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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. John

    People will do anything to make sure we don't have a black president, even denying that Mormonism is a cult.

    October 17, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • ryanwin

      So you are saying by virtue of his color alone, he deserves to be re-elected? How's that for racist? Wow!

      October 17, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • OneTruth

      That's not what he said at all. Graham is changing a position that he has held for years along with most evangelicals – for purely political reasons.

      October 17, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  2. DJ

    It is my understanding Mormons don't drink soft drinks.

    October 17, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • ryanwin

      Then of all your getting, you should get understanding, because mormons do drink soft drinks. Many do not drink caffeine, but that is not commanded them. Soft drinks are not all caffeinated, however, and it would be rare indeed to not find root beer or 7up in a home in Utah.

      October 17, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
  3. ElmerGantry

    So, I guess that Mitt Romney has convinced Billy Graham that the following are not telltale signs of a cult.

    1. Mormons believe that men will become a god of their own planet. That this god and his many wives in heaven (in Mitt’s case the first class level of the three levels of heaven) will spawn mult.itudes of spirit children on this planet.

    2. That Mormons believe that Native Americas are directly decedents of ancient Israeli peoples and as such are Jewish contrary to all genetic, archeological, and linguistic evidence. The same applies to Polynesians of the South Pacific.

    3. That Mormons wear special undergarments for the purpose of protecting them from the outside world. Why would a president Mitt Romney need secret service agents? Seems like an opportunity to save the gubmint some money and staff.

    4. Mormons believe in posthumous baptism. Sure it is officially denounced, but it is still widely practiced.

    5. Mormons believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers.

    6. Mormons believe god resides on or near a planet named kolob.

    7. Joseph Smith translated the “Book of Abraham” from some Egyptian hieroglyphics before Egyptian hieroglyphics were understood. OOOOOPS! The actions of a con artist.

    8. Speaking of con artist, Joseph Smith practiced the con know as glass looking aka money digging. The practice of finding buried treasure on farm lands with the use of seer stones. Almost forgot, all for a price of course! And guess what, none of the farmers ever got any buried treasure, only a thinner wallet.

    Sooooo, Billy Graham, do accept all of the above and more as not cultish? Well?

    Mitt must have cast quite a spell on Billy Graham.

    Oh the things Mitt and the Greedy Obstructionist Party of NO! will do prevent a democrat from winning the election. Remember from the beginning of the Obama administration the very public mantra was “our number one priority is to make Obama a one term president” and the Greedy Obstructionist Politicians made good on their promise with record numbers of filibusters and anonymous objections with the sole purpose of making government as non-functional as possible.

    October 17, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • ryanwin

      You need to do more research before you go on an internet tirade. Mormons still do baptisms for the dead, and that is just one of several points you are wrong on. I'll let people figure the rest out.

      October 17, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
  4. Journey

    It's time to put the Republikkkans and the Evangelikkkals out to pasture...the sunset is waiting and America is done with you...everything you ever touched broke.

    October 17, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  5. Bill

    Christianity is still the biggest, most dangerous cult out there.

    October 17, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • colleen

      Says you................the lone man on the rock

      October 17, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
  6. Bob Bob

    This from the spiritual supporter of President Richard Nixon.

    October 17, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
  7. Dick46

    Next time you see him check Mitt's nose. It might have a big brown spot on the tip.

    October 17, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • ryanwin

      Your crass attempt at humor only degrades your intellect and class.

      October 17, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
  8. ryanwin

    Why Mormons make sense to me:
    1. Jesus wants us to be one with him, like He is one with the Father. He atoned for our sins so we could be like Him. That is a loving (and incredibly patient) brother!
    2. God created us all, we are all his children. I believe it when the mormons teach that Satan is a fallen angel and that we are all brothers and sisters, and Jesus is our perfect brother and only perfect son of our Heavenly Father. I don't believe that Satan really has horns or any of the other wacky theories. I don't believe he ever got a body.
    3. I like the idea that because we are God's offspring, then we are joint heirs and can become like our Heavenly Father. It makes sense that our eternal father has a wife too. It makes me not settle that I will never be like Jesus but think that some time long after I am dead, he will help me to become like him finally, though he will always be my God and Savior.
    4. The teaching that God the Father and God the Son and the Holy Ghost are distinct individuals makes more sense to me as I read the Bible. I understand that when it says they are one, it is figurative, and one in purpose, just the same figurative meaning as when Jesus asks us to be one with him. I think it is funny when people take the first half of that point literally, but only take the second half as figurative. It's like the people who actually believe that when we take the sacrament we are literally drinking the blood and eating the flesh of Jesus – transubstantiation, LOL.
    5. I like how mormons look after the poor, and not just their own either.
    6. I like how Mormons believe that families continue in the eternities and we can keep having kids after we are resurrected and perfected. It makes eternity seem like there is a meaning and a point. It also reveals the nature of our Heavenly Father, that his work is to perfect his children, continually. I can grasp this logic much better than any other religion's grasp on the hereafter. Picking fruit and sipping ice tea for eternity seems pointless. Only with mormons does eternity actually have a point! I love that, it resonates true with me!
    7. I like the idea that God still chooses prophets and apostles and hasn't abandoned us to our own devices.
    8. I like the idea that God has placed his authority in the hands of those he trusts, and doesn't simply "give out licenses to illegals".
    9. I like the idea that there is truth in many religions, but that mormons try to simply share the missing pieces with others, not telling them they are completely false, just that there are more pieces to the puzzle.
    10. I like how mormons turn the other cheek, when other religions use hate speech and show their true colors.

