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.
Is Billy alive or is Franklin pulling one of those "aunt Edna" stunts?
If you look closely you can see Franklin's hand up Billy's ass.
I'm guessing that the conversation went something like this.
Romney: Hello Dr. Graham I'm Mitt Romney
Graham: (Mumble Mumble) The jews have a strangle hold on this country,Mr. Nixon. (Mumble Mumble) I segregated my congregations until the Sumpreme Court said it was illegal (Mumble Mumble).
(P00PS in his pants) ZZZZZZZZZZZZ.
Franklin: Dad, here's that nice Christian man who's going to be our next President that I was telling you about a few minutes ago.
Billy: What who? (mumble mumble) the smiling one?
Franklin: Yes Dad, his friends are making a very generous donation to Samaritan's Purse today, God bless them.
Billy: God bless us one and all (mumble mumble)
Mittens: Good morning Doctor Graham, I'm Mitt Romney
Billy: Who? (mumble mumble) Franklin, why is he smiling at me like that?
* Supreme Court
Wow, the post rate just stopped – I guess this is no longer on the front page. The 24 hour news cycle in action.
After about 32.5 hours and 3,602 posts. An average of around ~2ppm even overnight.
Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of angel visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).
Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals like the Grahams and atonement theology..............................................................
The logic of Herod lives! 'Mat 2:16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.' Perchance it's a spirit!
As per many contemporary NT scholars, Matt 2: 16 fails rigorous historical testing. For example from Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 124-129, "........... the historic yield for Matt. 2 is nil. " See also, http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb369.html
There is more "historical yield" for the writings of the New Testament than there is for the writings of Plato, Aristotle, and Homer. Shall we throw out Socrates and the Trojan War along with Herod? Professor Ludemann is less than convincing in his argument from a lack of evidence.
The Americult model of gubmint approved churches and evangelists hasn't worked out so well. Anybody notice all the father- son teams in the business? The fathers should tell their sons, 'Go start your own 'ministry.'
Reblogged this on Mormon Apologia and commented:
This is definitely something that is very interesting.
Here is a quote from the article:
"As such, he never proselytized, targeted or labeled specific people, groups, faiths or denominations."
Perhaps not in public. This statement is patently false when you read what he was recorded as saying to President Nixon in the Oval Office about Jews. "Synagogue of Satan" comes to mind.
I think you need to read what was posted again because it seems you missed the fact that I quoted a piece of this article.
yes, I know you quoted from the article.
The statement by Larry Ross, the "Graham" spokesman is clearly (let's be charitable) in error.
"A cult is any group which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from the biblical message of the Christian faith."–Billy Graham Now help me to understand something...Does that apply all the time or depending on who is running for President? Did the religion (Mormonism) change its views and have an awakening and adjust their doctrine or are they the same? If they have not changed and are they still "deviating from the biblical message of the Christian faith"? If the latter is correct (no pun intended), the Mormons are still a cult, based upon this definition. Now if we want to present evidence to the contrary, not just a meeting with a presidential candidate looking for a prominent Christian evangelists' endorsement over cookies and soda, then the Mormons cult status is up for review. But my understanding is that Mormons today, still believe the way they believed last week and will still believe the way they believe today, next week. So, my conclusion is that they are still a cult regardless to whom they meet with. Just because Billy Graham changed his opinion and website does not make then not be a cult, nor did this meeting change my vote. I wonder how much it cost smiling Romney to get the Graham website to delete Mormons from cult list? I'm just saying...
I find it quite fascinating how Evangelicals/Baptists/Protestants define words to meet their needs. Merriam-Webster defines "cult"as:
1: formal religious veneration : worship
2: a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents
3: a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents
4: a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator
5 a : great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad
b : the object of such devotion
c : a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion
By this definition, ALL of Christianity is a cult.
If the word "cult" is problematic, though I don't think it is, then the word "heresy" is fitting. Heresy according to the Oxford English Dictionary is an "Opinion or doctrine contrary to the orthodox doctrine of the Christian church".
iIf Romney was a Scientologist, would Billy, therefore consider remove that pseudoreligion from cult status ?. What about the fact that Mormons believe that God created multiple worlds and each world has people living on it. They also believe that multiple Gods exist but each has their own universe & that we are only subject to our God and if we obtain the highest level of heaven we can become gods ourselves. ?
I wonder what former mormons who were proselytized to Christianity by Billy Graham are thinking now. Shame, shame.
I totally agree! How sad that Franklin Graham is willing to forsake Scriptural truth, indeed the Gospel itself, for political expediency.
Franklin Graham is inspired by the fictional character satan.
