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.
Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter
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.
CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories
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.
@gay guy. You really need to 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.
I bet his demented son and Mitt Romney bullied this frail old man. Anyone with half a brain can see that he his endorsing Romney.
This guys time has come and gone. He and his followers probably realizes that this is not the America of the 60's or 70's but a different one. Ask any 18 yr old across America, who is Billy Graham and they do not know him or do not care what he thinks or has to say.
Prayer changes things.
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
"we do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has become politicized during this campaign." LMAO....yeah...unless it's the possibility of a Muslim or anything else not Jesus-centric. LOLOL hypocrites.
Yeah sure. why don't you ask all those war amputees if all that praying they did resulted in them growing new limbs. Prayer does not work it is for the weak minded.
Graham has just crossed the line and is now playing politics. This just shows how low the right is willing to go to win this election. The GOP should be. Ashamed of itself for taking advantage of feeble minded 94 year old man who for years stayed neutral. Now his legacy will end with a very negative mark on it. He is now no longer America's Pastor. The GOP can pat themselves on their back for destroying what was once a great reputation. This action proves that Rpmney is not fit to lead America. As one commenter said, "this is truly sad".
Taxable "church" Do it now.
No, Obama and the Democratic party made religion an issue in an attempt to divide Americans. There are many good and decent black Americans as there are Obama supporters that must be scratching their head after Obama's flip flop on traditional marriage, his campaign promise to unite Americans when he has done nothing but attack the very principles of what this country was founded upon. Sadly, Obama has become someone other than he portrayed. Attacking Rev. Graham should not be of any surprise, and it should be of no surprise that Obama campaign, Axelrod, and liberal media (including Hollywood) are up to no good when they attempt to incite by the very topics they promote on their so-called Religion section.
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Matthew 7:15
Yes OBAMA IS A ANTI CHRIST
gay guy ! Obama is not the one trying to push religion on anyone ! The Anti-Christ will be someone who is trying to force his form of religion on others ! Mormonism is a cult in many aspects ! I'd say that Romney would fit the description of the Anti-Christ !
God is against war mongers, those who turn their back on the poor, those who exploit the weakness of others as in casino gamblers, those who propagate ethic or racial divide rather than oneness. God blesses peace makers and those who speak for the voiceless. Would Jesus advocate more wars? Would Jesus turn his back on Latino people brought to USA as children? Would Jesus hail gun totters?
Sounds like god is against religions then.
Billy Graham is a very honest man. He has done God's will all his life. He didn't say who to vote for. He just stated the truth and now for my opinion, Obama is NOT the one we need leading this country. Whether it be Peter Pan or Mickey Mouse instead of Romney, people need wisdom in this election. I'm voting Romney. Marriage is between a man and a woman and everything else he said is true.
You did a pretty good job on staying neutral on your political beliefs I see.
Well, finally, someone here not bashing Billy Graham and giving him credit where credit is due. Thanks, Debbie.
So you think Mickey Mouse is preferable to Romney?
Was he telling the truth when he was pro-choice or anti-choice; when he was for Romneycare or against Obamacare; when he was for gun control or against gun control; when he was for gays in the military or when he was against; when he agreed with global warming or when didn't agree with global warming; I'm sure there are more examples but let's not worry about them all.
Who someone wants to marry has nothing to do with our economy or healthcare.....It's people like you that make this about piddly little issues. Obama sucks....so does Romney. At least Obama knew what it was like to be a regular person and not Richie Rich. There is nothing wrong with being rich but Romney has NO idea what a real world person goes through. He thinks an emergency room is adequate healthcare for the poor.....wow That is a guy who has never seen an ER bill in his life. What is Romney experience going to do for us? I guess downsize and sell us off for a profit.
But no....it's about abortion and whatever else you can be angry about...Grow up.
Odumbo SURE DID A GOOD JOB IN THAT FIRST DEBATE
He did just fine. the best point of the night was made by Obama when he said he just wanted to go back to the way things were during the Clinton years when we had a balanced budget and low unemployement. Only went downhill when the repubs took over and now that Obama has been in office, things are finally starting to get better. If the repubs had been in office the last 4 years, things would have kept going downhill and we'd probably be in worse shape than Greece.
I never thought Billy Graham would be in the likes of other fraud evangelists.But just because Romney met him and he boosted his ego suddenly the LDS Church is not a cult.So his beliefs are up for sale to anyone who will massage his huge ego.His son was always a loose canon...but now i have lost respect for Billy Graham too and yes im a Christian.
Mormons are, by definition of their beliefs, not Christians. I don't care if Billy Graham gets up from his wheelchair and starts doing cartwheels for Mitt Romney. There is a higher authority than Billy Graham, and it is called the Bible.The principles stated in the Bible and the beliefs espoused by the Book of Mormon are diametrically opposed to each other. Therefore, a person cannot be a true Christian and a Mormon at the same time. It is impossible! It is sad to see our country reaching the point where we put politics ahead of God's truth, and this is precisely what is happening right now.
