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 going mormon so he can get some strange... probably wants to add a few more wives before he croaks.
I TOTALLY AGREE YOU ARE RIGHT.
Le's hope it's your last! Say hello to Jesus for me!
You SIR ARE A NASTY UGLY PERSON, GRAHAM IS A FINE MAN JUST LIKE ROMNEY, IM GAY AND I SUPPORT ROMNEY BECAUSE HE DOESNT LIE EVERY TIME HE OPENS HIS MOUTH LIKE OLIEBO HUSSEIN DOES
Hey gay guy, go to politifact.com and see just how much he lies! All politicians do. Even Obama, but guess what??? Romney lies more.
Which one is fundamentally wrong ? Is it saying Joseph Smith the Mormon Prophet greater than Jesus ? or Supporting gay marriage Preachers ? Or the Book of the Mormon to greater than the Bible or supporting abortion issue ? Preachers I need an answer.
Sonia, I love you! Such a great point. I'd say Christianity has no leg left to stand on with this betrayal. I mean, Billy Graham is as good as endorsing Mormonism
A man fell to his knees and cried GOD WHY DID YOU NOT PROTECT OUR CHILDREN FROM THE GUNMAN THAT CAME IN THEIR SCHOOL AND SHOT THEM. GOD answered BECAUSE I AM NOT ALLOWED TO GO TO SCHOOLS ANY MORE . Our children cannot pray in school but when something happens people are so quick to blame GOD. Now that it is time again for us pick our leader GOD is a big thing. So when are we going to allow prayer back in our life not just every four years? My GOD has no color but our leader's GOD is GREEN and you can put him in your pocket.
Consulted on ad and signed off....
This man was above politics... he was an inspiration. NOW they have made him and old fool!
I blame his pathetic activist son... What a shame. They have destroyed all the years of good will Billy Graham built up for one stupid political ad.... Sad Very Sad.
truly said. Franklin's PR guy for 21 years is Romney's evangelical ambassador – Mark DeMoss, a former Moral Majority employee.
Today Franklin said there needs to be a new "Moral Majority". 33 years after Billy Graham refused to join the Moral Majority, Jerry Falwell has his revenge from the grave.
Did Dr. Graham really mean what he is saying? Namely, "cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles? Which bible did he have in mind? Should one not instead vote one's conscience?
Hey Do you think any preacher cares for anyting in America. They are all bigots.They are racists. Mormonism is not based on Biblical priciples but Billy Graham true picture finally came out.
The Reverend Billy is what he is, mean, hateful, anti-semetic (See the Nixon tapes), racial bigot; but, that's okay. It's a free country. How in the world does he get the tax-exempt status? Look at the Graham/Romney hypocracy. Graham's a multimillionaire who's part of the 47%. He doesn't pay taxes!
ALL THOSE LYING PREACHERS WHO RALLY BEHIND THE MORMON WILL BE ASHAMED WHEN OBAMA WINS THE ELECTION. ARE THEY GOING TO BLAME GOD FOR THEIR PRAYERS NOT BEING ANSWERED ? God is not a racist preachers.
“We establish no religion in this country. We command no worship. We mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are and must remain separate.” – Ronald Reagan
I never ever in my lifetime thought that I would agree with Reagan, but he hit the nail right on the head. And he was a Republican to boot.
So what? My spirit is just as important as anyone elses.
What is going to happen to Billy and Mitt when they find out macaroni is black, such bigets
so much for separation of church and state.......these glorified "ministers" need to stop trying to blend politics and religion.
People on this blog are the ultimate shame of America.
The society you hope to create is the very society that will break you.
Religion is what breeds intolerance and hate and is what is going to destroy this nation. This nation was founded under freedom of religion, which means you can believe whatever you want without being persecuted. But you crazy christians do persecute people. You think we all should believe in god and think like you. Well you can go to he!!
Here we go again the sheep are herded into the temples where reason and common sense is left at the door.
And most of the Black people I know voted for Obama, not on his record or experience, but because he was black. Now, who are the sheeple?
Uh huh. I'm sure you know LOADS of black people...../sarcasm off
I love Lewis Black. One of my favorite comedians.
Don't think he's necessarily one of the evangelicals favorites.
Graham took out ads? So what? TD Jakes heavily supported Obama, yet I didn't see ANYONE trashing him on CNN...
Did TD Jakes buy ad space or change his mind about a cult all of the sudden not being a cult?
Reason, science, scholarship and centuries of learning are forbidden by the bigot. No, Obama is not a Muslim but an American Christian. America is no longer the land of White, Christian, Hetero Men Ruling the World. Your FEAR is illuminating and must be tearing you up. Just like the senile Mr. Graham and his more hateful son and his shrinking army of the faithfully ignorant and those burning with the sin of hatred. And those in violation of our tax laws.
Messing with China is Suicidal to US president.If Romney does that China will retaliate and stop importing US goods and unemployment in US manufacturing Jobs will be enormous and unemployment will be 25%. So Why vote for this Stupid Romney.
LOL, most of our manufacturing jobs left America for China. Macs used to be made in the US now they closed all of their US factories and have tens of thousands of Chinese workers making your iPhone...
You must be chinese. and an idiot. if we do nithing about china there will be no USA knucklehead
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.