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.
Billy Graham is all that is wrong with religion. He is a farce that pushes pagan traditions and Greek mythology as Bible truth. This man is far removed from Bible truth. On the one hand he says follow Jesus, but then says a president should back Israel. People that do not believe that Jesus even exists. The fact is that they lost their status as Gods "chosen people" when they regretted his Son and had him killed. Mr Graham, you are not a man of God. If you were you would be promoting Gods kingdom and not mans.
But Jesus was a Jew, right? And Christians are by their belief "grafted onto the tree" of Judaism.
I really don't give a hoot about what you said... but... can we count on your vote for President Obama then since Rev. Billy endorsed Romney ? :D
(retelling of David Hume's argument)
Billy Graham and his old time religion, is just that! He has sucked up to every President who would let him ... Obama didn't care and he knows it!
Separation of Church and States !!!! If religious organizations are going to have a political opinion then they can pay taxes just like everyone else. TAX Billy and every single religious group that has openly supported a candidate regardless of the side. This is ridiculous, if they have a political agenda on gay marriage, abortion, etc. they are politically active. Tax them just like everyone else. The IRS should also be free to go back 7 years and collect past due taxes.
It is hard for those who look at Graham as a man of God and Justice to know he has worked behind the scenes to promote hatred of those who are not white or Christian. The delusional who litter the pages with :" he bailed MLK out" and disavowed anti semitism years ago forget what he has spawned- a son who he turned the keys over to, A son who is full of hate for anyone who has differences from the the Christian Anglo Saxon hetero conservative, I know it is hard to except that this is a soon to be minority slipping from its grip of total domination. Graham- a man who in back rooms- made sure the less than white and Christian suffered is facing his special reward- very soon.
Bill gram will do any thing to get that black man out of the whitehouse
Billy Graham is as much a hypocrite as the republican party and are strange bed fellows.He never liked the Mormon cult and railed against it last election but because money talks the senile Graham has changed his tune and should be ashamed for selling out his Christian beliefs for the cult of Mormon..Romney going to give Graham some magical underoos or is he going to baptise Graham after he's dead,just asking its possible isn't it!!It just goes to show there should be more strengent guidelines on seperation of church and state ,Graham as well as Romney know he can get in trouble with the IRS for advocating for Romney and the IRS should step in,quit looking the other way people its not legal ,treat it as such!!
Amen Brother! He learned that trick from Romney. Change your story or lie, it doesn't matter. It's all for a good cause. To get people to believe in what you say so that you can get more money from them.
He wants to get into politics? Fine. As soon as we start taxing his church.
Just when you thought that dead Billy was silent. Look out for the death-bed money-grasp as the organization makes one last-ditch stand for "more money" in the coming weeks.
Oh and the crusades. What about all those priest pedophiles? Yeah, you christians are just great...
I guess "The most famous and revered pastor in America" wants his church to be taxed
So we have nutcase Billy Graham endorsing Romney, and Honey Boo Boo endorsing Obama.
I swear, if I wake up tomorrow and see four horsemen riding across the sky, I will simply shrug, nod, and stay in bed.
God Bless America.
By the way preachers in America has no credibility at all.They don't live by what they preach.They tell us not to steal but many pastors were put in jail for theft. So who cares what Billy Graham endorses it helps nothing.
I love and respect Billy Graham.
i respect and love Billy Graham. But I do not totally agree with what he is doing starting from an interview he gave to Larry King in CNN.
Mitt Romney said again, during Tuesday's presidential debate, that on Day 1 in office he'll declare
China a 'currency manipulator'
Why in the world would I vote for Romney? Why would I want my future president to make such a horrible proclamation?
So on Romney's very first day he will have lied if he doesn't call China or he will pickup the phone and start on a bad foot
with China on his first day. There is no win for anyone here, especially the American people. Don't vote Romney.
(music track from Randy Newman's Faust)
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.