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.
Christians don't go to war, however they don't go to France either.
Christians give money and help fellow humans and not Corporations.
Seems like Republicans are not Christians
in 2004 the pope called on catholics not to vote for W the butcher who started wars in foreign countries.
nobody listen then. why would anybody listen to a 94yr old fool?
tax churches if they get into politics
If you vote your faith it is hard to imagine that your could support the Republican platform. But wait ... the evangelical "fake" christians no worship money, greed, corruption and wealth instead of Jesus.
@ Mike: it certainly is a hard choice...
a Protestant liberal who supports anti-biblical stances on abortion and marriage *by quoting the Bible*, whose Catholic running mate openly chooses politics over the teachings of his faith
a henotheist who has no concern for the "least of these", and whose Catholic running mate sees no contradiction between his faith and Ayn Rand's atheistic political ideologies
Well, this is just another indication that Billy Graham has become senile.
No, he's just giving his sheep the middle finger before he checks out and get's whisked up to meet Jeeeesus.
I believe such blatant involvement of religion with the political process is dangerous to our democracy. In that regard, I feel we seem to have fallen back into dangerous behavior that reflects the problems that existed when the country was founded.
There was a significant amount of persecution between different Christian sects going on around the time of the founding, so it should not be any surprise that the key founders had an immediate need for the separation of church and state. This is probably why the opinions of the key founders are so obvious:
James Madison (our 4th President, was the chief architect of the U.S. Constitution):
During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.
(A Memorial and Remonstrance, addressed to the Virginia General Assembly, 1785)
and ten years later . . .
Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects?
(A Memorial and Remonstrance, addressed to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of VA, 1795)
Thomas Jefferson (our 3rd President, was the key author of the Declaration of Independence)
Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. State churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of the church tends to make the clergy unresponsive to the people and leads to corruption within religion. Erecting the "wall of separation between church and state," therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.
(Letter (as POTUS) to the Virginia Baptists (1808))
and then of course we have clarifying moments in history such as:
President John Adams and the U.S. Senate on behalf of the U.S.
As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion;
(from Article 11 of the U.S. treaty ratified with Tripoli in 1797)
Senator John F Kennedy said on Sept. 12, 1960, just prior to his winning the Presidential election:
I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.
Good post! I have many of these quotes from the Founding Fathers saved also.
So you think people who have a religious axe to grind should keep quiet ... keep their religion as a private hobby. Tell that to Rev. King, who saw civil rights movement very much as a religious movement. The same could be said for suffragettes or Lincoln. I don't think this country would be better off if they kept out of politics.
How does this Mfer get tax exempt status as a religion & then take out a political ad? What the F–k is wrong with this country?
U liberals on here are bigoted fools, u hate gays blacks christians ANYTHING REPUBLICAN, ROMNEY IS GOING TO WIN THE ELECTION AND I HOPE ALL U HATEFUL FOOLS LIBERALS DROP DEAD
Is it backwards day?
Miswest rail, SAY IT TO MY GAY FACE, BIGOTED FOOL
I doubt very serious that you are gay – well I suppose you could be Michele Bachmann's husband – that kind of gay. lol
What do you know, more conservative my way or the highway nuts believing its god's will they BUY this election. What will they say if Romney loses? Surely not, 'it was gods will.' They will just complain all the time as they already do. And supporting a Mormon over a Christian? Wow, hypocrisy and lying is at an all time high.
Obama is a damn muslim, he isnt a christian
Billy Graham is a liar, a soothsayer, and a hypocrite. God does not love lying old hateful bigots.
My guess is , unlike you, he is somewhat educated
He's like 96 for crying out loud. He probably doesn't remember if he ate pureed peas or farina for lunch ... and probably couldn't tell. Cut the guy some slack. The criminals are his handlers and ... of course ... Romney himself, who is just sucking up to conservatives.
Willard is such a suck up...it's all posing to pander to the right wing crack pots
I have completely lost my respect for this old man. I used to go to church religiously, but after all I have seen in most religious leaders, I stopped. I still believe in God. As my friend Andrew puts it "Graham just sold his soul to the devil's political christians." Amen
The man probably doesn't have any clue as to what he's doing or how his money is being spent. Go easy on him. He's got one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.
"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.""
Billy Graham – I used to respect you as a person of faith even though I do not share your Evangelical views, now sir I can say I'm astounded by your hypocrisy but not shocked. You have definitely lost any respect I had for you.
You need to do a bit more research, not just babble the MSNBC bumper slogans. After meeting, Graham said he still had issues with Mormonism, but felt the evils of the democratic platform outweighed his differing religious views
So we soon be seeing Graham toting around the Book of Mormon?? Doubt it. What a sell out. I used to respect the guy but over the years it has eroded.
Billy has a meeting with Mitt, takes the cult reference of Mormon out, now he all of a sudden has a big wad of cash to stump for the conservative candidate.....who says the church is not about money? I've been telling people church is a business for years, and they call me crazy...go and use that money Billy and make sure you explain it to your god....you know the old saying what would Jesus do in this situation.....money changers come to mind?
This is Franklin's doing.
That's not real Mitt and Billy. The picture is taken in some wax museum.
More proof that Romney can buy anything – removal of Mormonism from the Graham's "Cult" list and endorsement ads. Shame on the Graham empire. The separation of church and state has once again been violated by those who believe they are exceptions because of their religion.
At least it proves Graham nd the like are simply hypocrites....
Up for a thought?
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.
Thanks for your enlightened response. God isn't the leading cause of death. Satan is, but then again, you don't believe in Satan either. But to quote a famous line in a movie ~, 'You should, he believes in you'.
Sorry friend, you haven't heard? You chose the wrong religion :-o
U straight liberal nuts on here MAKE ME SICK, U ARE CLOSED MINDED FOOLS, GO ROMNEY, WE LOVE U MR. GRAHAM
common troll – seen it before
Trolling should never be this obvious – or boring.
Boy that's a real christian response...aren't you supposed to let your life be a witness to others so they will wonder what great thing you have in your life and want some of that in theirs?
Both Grahams are bigotted racists. I believe in God. I do not believe politically motivated racist preachers.
Reverend Graham always seemed above politics and that earned him my respect. That's gone. Even Billy Graham can't sell out Christianity to a damn politician and believe it something Jesus Christ would advocate. This is ridiculous. Why do we stand back further and further away from our religious leaders? Because of this crap, that's why. There is no such place as REPUBLICAN ONLY HEAVEN. Graham just sold his soul to the devil's political christians.
There is no Republican and Democrat heaven but heaven for those who do the will of God. If God say do not kill and you are a killer, there is no heaven for you. If your mother have killed you when you were in her womb, will you be alive today? Think about it. You cannot escape Judgement of God. This is not about politics but about obedience to the will of God.
Billy Graham didn't do it. Franklin Graham did.
Michael maybe you should read the book you live your life by and quit being a bench warmer, even people who murder can go to your heaven as long as they believe in god and accept him in their lives.
Andrew – great comment! "There is no such place as REPUBLICAN ONLY HEAVEN." That's a great way to put it. I know not all Republicans are evil or hypocrites but it sure is hard to find any comments by a Republican that have any common sense that's for sure.
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.