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.
Damn...leading the sheep to slaughter.
I know Billy Graham for 50 years. This is not the Billy Graham we knew and it definitely not him talking.
When Mr. Graham went to Russia or China, he didn't talk down on others. He only preached what he believe.
In the last 50 years, NEVER ONCE he jumped into election politics.
This all out ad in Billy Graham's name tells the fact that Romney is dead set DESPERATE.
will Frank Graham tell us all if Romney confessed for his sins before Billy Graham? Has he converted himself into Christian? When did God remove Mormon from cult?
It is a shame someone or association take advantage of Billion Graham's old age. Push him out in such a ugly political stage Romney live on.
If Billy Graham sided with Morman, It makes us all wonder if there is any real christian left in this country !!!
I don't think you can speak for Billy Graham, even if you think you know him.
Billy Graham has been very careful about staying neutral his entire life. That doesn't mean he doesn't have personal opinons, it doesn't mean he's gone senile, it doesn't mean that he stays "neutral" when he's in a voting booth. It doesn't mean that Franklin is controlling his aged father. And it doesn't mean that Billy Graham is endorsing the Mormons. And anybody who knows the Graham family knows there's no money involved, other than the expense of running some campaign ads.
Maybe Billy Graham is simply (and emphatically) endorsing a candidate for President, and at his age I think he's certainly allowed to express an opinion. And I think his opinions are definitely worth listening to.
Oh yes, there are millions of Christians left in this country. There are few like Billy Graham and his son. Have faith
That guy IS STILL ALIVE?
3 Do not put YOUR trust in nobles,
Nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs.
4His spirit goes out, he goes back to his ground;
In that day his thoughts do perish. Psalm 146:3,4.
Buck Filly Graham.
The people who most loudly avow themselves to be Christian are the most un-Christian ever.
And whom do you align yourself with? I'm curious.
You know, that definitely is a valid talking point. Since you know the difference between a real Christian and a hypocrite, does God expect you to show us what a real Christian is, then?
Receiving Billy as a guest, followed immediately by a Billy Graham decree that Mormonism is no longer a cult and then purchase of very expensive advertising (Almost verbatim Republican platform) doesn't meet the test for neutrality. I think Romney and Franklin took advantage of Billy. Fundamentalist churches have for the most part always considered Mormonism a cult. Are evangelical Christians opting for the lesser of two evils? Looks like lipstick on a pig to me!
I am not surprise about this at all, as I am still not sure if Obama is a Christian or MUSLIM.
Seriously. Are you really that misinformed?
That's because you are just as ill-informed as my sister.
you are definitely not a christian.
Christian admits his/her own sins, accepts the Blood of Jesus Christ as personal savior, invites the Holly Spirit to reside and guide your thoughts and daily lives.
You don't need to wonder who is christian or not, only worry about yours. Every one of us answer directly to God the Almighty. you too.
In GOD we trust. A crisis of Faith is when this trust has been broken. The more Mitt Romney acknowledges his faith and God’s unlimited powers and condemnations in regards to what is happening in this nation, he is likely to obtain the presidency. Halleluja!
brain washed much?
Romney might be saved someday, but, not so far. Christian does not tell so many lies like Romney.
That doesn't drive home.
I agree. Many Christians are praying for Mitt Romney to win. They are people who don't let the fact that Romney's a Mormon sway them. Christians come together. It's my feeling God is pleased with this, though I can't speak for God. Romney's going to win, and there's nothing the all these spiritually bereft souls can do about it. Too sad for them. Maybe a few of them will get it eventually.
See what your money is doing – fools!
Send him to a FEMA camp.
Bill Graham has become a joke of himself, and somewhere the devil is really laughing. Apparently, Mr. Graham's latest moment of clarity turns him into a Romney lover. This wouldn't be so bad but he is wasting millions of dollars away of add creation and placement. it could have been better spent giving the homeless family a warm chistmas, just sayin'
Will the real Rev. Bill Graham please stand up? No not you Mr. Romney, sit on your hands and shut up.
New orleans still needs to be rebuilt, nice to know Billy Graham has become a born again Mormon with some of that Money. Is that what happens, you buy in like in poker?
Sweet Billy Graham sought me out and flirted with me, very overtly, when I was a nineteen year old college student. He was in his forties and, of course, happily married.
You have proof to back that up? Because if you don't, you could be in big, big trouble for defamation of character and up for a libel suit since you've decided to put this in print. Just thought I'd pass that on.
Billy Graham's endorsement is huge: it's something he's never done before. Makes people sit up and take notice!
It's not as if he's endorsing the Mormons. He's endorsing a candidate for President, which is a huge difference. Some people seem to be confused about this.
It seems you are the one who is dreadfully confused about the issue at hand.
"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. Drooling with integrity!
you wish Billy Graham endorse Romney, he didn't.
Someone used Billy Graham's name. That is absolutely not Billy Graham talking, period.
Or, maybe he feels he's old enough he can speak his mind for once. He's been very careful about staying neutral his entire life. That doesn't mean he doesn't have personal opinons, it doesn't mean he's gone senile, it doesn't mean that he stays "neutral" when he's in a voting booth. It doesn't mean that Franklin is controlling his aged father. And it doesn't mean that Billy Graham is endorsing the Mormons. And anybody who knows the Graham family knows there's no money involved, other than the expense of running some campaign ads.
Maybe this simply means that Billy Graham is endorsing a candidate for President, and at his age I think he's certainly allowed to express an opinion. And I think his opinions are definitely worth listening to.
You just can't fix stupid. What a shame.
Yea! Billy is a born again Mormon within a week of a visit from Rommel. The church coffers must be bursting...
What exactly is Ross' definition of "moral decline?"
A sideways reference to the last four years. Slims don't say stuff straight up because it sounds just as stupid as it is.
Wonder how many moderates Mitt will loose because of this. I wonder how many Mitt-leaning voters actually read newspapers. Bill should be advertizing on Faux Newz.
You guys have all newspapers,cable TV etc. Can you please live just with ONE cable that is not yours without calling it names!
I get it you don't like Fox News. Freedom of Speech is still in effect, you know.
actually free speech means that fortysevenpercent can call fox news faux news.
Bet this was an expensive purchase of endorsement for Romney. Wonder what Franklin charged him for the endorsement from his father?
The Grahams have never had that kind of reputation. They are one of the most respected families in America. There actually are decent people on this planet. When you couldn't put your faith in anybody as a Good Example or Role Model, Billy Graham still stood out as a decent Christian who couldn't be brought down by the haters who wanted to stick a scandal on him.
Not that we should look to man or men (or women) for our heroes, only Jesus is truly perfect. But Billy Graham has definitely been an inspiration, which is something I've always been grateful for.
Billy Graham will burn in hell.
So will you.
Hell is what you make it on Earth. That's all...
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.