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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. What MORmONS really believe . . ..(scary--makes me wanna go poopy)

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HSlbuli7HM&w=640&h=390]

    October 19, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  2. gay guy

    If cnn will allow me let me tell u whats up. U BLACK PEOPLE ON HERE ARE SO RACIST, VOTING ON OBAMA BECAUSE OF SKIN COLOR, RACE. U WHITE PEOPLE ON HERE, LIBERALS ARE SO UNAMERICAN, VOTING ON OBAMA BECAUSE HE HATES AMERICA, U ALL MAKE ME SICK

    October 19, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
    • You're pretty freakin sickening yourself, Mr. Bachmann...lol
      October 19, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • someguy

      typical republican trash

      October 19, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • I TOLD U SO!

      Hey gay guy, don't u have some butt to plug into.

      October 19, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • someguy

      gay guy wants to make live to billy

      October 19, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • Straight Girl

      You're a brain dead POS. Nobody with any sense of human decency or pride in this country would vote for a lying, greedy, pig like Robme. Has nothing to do with skin color. If you're what represents the GOP today, I can pretty much assure you Latinos, Blacks, Asians, and a WHOLE lot a whites will be runnin as far away from the likes of you as quick as possible!

      October 19, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • george

      Weren't Republican who said they do what they can to make Obama a one term President, even if it means to bring the country to the brink of disaster? They are so patriotic!

      October 19, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
  3. queename*

    Mitt is a bishop in his church. He taught that blacks are cursed by God. Can we really elect a president that has taught this to his flock? How far back does he want to take us Amer

    October 19, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  4. someguy

    maybe he will die off before the election

    October 19, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • gay guy

      Maybe ur mom will too

      October 19, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
  5. The Turning

    ungleboo

    @ The Turning: You have proven your ability to twist logic and history, and come up with supreme stupidity. Only a very small portion of people came to this country to escape religious persecution. The grand majority came her for economic opportunity. Way to go, you brainwashed boob.
    ***
    You first, you demonically owned servitor of Satan.

    October 19, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • jungleboo

      Oh...gee....you disagree?

      October 19, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
  6. Marty

    In my household, "Billy Graham" was a swear-word and involved punishment.

    October 19, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  7. gababc01

    I am not happy about this....I will see if my pastor mention something about this.....now I see why they chose to not mix politics with religion....it is clearer to me now.

    October 19, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • jungleboo

      Thank you gababc01. If these comment boards can help people see clearly what is going on, and to stand and look past the Oh-So-Holy proselytizing by these money-obsessed men, we will be able to defend ourselves. We are not using guns. We are using logic and rational discourse, two qualities that are NOT allowed in very many religious circles. Again. Thank you for your post.

      October 19, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
  8. steve mcclendon

    Graham paraphimosis

    October 19, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  9. Robert Collins

    Sooo, let me understand this correctly. For years LDS was listed as a cult by B.G. and one visit from who "God" it get removed. Money bought the old man. Some one please tell Billy "he can't take it with him."

    October 19, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
  10. Mack

    This is just a hilarious joke and a middle finger to the concept of religion. You have an old guy who not 72 hours ago had on his website that the LDS faith was a cult, now buying ads that effectively say "Vote for Mitt". Further, he's not really all that "for" Mitt, he's really "against" Obama, so the old delusional guy drastically changed his view point on the LDS faith in the public eye to convince his lemming followers to take down the candidate he doesn't want in office. These religions are just a shield behind which crazy man (not woman) dances and frolics. Grow a brain, people, and eject from this made-up madness.

    October 19, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • mitten

      Billy no longer represents Christianity, perhaps he never did. His son has certainly never represented Christianity and is constantly making an ignorant fool out of himself. Before you dismiss religion, get a balanced view of it, and do not only listen to those that scream the loudest and draw the largest crowds. What is popular out there isn't true Christianity. If you study it, you will find it to be true.

      October 19, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
  11. gay guy

    BILLY GRAHAM IS BEAUTIFUL, MITT ROMNEY IS BEAUTIFUL, OBAMA IS A BIG FAT LIAR

    October 19, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
    • Mack

      This about-face is about as ridiculous as the Mormons all of a sudden deciding in the late 1970's that blacks were equal to whites. I trust you're kidding with your REALLY ALL CAPS post, dude.

      October 19, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • === o ===

      The only kind of "trickle-down" that actually works:

      "gay guy" degenerates to:
      "Salvatore" degenerates to:
      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" 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 idiot as
      the disgruntled Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. writer boot camp flunkie.

      October 19, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • jungleboo

      Troll, is all. Ignore it.

      October 19, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
  12. gababc01

    Bro graham taks with him, endorse him says he got his back, remove that mormonism is a cult from site, then places ad....this is not clean and God dont like it...Billy graham has a good image and I think this is gogin to taint him before he leaves this world....what about the poor, the less fotunate, God concerned about them too.. As a christian I am extremely saddened till I feel like why serve a God that is one sided....but I wont because in the end God will prevail and Obama will win.

    October 19, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
    • george

      I don't think he knows what he is saying or doing at 94. It is the Frank who is running the show. He is an opportunist using G-D 's name to further his personal agendas. Poor Billy Graham!

      October 19, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
  13. george

    Poor middle class! first they have their bosses contacted by Romney campaign to force their vote or else you may lose your job. Now they their G-D to force their votes. Ironically, Republican politicians are some of the most immoral people entered political arena. Not that all democrats are angels, but at least they don't claim to be ones!

    October 19, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
  14. The Oracle

    jungleboo

    @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.

    ****

    Oh, that is very curious, since I didn't mention Obama. So how do you figure I was speaking about him?

    October 19, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • jungleboo

      You reputation precedes you.

      October 19, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
  15. queename*

    Graham thinks he is God. Yeah he will rot in the grave. Romney and his LDay ...will all end up in hell. Their is no white heaven or black heaven.

    October 19, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
  16. nolapearl

    TAX every single one of these butthead religious leaders that give their political opinions. I am so sick of them.

    October 19, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
    • independent texan

      Man invented god so he could pass the hat and raise oodles of cash. The master cheat is 94 and still at it. Now the LDS god is the same as the Graham god. Must have figured out a way to access some of that LDS cash and funnel it to Franklin. People are so crazy that they fall for this nonsense.

      October 19, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
  17. RF Beischer

    I believe in the 1st amendment for all. However, I do not believe any organization with a political ax to grind should retain their tax exempt status.

    October 19, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
  18. malcolm spence

    He and Nixon used to get together and badmouth Jews. He is on tape. What a hypocrite. He is in religion for the money.

    October 19, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
  19. James R Ruston

    Another phony "We-have-the-truth-and-everybody-else-is-going-to-hell" Christian.

    October 19, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
  20. Ezeakolam

    Did Billy Graham just edit the bible over night? Anyway, the bible said in Joel “ in the last days your old men shall dream dreams and the young men shall see visions’. Now the Grahams are confirming that they are not talking from God for God is not an author of confusion. Sorry Politicans in Cassock. Where are others?

    October 19, 2012 at 11:22 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.