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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. Stephiehgirl

    He didnt roll or change his mind read the whole article before you make judgement

    “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."

    October 17, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • ;p;

      Uh huh

      It's like saying "We put away all the swastika throw pillows before the jew neighbors came over for tea."

      The BS is all still there, just tucked away until later.

      October 17, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • ;p;

      Aw shit did I just pull a Godwin up in here? Or does it have to be mention of Hitler

      Aw shit I mentioned Hitler!

      October 17, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @;p;

      LOL ! Well done. :D

      Peace...

      October 17, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • BrightStar

      Interesting since your organization was not compelled to do this in the past.

      October 17, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  2. bob

    What an unbelievable coincidence, perhaps a miracle. Maybe the reverend (small letter intended) will now tell us how he harbors no ill feelings toward the Jewish population.

    October 17, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • weiwei

      Thay should know jesus is jewish, don't they? but they have this image that jesus is like them or they are like jesus.ever notice their jesus has blue eyes and totally blond like them? They make him that way otherwise jesus would be worse than cults.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  3. Thepacific

    They are all cults. The inbred do look alike.

    October 17, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  4. Arlene

    Wow!!! I can't believe how cruel some of you are being!! Billy Graham has given his life serving and loving people (all people). We live in this amazing country and have the freedom to believe what we wish to believe. Do I agree with everything Mormons believe, no I don't. But what I've seen and researched about the Romney it shows that he is a good husband, a good father, a good business man, and a good governor. This tells me he is a good man and make a good president. And I am sure Billy Graham with all his years of wisdom can see all this.

    October 17, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • youdreamer

      You are dreaming. It is laughable to think that Billy loves all people. He hates gays. He hates them so much that he even would quickly change the mormon cult status because they all also believe gays are not as human and worth as they are. To them gays are worse than cults. And I am not even gay. As long as people think others are not as worthy as they are, religion/beliefs are all cults. Cookies + milk = no cult ! Hmmmm.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • ;p;

      Don't clutch your pearls too hard, they might break

      October 17, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • sam stone

      Did you not hear Billy Boy's tapes with Nixon? What he has done is spent his life building a ministry, and donations

      October 17, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • sam stone

      billy sees mitt's election as a way to stick it to those who do not agree with him. nothing more

      October 17, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  5. Yvonne

    I believe the truth of the word of God cannot be changed over a meeting with Gov. Romney and the Graham's. Christians, and non Christians have always been taught that the LDS church are a cult. Mormon's have two bibles, they pray for the dead so they can enter heaven. At the time of death a believer will be present with the Lord, we are not floating in space waithing for someone to pray us in. The Mormon faith is a cult, and that is a fact. Billy Graham has changed his teaching that he has personally believed and preached for years. The Lord informs His children, and all believers to always question everyone concerning your beliefs. Never put our faith and beliefs on what man believes, and teaches. Man is not God, they do follow their own agenda, and make mistakes... "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever! HEBREWS 13:8
    Mr. Graham it seems you are retracting your beliefs to influence Christians to be swayed towards the Romney ticket. Please never mix politics with religion...who is next to influence sociiety that the Bible is wrong.

    October 17, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • iamone

      one credit to the one who wants to be president- now he boast that he manage to get billy to change mormon cult to cult no more..just promoted to sainthood. insane all around – mentally scary.

      October 17, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Lucy

      You need to look up the word fact. A. Mormons dont pray to dead and float randomly in space. What sci-fi cover magazine did you read that off. You are also probably one of those people that believe everything they see in Stars. Wow. Get your facts straight people. Mormons believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy spirit. They do not "worship" Joseph Smith, but recognize him as a current day prophet. Just as all the prophets in the bible were men/mortals, Joseph Smith was a latter day prophet who received revelation. If you believe in the Bible and that God would offer revelation to Moses, John, Abraham... why not now? Why not in our day in age. It's all about faith. I suggest you pray and ask for your own answer instead of assuming that God loving people are all cult members. You need to stop drinking the Kool-Aid

      October 17, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  6. Packman 101

    I guess that it just proves that one good flip flopper deserves another!

    October 17, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  7. Greg Hamman

    Oh, Billy Graham's a hypocrite? Who would have guessed...

    October 17, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  8. Theen Allah Fat Mullah (the original hinduism source.....)

    there are unconfirmed report that Romney pulled a gun during his meeting and said "either remove cult from your website or your brain would be on the diner table of my people"

    October 17, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism

      Audacity using name more longer. not original. stink pagan of highest. allah spits to you. pagan dog. NO DOGS. not islam. stink you, pagan Mel Gibson.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  9. Interloper

    A great sadness in my life is that for years I contributed monthly to the Billy Graham Crusade. Over time I began to recognize the hypocrisy and this article only confirms it.

    October 17, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • sam stone

      well, with any luck, you got a tax deduction out of it

      October 17, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • camo

      Don't worry. I am one who donated too. The sad thing is all those who still believe in a cult like this that Billy is. He likes to think he is a saint though.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  10. dinaanid

    Just ONE question for Romney: Do you think the earth is 6,000 years old?

    October 17, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Romney

      You pipe down and get home in time to cook dinner, or I'll put you in a binder.

      October 17, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  11. fibergirl

    Doesnt it bother mormons all over america than their bishop has been caught lying on national tv more times than one could count and his veep is a pathological compulsive liar. The fact checking has really shown that their campaign has been floating to the top of the polls on a magic carpet of the collective lies of them both. I think I lost some respect for Billy today. Also a cult is not defined by beliefs alone, but by mind control tactics and extreme fictation on the leader(s) absolute "truth"
    check out this site to determine for yourself
    http://www.rickross.com/warningsigns.html
    http://www.rickross.com/reference/mormon/mormon853.html

    October 17, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  12. dinaanid

    To the Grahams, "Defend our religious Freedoms" means "you should believe as I do". I'm glad some milk and cookies helped change their minds about Mormons. I'll bring over some milk and cookies if they'll promise to stay out of my gynecologist's office.

    October 17, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • sam stone

      i will bring over some soy milk and cannabis brownies. they are called for by my religion

      October 17, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  13. My eyes are open

    For those seeking information on the Mormon faith, please read Jon Krakauer's book, "Under the Banner of Heaven". By understanding the past, we can be prepared for the future.

    October 17, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  14. Jon

    Billy dares not to say Mormon is not a cult anymore!

    October 17, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  15. Lyn

    Way to fold Rev. Graham.

    October 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  16. Faith In Country

    Cult or not, why aren't more folks asking this central question: http://youtu.be/GvDpijTUCas

    October 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  17. steve

    Politics and region do not mix. You have just witnessed exhibit A.

    October 17, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  18. Dan

    When is this bible waving old coot going to finally die. Him and Pat Robertson are the last of the original televangelists and they won't be off this earth soon enough.

    October 17, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Star-Spangled-Awesome!

      An eternity roasting in hell awaits them. Hooray.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Petercha

      Wow, hate much, Dan?

      October 17, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  19. bstump

    One question: Who cares?

    October 17, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  20. camo

    At first, it was a cult. Then after some cookies and a pill or two, the later day culties are no more. The old prune just rolled off the cart ! Catch, son, catch !

    October 17, 2012 at 4:14 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.