    October 17, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • waitasec

      forget mormonism....religion doesn't add up.

      October 17, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • topgod

      get a life. no after life for you

      October 17, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • Huggies

      "....and we can keep having kids after we are resurrected and perfected."

      Noooooooo! I raised four, and while I love them dearly, dearly, dearly, dearly, I'm finished.

      October 17, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • ryanwin

      @Huggies Then you would not want to be like God, whose work is eternally looking after his kids. If you don't want that, God still has a place prepared for you, that is the beauty of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. God's goal is to provide the place where we allow ourselves the most happiness, but he won't force us to be happy.

      October 17, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  9. Justwondering

    Just wondering how much Romney 'donated' to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association?

    October 17, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • ryanwin

      Romney is fighting for the things that Billy Graham believes in. Obama is not. Simple. Why so amazed?

      October 17, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
  10. Zee705

    In an unrelated story...

    The Branch Davidians have removed the Westboro Baptist Church from their terrorist watch list.

    October 17, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  11. tom

    While I do not agree with the Mormon faith I do believe that their everyday lives set a high standard for all to consider about the need for each of us to take responsibilty for our lives and how we live it.

    October 17, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  12. ;p;

    And the Lord spake, saying, "First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it.

    October 17, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  13. dominicmcclintock

    http://www.billygraham.org/articlepage.asp?articleid=4099 said anyone who reject the divinity of Christ is a cult, as the Mormon church does. They don't believe Jesus is God in the flesh. Read John 1:1-14 in your Holy Bible to see what the Bible teaches. Compare all things with Scripture (not the book of Mormon). Test the spirits the Bible says. Jesus didn't come to bring peace but a sword. Mitt Romney should have been corrected or rebuked by Billy Graham.

    October 17, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • ;p;

      Holy cow! Best not let that guy lead the country then! He's practically a Moonie!

      October 17, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • ryanwin

      Mormons do believe Jesus is God in the flesh – God the Son that is. The God of the Old Testament and Son of the Father. Is it too complicated for you to understand when Jesus talks about being one with the Father, it is in the same figurative manner as when he asks us to be one with him? How can something so basic elude people? Furthermore, with all of the vast interpretations of scripture, how can something so obviously interpreted be esteemed as heresy, when there is a talking donkey in the bible, not to mention song of Solomon. People who profess to be Christian spend so much time defending their interpretation of scripture that they cannot afford another self proclaimed Christian religion to come to such an obviously logical conclusion are the epitome of hypocritical!

      October 17, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
  14. waitasec

    great... the blind leading the blind...or the arrogant leading the self righteous

    hysterical.

    religion is just an opinion.

    October 17, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Free2pray

      I would be interested to hear your "opinion" on your final day of life.

      October 17, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  15. Kimbo

    This shows his true addenda. He is not about religion and spreading the word of God, only about power and influence. What a joke.

    October 17, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • dominicmcclintock

      True the article is gone but read this article on his site. http://www.billygraham.org/articlepage.asp?articleid=4099 since anyone who reject the divinity of Christ is a cult, Mormon's still fall into this category

      October 17, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • dominicmcclintock

      sorry I just replied to you, i meant to add this as a comment. Please excuse me. Sorry.

      October 17, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  16. Mic

    Taken from a n earlier reply:
    "Look at all the places you can find a source that condemns and dictates your Mormon beliefs. Jesus had this kind of persecution when he was on the earth, and look what happened to him. Mormons believe in Christ. Mormons believe in Christ. what part of that doesn't make them Christians? Anyone, anyone? Any other reason, you are just making reasons for you not to even believe your own church teachings, unless your church teaches hate and religious persecution. Truth hurts right?

    I think anyone who thinks Mormons are a cult needs to attend a true christian church, not one that spouts evil or condemns religions. All this talk with its hate filled speech makes me want to learn more about it. Even Jesus helped Gentiles and what about the story about the Good Samaritan. Draw any knowledge from this story? Read this scriptures and pray."

    For all those who do not believe in Jesus or even if the is any kind of God. I am sorry, I feel my hart sink from the thought, but you have the right to think what think that is the reason for this life is to choose. But do not try to convince me, it will not work, I have faith, now go define faith and get understand why you feeble word will not work on me. Go ahead and try to mock me.

    October 17, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • ;p;

      Well...ok. But I still can't figure out what the deer has to do with it.

      October 17, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      ;p;

      Poseidon requires the drowning of a horse in sacrifice to him before a battle – maybe this sinking of a hart is something along those lines...?

      October 17, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • ;p;

      Sounds good to me!

      October 17, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  17. Baptist Minister

    Has anyone passed the plate yet here? If no one else has, I will.

    October 17, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  18. shon

    Billy would rather have a white man in office than a half black man. That is why he is conveniently turning his eye on a long held religious belief of his. How convenient. I thought he was supposed to be a "true man" of God in his head.

    October 17, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • Scott Michael

      You are a fool . race has nothing to do with this. Rev. Graham is so far above you, you should not use his name. A fool is a fool regardless of his color.

      October 17, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
  19. TheIncreaser

    This is for Billy: Isaiah 5:20
    Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
    Proverbs 15:3
    The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.
    1 Corinthians 15:33
    Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

    October 17, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • ;p;

      Those aren't enough examples, please post more

      October 17, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • TR6

      That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown
      Genisis 6: 2,4

      October 17, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
  20. really

    I wonder how that works – one day you just get to decide whether someones cult is not longer a cult anymore?

    October 17, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • JJ

      Christians reinterpret, ignore and discard their dogma all the time. That's the nature of the cult.

      October 17, 2012 at 7:17 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.