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.
Good grief, listen to yourselves, people! You have the both the atheists and the liberals going bat poo crazy because Graham is seemingly crossing the line (which in my estimation, he isn't) by coming out in support of Romney. Big freaking deal. I ought to go out and behave like I'm losing my own mind because a few actors and actresses who I used to admire support the pro-abortion, out-of-control-spending, Democrat ticket. LOL. Honestly, are you people for real? Then we have those supposed Christians who are upset because Romney is a Mormon and there are some who think they are aligning themselves with the very devil. Look, Mormons believe in Christ. Please get past your petty religious prejudices for once and be a united front. Ok, some of us get it ~ you don't believe in the ways of their church. So freaking what?! People worship God in their own way, according to their church doctrine. If you don't like it, too bad. The thing that binds Protestants, Catholics, and Mormons is their core belief in Christ. Not for any of us to judge each other in that respect. In some ways, some of the Christians here are worse than the atheistic, secular crowd because in my view you are aligning yourselves more with them than those who actually have a core belief there in Christ. Sheesh. November the 6th can't come and go soon enough for me.
The last I checked, Mormons believed in John Smith...
And who do you think Jesus would vote for–
I know who Jesus would vote for.. not Romney, due to his
neglect of the poor and vulnerable
Well, he has as right to buy whatever load of crap he wants to buy and put it on display. I actually believe in God and enjoy my Christian beliefs but mixing religion in politics only forces people like me to fight even harder against these religions in our country. Our religious beliefs have no place in the governing of the people of this country. Why they are constantly concerned about everyone else's life is the real problem. Why are they so unsatisfied with their lives that they have to meddle in other people's lives is what we should be asking.
Graham may be famous, but he's not the most revered. And since when is lying a "Biblical value"? And since when is believing 47% of Americans are moochers is a "Biblical value"? And since when is flip-flopping a "Biblical value"? And since when is the U.S. a theocracy?
I'm voting for President Obama, who has shown through word and deed that he works for 100% of Americans AND is a great supporter of Israel (just ask Ehud Barak, Israel's Defense Minister, or Bibi Netanyahu, who consults with President Obama on a regular basis).
Obama/Biden 2012 = The only sane choice
P.S. Billy Graham owes the U.S. millions, if not billions, in back taxes. If he's going to tell people how to vote, he loses his tax-exempt status.
Obama/Biden 2012 = The less insane choice. Lets be honest, both parties have some complete lowlifes', but yes, the Republicans seem to be trying to claim "lowlife" as their brand.
I grew up in the same area where Billy Graham lives. His children went to my high school. Billy Graham is a decent and honorable man and a christian. He has stayed away from politics since he made that mistake early in his career. I grew up hearing stories about him from people in the community. People absolutely respected the man! He didn't just talk the talk, he walked the walk. I believe our country will be lost if Obama gets in again. I started to say another four years, but by then he will have completely destroyed our country and he will be the dictator. There comes a time when you have to take a stand and do the right thing, regardless of personal consequences. His add is a direct challenge to those that still have a conscience and believe in a higher power to get off your duff and vote. I fear for our country when I see some of the remarks here. This country WAS founded on principals that came from the Bible. When the majority of people no longer support or believe in those principals, our country will be lost forever.
Judy, you are a dolt. "This country WAS founded on principals that came from the Bible." BS! Our country was founded on principles of RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. And if you think President Obama is trying to be a dictator, you are hopefully ignorant and foolish. If President Obama was so anti-American, then ask yourself this:
Why did he give the order to kill Osama bin Laden?
Why has he given the orders to kill the top al Qaeda leadership?
Why have his economic policies resulted in 31 straight months of private sector job growth?
Why is the Dow over 13,000?
Why is the housing market recovering?
Why is unemployment down to 7.8%
Why are we out of Iraq and getting out of Iran?
Most important, what is it about you that you insist on ignoring these FACTS and instead believe all the BS spewed from Fox and Druggie Limbaugh and all the other folks who are trying to convince you to vote against your own self-interest ONCE AGAIN?!?
No worries. I have the distinct feeling that Obama isn't going to win this time.
Being a Christian myself, I can tell you there is nothing Christian about Republicans today. They stand on a platform and scream Biblical principles, yet they deliberately hurt the poor, are perfectly willing to let the sick die from lack of basic healthcare, side with the wealthy who abuse the system..and to top it all off, they elect a 'Christian' that thinks Christianity is an abomination, out of pure hatred. The Bible isn't gray on these areas, Republicans are wrong. Period. The Bible is also very clear about Christians being misled and their 'religious leaders' denying them the afterlife. Many Christians I know aren't going along with this insanity, and won't support someone as deceptive as Romney. America is gone after the 4th chapter of Revelation, And Romney's the guy that's going to do it.
" This country WAS founded on principals that came from the Bible." Wrong.
This country WAS founded on THE principal of religious freedom which allowed many to choose personal principals that came from the Bible. But it wasn't the bible that made this nation great, it was the religious freedom itself that has allowed us to grow and learn and seek truth unhindered, or at least less hindered. The fact that this nation is turning in their Church cards for "No Affiliation" badges in record numbers is a sign of positive change that may just lead to real lasting peace at last.
