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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. NYC

    Hey kathy..."KLAN MEETING?"...If anyone out there could see what I look like...they'd laugh there a– offat that comment.

    And what would you call the meetings the Racist Reverend Wright presides over!?

    Yes – Hypocrisy of the established Left wing McCathyists – All Hail our kingobama....we must all consider those DEATHS in Libya "not optimal"

    October 20, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • lucy

      Jesus never endorsed Caesar.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • Iberatus

      You're a nut job. You've got to be on some sort of terrorist watch list.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • NYC

      1-...because Ceasar was the DICTATOR who did no need to RUN for Emperor you dimwit...esp. from someone who only became known to most of the known world at the time over a century after his death.
      2-...yes i am on a watch list – liberal sa re always "watching out" for me because the CANNOT call me a racist inorder to win an argument....nutjob.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  2. bookgirl

    Well, that's one way to make sure that people lose respect for you before you die. As we are learning, one should never hold any human to higher standards because in the end they are subject to the same weaknesses and poor judgment as anyone else. This guy was supposed to be a spiritual advisor to presidents, whether democrat or republican. What he is is a man who believes in policies that are anythiny but Christlike. May he burn in his own burning h@@@.

    October 20, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • Tim Huskey

      Ain't that the truth. I firmly believe this is Franklin Graham's work. Franklin is a known political opportunist who will springboard off his daddy's good name to make himself look better.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • Pat in IL

      The Graham's getting this blatently involved with politics is disgusting. Encouraging us to vote is one thing,but telling us who to vote foe is an abuse of their influence.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:16 am |
  3. What Mormons Believe (bizarre, unfounded rubbish)

    October 20, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • Veritas

      I think it's rude of you to wish Billy Graham, or anyone else for that matter, to burn in hell simply because you disagree with something he did. For the record, I completely DISAGREE with Billy Graham inserting himself into the political process as a religious figure. But I don't wish him ill. I'm also voting for President Obama, but I refuse to attack Mitt Romney, or anyone else for that matter, for his religion. A person's faith needs to be personal and needs to be respected.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • Kev

      @ Veritas, Here Here!

      October 20, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  4. kathy

    I think if religous organizations start getting so involved with politics then they should face taxes like everyone else. The reason they've always been exempt was due to the seperation of church and state....but that is NO longer the reality. Every religion is sticking his nose into trying to sway the voters and now spending money to do it. Shame on them all....religion has been the cause of most of the death, wars, destruction and hatred since time began.

    October 20, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • True Insight

      "Start" - it's been going on for generations - black churches play a HUGE role in getting out the vote on behalf of Democrats. Find that untenable too or is that OK? Hummmmmmmmmm

      October 20, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • Ral

      Rev Graham is chosing to endorse someone for President everyone has a right to buy an ad. You don't beleive Mormons are Christians? well God does We are all God's Children whether you or anyone believe that. Right now when we have a President who says he is a Christian and said he wanted to a President to us all hehas done more to drive us apart and hate one another than any othe President ha ever done. He has no record to run on so he tears Romney down with Lies .Something he suggested in his 1st run for office if you cant beat them wit your record make th epeople rfear adn run from them by destroying thier character. Thsat from someone who has NONE. Religious is part of this countries heritage get over it and respect others as I hope they respect yours.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • nottolate

      "black churches play a HUGE role in getting out the vote on behalf of Democrats. "

      There may be but only one authentic Christian black church left in America. They have all fallen and are now counterfeit.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • NYC

      ...And your comment earlier about our economic downslide – it was President Clinton, Not President Bush ( whom I 'believe' was equally woefully inadequate) who pushed for and SIGNED the legistlation which....wait for it....wait for it...
      ...DEREGULATED THE DERIVATIVES MARKET tumbling our economy and allowing Obama supporters in the FED to "redistribute" our treasury over to multi-billion dollar corporations.
      Ooooh...sorry...that must have really hurt.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Ral

      PS.. Rev Wright has had every right and opportunity to take out Ad Endorcing OBAMA !!!!
      After all he has been his Religious leader for over 20 years!
      He has been silent after all his exposure during the past Presidental race.
      Geez he married them Baptized his children and was mention by byObama ina 2007 speech as his good friend and religious advisor what happened ? .

