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October 18th, 2012
11:45 PM ET

Billy Graham buys election ads after Romney meeting

By Eric Marrapodi CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN) - The most famous and revered pastor in America, Billy Graham, is calling on voters to cast a ballot for their faith in full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and other newspapers.

Graham's picture appears prominently in the ads, next to copy that reads, "As I approach my 94th birthday, I realize this election could be my last."

It continues, "I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman. Vote for biblical values this November 6, and pray with me that America will remain one nation under God."

The ad hit the prominent papers Wednesday and Thursday, and could hit a dozen more newspapers, a week after the famed evangelist met with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at Graham's Montreat, North Carolina, home and less than a month after his son Franklin Graham issued a full-throated endorsement of Romney in a USA Today opinion piece.

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Shortly after the meeting with the Grahams and Romney, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association scrubbed prior references to Mormonism as a cult from its website because, the association said, "we do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has become politicized during this campaign."

Romney is a longtime member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Last week's meeting between Romney and Graham was their first.

After the 30-minute sit-down in Montreat, 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.

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The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association said the new ads were paid for by "friends who support the ministry" and that no general ministry funds were used.

"The ads intentionally do not mention any candidate, political party, or contest, urging instead for readers to cast votes for candidates, at all levels, based on their support for biblical values," the group said in a statement.

Billy Graham's long-time personal spokesman, A. Larry Ross, said of the ads, “[Graham] is challenging citizens, particularly the faith community, on how to vote, rather than for whom to vote.”

Ross said the 93-year-old is still active with the ministry, though not necessarily with the day-to-day operations. In this case, he said Graham was consulted about the ad and signed off on it.

"This ad is consistent with both the mission of the BGEA and Billy Graham's personal methodology to diligently and consistently remain politically neutral and nonpartisan throughout his public ministry," Ross said.

"Against the backdrop of moral decline and a cultural shift in our nation that reflects timely issues, Mr. Graham's quotation in the ad is an extension of his faithful preaching of a timeless message and strong stand on biblical values for more than six decades."

The campaign also includes bulletin inserts and posters of the ad for churches to download and distribute.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Leaders • Politics

soundoff (2,816 Responses)
  1. sally

    Well at least they positioned Billy in the chair nicely. The taxidermist did a great job.

    October 19, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • random

      You think so? I don't think it looks lifelike at all. Did they have any way of making it move during the conversation so Mitt wouldn't catch on? Maybe Franklin was controlling it with a remote control.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  2. Doug foland

    Take their DAMN TAX EXEMPT status away.....
    If these FAR RIGHT Christians think....If going to church
    makes you a CHRISTIAN? Does going to your garage make
    you a CAR?

    October 19, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • jersvette

      So damn true! I only hope this really is his last election.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  3. saywaaat

    i call for the revocation of the tax exempt statues of his so called church.pay up clown,just like the rest of us.

    October 19, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
  4. Baptist Minister

    The most famous and revered pastor in America, Billy Graham, has lost all of his credibility, and my respect.
    I think it's time that his organization stop trotting him out for political gains and let the man have some peace.

    The Mormon Church has won, in it's feeble opinion a great victory here by coercing a senile Christian legend, via his obviously corrupted organization, to do the unthinkable, and a damnable act! Not only have they finally managed to buy the support of Rev. Graham, but, if Billy is indeed aware of his actions, they've managed to turn him away from God.
    Billy, in his right mind, knows full well the so-called "doctrines" of the LDS "church" and has consistently seen it as a blasphemy and an abomination. Clearly, not Christian. And, clearly worshipping a completely alien and bizzare other "god". Their god is not the Christian God. Additionally, their beliefs, some say worship, of Satan also completely and bizzarely differs from Christian scripture and doctrine. Their beliefs elevate Satan by saying he was the Son of God. Their beliefs say that Satan – the highest of the fallen angels of God whose function is to tempt one into sin, then turn around and accuse the sinner on Judgement Day – is a "brother" to Christ our Lord! Oh, they'll [mis]quote scripture and try to argue the point to fit their fraud, but, the truth of the matters is that Satan, the Great Deceiver, was Never the Son of God!! And to say so is outright blasphemy!! There is only one Son of God! And His name is Jesus Christ!!! Joseph Smith will NOT be judging ANYONE on Judgement Day!! That demon possessed con artist and charlatan is awaiting his followers in Hell! Lord have mercy!!

