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.
Billy graham is a hindu, denier of truth absolute GOD and a traitor to American consti tution founded not on hinduism, corruption of truth absolute religion's, but truth absolute GOD, deserving not of any precognition as a person of nobility, but a hindu, criminal, anti America.
"Diests" mean's nothing else but believer of truth absolute as GOD, none other , founding fathers rejected hinduism, corruption of truth absolute, religion's and obeyed truth absolute GOD, and made truth absolute God, foundation of American consti tution. Period.
there is big time misunderstand of word Secular, Atheist Jew or hindu, self center ism by fundamentals of language, they are not noun's but an adjective, an act of a person in a given state, Human can never be in state of hinduism, denial of truth absolute in a permanent state. So to claim to be a hindu, Jew, Atheist or a secular in permanent state is hinduism, denial of truth absolute, Truth absolute is GOD, foundation of American consti tution and essence of existence for every one thing, and matter. As it is quoted by
America needs the divine wisdom of the genuine American Benjamin Franklin again.
Benjamin Franklin, the First American, about the faith (this is from his Autobiography which is even available online):
I had been religiously educated as a Presbyterian; and tho' some of the dogmas of that persuasion, such as the eternal decrees of God, election, reprobation, etc., appeared to me unintelligible, others doubtful, and I early absented myself from the public assemblies of the sect, Sunday being my studying day, I never was without some religious principles. I never doubted, for instance, the existence of the Deity; that he made the world, and govern'd it by his Providence; that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crime will be punished, and virtue rewarded, either here or hereafter. These I esteem'd the essentials of every religion; and, being to be found in all the religions we had in our country, I respected them all, tho' with different degrees of respect, as I found them more or less mix'd with other articles,
which, without any tendency to inspire, promote, or confirm morality, served principally to divide us, and make us unfriendly to one another. Fouding father's were perfectly right to reject hinduism, denial of truth absolute GOD, because religion's were created by hindu's, criminals by hinduism, corruption of truth absolute GOD.
To see what founding father's of America were in realization and reason they rejected religion's as part of American consti tution please visit, limitisthetruth.com. .
Benjamin Franklin was well known for often making some version of the statement "Libraries are more important (and useful) than churches......" In our time there is little doubt he'd be an atheist.
HEY, HOW'S YOUR MOM? SHE WAS WALKING PRETTY FUNNY LAST TIME I SAW HER. TELL HER REVERSE COWGIRL IS NEXT
Best of a hindu, ignorant, like his hindu, stupid god monkey.
WHAT'S THAT? DON'T THEY TEACH ENGLISH IN SCHOOL ANYMORE? I'M NOT GETTING YOU A MONKEY, STOP ASKING
It IS a cult.
This is an abominable disgrace! Mormons are NOT Christians.
How could Billy Graham turn his back on the true Christian candidate as well as the poor and the middleclass??!!! I believe he has either gone senile, and/or he was lied to and duped by Romney!
I wonder how much money Romney and the Republicans gave to Graham and his church to remove the Mormans from the cult list. Talk about buying your way to the White House....
So, Billy is compromising his beliefs now, so close to death?
Sooo. The pot decided to stop calling the kettle black.
Graham and son are racist hypocrites leading their own "cult" or herd of sheep.
Well the dems got their Mormon through the Chicago mob connections in Vegas. 'The house always wins!' Harry Reid.
people interested in the Mormon creation and ideology may want to read " Under the Banner of Heaven". I am sure Billy G read the book.
I couldn't agree more...very good book. All religion has a violent history though, some are more disturbing than others.
@david shoup, telling people to read that book to understand Mormons makes as much sense as telling people to go to the Westboro Baptist group to understand mainline Christianity.
@LinSea – LOL sounds about right. Congrats on recognizing it.
Not the "memory" guy David Shoup ?
I question Franklin Graham's Christianity! He strongly believes that Mr. Obama is Muslim. He is ignorant and I am very sorry that he has positioned himself to take over his father's ministry.
Wow. You believe him not to be a Christian because he personally believes that the President is a Muslim? Doesn't take much for you to judge someone does it.
How's this, I believe YOU not to be a Christian since you question HIS Christianity... Makes about as much sense, doesn't it.
Franklin is a Christian just as much as Willard is. Shame on you for being so judgmental.
I believe "Silent" should have remained so.
Haha, Silent just judged you for judging him for judging Obama...religion is so funny and full of odd thinking.
@Silent – well then to follow your logic, since Billy Graham did in fact publically imply he questioned Obama's Christian faith, then that would make Billy Graham NOT a Christian as well......
Franklin is a crazy birther asshole. Someone didn't raise that kid right.
