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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. wow

    @ken your a moron that trhwos questions and then your own awnser the truth is GOd allows the earth do what it wants becuase he gave us this space. God is watching the hate that this country spits out that this world has against its fellow man if you dont believe in God thats fine no one is holding a gun to your head but the foundation and morals are defintly filling. Thats the great thing about AMerica you don't have to believe but you don't have to trash the beliefs of others either. Remember ever single person has their own beliefs you don't have to follow a big church if you don't want to. That doesn't mean you can't talk to God you can talk to God right now will you hear him physically probably not but you know there is always someone beside you. Or you can continue to believe we came to exsistance for no other purpose then to die.

    October 20, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • midwest rail

      Why would anyone listen to a long winded diatribe from someone who deliberately distorts facts, posts outright falsehoods, and calls other people names, all while wrapping themselves in the mantle of Christian righteousness ?

      October 20, 2012 at 8:12 am |
    • === o ===

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

      "wow" denerates 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:
      "!" degenerates to:
      and many other names, but of course I prefer to refer to this extreme homophobe as
      the disgruntled Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. writer's boot camp flunkie.

      October 20, 2012 at 8:35 am |
  2. zoom

    Billy and Franklin Graham are nothing more than con men. Just look at the riches they have amassed.

    October 20, 2012 at 7:35 am |
  3. Tom Joad

    Billy Graham's brand of religious spirituality has many converts among those who dwell in airport restrooms.

    October 20, 2012 at 7:28 am |
  4. babooph

    Graham always sells out his fake religion for politics,that is why Nixon directed his party to push the creep....

    October 20, 2012 at 7:27 am |
  5. Tom Joad

    Billy Graham, an addle brained old fool, is iconic of the Romney campaign's hollow attempt at pandering to the sizable religious hypocrites vote. The same Billy Graham who counseled the Bushes when they attacked Iraq. If we haven't learned anything from these blunders, God help us! Get ready for Bush 3.0.

    October 20, 2012 at 7:24 am |
  6. oldbones24

    Just goes to show that even a man of God can be fooled by Satan. Mitt worships money not God and his past actions prove it.

    October 20, 2012 at 7:20 am |
    • wow

      look up Barack Obama in arabic and hebrew and lets see whos satan.

      October 20, 2012 at 7:23 am |
  7. Tim Boyer

    Here's a great video of Romney at a religious event showing his wit and charm.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/330936/romney-turns-out-be-funny-kevin-d-williamson

    October 20, 2012 at 7:13 am |
  8. Jeff Cox

    What an absolute crock. Until two weeks ago, Billy Graham's website listed Mormonism as a cult! And now he's going to endorse Romney as a vote for "faith"?

    Another example of how some self-appointed Christians haven't a clue as to what Christ taught.

    October 20, 2012 at 7:11 am |
    • wow

      this is a good thing it tells you peple are willing to change their minds instead of having one agenda on their mind and sticking with it their open to accepting different viewpoints. Obama wants socialism its his goal and he has been working on it for 4 years with no one calling him out if you want to end up like china go live in china but America is a free nation and we will do what we need to do to keep it that way.

      October 20, 2012 at 7:25 am |
  9. Lynette lucas

    Be ye not deceived. Mitt Romey is definitely a WOLF in sheep's clothing. Mitt wants to fleece the sheep, not feed them. President Obama cares about all Americans, not just the fortunate few.

    October 20, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • wow

      why do you think obama cares about you becuase he gave you free phone? because of foodstamps?becuase of social security? thats not caring for you thats buying you out. Obama is the devil his name Barack obama in arabic means SATAN for crying out loud do some reasearch.

      October 20, 2012 at 7:18 am |
    • Reply to "wow"

      Wow, please note below, and stop posting falsified information...
      Question: What does Barack Obama's name mean?

      Despite rumors to the contrary, U.S. President Barack Obama is not a practing Muslim. However, President Obama does have an unusual name which reflects his African Muslim heritage.

      Answer: President Obama was reportedly named after his father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr.
      The President's first name, Barack, is a Swahili name that has its origins in the Arabic language. The original Arabic root of the name (B-R-K) means "blessed." In Arabic, the root word is used in many other phrases to denote blessings and to describe people who are blessed:
      •Mabruk! = "Congratulations!"
      •Barakallah feek = "May God bless you"
      •Barakah = blessings from God (feminine version of the name)
      President Obama's middle name is Hussein, which was his grandfather's first name. The name, of Arabic origin, means "good" or "handsome one." It is common in Muslim cultures for children (both boys and girls) to have a middle name which directly connects them to their father or grandfather.

