.
People of all faiths get upset when their children/parents/siblings leave their religion. I know a girl in high school that was Catholic, and changed religions. Her dad wouldn't talk to her for a year. Ironic, because her mom converted to Catholicism in her 20's to marry her dad in the Catholic church. Bottom line: Believers of any religion "mourn" over a "lost" soul. Some Muslims will kill their own family for leaving. Many Orthodox Jews will absolutely disown their child if he/she marries a Christian. Bottom line: This is a HUMAN issue, not a Mormon issue (or Catholic issue, etc.).
btw, the Mormon belief system includes the concept of "Lying for Christ" and explicitly condones lying when it's believed to further their mission. 3threes and LinSea are fine examples of this.
then you need to do some research. i know your church doesn't want you looking at ex-mormon websites and such, but there are definitely people who are stuck as mormons because you guys DO FOR A FACT shun family members when they leave.
seriously, a quick google search proves this to be true. better yet, seeking out those shunned ones would provide deteailed examples of how destructive your cult is
You're brainwashed . . . period!
If that is brainwashing, then please brain wash me! If those principles help them closer to God through Jesus Christ then so be it! At least the list of their beliefs show their real intent of "Coming Unto Christ".
Sounds like you are already brainwashed! Keep believing the fairy tale and I'll keep bashing that divisive "church."
My brain has been washed so many times, I can't remember which side is right. Can you both remind me?
This is a major cop out. If you have ever been to Temple Square in St. Lake City, UT, you saw for yourself how cultish this religion truly is. Hundreds of brainwashed zombies running around telling the history of the church that they want you to know. Ask a question they don't want to answer and watch the coverup and evasion come forth. Mormonism was created by some letcherous old men who wanted multiple s-x partners at a time when it was not accepted by the vast makority of the community.Read their "bible" and see how far you have to reach out into fantasy land to buy this BS. Anyone who buys this BS has some very big mental problems. But, this is true for all religions.
But they are a cult, its spitting in the face of the true God.
They are spitting in the face of Thor?
of course, you know the TRUE god, right?
Many of you guys want to tell Jesus whom he can save, but Jesus was given dominion over all mankind and He can save whomever He wants to save.... even a Mormon!
Many people tell Spidernan who he can save as well but he will save who he damn well pleases.
Hold on! Wait one second. The Baptist Minister says the Mormons are going to hell. The Seventh Day Adventist Minister says the Catholics are going to hell. So, you're saying that Jesus makes the decision who gets saved, not the minister?
I think you're right. It turns out salvation is between a man (or woman) and God. (Don't tell your pastors at church. Let's keep them thinking they're more important than they really are.)
If you previous assertions contradict with your current biases, change your previous assertions to aid in validating your current biases. If Obama were the Mormon and Romney were just part of another Protestant demomination....Mormonism would still be a cult on that web site. I'll bet my treasures in Heaven on that. Speaking of which, why do we even suggest there are "treasures in heaven"? Is someone going to have more treasures than me or something? And why would I need treasures when I'm already in heaven. In fact what the hell do I need "mansions in heaven" for?
Wonder how much Willard "donated" to that racketeer Graham. Want to know what the mormons really are? Read "A Gathering of Saints" by Robert Lindsey. That's the truth about Willard’s religious heritage/ Do we really want that in the White House???
Anon, you're brainwashed!
Interesting how it was religious people who manipulated the execution of Jesus.
Seriously, were there really that many non-religious people with influence back then?
I'm just glad to see that Graham still puts money ahead of God; I appreciate the consistency.
Very sad, Partisan Party Politics over God.
"A cult is any group which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from the biblical message of the Christian faith". Mormons believe that Jesus is a created being and the brother of Satan. Yeah Billy, that sounds like mainstream Christianity to me ! That is what John 1:1 is saying, right Billy?
YOU SHOULD BE VERY ASHAMED BILLY GRAHAM!
Cult, not a cult, who cares? A deeper question would be is it false teaching in the eyes of God? And that includes any religious group. When you take a groups doctrines, beliefs, creeds, catechisms, etc and check them against the Bible do they match? Do they fit the context of the Scriptures or does the group use the Bible like a buffet line and pick and choose whatever they want to believe.
Check the Bible and you will probably find out that what Romney and Graham believe cannot totally be found in the Scriptures.
I may not get back to this site so, if you have questions or comments, I would appreciate you email me at email@example.com
The only eyes that comic book superheroes have, are the ones drawn by the illustrators.
it matters because mitt is a part of the leadership and the leadership is a bunch of manipulative liars. go see what kind of destruction these people cause on innocent people who are earnestly seeking for some sort of truth.a browse on any ex-mormon forum would shock, sadden and anger you
"Mormons consider themselves to be strong Christians. Many traditional Christian denominations disagree"
We Mormons also consider that Jesus Christ is the definition of traditional/orthodox/historical Christianity. Because we believe that ours is his original Church that he restored in these days, we also believe that we are the traditional Christians.
Billy looks like he believes he should be somewhere else.
Self-righteousness is a requirement for being Mormon! Way to go - you qualify!
