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 used to have a lot of respect for Billy Graham. Over the years, he has supported MANY Republicans but THIS year he flat out SOLD out. I suspect he was paid in cash by the "Christian" he is supporting. This may be your "last election", Mr Graham and it sure as HELL is the last time I will ever respect you or your son.
I don't know what to make of these people. They used to call Mormonism a cult and yet they are ok and able to support a candidate who practice it.
They are hypocrites who value politics more than they value their own faith.
Yes imagine that. Supporting someone that doesn't have the exact same beliefs about the same imaginary god. Crazy isn't it?
They are hypocrites. It's interesting how the conservative evangelicals wanted no part of him because Mormonism is a cult but now he's their guy. Hate is a great motivator.
@Ting – that is not the point. The religions of prosperous peoples teach tolerance mainly because intolerance impacts prosperity negatively. Christianity has been there with tolerance for a couple of centuries, so that is not the quarrel here.
The quarell is – did Billy G remove the reference to Mormonism being a cult from his website and endorse Romney, a Mormon, because of some religious epiphany or did he do these things because of financial persuasion.
As a religious leader that has set the direction on how to view Mormonism for his many followers, is it important to understand if the change in his position is based on some real shift in religious dynamics or a change in the size of his wallet?
This is less important for the Mormonism and more important for the Billy G’s followers. If his position on something as
grave as how he asks his followers to view a whole sect is so fickle, how are they to feel on the other positions they hold based solely on his guidance?
Hey everyone this is GOD. Say listen, even I'm not sure how you got such a simple message from me so screwed up. So here it is again: You are everyone and everyone is you. Unconditional love for all things and gather as much knowledge as you can so that you may grow your spirit. That's it! That's all you need. I'll see you soon.
Religious hypocricy knows no bounds...
It is clear that Billy G will support even the devil against what he thinks Obama is: A Black man; Liberal; etc. This is why we should all question the so called men of God that so many of us blindly follow.
WOW! Here's a man who has had a major impact on Chritianity in this country (and the world) all of a sudden coming out for Mitt Romney who is a Mormon and at one time he (Grahm) called Mormonism a CULT. He even had it on his web page and is now gone. Christianity is based on the word of God, God predicts (thru prophets) everything that is going to happen before it happens so we can tell if it's true or not. My question to Mr. Grahm is this: Where in the bible was Joseph Smith (God's prophet) prophesied? Jesus Christ fullfilled over 300 prophesies from the old testament, how many does Joseph Smith fulfill? NONE!, NADA!, ZERO!
More proof Graham is just another power hungry man cloaking his venality in religion.
Haha we in the rest of the whole planet laugh at what goes on in the Us
Right wing nuts are as far from spirituality as the Taliban
In your view they are ~ but you don't know anything for certain. But know this ~ you are much closer to the Adversary than you realize, so keep up the good work, there sport, because with each passing day you mock and ridicule, you inch even closer.
Oh, gee, threats of eternal damnation. Just such a great motivation. And ever so original.
I find it interesting that his website scrubbed references to Mormonism as a cult. Just like Romney, Franklin Graham has no problem disavowing his previous principles for political expediency. I say Franklin because Billy never took sides in an election if my memory serves. I do however, recall him providing counsel to pretty much every president in the last 40 years.
Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son
And the Bible is nothing but a book of myths. Remember that. Our laws and our government aren't based on it.
October 20, 2012 at 1:17 am | Report abuse |
So you're still beating around here, nothing else better to do than to antagonize the faithful? I thought you'd maybe graduate beyond that and get into the realm of some real down and dirty rhetoric, really give 'em grief. Well, at any rate, good luck to you. Unfortunately, that's all you have, so it may or may not work out for you.
Go off yourself and be with Jesus
Whatsamatter, Devil? Did I hand you your azz in another discussion? Are you still smarting? Poor thing.
How many other names are you going to use now? You always come up with a slew of them. I can hardly wait.
I think Billy Graham should make friendship with God, not with Romney, at the eve of his final years of life. It shows how much influence his faith has on politics. Shame on both of these two.
I am wondering how many concubines both Romney and Billy have each in their respective harems. Binders full of women, harems full of women impregnated with children with no possibilities of women's rights to abortion – wow, these two must be having fun every day and every night.
Vote for Romney so that at least bill for establishment of harems in the US is passed.
I am a Christian,,,and Billy has sold out...you have lost all you have ever stood for....read the book of Moran
This is an example of why churches should be taxed. Churches get political and waste money that could be utilized to help people; what are they thinking?
very surprised,BILLY Graham ministry is embracing cultism at this time of his ministry..very, very sad. Where was Billy, when guns replaced the Bible in schools, with all his contacts with all presidents, couldn`t he have advised them agaainst that. Billy, with the ad proves he is for one party, and going MORMON....Just let them know that it is The Lord that he serves, that establishes or enthrones and dethrones leaders, not the power of man. Can Billy advise Mitt about his comment about the 47%, of God`s creation, he never cares for, and he calls himself a church leader...take the speck from your eyes to see clearly..FOR WHOEVER GOD CHOOSES, BILLY GRAHAM CANNOT CHANGE THAT DECISION....STOP RELIGION AND POLITICS, AND WORRY ABOUT THE SOULS..THE REMNANTS MITT WANTS TO DEPORT OUT OF THIS COUNTRY....
@ The Oracle, Billy will see heaven before the rest of us? I didn't know that God already sent u a text. Have u read Dante's Inferno? How we are perceived on earth, is not necessarily how we are perceived UP There! Remember that.
Dante's Inferno is not the Bible. Remember that.
And the Bible is nothing but a book of myths. Remember that. Our laws and our government aren't based on it.
Newspapers? What a waste of cash. Maybe they should try the new fangled telegraph or the phone book.
Stop it. We know it is Franklin doing this. So sad that he would use his fathers name. He is not nearly the man his father is. He should be taking care of him not tarnishing his legacy.
So much for separation of church and state. Graham has suddenly elevated Romney to once-a-cult status. Guess the old coot has gone senile.
How could you ever tell if he's gone senile, Billy's been acting crazy and saying nutso stuff since the 1950's.
No more tax exempt status for these chruch political activist. These so called christians will have to answer to their God for their Lies
You don't believe in their 'god' so how do you know they will be punished? You don't, son. Now run along, before the invisible, flying spaghetti monster grabs you up and tans your backside good for you.
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.