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October 18th, 2012
11:45 PM ET

Billy Graham buys election ads after Romney meeting

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.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Leaders • Politics

soundoff (2,816 Responses)
  1. Faulke Yue

    If Mr Graham endorses Romney we know where ole Billys faith lies....for the rich and liars of goverment...who is Graham to denounce even one sinful act in this society..? Guess ole Billy only pulls the verses out of the Bible that he feels is justifed...unbelievable..

    October 19, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
  2. Bob

    Hey Billy, you senile old f&%k! Keep your opinions to yourself.

    October 19, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • gay guy

      I THINK LIBERALS SUCK

      October 19, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • wow - Michele Bachmann's hubby gets testy before bedtime..lol (gay guy)
      October 19, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • Nero

      @gay guy. You have no valid argument because you know we are right and you are wrong. That's the only reason for name calling and derogatory remarks. Again, I really feel sorry for you. You must not be right inside the head.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • george

      I agree with you 100%, I can't wait for this phoney christian to die and go to hell ( the common resting place aka grave) this evil man is as christian as Satan is, he has blessed wars, gave the green light to presidents to wage war, and now he is endorsing Robmany just shows you where his heart is, I agree with the previous comment he should lose his tax exempt status and just go away.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
  3. Mike Griffin

    Mr Graham has forgotten His and My Teacher said Let Rome deal with Rome and Faith deal with Faith, not the exact word but the meaning is the same. Stay out of Politics you will have enough problems staying with the Word. Right to Life is not (is not) spoken of in the Bible, only thou shall not murder, killing occured all over the old and new testament on God's wishes and not. The Marrage part, again the preachers need to read better, in the bible, fathfull had many wifes and indentured servants that born many of the son's and daughter's of the faithfull and unfaithfull, and not the Judge what the
    other is doing, who is sinless cast the first stone. Voting and opinion on who your voting for is best done in the Voting Stall, let the sheep make up there own mind.

    October 19, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
  4. tam

    Is Billy Graham still all there?

    October 19, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • mlblogsintegrity

      Aside from poor hearing and fading vision, he's still sharp as a tack. I just attended a retreat in Asheville at his training center. He is doing recorded interviews for a final crusade called My Hope. he is very much "there."

      October 19, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
  5. ib1sage

    Was his endorsement of Romney before or after his website pulled down the statement that Mormonism is a cult?
    As a Christian I am appalled at Mr Graham coming out and endorsing Willard. Pathetic!

    October 19, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • mlblogsintegrity

      Oh, get off your high and mighty horse! I am a Christian as well, and not offended in the least. Romneybot isn't going to win anyway, but Billy Graham's organization will continue to do good in our world. Give it a rest!

      October 19, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
  6. Kenneth

    For so long I had so much respect for Billy Graham, because he was always above this sort of crap.
    I am going to chalk it up to advanced age.

    October 19, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Chalk it up to his son Franklin.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • mlblogsintegrity

      It's definitely Franklin's doing. As much as I respect and admire Billy, his son has become a tool for the Tea Party, and that's just too far right for my liking. And, Billy doesn't have anything to do with day to day operations anymore, so chalk this up to Franklin and his old age.

      October 19, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
  7. Blanche

    I am a Romney supporter myself. What a privilege to be an American and get to choose who I want to vote for. Billy Graham has this same right.and I have always respected him and his ministry. However, I am devastated to read in the newspaper this morning of the removal Mormonism from the "Cult" list on the web site of the Billy Graham Foundation. Talk about a "Flip Flopper". Even though Billy Graham and Family want to endorse Mitt Romney, what changed Billy Graham's mind about Mormonism not being a cult? Oh well, I guess Politics / money can change anyone's mind....even at 93 years young. Thanks for supporting Romney, but I am disappointed about the site.

    October 19, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      You agree that it's a cult and you still support him? Weird!

