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.
This is not about faith, it is about RACE. Romney is white and Graham has never come out that far for a politician.
Ya, race to hind, hell.
Well the first BLACK POTUS SUCKS, IT AINT WHITE PEOPLES FAULT
I am amazed...this will divide the church especially in the minority communities....sad day...such a respected figure should not have done this when it appears to be hypocrisy...first you say its a cult, now they are not, then vote for principle, but romney has switched to the middle to agree with some abortions and human rights that he was strongly against...not right. God is not a god of confusion and I believe he is not in this....there is more to this...like who obama is as a person...
There can be no white, without a black, hindu, ignorant.
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."
I think it is INAPPROPRIATE for a preacher of a specific faith to buy campaign ads for anyone! Billy Graham, you disappoint me! You are showing favortism, and I would bet that Jesus wouldn't be on your side with this. Are you a racist, is that what is making you do this? Is it your age and you have lost your senses? I think of sitting in the congregation at one of your tours and of you dividing the audience into two groups. Shameful!
I am saddened by this as a christian....i have always respected brother graham for is work...but I have to ask what about the poor mr. graham, the less fortunate, the broken communities...mitt show no care for...God cares about them too.
As if God did not know that this would happen...people was aborting when Bush and other republicans was in office why didnt they disagree with planned parenthood then...I dont care what anyone say, this is about Obama being BLACK!!! and some just cant bring themselves to support this....even the ones who we thought was the real deal...
I agree with you in so many ways. shameful and it does not matter how old you are, we all got to me Jesus and give account for life living
Ayatollah Graham has spoken. Alas, he is preaching to the infidel choir.
Billy is just a sick old man. He must have dementia if he is endorsing Romney.
U LIBTARDS ARE JUST MAD BECAUSE EVEN US GAY PEOPLE ARE VOTING FOR ROMNEY, AND HES GOING TO WIN, HAHAHA, BE SURE TO VOTE ON NOV. 7th U LIBTARDS
Ya, he suffers from hinduism, mental dyslexia.
obama has my vote. igraham wantsto ndorse a liar ike romney,hat's his buisness
Billy Graham did not make the deal with Romney, Franklin did!
Billy Graham is a citizen. He can support whomever he wishes as long as he uses his own personal money to do it. I suggest the rest of you get over yourselves and start keeping your own porches swept clean. Just a thought.
Religiou$ Fundraising? Is that where he got "his money"?
graham is all about money
Oral Roberts, Leroy Jenkins, Jimmy Swaggart, Billy Graham, Joel O'Steen, etc., etc. Men led not by God, but by the almighty dollar. There's not a needle with an eye THAT wide!
BILLY GRAHAM IS A FINE MAN, U LIBERALS ON HERE ARE A VULGAR DISGRACE TO HUMANITY
Dear Gray Guy. Give up before you are outed on the front page of a major news source.
It is a sad day indeed when the Billy Graham Association decides to play politics. What happened to praying for God's guidance and letting God do His perfect work. I love the Lord and claim Jesus Christ as my savior but I do NOT need anyone being God for me. Wasn't in the too distant past that Franklin Graham interviewed Barak Obama and was satisfied( or so he said) with Pres.Obama's spiritual walk. There are believers on both sides of the aisle. I thought that the Billy Graham Association had it right when they stayed neutral. This is disappointing.
who billy graham votes for is his buisness, but as for me and my house, obama is our man
hinduism, absurdity, hindu fabricated Jesus never existed, hindu bigamist , There is no one to help pagan infidel Christian, but to accept truth absolute GOD, as his savior.
Wow! Reading some of these comments is like listening to testimonials in a revival tent!
And I suppose you've attended many of those? Cause if you did, obviously none of it rubbed off. Just saying.
This is what vultures do. Hitler did the same thing with the Kaiser – exploiting the reputation of a very old well respected man to gain power. Billy Graham is a good guy but I seriously doubt that Romney's meeting with him was anything more than a photo op. Billy probably had nothing to do with the deal – that was done by his son Franklin who is now in charge of the ministry. Franklin probably wrote the text for the ads. I wouldn't blame Billy unless I could be certain that he is mentally sharp and in charge of the ministry – which he is probably not. Another example of the vulture Romney preying on good people to get power.
You should delve into your own political 'guy's' background to see just how power hungry he was to get where he is. Not as altruistic as you believe or have been conned into believing. You won't like what you find there either.
Good guy, my foot, he is a hindu Magi, criminal trickster, selling hindu Mithra ism, pagan savior ism under a new label, hindu, pagan Christianity, son of Lucifer, self centered Jew.
@oracle: Obama has never demonstrated the need to demonize members of the community. He has worked with ALL KINDS of groups and all kinds of people. Because our country is composed of all kinds of groups and all kinds of people. So take you stiff little ideas about generalizing groups and people and rotate on it. You would demonize your mother if you had half a chance.
with all my respect to all religion leaders there is no place for religion in politics or vise versa.
worship God only and let people exercise their freedom of choice.
The one thing god loves the most is money. For some reason, he can never seem to get enough.
wonder if Billy will be bummed when he realizes he's just rotting in the ground and not in the magical storybook place?
in a gold plated coffin
Joe u are very ugly!!! A TYPICAL LIBERAL FOOL
How do you know he is liberal?
There are may of us liberals who walk the Christian path and keeo the faith.
Its sad when the love of Christ is divided amongst party lines...
Ezekiel 43:8 ........"by setting their threshold by my threshold and their door post beside my door post" Believers many of the so called preachers are setting up their threshold NOT God's threshold and it is an abomination to God. Many around the world are confused by Billy G's remarks and his recent actions (if they are thinkers). The modern day church promotes no thinking. God loves thinkers. All the american gospel teaches day in and out is about obama, abortion, etc. Read Ezekiel 43 vs7-10 and ask your local preacher to explain it to you. I doubt you will get deep answers. Bible says deep calls unto deep. Stop this back and forth nonsense in theology based on how a person looks. OMG.
Raised christian as children, we where taught to sing in church " Onward Christian soldiers marching off to war ". I always wondered who the Christians where fighting. At first, I thought it was inner demons. Now, I realize it is anyone who does not agree lock stock and barrel with the current interpretation of the Bible. That includes me. Scary stuff.
Does this mean Billy's churches now have to pay taxes? Cool.
If he uses his own personal money he won't. And you should worry. That dear old guy and his family has done and does do a lot for charity and helping so many people here and world wide. If they dry up, then so will a lot of others who depend on them. And now you wouldn't want that to happen, or would you?
@Oracle: The damage Graham is doing to our nation by this One Giant Leap (endorsing a candidate) is far greater than any meal he ever shared with a hungry stomach. Besides, he talked more than he shared.
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.