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.
Romney, go meet the people for Freeport Illinois. Don't drive past them. See what you are doing to american workers!
Hey Gay Guy, quit being such a drama queen! All politicians lie and Romney is one of the best at it. Go to politifact.com and learn some facts instead of spewing ignorant unfounded vitriol
You obviously think you can buy your way in.
No, I don't. It has nothing to do with money. It has more to do with the state of one's soul. Billy Graham has helped a lot of people over the years, and though a person can't gain entry from 'works', it does help to be caring and loving toward other people, instead of nasty, mean spirited, critical, and bitter. Just saying.
Says who? God? If you read history, god is the leading cause of death. And what does being nice do for someone if a murderer can repent his way into heaven? Ignorant baaahhhhhh's from another mindless sheep.
Billy Graham started buying ads in support of candidates who "base their decisions on biblical principles." Just one day before, Graham's website wrote that as a Mormon, Romney was in "A cult ...which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from the biblical message of the Christian faith." The Southern Baptist Convention had it listed under "cults and sects" until this year when they moved it to "newly developed religions" page. Still not Christian. By their own definition, Obama is the only Christian running for president.
Obama is not christian, HE IS VERY ANTI CHRIST, GO ROMNEY, I KNOW ITS HARD WITH ALL THESE EVIL LIBERALS
To gay guy. I'm glad you are gay so you can't have children. I'd feel really sorry for them if you did. You are obviously very confused... very. I really feel sorry for you.
President Obama is more Christian than Billy Gaham. Graham has never worked a day in hs life . Just stood up on tv and printed where for people to send him money. Sold his soul to the devil today!
I am a christian and I use to have a great deal of respect for Billy Graham but not anymore. I wonder how much money Romney gave him to promote this ad. The thing that really gets to me is all the hate for the president from so-called christians. Now granted, George Bush was on the receiving in of a lot of hate too but it was not as intense as the hate for Obama. I just don't get it. I don't agree with the democratic stance on abortion or gay marriage but I'm not going to push my christian beliefs on others. This former Republican is voting for Obama. Why? Because he is for all people and is not greedy for money.
It is unchristian to ousource american jobs.
Right now in freeport il... Romney is behind another american plant closing.. All for profit..
Going ot china to exploit the poor there .. Who must work for 99 cents an hour .. 12 hour days .. One day off a month..
These greedy, evil men.. Are doing all they can to crush people.. The ones they leave behind with no jobs adn the ones they go to exploit..
Evil man..All the while claiming he cares..
And this guy supports that..? Evil...
It's a shame what's happened to Billy. I visited his library here in Charlotte. What made him so great over the years is how he reached across aisle and how inclusive he was for everyone. He's last that in his dwindling years. Sad to see.
This is exactly why the founding fathers in their wisdom formulated the separation of church state. So that lunatics like Graham and Romney don't get to create a theocracy. Outlaw religion it is one of the single most destructive forces on the planet.
So sad a statement...but,so true.
Billy Graham will see the Kingdom of Heaven before any of the rest of you do, and it won't have anything to do with his age.
God bless BILLY GRAHAM, U LIBERALS ON HERE ARE PIGS
Hey gay guy drama queen. You are welcome to your opinion and so am I and I think that you need to get your head screwed on straight, even if the rest of you ain't!
The unquenching flames of HELL will welcome the old bastard's flesh. He will scream for eternity while me and Jeeeesus laugh.
Billy Graham is 94 years old and has been in and out of hospitals. This is Franklin Graham's work. Franklin Graham is a far more right wing guy than his dad. His charitable organization, which I made a donation to, took Sarah Palin with them to Haiti after the earthquake.
Hey Obama is a Muslim guy, did you know that lying is a sin and will cause eternal damnation? You are going to he!! for your lies if their isn't a bigger reason, which I'm willing to bet their is. Hate is also a sin and you obviously are a hater, otherwise you wouldn't be spewing vitriol!
Everyone knows and I mean everyone knows these televangelists are crooked as the day is long. Using religion in the same way charities use crippled and hungry children.
Toss out the lord and the sick kids and reel the money in ...~!!
Just use your heads folks.. These old time tv performers just used God and the goodness of people to get rich.
It's sad that one of the most respected Christian ministers in this country now supports a Mormon for President. Mormonism is a polytheistic religion that believes in a godhead made up of three distinct gods. Mormonism teaches that God the Father is an "exalted man" who "was once a man like us." Mormonism also teaches that by leading a good life here on earth men can become gods in the afterlife: "As man is now, God once was; As God now is, man may be." Do Christians really want a President who believes that he will become a god someday???
@ Denise: You are right to note the stark differences with Mormonism, but consider this:
For the first 3 centuries of Christianity, no Christian could have imagined being able to have a "vote" for the Emperor, much less that he might have any remote ethical reflection of biblical values.