    If the Romney campaign had wished to keep his cult religion, and his high priest status in it, quiet and out of the election, they should NOT of attacked Christianity in this way. This bold attempt to assert itself as being a mainstream "Christian" religion is outrageous!! And it will fought against fiercly from my pulpit and many others in the days and weeks to come!!!
    And, God willing, this Priest of Satan will be defeated in his quest to be the most powerful, and most dangerous, man in the world!!! May God bless President Obama and Vice-President Biden! And God Bless America!!

    October 19, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • JJ

      The hungry flames of HELL welcome Satan's desciple himself...Billy Graham. The sheep who continue to hold him up as their idol will descend as well.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • good one

      Man,you christian folks love talking and thinking,about hell and the devil,and all that other cool stuff,eh?Have fun with that,you weirdos.

      October 19, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • Kenny Merriken

      Dear Baptist Minister. I would just like to tweak your remarks a little. I agree with what you say. It is true. But please use scripture verses which contrast Mormon cult theology with the Holy Bible which they say has errors. Here is a test for Mormons you may meet on the street. Is God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit one God? Yes/No or PCSR (Politically Correct Sidestep Response). I am also on facebook. Keep up the telling of the truth about Mormons. They may get much respect if Mitt is elected and have their blasphemous theology embraced by lukewarm religious people. Acts 17:11 Sincerely in Christ my God and Savior, KM

      October 19, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  5. Jacob

    When the man with Muslim bend and communist agenda in his backpocket is trying to fool this country, I would say better listen to the preacher who has reputation. If association of Obama with Frank Davis Marshall does not wake this country up then what would? if the country cannot wake up to the fact that our president has close relationship with Vladimir Putin to cripple this nation. When would this nation rise , even when the president cut security personals in Libya to make us weak. When would this nation rise? Our hard money is being sent to rogue nations and no one here in this country care?

    October 19, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • saywaaat

      only a moron/mormon can call someone a muslim and a communist. do you know what those words mean buddy??

      October 19, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • Baptist Minister

      You speak lies. President Obama is a devout Christian!!
      Repent of your ways, abandon these satanical beliefs, while you still can!

      October 19, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  6. Nero

    Wow, I'm an atheist and I still had respect for Billy Graham. Not anymore.

    October 19, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • JJ

      Respect? How so? He hates atheists, Jews and Muslims the most...in that order.

      October 19, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  7. Cocepcion Mejia

    I am glad that many of my fellow Americans has found out what kind of manipulator and lier is Romney. He can manipulate honorable people like Rev. Graham; MORMONS DO NOT BELIEVE IN CHRIST AS THEIR SAVIOR; THEIR PROPHET IS JOSEPH SMITH AND PROMOTE HIS FACE. MORMONISM IS A SECT. He also uses situations that are painful like mentioning the SEAL that lost his life in Libia. The mother of this honorable man called Romney to ask him to stop using his son for political purposes. In close door he discredit American citizens for who he does not care. A rich man like him, do you think will care about middle class and low class? If he wins, he will use the power to enrich himself and his rich friends. It also most probably that he would get us into another war in order to sell weapons so the rich get richest by selling them, and our honorable soldiers will die. We do not need another war like the one that Bush got into for petroleum which put us in this economical crisis. He promises to create jobs like he is a magician. When Obama took power the economy was loosing 800,000 jobs a month, now the economy has the basic to recovery and already is doing, even though no like all of us would like to see, but it has been prove that it would take more than 8 years to get out from this crisis who ever be a president. Let him continue his work and vote for him. At least he can understand middle class and lower class since he know what is to fight and strive to get the American dream. Romney born reach and does not know was is suffering or be poor. Also, has ask yourself why he does not want to release his income taxes, what is he hiding?

    October 19, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  8. Ed

    Start taxing these people.......let's stop pretending that organized religion isn't influencing our government.

    October 19, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • Baptist Minister

      My small church would be happy to pay some sort of reasonable "tax"! If it meant the LDS church had to disclose it's finances and also pay an equally reasonable "tax"!