As is often the case, there is a huge gap between what you perceive yourself to be vs. what others know you are.
Religion is all about MONEY and this is a perfect example of why I don't trust religious people for a second - they'll do anything for tax exempt dollars, including lying, cheating, stealing and espousing the beliefs of a warped organization like the Mormon Church! Wow Billy-Bob Graham - if your Bible is true, how do you justify this "turn" in your religious beliefs?
They will do anything for a buck and power. People are so gullible.
anyone who doesn't think this is a cult has never talked to an ex-mormon whose family has completely cast them off andwhose community treats them as though they no longer exist because they decided they no longer believed in the planet kolob.
this is a cult. it is dangerous and destructive. there's much more to their culture than goofy looking mormons in ill fitting clothes riding around your neighborhood
They are all cults. Dangerous and destructive.
that i wouldn't argue with, but there is a pretty big difference between adventist groups like jehovah's witnesses and mormons, as opposed to catholics, baptists, etc.
mormons and jehovah's witnesses (both sprang up from the millerite movement, joseph smith for the mormons and charles taze russell whom the jws are in the process of trying to scrub from their past right now) actively practice cutting off family members who no longer believe. what's really sad is how destructive that practice is. there are a number of people who committed suicide because of this. there are people who remain trapped in these particular cults because they are afraid to lose their wives, children, parents, siblings, etc. they don't want to lose their friends and the only community they really know.
i don't like religion at all, but don't care what anyone else believes, but this is where i draw the line. they're every bit as manipulative as heaven's gate
can you not read?
I am a Mormon and I can say that we definitely do not cast off people and refuse to associate with them. If there are people who do this it is there own decision and NOT something promoted by our church. We are taught to love everyone. People who choose to leave our church are usually the ones who refuse to associate with us. We are still encouraged to invite them to our activities, into our homes, let our kids play with their's, have them over for Christmas parties etc. The truth is when you decide you don't believe in something anymore and leave an organized group you(the person who no longer believes) become uncomfortable being around people who Do believe. And yes we do believe in Jesus Christ and the bible. We believe in the Jesus Christ before the Nicene creed went and changed and warped the true view of him. We believe that God doesn't just give revelation to one group of people thousands of years ago and then leave us all alone. He continues to give revelation and that is why there is a prophet today. It doesn't make sense to think that there were only prophets back then. In today's age we have a great need for righteous guidance just as they did during Moses' and Noah's time. I love our kind wise prophet today. look us up on Mormon.com
Yes, I can read . . . posted "brainwashed" under the wrong comment! So sorry!
Megan, Explain to us who is the "Jesus Christ" you Mormons believe in? Is he a created being and the brother of Satan?
Just tell me why don't you Mormons explain your Jesus Christ to us?
When I decided I didn't want to be a Jehovah's Witness anymore, my family didn't cut me off. It was when I decided that I wanted to be one that my father who is not one, cut off communication with me.
Heh look! Franklin's left hand is cropped out! No wait! I see what looks like a check! Well looky there, I can just make out the amount and it's for 10 million dollars! So that's what Franklin's big ear to ear smile is all about! Go figure!
I'm a Mormon. I have my faith. I believe in God the Eternal Father, and in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I believe that it is only through his grace and atonement that I may be saved. My religion helps me greatly in life, and I am grateful for it. It's funny how many people belittle me and hate me for it, but meh, I'm used to it. I live a good life, I am kind to my fellow men, and I respect others. I've never attacked someone else's religion because I know how that feels. But people can call me a cult member all day long, but I'm going to keep living my life and God will be my judge, and I am perfectly okay with that. Peace people!
your community shuns people who decide to leave. i'm sorry, but you're in a cult.
Snooze. You must be a very weak individual if you can't be a good person on your own accord.
I believe in Superman, Batman, Captain America and the Avengers. They will collectively mop the floor with your comic book superheroes.
Characteristics of Religions and Cults are arguably interchangeable. The only difference that can generally stand up to set the two apart is that religions believe in a god or gods, whereas cults worship a person or people.
This puts Mormons in the religion category. It also puts Scientology in the cult category.
I think sometimes many people's definition of a "cult" is simply a religion they don't agree with.
Now as to whether Mormons are "Christian" or not is a more difficult debate. But by definition, Mormonism is not a cult. It's a religion.
Answer me this!!! Do you believe that Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior is the spiritual brother of satan? Why do you believe that? Jesus Christ is the SON OF The LIVING GOD!!!!! satan is a created being, don't be fooled mormonism is a cult!!!!! and that is one of their beliefs. Check me on this!!!!
@Anon, i am right there with you. couldn't have said it better myself.
@ everyone else. why do you care so much what we believe?
Read the simple hate that was created by someone expressing their testimony. How or what makes anyone think that the petty words of people filled with this material (for lack of better words) would ever be able to destroy the testimony of this person. Good luck, the only reason that all of the negative speech about religion is because it is shoved down everyone's throat and no matter what is said petty people will try to contradict it. See the evidence, if not, read above again.
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.