America is not a Christian nation. Just look at the candidates we claim 'represent' us.
I'll take a faithful, consistently moral man over on opportunistic, empty suit failure any day, and yes, twice on Sunday. They're both not orthodox (small "o") Christians, so I prefer the sincere Romney.
Romney is sincerely going to take the middle class to the cleaners if he gets elected. he's a proven liar. He lies at least every other time he opens his mouth
@Nero – your a liberal lemming. You have swallowed the left wing drivel about the middle class, "lies," etc. Tool. How'd your President do on ANY of his promises, esp. cutting deficit in half? Ooops, I mean, adding 50%... who's the liar? I've had 4 years of lies. I'm ready for real leadership, not pandering class warfare. Pull your head out of your a$$
@NO BAA MA, are you f'ing kidding me? Are you really that ignorant? All politicians promise more than they can actually achieve, they all lie too. Every president has done this. How many promises did George Bush or even Ronald Reagan keep? Not all of them, I can assure you. You need to pull your head and shoulders out of your A$$ because Romney lies more than most of them! Got to politifact.com and get the facts you moron!
@Nero the a$$ wipe... your tool of a pres was so naturally lost in 1st debate. Did you see who he really is? Nothing. Empty. Vacuous. No teleprompter, no script = nothing of substance. We all saw it in 2008, so we weren't surprised, like MSNBC was. Who know the Emporer has no clothes, but you leftist tools finally saw him for who he IS. Sure, his handlers had the daunting job of propping him back up again, ran with the memorized lines, etc., but the genie's out of the bottle and you can't stuff it back in. Just check OH and FL polls... truth's out dude. Buckle up for real leadership in JAN 2013. It'll take us 8 years to fix what this dork did in 4. "Forward?" Not over this cliff, thank you.
@NO BAA MA
I do plenty for my friends and my community. I commend you for your humanitarianism. If there was enough people like you, them the government wouldn't have to take care of people. I wish there was. I wish the government didn't have to be there for people who need help. But you aren't enough. If the gov doesn't take care of people, many will suffer because their just isn't enough people who care about others. If anything this trend is only getting worse.
Rev. Graham and his son Graham, are so red that they can't see God because they have no soul. He has fooled all of these so-called christians and right-winged nuts and bigots for all of his 94 years.. This is the thinking of the christian right. It is enough to turn you against religion.
I wouldn't vote for a candidate because anyone including a preacher tells me to. I would apply some values I was taught were Christian. Care for the poor, care for the widowed care for the old and the children. Then the Bible says "If you want to see the kingdom of heaven and are rich, Jesus had a commandment for you " Se;; A:: you have and give the money to the poor, tKE UP YOU BED AND FOLLOW ME. Thus I can't support the GOP, in order to increase the wealth of the already wealthy they will quit caring for the poor, the elderly the children and the poor.
U turn humans against dembos
Even people who do believe in god know what these televangelists are all about..
Getting the good folks to send them money.. And now he is using that money for what?? To help put an evil man in as president..
I think the truth is obvious..
And trust me , most people of faith know exactly what this man is all about.
@Angela Birch – "caring" for the poor by proxy (i.e., no cost to me, my government hands my taxes out) is not caring for them, it's enslaving them. This only makes "us" feel good because somebody (the gov) is doing something for them. You REALLY want to help them? Cut the gov $$ and walk beside them, help them yourself. The Bible verses say YOU do this, not the gov. When's the last time your fought AGAINST gov welfare and FOR the homeless, WITH the homeless, the poor, the widows and orphans???!! NEVER! You just feel good that some libs take our money, spend 50% on their overhead and salaries, and let "care" trickle down from the government.
@NO BAA MA, how do you help people? You are the one drinking the coolaid! Romney is taking you for a ride and you are raising your hands in the air and screaming with delight at the ride he's giving you. I can't wait until he bends you over and starts giving it to you in the end, because that's what he's going to do if he get's elected and he's going to be laughing the whole time. You are such and ignorant fool!
@Nero – I work in a homeless shelter. Even they relate how insensitive and pointless and uncaring the gov workers are with our $$. I walk with them, help them, feed them and really care for them. You don't really care, you just want to feel good with some lib program to enslave them. My sister works in an Atlanta welfare office. She is aghast at how your "feel good, trickle down care" works when women have more babies so they get more money. You really think you're helping them? Enjoy the kool aid.
Proving "Christianity" is for sale and has been BENT OVER by the corporate tools.
So Mormonism was a 'cult', until the honorable Reverend Graham actually met Mitt Romney?
Anyone care to guess how big Romney's 'contribution' to Christianity was?
Whatever the adds cost plus a whole bunch more.
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.