      October 20, 2012 at 9:31 am |
  5. Billy Graham's still breathing?

    Gee I thought this icon for evangelisism was all but gone.
    He should be if he isn't.

    FOUR MORE YEARS!!!!

    October 20, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • BYRON

      You forgot the rest: "FOUR MORE YEARS OF LIES AND HELL ON EARTH IF NOBAMA CHEATS HE WAY BACK IN LIKE THE LAST TIME"...

      October 20, 2012 at 9:16 am |
  6. Elphaba

    Christians have always looked at Mormons as the enemy. In fact, my poorly informed daughter-in-law, a self-righteous (aren't they all) far right evangelical, says she won't vote for Romney for one reason; he's a Mormon. I guess the Reverand Mr. Graham still takes the Bible literally; slavery was not only allowed, but slave owners were instructed how to treat them.

    October 20, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • nottolate

      Elphaba,

      " says she won't vote for Romney for one reason; he's a Mormon."

      She's right and you can add me to that list. Good for her. How in good conscience are you gonna vote for someone that holds the exact same ideas that got Satan kicked out of Heaven? You can't do it. So you're the one in error.

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

    Romney is NOT a Christian. And his support of the wealthy and corporations over the working and needy members of our society is particularly anti-Christian. Could it be that for Graham, race trumps religion?

    October 20, 2012 at 8:59 am |
  8. Mark

    You all expressed similar disdain for the Reverends Wright, Jackson, Sharpton and others when they endorsed Mr Obama....right?

    October 20, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • True Insight

      Of course they didn't Mark....hypocrisy!!!

      October 20, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • Vidyashanti

      What would Graham tell God if he meets HIm? I ditch you for a small political gain?
      And God would reply – et you Bru...

      October 20, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • Wallstreetcrime

      Except those that you mentioned have a ministry a fraction of the size of Graham's and Graham chose to remove a long standing page on his website that decried Mormons as a cult the same day Mitt showed up (and likely wrote a check to the ministry)

      Hypocrisy? The only hypocrisy is the anti-Semetic and anti-Mormon Graham tries to hide his disdain for others while Sharpton and Wright were upfront about theirs. At least I knew where those two stood while Romney and Graham are shape shifting liars.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • BYRON

      TELL IT, MARK!!

      October 20, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • nottolate

      @Mark

      "You all expressed similar disdain for the Reverends Wright, Jackson, Sharpton and others when they endorsed Mr Obama....right?"

      What need is there? We all know they are counterfeit and that is out in the open. Romney and Mormons on the other hand are sneaky with it. Very, very sneaky.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:50 am |
  9. Joe

    I don't know why this keeps fooling anyone. Billy Graham is in no shape to be endorsing candidates. I saw Billy at a wedding 2 years ago, and he was struggling to remember his own family members names. I'm sure Franklin Graham is behind this all, using Billy's name to put up all these ads.

    October 20, 2012 at 8:57 am |
  10. IslandAtheist

    Well, there you have it Christians. You all have your marching orders now.

    October 20, 2012 at 8:56 am |
  11. If the Evangelicals now are pals of Kolob, and the Mormons are cool with the Evangelicals, why not add a KING (and a Rabbi)? It'd be a win-win-win!


    (Eddie Long crowned King by Rabbi Ralph Messer)
    (complete with Torah wrap and, of course his "elevation" to kingship!)

    October 20, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • Orwell prefers Guyana punch

      They should call them what they are, carnivals.

      and roman spectacles, when they bring the lions back as featured acts.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • Michael Murphy

      This is the same guy that was accused of using his office to seduce young boys. Pedophilia is an abomination in Y'shua's eyes. As far as Billy Graham and his annointing of Romney I would remind him of what Paul said in 2 Cor 11 about anyone bringing another doctrine and that they are antichrist. The book of Rev say in ch 13 even some of the Elect will be fooled

      October 20, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • nottolate

      That's pretty sad. Be advised that Long is not a Christian but a WOFer instead. Know the difference.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • nottolate

