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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 • Evangelical • Leaders • Politics

soundoff (2,816 Responses)
  1. Thomas

    Romney is not christian – has he duped and confused Billy Graham? Or is Billy Graham on so much medication, he is not able to see truth any longer? I am saddened that Billy Graham is doing this. I never gave money to his organization so he could push one candidate over another.

    October 19, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • DD

      He is much closer to a Christian than a Muslim is...

      October 19, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Thomas,

      this is all Franklin's doing. Read his USA Today editorial.

      October 19, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
  2. Haalilio

    Wow, and we're trying to stop other countries from their theocratic ways? What a crazy world ... pandering does payoff. I must say. I firmly believe in the separation of church and state – this is a very good example of why we need to remember that.

    October 19, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
  3. Christianity is False and Immoral. (Christopher Hitchens)

    October 19, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
  4. Famous Atheists in Science and Technology

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_atheists_in_science_and_technology
    check out the number of Nobel laureates in this list

    October 19, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • DD

      Hey, didn't Obama win a Nobel peace prize for doing... Nothing???
      Shows how reliable the Nobel awards are...

      October 19, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
  5. Hearmenow

    That video is disturbing!

    October 19, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
  6. Deva

    Frank, it's time you change your faith!

    October 19, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
  7. big bird

    2 words!!! Electoral map!!! Obama is at 230 from his strong and likely states, Romney is at 170 with all his strong and likely states... Obama will make 270 if he gets just a few barely Dem. states while Romney needs all of them and VA. to win!!! Math is the key people and it doesn't lie!

    October 19, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @big bird

      Yes... the math is key. I think the numbers are actually 217-Obama 191-Romney.

      However, it looks like a very difficult road for Romney to over-take Obama.

      http://elections.huffingtonpost.com/2012/romney-vs-obama-electoral-map

      Peace...

      October 19, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
  8. DD

    What a decision this year, the clueless Muslim vs the Businessman Mormon.... What happened to real leadership?

    October 19, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • glorydays

      What happened to intelligent people?

      October 19, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • DD

      Yeah, I know right? We are the top nation in the world and Obama and Romney are the best contenders to run it?!?!?!?

      October 19, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • Tommy

      DD, it is 2012 you still in that muslim thing. It didn't work 2008 and it wont work now.

      October 19, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • Haalilio

      I guess it's people like you who just keeps slinging the trash – facts and truth seems to escape you.

      October 19, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • DD

      He hates Israel, appologizes for US actions to Muslims and has promised to "stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction."

      Sorry, not a Christian...

      October 19, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
  9. Tommy

    Just drop dead it is time for you to go. You are use less pracher.

    October 19, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • delmasa

      Just what is called for, ads of a meeting between clueless and the senile preacher. When was the last time Graham came off his hill in Asheville except for a hospital stay?

      October 19, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
  10. Ricky Gervais On Religion and Atheism

    October 19, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
  11. IndeePendant

    Billy the Silly Grumpy old man. You are finally on the deathbed. At least now, shut up and pray. Don't interfere into others' lives in the guise of God an religion. The very fact that you have lived so long proves that God is punishing you by keeping you alive for a long time.

    October 19, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  12. James

    Mormons are a cult. Just look at their beliefs. Not even close to anything else. And they hate. Hate woman, gays, everyone that is not Mormon. Graham should have stuck to his preaching the Bible and let politics alone.

    October 19, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  13. Why are You Not a Christian? (Bertrand Russell)

    October 19, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
  14. Dr. Ramsey

    Well, Billy Graham can now be diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer's. Because he believes in Jesus Christ, I know he will be forgiven. Thank God! Everybody is a sinner... hence, the full page ads.

    October 19, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  15. R. Watters

    This appalling. Franklin is destroying decades of his fathers legacy by taking advantage of his fathers age and his political ambitions. If there is any truth to where a person of the Christian faith stands, not they will stand with a non Christian over a Christian leader answers the question. Personally, could not not be more distasteful and obvious. Perhaps my so called Christian brothers need to read Galatians 1. If Mormons try to evangelize Christians to their un-Christian point of view, they have now reached the highest ranks. This is not a moral issue, this is a spiritual issue. Never again can Christians refer to America as a Christian nation. Never again will the discussion of church vs. state have ANY crededence. Baffeling.