      October 19, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
  9. Michael Q

    Another old white wacko who made his fortune conning the peasants out of their savings. It is time that the voter recognizes the American version of christianity has sold them out so a few who have taken advantage can continue their greed. The only answer is to destroy this new extremist white Republican party in the Congress, the Senate and the Executive Branch.

    October 19, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  10. Doug foland

    Take their DAMN TAX EXEMPT status away.....
    If these FAR RIGHT Christians think....If going to church
    makes you a CHRISTIAN? Does going to church make
    you a CAR?

    October 19, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  11. Charlotte

    Those ad buys come by any chance from all that 501(c)3 tax-free income from the Church, Billy? If so you may have just committed a felony. Oh, and Mary, dear, your history ignorance is showing. That "UNDER GOD" crap didn't get added into the verbiage until the mid-50's during the oh-so-honorable-and-godlike MacCarthy era. Your tinfoil is slipping, Sweetie-poo. Now go back to your fairy tales and let the grown-ups handle things, why dontcha?

    October 19, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
  12. RayJacksonMS

    Just goes to show ole Billy was just another lying con artist christian all along.

    October 19, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
  13. Tom Adams

    What sort of promise did Mitt make? That all future Supreme Court candidates would have to be approved by a religeous council. That the lies that the so called Christian preachers tell will be made the law of the land. This country was founded based on the beliefs of Satan, not Jesus, and Satan has always been the guiding force behind the advances made by this country. If you look at the history of this country and what it has done to people here and around the world you will understand that none of this has anything to do with Christ.

    October 19, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
  14. saywaaat

    is it a coincidence that Mormons and Morons sound the same . does anyone believe that jesus came to the new world??? one can have multiple wives as young as nine or ten??? their prophet Smith believed in all that. smith was a pedophile and a moron.

    October 19, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • Charlotte

      No more ridiculous than all the hogwash Christianity has cooked up. Merely a bit newer. But no more believable for people who actually use a brain.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
  15. K. May

    Billy Graham has long been a spiritual leader and motivator in my Christian walk – since the 1960s. This changes everything.

    October 19, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
  16. pbi

    SO what happened to the law of separation of church and state? This organization is tax exempt. This org is really run by Franklin Graham. Billy Graham is most likely unaware of anything going on.

    October 19, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  17. Mormons are too weird - it makes me wanna go poopy

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3BqLZ8UoZk&w=640&h=390]

    October 19, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  18. Hmmmm

    This is wrong, just plain wrong.

    October 19, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  19. Eric Lockhart

    Just a few days ago, Billy Graham's own website identified Mormonism as a dangerous cult. Now, that's been deleted from the site. I bet poor Billy had dementia. It's probably his money-hungry son, Franklin Graham, who is actually buying these ads for RobMe. He's turned preaching the Gospel into big-business and is obviously in cahoots with the wealthy.

    October 19, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • Charlotte

      Christianity is a dangerous cult. Pot, meet kettle.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
  20. Dave

    It takes a lot to surprise me; but these posts do. So many of these posts are filled with more hate than a Klan meeting lit with burning crosses. Hate is hate whether it's from a moron in a white sheet or a goofball with a Prius nibbling on wine and cheese. If you want to cast stones at Graham, you'd better grab a couple boulders for the "Reverend" Al Sharpton and the "Reverend" Jessie Jackson. Or is campaigning allowable as long as the preacher is on your side? And why should people of faith have to shut up just because you disagree with them?

    October 19, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • David Rich

      thank you...politics brings out the worst in people. i am an agnostic and am shocked by the hate i have read about a man that has helped so many

      October 19, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • Nero

      Dave, don't be so ignorantly foolish. Is Al Sharpton or Jessie Jackson buying ad space to benefit obama? No they aren't. Maybe they haven't taken enough money from their followers.... graham obviously has if if he can afford political ads. He should be taxed retroactively as the money he's spending on these ads was probably tax free through the church. He should be ashamed of himself.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • Nero

      But I have to admit, I don't hate Billy Graham and maybe I haven't seen some of the worst posts. I have lost respect for Billy Graham, but I don't hate him.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:56 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.