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Billy Graham site removes Mormon 'cult' reference after Romney meeting
Mitt Romney meets Thursday with the Rev. Billy Graham and his son Franklin Graham.
October 16th, 2012
02:53 PM ET

Billy Graham site removes Mormon 'cult' reference after Romney meeting

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.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Billy Graham • Christianity

soundoff (4,065 Responses)
  1. palintwit

    Honey Boo Boo = typical southern inbred teabagger trailer trash.

    October 17, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  2. Heavenonearth

    Poof ! the cult status is gone. Just like that. What a quackery.

    October 17, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  3. Earl Lee Jones

    I don't care if they remove it from their website, the Momorns are still a cult to me. Rev. Billy Graham is no one to tell us how to vote. I'm for President Obama. Four more years......

    October 17, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  4. Petra

    Norman is a cult!! Romney the anti-Christ! Billy Graham and old fool-he will have to deal with his maker. Money and politics certainly makes for strange "bed fellows"!
    No way on this earth Mitt Romney is going to get my vote or the votes of my family and friends!
    We can see right through his flip flopping, attempting to tell certain type of people what he think they want to hear. A president-hell no! Romney need to go back to sending his money to Swiss and Caman Islands account and outsourcing his private jobs to business outside the United States. Open your mind and look back at Romney own words and she what a wishey washey person he is-absolutely no character. Therefore, no worthy to govern this great United States of America!!

    October 17, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  5. Cheri Trilian

    I find it interesting that Billy Graham refers to religious "cults" as those not following mainstream doctrine. Doesn't the Bible teach that following the crowd or the popular path is the "road leading off into destruction." The bottom line is this: If Graham truly believed that the Mormons were a cult what changed his mind? Meeting with a wealthy influential Presidential candidate? Either Graham has been wrong all along, or, he is now willing to acquiesce his politically-reigiously correct views for the sake of what is now popular or in vogue!

    October 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  6. Bob

    If Romney was Catholic the Mormons would still be a CULT!!

    October 17, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  7. Chiniquy

    We have been worrying about a Muslim takeover of America whle the Mormons have been quietly moving into positions of financial and political power all over America for the past 100 years.

    October 17, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  8. Think for yourself

    So how is it that Billy Graham is the authority on which organzied religion is a cult, and which isn't? How is it that a casual meeting between himself and Romney can determine what millions of people deem a religion and a cult?

    October 17, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  9. STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

    Human Billy, slick Willy, Graham, denier of truth absolute mor'mon ALLAH, king's of skunk, remove "cu'lt" from filthy mind, not website, goon.

    October 17, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  10. BrightStar

    Billy Graham, the senile, old fool sitting on his mountain top while his son pulls the strings and demands money from Romney!

    October 17, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  11. Just call me Lucifer

    As long as I get my "tribute" money from my two most favorite deciples, Romney will become the anti-christ and Billy Graham gets to live another 80 years. Trust me... I'm the devil.

    October 17, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Jimbo

      Brilliant. Mick Jagger couldn't have said it better.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  12. BrightStar

    BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE
    BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE
    BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE
    BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE, BRIBE

    October 17, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • hal 9001

      Good afternoon, BrightStar. I noticed an irregularity in your post. Some of the subscribers to my data banks, especially those from IX, are asking that you "share with us".

      October 17, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  13. zanzabar

    from wikipedia

    The LDS Church is renowned for 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.

    October 17, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • BrightStar

      They're trying to buy more souls.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Chiniquy

      So because they are charitable, it means that they are not a wacky cult?

      October 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      Yeah.... ummm.... I wrote that. Sounds like believable BS, doesn't it? All of you religious zealots... I will lay your souls to waste. Its just my job... I work for Jesus.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • sam stone

      "You can call me Lucifer, if you think you should...."

      October 17, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  14. BrightStar

    Money solves all problems especially where religion is concerned!

    October 17, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Peter

      "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."

      One visit. Just like that. Astonishing!

      Mitt had his checkbook out maybe?

      October 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  15. Just call me Lucifer

    How much did Romney pay the ancient charlatan to take the "cult" status of mormonism off of "gods main man"'s website?

    One meeeellion dollars! I should know... I'm Dr. Evil.

    October 17, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  16. BrightStar

    How big was Romney's bribe?

    October 17, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  17. niknak

    Funny how the fundies all stick together when they want something.
    All religions are a creepy joke foisted upon the masses for financial and political gain.
    This creepy man is the pinnacle of that ponzi scheem. The pope being the ultimate scammer.
    Save your mind by freeing youself from religion.....

    October 17, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  18. JeremyJK

    Another example of evangelicals warming up to the conservative party for the sole purpose of power. Evangelicals are surrendering orthodoxy for political gains. What happened to their outcries against mormonism before Romney was the only conservative with a shot. Now all the Rick Perry's, John Hagees, Grahams, etc have fallen silent on the issue because they value the kingdom of this world over the kingdom of our God. Go figure,

    October 17, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • SAM

      Gee, CNN, I thought you would have gotten your kicks from this MISLEADING HEADLINE yesterday! People, please read the article and note that they are STILL CONSIDERED A CULT TO THE BGEA. They just don't want to enter a theological debate during this election while the mormons have become so politicized.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • sam stone

      don't forget "frothy mix" santorum

      October 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  19. BrightStar

    How big was the Romney bribe?

    October 17, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  20. Nazgul

    Wow! It's like Lord of the Rings all over again! Grimma Wormtongue –> Franklin Graham, possesed King Theoden –> Billy Graham, Saruman –> Mitt Romney, Sauron –> the GOP!

    October 17, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Raevyn

      *Best * Comment * Ever*

      October 17, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Who plays the Hobbits trying to toss the Golden Plates into Mt. Doom?

      October 17, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
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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.