The truth is, all religions are false, and for the same reason. Imagine three or four thousand years from now, after mankind rebuilds society due to some kind of world war, some scientists uncover the story of the three bears and translate it into their language. And they begin to believe the story is an actual account of something that happened thousands of years ago. How silly would they be? How silly are all you religious cult followers (that means all of you) who blindly believe what someone wrote thousands of years ago? Come on people! Do you really believe that some being (God), after creating Adam from the dust of the earth, then had to put him to sleep and take one of his ribs to make Eve? Are you kidding me? You are living in a dark dream world. Reality is so MUCH different than your fantasy.
They have to live in a fantasy world because reality will highlight their ignorance.
Secularists sure like to ridicule people of faith, thinking falsely that spiritual knowledge should be acquired the same way physical truth is: through the scientific method and reason alone. Nope, a witness of spiritual truths comes only after the leap of faith, as talked about in the scriptures. If secularists don't want to take the leap of faith themselves, that's their business. But, they should butt out of commenting on those who do. The ridicule is unnecessary. Thanks for listening.
Faith is not a virtue.
The willing cessation of rational inquiry is not a positive thing.
" One may bask at the warm fire of faith or choose to live in the bleak certainty of reason- but one cannot have both."
"leap of faith". You got that right. A leap indeed.
@EB–what do your co-wives think?
News flash to all you sanctimonious religious nuts: you do not have to believe in imaginary Gods living on other planets to be a good, kind, compaasionate and moral upstanding person. In fact, if you don't live in a make believe world, you are better equipped to be a good person.
I guess that's why we live in America – so we can practice religion as we choose, rather than huck rocks at each other.
It is great that Billy took Mormons off the "cult list," but why did he add "democrats?"
Billy Graham is senile and his son, much like his Dad, is a money hungry, power hungry hypocrite.
Beware those of you who call yourselves Christians!
If you become political first and Christian second, you will answer on judgement day!
What if I've never heard of Christ? What am I?
That sounds like something a cult leader would say. Just sayin.
I guess I'm still confused. My copy of the constîtution, in Article VI, Section 3 says, " no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.". And it seems like all the fundiot nutters here, Mormon and non Mormon, are under the impression this section has been repealed. You all seem fixated on who can "out Jesus" each other.
I don't live in a theocracy. I don't want any of your made-up gods making policy in my secular nation.
You fundiot nutters are every bit as dangerous as the Muslim fundiot nutters in the Middle East.
Yes, Christians, in their own way, are just as dangerous as the Muslims. But they will never accept it as a fact. They believe they are better then Muslims and all other religions. In fact, all religious people generally feel that their church is the right one. Sadly, NONE OF THEM ARE CORRECT. Gack!
How we politicize the Faith! Billy G. had a change of mind! Or did he get a vision!All these years he has been calling Mormonism a cult, then all of a sudden it is not a cult anymore? Make up you mind! Is it older and wiser? I don't think it is a cult. But Bill G, I wonder if he was inspired to place it on the list in the first place! In other words, who told him to list it as a cult.. and who told him to remove it from the list! I hope he doesn't God told him to!
3Threes prove to me anything i have said is false. Prove the book of mormon is a true story. Why are not the majority of American-Indians mormons ? Why can DNA prove American-Indians are not descended from anyone in the Middle East. American-Indians are descended from Asians coming across the Bering Strait from present day Russia. Why are Eskimos not mormon ? Please display your golden tablets that Joseph Smith received. I want to see and touch them. I want to see the 200 pound gold tablets needed to contain the fictional story of mormon. Why are your temples not open to the general public ? I can walk into a protestant or Catholic church, why not a mormon temple ? Why did mormons rebaptize holocaust victims until 2011 ? Why the change ? Why was Joseph Smith married to 14 year old besides 86 other women ? Explain ! Defend your cult if you can. Why have these square boats that crossed the Atlantic bringing the 13 tribe of Israel never been found in an archaeological dig ? Why did Spanish, English, and French New World discoverers not find crosses among the American Indians ??? Explain!!!! Show me my error .
Although there seems to be negative aspects about Mormonism, I don't like the word "cult" because it to me it has a demonically negative conotation but it's not a religion either. If you check the dictionary, (in my case Microsoft Word), "cult' does have some synonomous terms that I would agree with so maybe "cult" is OK. What do we call the Amish?
"What do we call the Amish?"
ho here? anything you like, its not as if they are going to read it.
Attention Mr. Graham. Your ministry is a cult as well.
"I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."
...Stephen F Roberts
it is all cults
Franklin is steering his elderly father to take actions that will serve to enhance Franklin's rep (i.e., visits to the White House if Romney is elected). Billy just isn't "Billy" anymore, and Franklin never will be.
This is the best post. You are so right. Billy G. is too old to control his son.
Graham is an expert on cults, since he personally belongs to one.
graham should be ashamed. the mormon church is the definition of a cult. makes you think what is driving these so called ministers to all of a sudden change their stance on this cult. John 3:16.....for GOD so loved the world he gave his ONLY begotten son....joel and billy. ONLY
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.