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 was the only "famous" pastor I respected. He was the nation's pastor – because he didn't play politics...until now. I have totally lost respect for him. Very sad.
Dr. Graham isn't playing politics here. He's dribbling his soup. This is all Franklin Graham's doing. He has sold out his father's legacy and his soul to shill for the GOP.
It's probably at the urging of his family ~ he's very elderly and not well. Please don't misplace your judgement.
I trust Gaddafi than American preachers. WAIT FOR A STONE TO GIVE A BIRTH TO ANOTHER STONE THAN WAITING AMERICAN PREACHERS TO PREACH THE TRUTH.
Religion, Politics and Money - or, for short, CORRUPTION - the Devils work, indeed ! ! !
THIS is precisely the combination that drives the Muslim Terrorists against us ! ! !
The paticular BRAND NAME of the religion in a given mix with politics is completely IR-relevant to the ultimate CORRUPTION against the interests of mankind ! ! !
Billy : YOU are sinning ! ! ! . Soooooo sad !
If I wanted to live in a backward theocracy run by imbeciles, I could move to Afghanistan and take my chances with the Taliban. Billy Graham's a remarkably primitive dude.... his understanding of the world is that of a five-year-old being home-schooled by fanatical Baptists; but he isn't five, he's just a mouthy 90 year old child.
Do you think our great grandchildren will say the same thing about us?
Up until just last week the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's web site said that Mormons were a cult. Now that page from their site has strangely disappeared.
Hypocrisy, thy name is Billy Graham!
Well, I swan ! - Re-Marketable ! ! ! . Re-Marketable Billy, himself ! ! !
The last human drive to vanish with age is – – – –
GREED ! ! !
"Hypocrisy, thy name is Franklin Graham." He is the one whose editorial appears in the USA Today, extolling the idea of a new Moral Majority – something his father would never publically endorse.
Let's give Rev. Graham a break...this totally smells of Franklin who is currently responsible for his father.
Prayer changes things
The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.
I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".
I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:
I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
by the Alzheimer's Disease Society
I don't force my beliefs on anyone. Doesn't matter to me if the Grahams give money to Romney or not for ads. That's the least of the real worry which people should have. And God can take care, more than adequately, of Himself. And He will. Wait and see...
The God-in-Office has forcefully demonstrated his complete IN-competence and lack of even elemental mercy many, MANY times in these times ! ! !
I suggest that we post a new celestial executive search ! ! ! - with better benes !
I DID tell you last time that haggling over compensation was a bad, BAD move ! ! !
"Rocked with Scandal"? Never. I've followed his career as an evangelist since I was a little kid. There were people who tried, but they couldn't get anything off the ground because there just ISN'T anything in Graham's life that was scandalous.
Saying such things doesn't make it true. It's not. Never happened.
On rare occasion, some men really DO live decent Godly lives, which is very frustrating for those who hate them."
Sorry, but you're wrong. Have you forgotten the anti-semitic and racial comments between Mr. Graham and President Nixon??
My fellow Christians, I would like you to look very closely to the fact written in the Word of God, that in the last days the anti-Christ would not allow anyone to eat, drink or do any business, except they take the mark of the beast. Today, we have in America, a candidate who tells his fellow business leaders to tell their employees that if they don't vote for him, they would lose their jobs. Essentially, he is preventing them from eating, drinking or doing any business.
While I am not calling anyone the anti-Christ, I do believe that the similarities are profound.
you're an idiot and a looney
If you're talking about Obama, and I don't know if you are, I doubt seriously he's the Anti-Christ. He's not astute or intelligent enough. As a matter of fact, I doubt Romney is either, but for different reasons. However, people can be anti-christs. There are fair number of those running loose currently, and some of them don't even know it.
I don't think either is the anti-christ.
You seriously underestimate Obama: Obama is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was president of the Harvard Law Review. He taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School. Top schools can be hard to get into (unless a parent is an alumnus).
I'm struggling to understand why an individual's personal perspective becomes headline news.
Because for years the christian orthodoxy a la Graham was that mormonism was a cult and it was not a christian sect. Now, the beliefs he has held and publicly stated for decades are pushed aside after a short meeting to further his political hopes. If only he were religious – he could have prayed for the result and not made himself look so cynical.
I agree with you Sonia
I think it is his who is actually behind it.....if Billy Graham is supporting a heartless liar he is not doing well mentally....
An attempt by a 'Christian' to buy votes? I'd throw in here a story about Jesus in the temple, something about being p1ssed at the Pharisees with money, but I'd hate to point out obvious hypocrisy.
You have a problem with Christians buying votes with their own money, but it bothers you not that The Obamabster from Chicago buys your votes with my money. Glory be to you and the remaining 46.999999%.
Explain how President Obama is buying votes with taxpayer money.
SAD FOR FOOL AMERICAN PREACHERS TO IMMERSE THEMSELVES IN POLITICS. WE KNOW ALL OF THEM ARE RACISTS.
I Totally agree with you. You are absolutely right.
SONIA, U ARE THE KKK MEMBER HONEY, GOD I CANT STAND U BIGOTED LIBERAL IDIOTS, OBAMA SUCKS FOOLS
A few years later, Michele Bachmann's husband (gay guy) learned how to turn off the shift key . . .
The genuinely dumbest thing for Romney to do is to brown-nose American Puritan Ethic religious folk when he's advocating the rescue of The American Economy ... only latter will define how much freedom – on any level, materialistic, religious, other – any of us will have. Let's make certain that Church & State remain separated ... as they should be. Goodness Gracious ... here we are in the 21st century, and America demonstrates it has got yet quite a way to go.
One more proof of why we need separation of Church and State. Any religious organization that publishes an ad outside of their church organization that is so obviously partisan should have their tax exemptions revoked.
OBAMA IS SO YESTERDAY
If you have any brain at all "gay guy", why don't you try using it and give us something with some more substance. So far you are just a bag of air.
Go Mr. Graham, we love u and Romney
It is sad to see that every body is mocking on Christianity because of fool preachers. I totally respect billy Graham but I totally disagree with him on this point. HE IS TO TALLY WRONG TO SUPPORT MORMONISM OVER CHRISTIANITY.
"This is religion and Jesus Christ. This is religion, cheaply priced!"
So Mitt's money is even buying religion and religious leaders. Just how far and corrupt will the GOPs go? However, if you do read the Bible, you realize it is all about the Jews and Israel......the rest of the world and it's people don't seem to exist.
@ whitepine: you are way off on what the Bible is basically about...
Just how far will the Romney campaign go?
Would they pay off a complicit son to pervert the words and the legacy of a life's work of an 94 year old man that evangelicals admire, just to get their votes?
Yes they did.
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.