The Stealth Mormon thought he needed the imprimatur of Billy Graham before he could go on to claim, as he did last night, that we are all children of the same God. His God – and yours, right? I wonder if this is heresy to Mormons. Syncretism?
@I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV
I am not so sure about that see: http://ourfoundingtruth.blogspot.com/2011/02/james-madison-quoting-trinity.html
be careful of your sources. The James Madison as a student at Princeton – then a Presbyterian theolgical school – wrote differently from the James Madison who wrote the following in 1785:
"During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superst;tion, bigotry and persecution.
Students are required to write all manner of things that are pleasing to their teachers and a man's beliefs may change over time. Read instead what the grown man writes when he is no longer looking to pass examinations at divinity school.
It is true that Madison was sympathetic to Unitarian doctrines and may not have embraced the Trinity, though apparently his mature views on religious doctrine are less than clear. Thank you for your comments.
I think that what we can both agree on very strongly regarding Mr. Madison is that he (along with Mr. Jefferson his mentor) was a very strong proponent of religious freedoms.
Yes I do agree with that.
I'm afraid this is a case of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend".
No, it's more than that. Billy Graham always kept his ministry out of politics. Franklin is taking over. He doesn't have his father's scruples regarding politicizing the ministry and I'll wager that a large amount of money changed hands with Franklin's next crusade or Samaritan's Purse as the beneficiary.
Apparently you have not heard the Billy Graham/President Nixon tapes where Graham vocalizes his hatred of Jews...or you're conveniently ignoring it. Look it up.
I am very familiar with Dr. Graham's recorded comments while chatting with tricky Dicky.
He was careful never to take a *public* position on politicizing his ministry. The Nixon tapes were extremely embarrasing for Billy Graham. He's a very sick old man. He probably doesn't even know who he met with.
This is all Franklin's doing. (And Mark DeMoss, Mitten's evangelical reacharound guy.)
Do you want to know how deep this rabbit hole really is?
Human I am Taliban, terrorist goon, my skunk step-father, cross-dresser, never sent my sister to school, made her dance, absurdity of Isl mic Heejras, she is a dancer of first class, 2 millions plus views, see her video and like her. Please send money to nearest mosque to fight infeedel.
Hey STOP she is cue, where can I find her?
Billy Graham is trying to do what any real Christian would do and that is keep Jesus in the forefront and the cross and the blood as necessary components of the the salvation message. I can see why he would want to keep the politics out of the fray, that is very wise on his part. Not all Mormons are lost and not all Catholics are lost, pray that they see the light.
Pray? Christian wack jobs worshipping some dead guy on a stick.
Nimrod, you need a healthy dose of reality.
If Mr. Romney is elected, he will be the first US President who does not believe in the eternal God of the Bible, the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as One God)....He will also be the only US President who believes he is on the way to godhead himself.
I'm not so sure about being the first. James Madison was a deist. I suspect he was not a big fan of trinitarian view of God.
Quote from the 3rd U.S. President, Thomas Jefferson:
"The hocus-pocus phantasm of a God like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs....In fact, the Athanasian paradox that one is three, and three but one, is so incomprehensible to the human mind, that no candid man can say he has any idea of it, and how can he believe what presents no idea? He who thinks he does, only deceives himself. He proves, also, that man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without a rudder, is the sport of every wind. With such persons, gullibility which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason, and the mind becomes a wreck."
–From his letter to Rev. James Smith, December 8, 1822:
I forgot about Thomas Jefferson's denial of the Trinity and appreciate your quote.
I am not sure I agree with you @JLJ. Just because Mormonism doesn't agree with the 4th century definition of God doesn't mean he does not believe in the God of the Bible. Romney accepts the Bible as the Word of God and worships the Being taught therein. He does not believe in the Athanasian or Nicene Creed, that's all.
As far as believing in the Atonement of Jesus Christ, have you looked into Mormon theology? It's full of references to the Atonement of Christ as the only way to return to God. I recommend you take a second and read this chapter from the Book of Mormon, paying close attention to verse 17: http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/mosiah/3?lang=eng
Regarding the doctrine that man can become like God, Latter-Day Saints believe that God is literally the Father of our spirits (Hebrews 12:9), that we are His offspring (Acts 17:28). The Psalmist also taught that "ye are gods." In fact, the Bible makes this very declaration. “I have said, ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.” Jesus Christ Himself said we were gods: “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken.“ Christ pointed out that Psalm 82:6 was not a mistake or a fluke, for He added the phrase “and the scripture cannot be broken” right after it, stressing that it was accurate and that its meaning could not be argued away.
@poquimoqui...The God of the Mormons is flesh...a man who has evolved to become the God of this planet, just as a Mormon today can do the same thing. This is not the Eternal God of the Bible who created all things from nothing. As to the atonement, Mormon doctrine denies that atonement was made by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, but claims atonement was accomplished at Gethsemane when Jesus "sweat blood". They therefore deny the efficacy and meaning of the cross.
