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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 • Evangelical • Leaders • Politics

soundoff (2,816 Responses)
  1. Mohm

    Billy Graham is absolutely right. At this point I will vote for an African witch doctor over the incompetent Obama.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:35 am |
    • Russ

      Because of his skin color? I'm sure u did not vote him 1st time also.

      October 20, 2012 at 12:39 am |
  2. 2% girl

    Absolutely disgusting. Sorry old white guy who can't take change and/or reality. Romney meeting with him and taking his endorsement is a low point. OBAMA 2012.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:34 am |
  3. LaraMorgana

    This troubles me and disappoints me. I have always admired Billy Graham but this makes me feel like he is no better than any of the other trumped-up, insincere Televanglists who want to tell you how to live, who to love, how many children to have and who to vote for. So disappointing.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:34 am |
  4. MrNick

    Graham and his son have been devout racists for years... check the Nixon tapes... He would vote for the devil himself as long as he is white. Wake up America this guy and his family has been stealing money in th ename of god for years.... very sad. Burn in Hell Billy

    October 20, 2012 at 12:34 am |
  5. John

    They should lose their taxt exempt status. Hit them in the wallet. The bank book aka the only book that really matters to them anyway. It is much more important than the Bible.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • The Oracle

      It won't happen. Billy Graham is too well loved and respected, along with his son Franklin, by people on both sides of the political aisle, including many celebrities for anyone to take that course of action. Those folks have done so much to help the poor here and abroad, that no one, and I mean no one, will dare to chose to go down that path.

      October 20, 2012 at 12:56 am |
  6. SPW

    Voting with faith in mind is detrimental to society as a whole, of course there is nothing to prevent you if this is your priority.

    I would like to assume people are voting for the issues and not who appreciates their sky wizard more.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:33 am |
  7. New Rule: Atheism is not a religion! Unbaptizes Mitt Romney's Dead Father-In-Law!

    October 20, 2012 at 12:29 am |
  8. The Oracle

    Chris33

    Billy Graham will burn in hell.
    October 20, 2012 at 12:02 am | Report abuse | Reply

    The Devil's Advocate.

    So will you.
    October 20, 2012 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
    jungleboo

    Hell is what you make it on Earth. That's all...

    *****
    You and Chris are one in the same. You fool no one, least of all me.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:28 am |
  9. Trig

    Who cares about that old bustard! He needs to go do a goat.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Who cares? Idiots like janey33.

      October 20, 2012 at 12:29 am |
  10. Lewis Black - The Old Testament

    October 20, 2012 at 12:27 am |
  11. Cathy

    CNN could have stopped at "Billy Graham Buys Election".......

    October 20, 2012 at 12:27 am |
  12. Christian Bullsh!t Nailed by Bill Maher - Ant!theist Atheist

    October 20, 2012 at 12:25 am |
  13. lcleejr

    sounds more like his son franklin. billy said he would never back a presidential candidate after his mess backing nixon.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • Cathy

      I agree......not sure that Billy is that alert......

      October 20, 2012 at 12:37 am |
  14. Tim Santos

    What a shot for Christianity to take in the eyes of those that are onlooking for an example of salt and light. This is a shocker to me and I feel more sick that it took place for christianity than the endorsement for Romney. Inevitably, YHVH will put in office his selected person for the tasks that are for the time at hand. The kick to the pants is to the true followers who are trying to evangelize and now face another obstacle in witnessing. If the world sees that there is no true difference in a Christian and the world (which there is not in many a professing christian) then why bother? We should be asking that of the Christian that reads the word and goes against everything Christ taught. We are to love, help the poor, the widow and the orphan. Mourn with those who mourn and clothe, feed and love those in need. He never told us to tag people and protest GAINST THE SINNER BUT TO LOVE THEM AND TO TEACH THEM HIS WAYS. He said if you do it to the least of them it is as if you have done it unto him! Somehow many have strayed into thinking we can legislate morality but fail to see that the ten commandments already proved that it is not so. The elect will come in the time appointed and all the legislation in the world will not do one single thing if the hearts of men aren't changed. This that Graham did will make it more difficult but God's WILL will be done, be it via Romney or Obama. The time must wax worse as the word said it would so rest assured, God is still on the throne and his will WILL BE DONE! I'M disappointed but all these things were spoken of in the word and there will be more turning against him to come. True believers, stand strong and love your family, SEEK FIRST the kingdom
    of God and the rest shall be done unto you. FOR MANY ARE CALLED, BUT FEW ARE CHOSEN !!
    Hang in there.. The battle has only just begun..

    October 20, 2012 at 12:25 am |
  15. wanda Cody

    Still mad about the chicken dinned huh ? Well Romney a untruthful Turkey and the overmoral majority are church bullies and GOd. Did died to save not buy Turkey economy dinners SAVE aLL as in. Hopefully all that you buy adds to CONDEMN!

    October 20, 2012 at 12:25 am |
  16. Religion is Bullsh!t

    October 20, 2012 at 12:23 am |
  17. jungleboo

    "Billy Graham has been one of the most genuine ministers of our time who did countless things to help those in need at home and worldwide." Give us a list of all his supposed charitable acts, footnoted and alphabetized please, and then compare that huge (?) volume of papers you've just created to the simple declarative statement that goes something like this: "In 2012, three weeks before the Presidential election, Billy Graham crossed the line of Separation of Church and State, advocating that the faithful vote for Mitt Romney, a Mormon who recently had paid Graham a visit, after which visit Mormonism was removed from cult status on Graham's Christian web site." Can you diagram that sentence?

    October 20, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • Dabrotha33

      Doesn't surprise me at all!

      October 20, 2012 at 12:24 am |
    • Powersoak

      "Romney paid Graham a visit." What we will never know is how much MONEY Romney paid Graham to change his mind about the Mormon cult thing. Romney believes his wealth can buy him anything and Greedy Graham helped him prove it.

      October 20, 2012 at 8:19 am |
  18. BuleriaChk

    Don't dribble your bibble...........

    October 20, 2012 at 12:20 am |
  19. Sue Pearlative

    "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.' "

    That's not political??!! That's very political. Before they said Mormonism was a cult. And most Christian denominations have always said essentially that. Or that it Mormonism wasn't Christianity. Now, after meeting with Mitt and weeks before the election, Graham declares Mormonism is not a cult! Clearly he is putting politics before faith. It's as remarkable as Mitt's own flip-flops. Only more so since it involves a matter of belief.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Love your screen name.

      October 20, 2012 at 12:21 am |
  20. Cathy

    This disgusts me!!!!! Interesting after 50 some years of preaching that Mormonism is a "cult" to suddenly have a change of heart stinks of some shady things going on.....which also makes me believe that the separation of church and state is going to go totally out the window if Romney is elected. Might as well kiss all the advancements women have made if Romney is elected.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • The Oracle

      Oh, you mean abortion rights? We wouldn't want unborn children to be able to some how squeak by and actually survive being born, huh, now would we? At any rate, Romney is a moderate, not a far right conservative. Your fears are unfounded, Cathy. There will be no movement whatsoever in the negative direction for liberal women.

      October 20, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Gee, how reassuring, coming from you, Oracle. Sorry, no sale.

      October 20, 2012 at 12:50 am |
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About this blog

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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.