Every election year the GOP take Jesus and "throw him under the bus." They had several evangelical christian conservatives competing in this race, but forget about God, "we want someone who can debate this president," they said. Truth is, as far as the GOP are concerned, if that candidate was a satanist, just as long as he could debate Obama, forget about God. Billy Graham is not God. The mormons are still a cult.
Newspaper ads? What are newspapers?
ROMNEY AND GRAHAM IS A "NIGERIAN GET RICH QUICK SCHEME!!!" FOR THE PRESIDENTS SEAT.....
Their is no racism in heaven or hell
Such a sellout for the Graham's. Suddenly Mormonism is now no longer a cult... do they realize what they've done? Now people will think they can walk into a Mormon temple and really find Christ. And what's worse, is that for many Mormons this will now validate their belief that they are saved Christians. A complete sellout of the gospel, the grace of God, and Christ's shed blood on the cross- and all to push one very greedy guy through to victory in an election.... breathtaking...
It changes NOTHING (except, of course, the balance of Billy and Franklin Graham's bank accounts).
Somewhere the Anti Christ is laughing he didn't know it would be this easy. I though Billy Graham retired, but he only did that so he didn't have to counsel President Obama the first African American President. Then all of a sudden he miraculously comes out, takes picture with Mitt Romney who is a Mormon. All of a sudden Mormons are not a cult? He is leading people astray and that is truly a shame. Mitt Romney is trying to lie, cheat , buy and steal this election. He is a liar, arrogant and rude!
Pitiful. This once great man is now a dog to some politicians. Franklin is not the man he's father once was. He's a spoiled rich child that wants his way. What do you Graham's believe? Your faith seems to change with your politics. Pathetic. I'm embarrassed to be from Black Mountain, I'm sad for my faith, and I believe God will judge us all and he's not a Republican. How do I know that? He loves even the poor and the weak.
God is not a Republican? Say it isn't so, Joe.
Billy Graham is a DOG of the Republican Party. We all have lost faith in once a great man. Now you are lower than a DOG.
Say goodbye to your tax exempt status, Billy.
Liberals, easily the most hate filled and intolerant group of people left on the earth. Their bigotry towards those with different beliefs is really staggering. The irony of course is that these are the same people who hold themselves up as paragons of tolerance and understanding.
We are acting against you BOUNDLESS hypocrisy.
Wow. You clearly think one way and have very huge blinders on with that post. This jumps out at me – accusing liberals of "....bigotry towards those with different beliefs..." is the most ridiculously laughable statement you could make. Especially in an article like the one above. Liberals support everyone's belief and only promote against those – like you – who believe only your belief is relevant. Religion has no place in public policy and your insistence in supporting Billy Graham with your post is the absurdity that is destroying this country. Liberals might disagree with your religious beliefs but will fight against you in imposing those beliefs on everyone in this country. Pull your head out of your a...!
I'll tell you what's ironic: Repubs saying they are all about freedom, when they want to turn our country into a theocracy based on their own narrow, warped understanding of Christianity. Here's the real difference between Liberals and conservatives: You can exist in our world, but we can't exist in yours.
Funny how these Conservative "Christians" are so fired up against abortion and gays because they are "Sins against God" yet tip toe around a false religion and give it a voice all because they want to schmooze with a follower of this false religion.
Romney knew he had a problem with his Mormonism. So he enlisted Billy Graham (who had a problem with Mormonism, too) to help him get "Christians' on board. I wonder just how much CASH the Grahams received?
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!
This is a cult religion that has no basis in the one true God.
Strip BGEA of their no tax status period.
Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son
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.
No. I actually don't think so, and if I did, it wouldn't be memorable. But I do read and not post sometimes. You just happen to be interested in the same articles which have to do with religion as I do. You being here for your reasons, and my being here for my own.
Fools believe in heart that their is no God. For romney and graham their god is their off shore bank accounts. I guess for the grahams they wish to continue paying under 14 percent. The devil is in the mix. I wonder as millions of Americans why mitt refuse to disclose his tax returns. Smells fishy. And you know what they say. If it walks like a duck...
You can never know God or truth with your condemning of your fellow brothers and your fear driven beliefs
It's not fear driven belief. And I'm not afraid to die, or where I'll end up or having to answer to God. And I don't condemn people. Let's just say I"m neutral when it comes to that sort of thing.It's not on me to either to convert someone or judge them if they don't. That's up to God, and God is Fair and Just. Christ didn't condemn the world – He came from Heaven to Earth to save it. What God's judgement is is His and His alone. So don't twist it to make it sound like this is on me. It isn't.
romney is not opposed to gay marriage, is he, in his latest week-old position?
I don't think so....... wind is from the South West at the moment.
My understanding is that he's going to be in favor for 3 days next week and between 3am and 7am on Saturday morning.
Oh, gee, threats of eternal damnation. Just such a great motivation. And ever so original.
Not my place to judge, least of all someone like yourself. And there is no such thing as eternal damnation. That's a dreadful misconception.
Open your eyes and hearts to knowing and Rationality. You will see Things for what they are
God is not found in one book or any Dogma
The mixing of religion with politics and glorifying the military you have in the Us there is very disturbing
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.