As God says in Isaiah 45:22: "I am God and there is no other...." All the little "g" gods you cited have nothing to do with a man becoming God Almighty. And you are right to say that "scripture cannot be broken", Joseph Smith should have recognized this when he rewrote the portions of the Bible he disagreed with.
If it was that easy to change his mind, that page should never have been there in the first place. This shows how little thought goes into their positions and beliefs.
Billy Graham's epitaph reads: "If you can't lick em, join em." Perhaps he will take his true place in history with David Koresh and Jim Jones.
I no longer respect Billy Graham and will no longer contribute to Franklin Graham's Samaritan's purse. I am shocked that they compromise their stance on this issue, and just wonder what is at the root of it?????
I don't have to wonder. A nice donation to Franklin's next crusade by one of Mitt's SuperPACs likely did the trick.
All organized by the PR man for Franklin and Samaritan's Purse – Mark DeMoss. Mr. DeMoss is Mitt's evangelical ambassador and was once part of Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority.
Perhaps you remember that Dr. Graham refused to join the Moral Majority in 1979 because he thought it was wrong to politicize his ministry. Franklin doesn't seem to have the same concern. Now Jerry Falwell has his revenge from the grave.
What's at the root? All the money you gave to Graham just went to Romney. That's how the religion shell game is played.
Brandy, Mormons believe that Satan is Jesus Christ's brother..
The Mormon 'church' is a church of Satan. I hope this answers your question.
"All the money you gave to Graham just went to Romney" Oh no, no. I don't think so.
A large pile of Koch Brothers money just went to Franklin's next crusade or the Samaritan's Purse here. Now of course four years from now it might find its way back into a SuperPAC.
Pay for play is the watchword. It's very expensive to change the Billy Graham Evangelical Association website.
Franklin will be selling plenary indulgences next.
Brandy, for $10,000 I can get you into heaven. Guaranteed! If you call in the next 20 minutes there is a 20% discount!
@Baptist Minister, When it comes to the whole Jesus/Satan brother thing is that Jesus and Satan are siblings in the same way as you and I are siblings. That we all are children of a Heavenly Father, which is that we all are spiritual children of our Heavenly Father, and that includes Satan, who was once Lucifer, who fell from grace for rebellion against God and became Satan. Jesus however was not only a spirtual child of the Father, but was also a child of God in the flesh; the only begotten son of the Father, who was the only one willing and able to sacrifice himself and overcome physical and spiritual death for our sakes and that it is only through Jesus Christ in which we have any shot at all of obtaining salvation because we all fall short on our own.
Also, even if Latter-Day-Saints did believe in the whole Jesus/Satan brotherly thing in the way you have been portraying, how does that automatically conclude that tbe church is evil. By that logic it's like saying that anything that came from Abel is evil because Cain is his brother.
I just heard an american preacher on the radio say that if people vote for obama then they have gone far away from scripture. LOL. As a follower of Jesus, I was so perplexed by that statement. Now I see why Jesus was totally annoyed, vexed and angry at the pharisees back in the day. Their stupid comments (which the sheep believe and feed on) are so annoying.
Beware of these modern day pharisees we call preachers. Seek the word for yourselves people.
Don't you mean Beastie attorneys are in the role of Pharisees? Print out all the laws in Americult and put em on the deck of a carrier and it would sink.
Sadly,wowzah, "american preachers" are a dime-a-dozen these days. Please keep true to your faith and ask others to as well. This "preacher" is obviously either a paid shill for the Mormon machine for Romney, or has some very serious personal issues with morality. President Obama, has, for the most part, been the most Christ-like president we've had in decades. He has, from Day One, shown a very deep and abiding concern for the poor, the sick and the elderly. The man is trying to do all he humanly can in the face of outrageous and vile opposition to make this country a better place for all, and to right so very many wrongs. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, has spent his entire career destroying countless lives in the name of Greed. He is a vile and wicked man who has made it to the highest levels of priesthood in his church which preaches that lying, in order to accomplish a goal, is permissable; and apparently that indoctrination fit well with his personality.
Take heart in the fact that not all congregations are being fed the hatred and racism of these psuedo-christians you speak of. I for one will never take Mormonism off of my list! I tell my congregation to vote for the man Jesus would (if made to do so), I ask them to join in this vital fight against evil and greed and to please vote for President Obama.
@BaptistMinister – please send me your address so that I can report you to the IRS. Churches cannot get involved in telling their members who to vote for and keep their tax-exempt status. The same goes for the preacher telling members to vote for Romney.
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.