      October 20, 2012 at 7:32 am |
    • GI Joe

      WOW is a bald-faced liar:

      Answer: President Obama was reportedly named after his father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr.
      The President's first name, Barack, is a Swahili name that has its origins in the Arabic language. The original Arabic root of the name (B-R-K) means "blessed." In Arabic, the root word is used in many other phrases to denote blessings and to describe people who are blessed:

      Mabruk! = "Congratulations!"
      Barakallah feek = "May God bless you"
      Barakah = blessings from God (feminine version of the name)
      President Obama's middle name is Hussein, which was his grandfather's first name. The name, of Arabic origin, means "good" or "handsome one." It is common in Muslim cultures for children (both boys and girls) to have a middle name which directly connects them to their father or grandfather.

      October 20, 2012 at 8:17 am |
  10. Jeff

    It's what Jesus would have done ... NOT!

    October 20, 2012 at 7:07 am |
  11. GoogleMormonBeliefs

    Billy Graham's ad: "Vote for biblical values this November 6, and pray with me that America will remain one nation under God." It is sad that this revered old man in his last days is even hinting that a bishop of a Mormon church worships the same God as he served all these years. Google Mormon beliefs and the precedence their Book of Mormon takes over the BIBLE – and then see that a Mormon's God is totally not the God of the Bible in any sense of the Word.

    October 20, 2012 at 7:05 am |
    • Powersoak

      Both traditions are very comfortable with telling lies and bilking gullible people out of their money. Maybe that is the common ground they share.

      October 20, 2012 at 7:13 am |
  12. hannah01

    Sounds like 'sonny boy' Franklin called the shots on this one. Billy Graham doesn't endorse political candidates...

    October 20, 2012 at 7:03 am |
  13. Powersoak

    Same age-old bigotry, intolerance and hate masquerading as religion. None of these religious hucksters preachs love, only judgement and hate. They will find the Creator's realm of love a very foreign place.

    October 20, 2012 at 6:58 am |
    • Chuk

      I could not agree more!

      October 20, 2012 at 7:44 am |
  14. Are_you_kidding?

    Get raptured already Graham.Christians are always the biggest"sinners".

    October 20, 2012 at 6:57 am |
    • wow

      wow i love this Christians are the biggest sinners the Christians i know waited till marriage to have kids the christians i know worked hard their whole lives got an education and have morals unlike todays society. we need to have morals if not then the world runs amuck and then gets taken from underneath you i.e Obamas decpetion of america is coming to light.

      October 20, 2012 at 7:21 am |
  15. ROBERET W.ODIETE

    he did,nt have to name any candidates,we now know what grandpa pastor stands for.

    October 20, 2012 at 6:53 am |
  16. Patrick

    I have no reverence for this charlatan.

    October 20, 2012 at 6:52 am |
  17. Annarchist

    Religion has no place in politics. That is simple enough because morality cannot be a matter of legislation. If you choose to live a Christian life-it's cool, but you can't make everyone live by your rules. Religion has caused much death and grief, and it cannot be the end all be all for everyone. When I die, if there is a judgement day, none of you will be standing with me, I will account for my own actions, so stay out of my business with your intolerance, and religious based hatred because it is not love to make me believe as you do....it is TORTURE.

    October 20, 2012 at 6:52 am |
  18. Bob

    You mean Franklin Graham bought the ads and slapped his name and face on it. We have yet to hear from Billy himself on any of this. If he's well enough to take out an ad campaign, then surely he's well enough to grant a breif print or video interview to confirm this is actually his position, and not the work of his far more rightwing son.

    All we know is Billy Graham was photographed with Romney – we have zero evidence he made any statement of support.

    October 20, 2012 at 6:47 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      Guilty by association.

      October 20, 2012 at 6:49 am |
    • Liz

      Everything in the ad would be representative of his whole life. He, obviously, wants people to pray and vote with biblical truths in mind if you are a christian.

      October 20, 2012 at 6:56 am |
    • enkaynj

      Please revoke tax free status of Billy Graham's empire as he is now using EVERY AMERICAN's tax $$$ to finance the religious beliefs of a NARROW SEGMENT that are the right wing nut jobs.

      October 20, 2012 at 7:31 am |
  19. rickirs

    Another religious tax exempt organization making a political ad? That really grinds my gears.

    October 20, 2012 at 6:44 am |
    • wow

      what should grind your gears are taxes period not that a church is exempt taxes = slavery you should keep what you earn

      October 20, 2012 at 7:23 am |
  20. beairdboy

    Byron you scare unbelievers away.

    October 20, 2012 at 6:35 am |
    • BYRON

      Here is a CLUE for you... TRUE BELIEVERS DO NOT SCARE! So if "YOU" are afraid, Check Yourself!

      October 20, 2012 at 8:59 am |
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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.