    October 19, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  16. BH

    Billy Graham should be shut down. He is a common large scale con artist in the league with Madoff

    October 19, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
  17. Nero

    All monotheistic religions are dangerous. Haven't you notice how they all preach intolerance? Guess what intolerance leads to... Hate. Most, not all, but most Christians are really good at hating. They especially hate gay people. Which is crazy because if god were really to exist, then he's the one that made people gay. Hey, some people are both with both female and male genitalia. God really screwed up there, eh?

    October 19, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • DD

      LOL, maybe you should read the Bible and you would understand this. It is all explained in there...

      October 19, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • Nero

      meant to say "born" with both male and female genitalia...

      October 19, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • Nero

      I've read the bible. Tell me what passage describes Hermaphrodites?

      October 19, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • DD

      Yeah right, from reading your post there is no way that you have read the Bible. You should try it, it is enlightening...

      October 19, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • Nero

      Oh yeah, the fairy tale that everyone was created perfect until the flood that wiped out everyone on the planet. Likely story. Very convenient. So if everyone was created perfect, what went wrong?

      October 19, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • DD

      ROFL, yup, like I said, you haven't read it...

      October 19, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • Nero

      oh yeah, god gave us all free will. So why does he endow some people with good looks and disfigure others? What did they do to deserve that? Nature, not god. It's called Evolution. It's real. We can see it and guess what? It only makes sense. Plenty of proof that life evolves and changes over time. No proof that god is real. Get over it.

      October 19, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • Nero

      Okay, I haven't read it. But I grew up in a damn church and heard it all. And I'm getting the last laugh because you believe in fairy tales. I'm in touch with reality

      October 19, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • DD

      Then you probably grew up in a very religious church. Kinda like the people Jesus rebuked and condemned. You should try to read the Bible so you have a clue what you are trying to condemn. You would be surprised.

      October 19, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • cdukes

      @Nero...

      So if DD believes in fairytales... that how do you explain, that you truly believe man evolved from apes... and yet... we can stare at an ape for years an never see it evolve into man... would we not still be seeing evolution, or does it just stop with a few men from apes, and then procreation.... I think Nero you are living in a fairytale.

      October 19, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • Concerned Citizen

      @cdukes

      that was painful to read. Honestly, do you really think watching an ape for a couple of years is going to produce any sort of evolution? That's just stupid

      As for Nero, you're asking good questions that DD is determined not to answer because he/she is too much of a coward to do so. Having read the bible it's easy to fall into a couple of categories; 1. there are ugly disfigured people because of satan, 2. god has his ways, 3. everyone has their own trials to go through, some because of outer ugliness and some from within.

      Regardless, it's got to make you wonder why god would keep sending souls to earth with different imperfections, allow them the "free will" to try and get over it and then maybe allow them back into heaven. It seem like a supremely silly exercise that's probably more of a joke than anything else.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
  18. Welcome to this world . . .

    October 19, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
  19. Robert

    If you want to force your religious views on me, then that helps me sum up who i'm casting my vote for!!!

    October 19, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
  20. glorydays

    Christians have become US extremist and terrorists. I want them to stay out of my government.

    October 19, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • DD

      Yup, you gotta watch out for those Christians that behead people, throw acid on women and put on suicidde vests and blow people up... Wait a minute, that isn't Christianity...

      October 19, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • glorydays

      The NRA.... nuff said.

      October 19, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • JJ

      Christians are more subtle but their effects are as devistating.

      October 19, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • DD

      The NRA??? So you don't like people who stand up for Constututional rights either?

      October 19, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • Nero

      Oh DD, now I'm really really really laughing at you. Christians have murdered and burned innocent people at the stake. Christians have as much blood on on their hands since the inception of christianity as the muslims do. Okay, maybe not in the last 100 years or so, but as far as I'm concerned, you all still do have blood on your hands.

      October 19, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
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About this blog

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.