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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. Tim Santos

    If you rely on your underpants for Luck, you might be a Cult!

    October 16, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  2. Michael

    Just further proof of what anyone who has paid attention to the Grahams has always known... they have no integrity. They made a major position change towards a religious sect NOT because they learned something that changed their opinion, but because of political opportunism. The people who plotted to kill Jesus cared more about him than these charlatans do.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  3. Pander Bear

    That must have cost Mitt a pretty penny.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Tired of the hoopla against religion

      I don't believe Rev. Billy Graham can be bought!

      October 16, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Tired of the hoopla against religion

      Denomination is man made...the only way to enternal life is through Christ Jesus, our God's holy son!

      October 16, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Suzannne in North Carolina

      PERHAPS Billy Graham cannot be bought, but......he's not the "boss" at the BGEA anymore - his wayward son, Franklin, is and he OH-SOOOO CAN BE BOUGHT!! Like Father, NOT like son!

      October 16, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
  4. NickZadick

    ALL organised religions are fairy tales!! how can a person with an I.Q. above 90 believe in such childish nonsense??

    October 16, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Amhlair

      Funny, I was JUST going to ask the same thing of you.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Jesus

      Well, the real problem is the person with the IQ over 90 gets the money from the people with IQ's below 89. Welcome to religion!

      October 16, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • NickZadick

      @Amlair ... What? your comment makes no sense... I have an IQ of 130 and I definitely don't believe in ancient bronze age myths and parables.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  5. mcskadittle

    you know when romney loses that it will back to cult

    October 16, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  6. glorydays

    Wonder what they think of his recent "reboot" on abortion.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  7. Sam Yaza

    it would seem Patala will not work, apparently the Naga don't want this Sake in with them; they afraid his going to sell all the oil

    October 16, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  8. PJ

    Please remember that Franklin Graham is one of the birthers

    October 16, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  9. Amhlair

    Mitt Romney is a member and leader of a cult that believes: "The Roman Catholic, Greek, and Protestant church, is the great corrupt, ecclesiastical power, represented by great Babylon..." This from Mormon ‘apostle’ Orson Hyde. He also said, "And any person who shall be so wicked as to receive a holy ordinance of the gospel from the ministers of any of these apostate churches will be sent down to hell with them, unless they repent of the unholy and impious act."

    Not a cult, Brother Graham?? President Romney, Christians?

    October 16, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  10. Olaf Big

    The distinction between a cult and an established religion is meaningless. Christianity itself started as a weird cult among straight-as-they-come Roman Jupiter/Zeus worshippers. However, that does not change the fact that Book of Mormon was written by a known half-literate crook. Then again New Testament looks more respectable just because the patina of the ages.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  11. sonny chapman

    It's a shame that people who proclaim to be followers of Jesus Christ, who preached a Message of Love Your Fellow Man, are so driven by their HATRED of anything that doesn't conform to their world. Reminds me of the Pharisees of Jesus' time.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Amhlair

      I know, reminds me of the Pharisees, too. Remember in the Bible how that Man of Love and Prince of Peace rebuked the Pharisees and hypocrites over and over? How, even though it might have angered them or hurt their feelings, or made them think He was being mean, he called them vipers and of their father the Devil? Whitened sepulchres, remember that one? Was He showing them love?

      Same story here, except Mormons are today's Pharisees and His followers, blessed beyond measure, show their love (tough love sometimes) by sharing His truth and firmly opposing falsehood. Mormonism is falsehood.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  12. $$$$$

    I'll bet you 10,000 bucks that money or the promise of money was exchanged in this little meeting.

    Rather than one god, Mormons believe we can all become gods. They believe God was once a man in the flesh. They believe Jesus was not an immaculate conception. They believe God and the Holy Mother of Christ actually met in the flesh and Jesus was conceived like any other man. God came down from his celestial heaven where the nearest heavenly body is to God is called Kolob. I assume he used a space capsule for this travel from one planet to another, or maybe he just teleported.

    Up until today, I was told the Mormons are a cult. Now we are changing our definition of a cult for poltical expediency? Well isn't that special, Bill? Did you get a visit from Willard and, oh, I don't know, maybe................................................. Satan?

    This is between you and God, Bill, but hot doggies do we look like a hypocrit in the eyes of the congregation? Yes, we do.

    So much for Christian "values."

    October 16, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  13. Manny Baez

    Charlatanes !!!