      October 19, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • JoeVet

      Well Blanche, mayb it's about time you learned more about the "cult" in question instead of taking years of false witness as gospel truth. A little due diligence would go a long way. Either it is the Church of Jesus Christ, or it isn't. You wouldn't expect the mainstream religions to accept Christ's church if it was restored, would you? Don't you recall what happened to Christ Himself at the hands of the Pharisees and other established religious leaders of his time? History does indeed repeat itself. No other church in the USA was persecuted as was Mitt's church; killed and ran out of civilization just because of their religion. You ought to learn the story someday, before you repeat too much more false witness...

      October 19, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
  8. Religion is Bullsh!t

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeSSwKffj9o&w=640&h=390]

    October 19, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • scamtannehill

      Thank you !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      October 19, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
  9. UrAverageJoe

    What a shame that at the end of his life he would suddenly change a position he has held and advocated his whole life, that the Mormon church is a cult, to try to influence an election. Perhaps his convictions weren't as solid as we all thought.

    October 19, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • gay guy

      U LIBERALS ON HERE ARE SO MEAN AND BIGOTED, OBAMA IS A SOCIALIST MUSLIM, THATS WHY U LIKE HIM, CAUSE HE BE HATIN AMERICA, HE BE A BAD PRES. CANT U SEE THAT FOR THE CRACK?????? Get OFF THE STAMPS FOOLS

      October 19, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • I guess Michele Bachmann's caps key is stuck and her husband doesn't know it. lol.
      October 19, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • Nero

      @gay guy. Take a chill pill man. Instead of making me mad like you are intending to do, you are just making me really sad for you. I mean, I really feel sorry for you. I hope you figure things out soon... for your sake. I mean, you can't just keep going on like this. If you were jewish during world war II living in germany, you'd be running down the street screaming that you are jewish... just sad... at least Romney won't actually kill you, he's only after your money.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • JoeVet

      Perhaps, and even more likely, your knowledge and sources need upgrades. Ever think about that, or are you a slave to years of false witness about Romney's faith? Do you even know anything about it that you haven't gotten through hearsay?

      October 19, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
  10. If the Evangelicals don't mind Kolob, and Kolob doesn't mind the Evangelicals, heck, why not add a KING!

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVkoQHCXSK8&w=640&h=390]
    Your new King even gets wrapped in a Torah!

    October 19, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • scamtannehill

      BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

      October 19, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      auschwitz and what? This m*r*n can't even remember what the place is called. What an id iot.

      October 19, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
  11. Spike

    You libs are nuts.

    October 19, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • Kenneth

      And you cons are apparently less than bright.
      A lot less...

      October 19, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • Spike

      I'm just happy I got under your skin, Kenny. LOL

      October 19, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • Nero

      we are nuts. but you are just plain crazy. thanks for the laugh you silly repub!

      October 19, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • Spike

      This is funny. I'm amazed at how stupid our electorate is. I guess this blog shows how pathetic our education system is. You libs actually believe you have a clue. Hope the smart ones come out to vote and the stupid ones continue to count on the government to tend to their every need.... But I am really enjoying the evening, thanks!

      October 19, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Spike, who helped you with that complex sentence?

      October 19, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Nero

      @Spike,

      I'm not amazed, I've known how stupid you repubs are for years. The repubs are the most ignorant portion of the electorate, which is obvious. it's a known fact that atheists on average have higher IQ's than religious mormons like you. I'm not laughing becausee it's sad. I really feel sorry for you. Live long in ignorance and don't prosper you fool.

      October 19, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • Spike

      1) Thanks for your compliment on my writing skills. They are impressive indeed.
      2) Nero, are you a Star Trek fan? That would explain your last sentence. However, I'm at a loss to explain your deficiency in writing/punctuation. Do you have a high school diploma? Didn't think so...

