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.
I very much have repected this man for many years, until now. Mr. Graham you have very much disappointed me. This a so obviously a poltical stunt on your part. SHAME ON YOU !!
With that disappearing reference to the Mormon cult, is this Etch-a-sketch religion? Or did the Graham church invest in Bain Capital? Or vice-versa?
Spreading that religeon around so they can get everything their hatefulness represents if Romney is elected and he can put religeous judges on the USSC.
If Graham is spending money to endorse Romney (or any candidate, for that matter), his "church" should be stripped of its tax-exempt status!!!
Not if he is using hsi own personal money
Chattanooga RULES, WE LOVE ROMNEY
The only kind of "trickle-down" that actually works:
"gay guy degenerates to:
"Salvatore" denerates to:
"Douglas" degenerates to:
"pervert alert" where he writes lovely things like: "QUE ERS, THE ONES WHO GAVE AIDS TO AMERICA" degenerates to:
"Taskmaster" degenerates to:
"Ronald Regonzo" degenerates to:
"truth be told" degenerates to:
"Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
"tina" degenerates to:
"captain america" degenerates to:
"just sayin" degenerates to:
"nope" degenerates to:
"WOW" degenerates to:
"!" degenerates to:
and many other names, but of course I prefer to refer to this extreme homophobe as
the disgruntled Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. writer boot camp flunkie.
Yes this sicko is not gay. He also likes to oddly borrow the name of a famous athiest, but misspells it as "cristopher hitchens"
What is is it you love? Vouchers for seniors, younger people in the clutches of Wall Street, do away with Social Security so the younger ones can support their parents in their golden years, do away with Medicare so the sick can just die off, cut funding for college so we can have more people on welfare that our tax dollars can work for the needy and take away your mortgage deductions so the billionaires can have even more money to send to other countries and dodge paying taxes here, and on and on. It will be entirely on your shoulders if the rich continue to get rich and the poor get poorer.
The man has absolute no convictions whatsoever outside of self-enrichment.
Billy Grahams is going to try to elect a Morman, a religion that was deemed a cult. Obviously the money people and the bigots are coming out of the wood works to elect Mittens Romney
We already have a Muslim Presisdent, its a step up in religious sanity.
For the past 70 yrs Graham has said the Mormon Church was a Cult, now he is removing this from his Webb Site and endorsing Romney. What a Bunch of B.S.
ODUMBO LOOKS LIKE SOMEONE U WOULD SEE ON A BASKETBALL COURT WHEN U MAKE A WRONG TURN OFF THE INTERSTATE
Go suck c%$k gay guy!
Yes this sicko is not gay.
NOW LISTEN MARY, GRACE, YES I AM A GAY GUY AND MY HUSBAND IS BLACK AND WE REALLY DO SUPPORT ROMNEY FOR THE FUTURE OF AMERICA, U STRAIGHT LIBERALS ARE BRAIN WASHED FOOLS WHO ARE ANTI GAY, BLACK, CHRISTIAN, U GUYS REALLY ARE CLOSED MINDED NUTS HONEY. ROMNEY IS A FINE MAN AND U ARE THE DUMB IN ODUMBO
This guy must have been born to more than one man. He is using religion for making money and influencing the political system. Low life. Billy the Silly Grumpy old man. You are finally on the deathbed. At least now, shut up and pray. Don't interfere into others' lives in the guise of God an religion. The very fact that you have lived so long proves that God is punishing you by keeping you alive for a long time.
Wow, what a nice post. You really shine through, yes indeed you do.
Billy wants to keep women in binders too.
A lot better than being bound by Satan. Just saying. :)
1. hard cover for papers: a stiff cover with clips inside for holding loose sheets of paper or magazines
I would bet Romney bullied the old man into endorsing him. Maybe we should see the transcript.
How about $$$$?
Darn, can't vote for Romney then...nothing biblical about him or his faith.
ODUMBO IS SO 2008, AINT THAT RIGHT NERO
That's right, just like he'll be "so" 2012 – 2016 and things will continue getting better under Obama. Romney will take us in the wrong direction
Christ warns us to "beware of wolves dressed in sheep's clothing". Mr the Graham, who are you and what are you really about. You have blatantly disregard the separation of state and church doctrine. You dared to talk about low morals, gay marriage and what you believe social decay in America. How can you call yourself a defender of the Faith. You sir have sold your soul to the devil
Telling people to vote following principles from the Bible is of the devil? Really?
I have followed this man's career for six decades. He is, as you imply, a political opportunist ... nothing more. He met and counselled Richard Nixon in the same manner and Nixon was one of the most deceitful presidents we have ever had. Shame on you Mr. Graham...
Graham's "job" as a preacher is/was to lead others to Christ. He is/was to serve as an example of how God wants us to live our lives. He has FAILED and the devil is laughing, knowing the "Rev." has a special place reserved in hell. THIS is the reason people don't go to church. Led by hypocrites. I will NEVER contribute another dime to a church OR a "preacher." I'd feel sorry for him if it weren't for the greed and hypocrisy he is showing. All those years of "serving the Lord" thrown away for the almighty dollar.
That makes me a lotless stupid than you
Yeah, this is about being open-minded towards other peoples' faiths. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. Not about buying political influence or anything.
Oh, get over it. Whine and pee and moan on someone elses time and stop wasting mine. Thanks.
A selfish old man, no longer 'counseling' sitting presidents, but behind closed doors coluding with presidential hopefuls. No wife to put him in his place, remind him of others, he has fallen back into selfish power hungry mode. Pathetic.
Well said Rev.Graham. This country has lost it's moral compass. Those who go against our founding principles will be looking from the outside in, we will not stand for the hypocrisy that this administration stands for with their blind eye toward Israel and the Homeland. We will stand united to our last breath and take out the infidels as our founding fathers have requested. Off with their heads and may God Bless America !
All about violence and exploitation in the name of God!!
What in the world are you blathering on about?
Did you double dose on your meds again?
you are the perfect reason for the separation of church and state, or as I see it, the disengagement of fantasy and reality
What founding principles? That you kill native Americans? that you cease people from their own land and use them as slaves? that you accuse a country of having WMD just to invade, steal and kill? Which principle? The hypocrisy principle?
Any person convinced god is on their side, also believes they have the moral high ground. It is delusional the believe god gives us morals, and otherwise we would simply become wild uncontrollable animals. Unimaginable atrocities have repeatedly occurred in history because someone could justify their behavior through god, and therefor were morally obligated to pursue their just cause.
James Madison – 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
God will never bless America as long as we have evil pretending to be good. Graham and Romney have a lot in common. The love of money. The love of being able to fool the masses. A place waiting for him in hell.
Billy the Graham is one more fraud godmen to thrive in America... taking away money from old people. Remove non-profit status from this loser, these guys are nothing but lying cheating morons that get into political campaigns.
Lame. Nobody cares about the sky gods anymore. ;)
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.