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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. KAK

    Its amazing how people pick and choose whats wrong. There was a time when a cult was worse than a policitcal party. Now evangelicals are willing to sell out to a cult to get their party in office! I wonder why a religious organization needs the largest geneology database in the world? Why are they building Bunker like "learning centers" in their garden of eden in Kansas City. Think this sounds crazy. Its true look it up and were about to elect one of their Bishops who has been in the secret rooms in their temples. rediculas.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  2. NickZadick

    GOD!! (pun intended) ... you religion freaks are absolutely coocoo... arguing which imaginary friend is better!

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

      Who asked you buttf@ce? If we wanted a debate from an empty shell lost soul we would have asked.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • NickZadick

      empty shell :) good one... good luck with your delusions!

      October 16, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  3. Bob

    "He has a genuine love for all people"

    OH BS.

    Billy Graham has overstayed his welcome, and become nothing but a joke.

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

      snake oil salesman living in the life of luxury for having sold religion like a commodity.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  4. Nate

    It was the right thing to do for what I can only assume are political reasons. I sincerely doubt they actually had a change of heart.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  5. Jt_flyer

    I think you're ALL cults.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  6. Toosliq

    Well, I guess now, according to Billy Graham's "group", it is OK to believe that you will someday be worthy of being worshipped the way God is worshipped now – that what God is now, you will become.

    Very interesting. I guess Satan (aka Lucifer) wasn't that far off after all.

    (once more w/corrected typos...)

    October 16, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  7. Rattan

    Billy Graham's set-up is a PERSONALITY CULT!

    October 16, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  8. dB

    Funny, Billy Graham's website still contains this sentence on how to recognize a cult: "Although cults differ, they share several characteristics. For example, cults often do not accept the Bible alone as God's Word, and may even say that other books (usually written by the group's founder) are also God's Word and of more value."

    Also in the cult section, they still allow this user comment: "Billy Graham gave an excellent definition of a cult and Mormonism fits it to a big T."

    Easy to find this stuff on my entertaining (and somewhat frightening) excursion to BG's website just now...

    October 16, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  9. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    I fear for Billy Graham. Romney's "visit" may had a more dire effect than anyone guessed. Consider the proposed revision to DSM-V (under H 03 Dissociative Disorder Not Elsewhere Classified):

    Identity disturbance in individuals who have been subjected to periods of prolonged and intense coercive persuasion (e.g., brainwashing, thought reform, indoctrination while captive, torture, long-term political imprisonment, or recruitment by sects/cults, or terror organizations).

    You have to admit Billy just isn't himself now.

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

      His creepy son has been puppeting him around for quite some time now.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  10. Tim Santos

    Looks like the Church has gotten as wishy washy as Mitt Romney is.. That guy is really rubbing off on people I tell you. At this rate, Republicans will start like liking a Black Obama when you know he hates him. So let more of of Mitt rub off and vote for Barak Obama! At least he is a Christian..

    October 16, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  11. Toosliq

    Well, I guess now, according to Billy Graham's "group", it is OK to believe that you will someday be worthy of being worhipped the way God is worshipped now – the what God is now, you will become.

    Very interesting. I guess Satan (aka Lucifer) wasn't that far off after all.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  12. biobraine

    I would love to have a candidate to vote for that doesn't follow any religion at all.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Brian

      If it makes you feel any better, I doubt either one of these guys actually believes in a religion. There are lots of people who attend church simply for social reasons.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • biobraine

      Brian,
      I agree. I look forward to the day that someone who chooses logic and reason over religion doesn't have to pretend that they are religious to get elected to the presidency.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  13. Snow

    That is so hilarious.. So, for the deeply religious, all it takes for them to change their tune on something is money and a whiff of more power? wow.. divine order, eh?!

    October 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • 633music

      Who gives him the right to judge what is and is not a cult, and furthermore, hard to imagining anyone caring...then I again, I replied...

      October 16, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  14. Billy Graham Sells Out

    I don't give a rats ass about Mormons, they can believe what they like. I've met some very nice and kind Mormons in my travels. What I think is hilarious is that for years, Protestant churches were so adamant about what is and isn't a cult and now, because of politics, they become so malleable in their belief. If a Scientologist was running as a Republican, they'll probably say Xenu was Jesus too. What a bunch of hypocrites.

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

    Graham must now accept Romney will become one of the many Mormon Gods,so all the old fool had to do was sell out the 10 commandments for politics-like the rest of the delusional liars.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  16. Heywood

    We are supposed to care about what Billy Graham thinks, because???

    The man sold, yes, sold religion like a hot dog salesman, swindler, nothing more, nothing less. "Send me money and Jesus will answer all of your prayers, he told me at breakfast this morning"

    He will have to pay at some point.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  17. back when Billy was getting around a bit more . . .

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fuet7GRv7Bo&w=640&h=390]

    October 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  18. palusko996769

    Romney is just happy that he is no longer the only one who changes his opinions to match his final goal.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  19. powerfail

    I have lived in three states that had significant populations of Mormons as citizens. I have lived in neighborhoods with Mormon families. I have Mormon friends and colleagues. All the Mormons I know, and have had dealings with have been outstanding members of the community. Very professional, moral people. I have discussed their Christian faith with them at length, and I see little difference between their theology and what so many other denominations believe. I am glad that Mitt Romney's candidacy is producing this new awareness of a very misunderstood group of Americans.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Bob

      Didja get to see their Magic Mormon Underwear?

      October 16, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  20. Joepub

    I just do not get society today. Just reading these vile comments about Billy Graham does make me wonder if we are really in the last days after all.

    2timothy 3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, In the last days...men shall be without natural affection

    October 16, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • sam

      We can only hope it's the last days. Then someone can get some quiet around here.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • NickZadick

      last days?? you nuts have been saying that since 50 AD... don't hold your breath.... because although this planet may be hit by a natural or man-made cataclysm, your fairy man in the sky won't even affect one grain of sand...mainly because he doesn't exist!!

      October 16, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • KAK

      I am pretty sure that the bible also says anyone who adds to it will have all the plagues in it added to them. Electing a president that is a Bishop of a cult that added a new book to the bible and having our religious leaders all but sell out to him is what is going to bring on the end times. If we are taking the bible literally this could be the antichrist.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • dkp

      There is also "righteous anger" which Jesus demonstrated in the temples. I grew up in First Baptist Dallas where Bill Graham was a member for 30 years. Ironically, my spouse was co-bishop in Prove w Romney in 1970-71. What I find so hypocritcal is that the compromise in the name of political game, not in the name of Jesus. I also happen to believe that Jesus loves Romney and we live by grace, but if Jesus was a citizen in the US, he would vote for Obama.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • dkp

      There is also "righteous anger" which Jesus demonstrated in the temples. I grew up in First Baptist Dallas where Billy Graham was a member for 30 years. Ironically, my spouse was co-bishop in Provo w Romney in 1970-71. What I find so hypocritcal is that the compromise in the name of political game, not in the name of Jesus. I also happen to believe that Jesus loves Romney and we live by grace, but if Jesus was a citizen in the US, he would vote for Obama.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:56 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.