      October 19, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
  12. Nero

    @NO BAA MA

    How do you really feel? Obama cares about people and Romney cares about Rich people. It's that simple and yes, that obvious. At least to those of us that think for ourselves. Go to politifact.com and see just how much of a liar all politicians are, but pay special attention to Romney, because his record of lies is bigger than Obama's. Anyways, it's not worth arguing with you. You obviously care very little for facts or you'd know that Romney is a Liar and is pulling the wool over your eyes. He's not pulling it very low though, you are purposely closing your eyes to the truth. You probably just hate obama so much because he is black. Even if you don't realize it... I really feel sorry for you... really I do!

    October 19, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • gay guy

      Obama is a huge LIAR AND HIS BREATH SMELLS OF ETERNAL HELL

      October 19, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • wow - Mrs. Bachmann really sent hubbie gay guy out on a mission tonight. lmao.
      October 19, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
  13. Unknown

    His church should lose it's tax-exemption status then. Pastors are to be neutral in terms of telling the public how to vote.

    October 19, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • k

      Unless there is a clear issue of faith or morals in play. Then they not only may speak up ... they have an obligation to do so.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • Sherri

      I agree. If they are openly endorsing candidates, then they should no longer have tax exempt status. We have a bishop in my hometown who is doing the same thing from his pulpit each week. Come on IRS. Get on this. How come these churches can be tax exempt and yet do what they are doing? Why don't you enforce the law on this one?

      October 19, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • JoeVet

      Baloney. He didn't endorse a candidate or a party by name. He DID, and he most certainly CAN, endorse certain issues which make it clear who he is supporting. Too bad for you and your kind that this election is so clear-cut; there isn't s speck of grey area anywhere for anyone of faith in the true sense. You are going to see Obama go down and go down hard; just wait...

      October 19, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • Up for a thought?

      And everyone has a differing opinion on these, 'morals,' so how about they just shut their mouth? Haven't you read history? Theocracy is not for the intelligent society.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • mlblogsintegrity

      Most likely you have no understanding of the real reasons churches get tax exempt status. You, along with countless others commenting on this topic, are showing your ignorance by calling for the removal of tax exemptions or a scrutiny of taxes. You are either ignorant idiots or atheists afraid of a God you don't believe in. Just a thought.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
  14. SLJ

    If the churches, backwoods preachers, and snake oil salesmen want to endorse candidates and tell their parishioners who to vote for it's time for them all to start paying taxes.

    October 19, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • mlblogsintegrity

      Spoken like a vanquished Catholic or abused altar boy. Just sayin'!

      October 19, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
  15. David

    "I realize this could be my last election."

    Hopefully it will be...

    October 19, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • gay guy

      Drop dead DAVEY BOY

      October 19, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • you drop dead Mr. Bachmann (gay guy). lol.
      October 19, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • Bob

      What Billy actually said was, "I think this might be my last erection." Franklin put a twist on the statement.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  16. Jimy

    Awful, awful Billy Graham. Bought out. I would only venture that son Franklin is behind this action. The Mormons call all non Mormons including CHRISTIANS of all faiths an abomination against God. Now Billy Graham supports one? They are a cult, have been a cult and always will be a cult, founded by the devil to keep people from accepting Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.

    October 19, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Up for a thought?

      Well, you started with what appeared to be an educated, thoughtful dialogue. Then finished by beating a baby with a baseball bat.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • JoeVet

      In your opinion... You are so, so far off base. Better upgrade your sources, ace...

      October 19, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • Snake Dog

      Billy has been dishonest all along. he has led us to believe that his message was inspired & informed by GOD. Billy has always denounced the Mormon Faith. Maybe God changed his mind and gave Billy some new instructions. Right Bill?

      October 19, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • mlblogsintegrity

      What I find the most offensive and also the most humorous is supposed Christians passing judgment on a fellow believer. Kind of hypocritical, wouldn't you agree? Jesus gave all of us an 11th commandment, one that He called the greatest commandment of all... "Love One Another!"