    October 16, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  14. Billy Graham Sells Out

    Traditional Reformed churches don't pray to Mary and reject the notion of Book of Mormons. I'm not saying that's right but there are some tenets that are the same among denominations. But now because it's an election year, it's now OK.
    Churches are such jokes, no wonder no one takes them seriously now.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Howard

      Unfortunately, way too many people still do take them seriously ... warts and all.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  15. Brian

    Keep things in perspective.

    *All* Christians worship a carpenter who died some 2000 years ago, and then rose from the dead, who they believe will come back one day and raise everyone from the dead, sending some to eternal torment, others to eternal bliss. To honor him, they symbolically drink his his blood and eat his body, and use the instrument of his torture and death as their symbol. They also believe they can routinely communicate with this man directly through supernatural means.

    So people are getting bent out of shape because a group of people add a little bit more to the story than *that*?

    Seriously?

    October 16, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Johnny

      Hey Brian, you were doing good with your comment until you got to the last part about it being ok to "add" a little bit to the Christian gospel/story. The same man your referenced who happens to be God almighty himself which is Jesus Christ said in his word not to add or subtract to his gospel. God's word is complete and we are commanded by Him not to "add" or subtract anything!.... Proverbs 30:5-6 and Revelation 22: 18-19

      October 16, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  16. joe

    What a bunch of cynical phonies and hypocrites. Yikes!

    October 16, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  17. Tim Santos

    Don't let Billy Graham's decision make you think less of the Christian doctrine. He doesn't speak for us all, he is just well known. Mormonism is a CULT and the Christian church is selling it's soul to get a Republican in office. Look at Jeffres for the Baptist etc.. They said if Mitt would just SAY he is against Abortion that he would vote for him, even though he knows what Mitt truly thinks.. What a bunch of hypocrits. Choose this day whom you will serve, as for me and my house, we serve YHVH. God said that he would send those like that a strong delusion So that they would believe a lie and be Damned!! Get ready, Those who will serve the Lord for money will serve the Devil for Higher wages. They are just trying to protect the tax free status keeping a money grubbing group like the Republicans in office.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  18. fouad zouri

    There is only three reliogns God sents to the poeple Judism, Christianty,and Islam I never heard about a prophit 119 years ago have few followers .

    October 16, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • NickZadick

      No...there are zero!

      October 16, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  19. Jon

    Oh. I'm glad people are letting me be Christian now. Thanks. Did the worldly Christian authorities also tell God that he can listen to my prayers now? So funny that the American Christian Community can tell me that as a Mormon I'm not Christian...but hey..have fun with your weird made-up reality and all that. I'm Mormon and proud...not really worried about what you think I am or am not.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Amhlair

      Jon, your church is not a Christian church. I know the truth hurts, but you need to know that. Be a Mormon, fine. Think that all other churches are false and corrupt, that the LDS church is the restored and only true chuch of Christ, think that your church alone holds the keys to eternal salvation, knock yourself out. But you do not teach the true Christ, the Christ of the Bible and your doctrines are heresy to Christians. You're not a Buddhist either no matter how much you stamp your feet and insist you are. Get over it, be a happy Mormon.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Jon

      Sigh....ok. I guess you are right. There goes seven generations of my family and my 2 year mission. You've convinced me that I don't believe in Jesus Christ.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • sam

      Watch out, everybody: the 'real' christians are trying to judge who's the realest christian of them all....

      October 16, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Amhlair

      Jon, do you recall how many times in the Bible that Pharisees said exactly the same thing? And the rich man who didn't want to give up everything and follow Christ? Where'd you serve your mission? Ever tell anyone that their faith was wrong and that they should be baptized into your church, even though they had seven or seven hundred generations of ancestors of their faith? Of course you did. Truth is truth and I'm not trying to convince you of anything. Only God's holy spirit can do that. You have no idea, or perhaps you do, how many nice young LDS people are simply deluded and don't know that they are. You're undoubtedly one of them. I pray that God sees it in His plan to deliver you from Mormonism and reveal His Son to you. Amen.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Amhlair

      Watch out everybody, sam's sticking his nose into a conversation he wasn't invited into. ;-)

      October 16, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  20. DROD

    "...postive step toward understanding...." Really? They must think people are so naive to think all of the sudden their understanding Mormonism.
    "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." You just politicized it again days before the election.
    So funny.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:36 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.