You would chose to play with the wolves of the world than to support someone who shares your faith in Christ. Those 'cultists' still share the core belief in Christ as our savior, even though we disagree with the traditions of their church.. What a lame-o you are. And yes, I'm a Christian, but I don't dance to the 'world's tune. Don't let yourself be deceived, because the common enemy, and you know of whom I refer, will deceive you. I really hope and pray you rethink your stance.
This is not the work of Billy Graham; it's the nonsense of his "wayward" and pitiful excuse for a son, Franklin. Franklin is not half the man his father is and is behind EVERYthing the BGEA does. He is a jerk, a coward, and a crook. In 2008, he was flying Sarah Palin and family around in a Samaritan's Purse private airplane - paid for, of course, by YOUR donations to his charity. Now, he's making a fool of himself and his beliefs again. Their organization(s) should NOT be tax-exempt, nor should any other religious organization making public political statements - those days should be OVER! Where's the IRS when you need them?
Some churches and religious figures in the US are doing others a great disservice. If they continue to insist on promoting their political and commercial interests, they will inevitably be asked to start paying taxes. The fastest growing religious affiliation is "none", and they may rightly question the blatant hypocrisy. Perhaps the fundamentalists will be "raptured" by then...
By the way "rapturists"- I don't mean to sound like an exhausted host, but, shouldn't you be going about now?
It's becoming obvious here, we are looking back on at least 76 years of barely concealed PSEUDO RELIGIOUS TAX EXEMPTION FRAUD. The same sham that most US evangelical organizations are. You don't end up with the MAJOR money needed for TV advertising (or Hundreds of Massive Mormon Temples)by giving most your collection plate donations to the poor! (like Jesus said to do) .
Let's face it all thepious so-called religious leaders know their religion is a terrifically good for them con.
Definition of a Christian: being Christ-like. Did Jesus get involved in politics while he was on the earth? John 18:36 "my kingdom is no part of this world". When people wanted to make him king, he refused. He set the perfect model for us to follow. So ask yourself, are you a true Christian? Read the Bible and become truly educated. 1 John 5:19 "the whole world lieth in wickedness."
God used politicians to do his bidding. They just didn't realize it at the time, however, like Herod or Pilate. God's hand moved them in the direction he wanted them to. Who knows, maybe God is using Billy Graham right now for some reason. The 'world' won't know, but others who are firmly planted in the Kingdom of God may have an inkling...
God didn't use politicians to murder his son. The whole world in lying in the power of the wicked one: Satan the Devil. God gave us all the gift of free will and the ability to make our own decisions, including politicians.
Aww shucks...Billy Graham is evolving...
Hey, at least Billy Graham is being more open minded about someone else's faith. More than most of the rest of you on here are doing. Closed minds lead to closed hearts, and eventually all manner of kinds of problems.
Graham took the statement down for political reasons.
Yeah, this is about being open-minded towards other peoples' faiths. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. Not about buying political influence or anything.
I am sure he is open to being the servant of a "spirit married" couple in Celestial Heaven.
If Rev. Graham's been so open-minded, why has his website - until just now - proclaimed the LDS to be a cult? Is it coincidence that he became open-minded at the same time Romney and Franklin had at him to endorse Romney? Like other posters I lay this at the feet of his jerk son Franklin, whose god is political power, not the God of Abraham. Yes, Samaritan's Purse is a fine work. I contribute to it, in fact, with shoeboxes thru my church. Who wouldn't? But Billy found out that by supporting a particular president (Nixon) it damaged his credibility as a pastor, and he stopped it, because God was far more important to him. He would never have done this nonsense he's doing now were he not 94 and sick with Parkinson's, which affects the mind. If I could, I'd ask Franklin just what in the world is he thinking, destroying a great ministry the way he's doing.
Graham has always sought influence and power with whomever was president. He's become a sad old man, probably controlled by his vile son, who seems to believe that God is a Far Right Tea Partier. It's a sad end for Graham, degrading himself to a political shill for a man who has no conscience or principles at all. He has lived too long.
I call b.s. on you. You have no earthly idea how much good that dear old man has done throughout his life, as well his son through their charity to help those in need. They have done more than many of these politicians ever have. But you would crucify him because he doesn't support your 'man' or support your way of thinking . Well, guess what? I don't think you really matter in the over all scheme of things. Too bad, so sad. Get over yourself.
Don't show your ignorance. Billy Graham and Franklin Graham are men of integrity, and their work on this earth is to be commended. Anyone that knows or has witnessed Billy whether in person, through his ministry, or those he has helped, knows he has lived a righteous life. The same can be said for Franklin and the work he is doing as part of his Samaritan's Purse program which does wonderful work.
Mr. Daley may all Christians pray for you. You sound like you are very sad and need prayer now.Please don't lash out at Billy Graham or his family. They are good people.
Billy Graham wants each and every one of you to have the freedom to follow the religion of his choosing.
False. I bet deep down inside he wants to convert everyone.
I think you missed the point that he only wants you to have the freedom to follow HIS religion, not your own.
This is truly sad. I always wanted to believe that in the slimy world of televangelists and religious hucksters and frauds that Mr. Graham was, at least, honest. Like I said, I find this actually sad.
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.