      The churlish and childish attacks on a man who has done so much good are unfounded and mean spirited. One should deal with the log in their own eye before worrying about the splinter in their neighbors eye.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
  17. Dave

    The bible isn't that narrow...Obama espouses many policies I would say are compassionate as Christ would want us to be

    October 19, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Dave: as I posted earlier... it certainly is a hard choice...

      a Protestant liberal who supports anti-biblical stances on abortion and marriage *by quoting the Bible*, and 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

      October 19, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • Dave

      I think Obama is the better choice....I think too many people have a problem with him that is racism cloaked in religion...I'm from Canada, so I live in a different culture....not better on all counts, we have racists here too, just not as many...and most of them are ashamed to speak out

      October 19, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Dave: I'm a Christian. I love Obama's testimony from the 2008 election – but it feels suspi.ciously "staged"... and his stance on abortion and gay marriage certainly evaporates any sense that he actually wants to be biblically faithful. It certainly seems to cast the testimony in a specious light (i.e., ghost-writer).

      Romney is clearly not a Christian (in any historically orthodox sense of the word), and his views on the poor (combined with Ryan's Ayn Rand fan club) are also a major problem.

      But a biblically minded Christian is left to choose the lesser of two evils. hard to quantify such a qualitative discussion, but I'm left weighing the destruction of marriage & devaluing life before birth against devaluing life after birth. I'm going to have to go with Romney.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • JoeVet

      Dave, that is simply not true (your comment below about racism in the US). Obama is a hopelessly Leftist ideologue, and tht is his problem, not racism. If he wasn't a giant sucking chest wound when it came to leadership, he'd be re-elected. We did choose him in 08, didn't we? Your comment makes no sense, and leaves no room for people who disagree with Obama's policies, which is most of the US population; just wait and see. We are a Center/right country, not the kind of country that would re-elect this azzclown.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
  18. Forrest Rhoads

    Poor Billy. Too bad God didn't call him home before he made a complete *ss of himself. And he should confess the extramarital relationship he had with a radish to produce Franklin. The Lord will forgive.

    October 19, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
  19. calbikerman

    The Christian Church needs to have it's tax status scrutinized....(I wont hold my breath)...

    October 19, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • k

      You say that as though there is "one" christian church.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • Wait and See...

      Well, you know Romney won't, and Obama probably won't either ~ but I could be wrong. We'll just have to wait and see.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  20. 111Dave111

    Obama announced ‘Romnesia’, referring to Romney’s efforts to abandon the positions he held in the Republican primary in order to appeal to more moderate voters during the general election.
    "Now, I’m not a medical doctor but I do want to go over some of the symptoms with you because I want to make sure nobody else catches it.
    If you say you’re for equal pay for equal work, but you keep refusing to say whether or not you’d sign a bill that protects equal pay for equal work – you might have Romnesia. If you say women should have access to contraceptive care, but you support legislation that would let your employer deny you contraceptive care – you might have a case of Romnesia. If you say you’ll protect a woman’s right to choose, but you stand up at a primary debate and said that you’d be “delighted” to sign a law outlawing that right to choose in all cases – man, you’ve definitely got Romnesia." [...]
    "And if you come down with a case of Romnesia, and you can’t seem to remember the policies that are still on your website, or the promises you’ve made over the six years you’ve been running for President, here’s the good news: Obamacare covers pre-existing conditions."

    October 19, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • Guy

      O'bama has and will always suffer from a condition known as O"blame-ya" He's an Egocentic and the only SHOT he wants everyone to have ..... is a picture or video of him shooting a BB with the Boyz in the Hood a JZ as his coach ..... Come on guys Ever here of the Wolf on Sheeps clothing ..If he's re-elected plaese come back and tell me how you enjoyed his second term ....Gheesh Mayor Castro one of his little generals ( rmember his speach at the Dem Convention .. just outsourced a 240 mill dollar contract to the S Koreans ...who submitted the highest bid for the project ... how does that math add up Mr President ..... Oppps I forgot you can only count to ONE .... U must have missed that episode on Sesame Street

      October 19, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
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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.