      @Michael Murphy

      "The book of Rev say in ch 13 even some of the Elect will be fooled"

      I don't recall it saying that. Wanna post it. It says, "if it were possible" implying that it is not. The only way you could deceive an authentic Christian is if that Christian is not listen t the Spirit of God.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  12. NYC

    FINALLY, Billy Graham has gotten off his high horse. Thanks to his son he's finally taken a stand against this good for nothing liar of a president. If you PREACH courage , you must DEMONSTRATE courage – not hide behind the safe contentiousness of "scripture worship".
    Hmmmm...I strongly doubt ANYONE will see this dissenting opinion on the Obama-controlled CNN network.
    I'm sure his HIGHNESS KING Obama would consider my opinion "not optimal"

    October 20, 2012 at 8:55 am |
    • Do it

      You obviously pay no attention to the news. Ignorant.

      October 20, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • sally

      You're an idiot if that's all you see in this political ploy. Christians can be so two-faced.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • kathy

      hey nyc...better hurry...you're gonna be late for the Klan meeting. A bit too much hatred in that comment for just someone you 'believe' has not done a good job. Where was all this hatred and screaming after the first 4yrs of Bush's reign? After 4yrs he had us in the worst economic downslide since the depression, got us into a war we shouldn't have entered...and by lying about WMD's, and did NOTHING he promised from his first run at the white house. He talked about security and ran on his efforts after 9/11....but did he get Bin Laden?? Why NO...that would be President Obama.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • Wallstreetcrime

      So, praying with Nixon against the evil Jews or reinforcing the idea tha Mormons are a cult until one shows up on your doorstep and asks for help (and likely writes a check to your ministry for) is suddenly wiped away?

      Wow... Just one more hypocritical Christian. Go figure.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • Iberatus

      Jesus would never support the Republican party as it is today.
      They are (mostly) bigoted, greedy , hypocritical, self-righteous, power-hungry fools, calling themselves conservatives. The only thing they want to conserve is their sinful wealth, and position of power that allows them to tell the world to "do as I say, not as I do."

      October 20, 2012 at 9:17 am |
  13. Chris

    What biblical principles are Rev. Graham referring to? Mr. Romney is a Mormon....

    October 20, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • Selfish

      The biblical principles of ME ME ME!!!!

      October 20, 2012 at 8:57 am |
    • Insight

      The origin of Devil is from God head

      October 20, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • nottolate

      @Chris

      "What biblical principles are Rev. Graham referring to? Mr. Romney is a Mormon...."

      See my response to Lazyh.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • BYRON

      THOU SHALT NOT MURDER – How about the blood of the unborn that COVERS Obama (AND HIS FOLLOWERS) from their heads to their feet? JUDGEMENT DAY IS COMING! Repent dear ones and don't be sucked into Satans lies! GET OUT WHILE THERE IS TIME!!!

      October 20, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • Jesus Never Endorsed Caesar

      I don't know what Mr. Graham's motives are. Maybe he likes his name in the limelight again. Afterall, it was William Randolf Hearst that first "puffed" Graham to sell papers. I'm SO disappointed in Billy Graham as I read many of his books and attended his revivals as a child and as an adult. I thought he was a saint. But like the song, "I once was blind, but now I see." Billy Graham's stand is not something Jesus would have involved himself. Nor was Jesus a tax dodger like Mittens. He rendered to Caesar and did so because Caesar's face was on the coin.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • midwest rail

      Byron, please do tell us all what legitimate efforts have been made by Republicans and their followers to overturn Roe v. Wade ? You can't, because there are none. Your diatribe is meaningless.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:25 am |
  14. DougJ

    Well I guess Graham would rather have the white boy in office rather than the christian.

    October 20, 2012 at 8:53 am |
  15. Peter Bishop

    Bravo. He is merely exercising his right as a citizen. This no different than the leader of Planned Parenthood campaigning for Obama.

    October 20, 2012 at 8:50 am |
    • midwest rail

      Nonsense.

      October 20, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • Orwell prefers Guyana punch

      Fine Pete.

      He should give up those religious tax exemptions. Exercise his political rights like the rest of us.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:00 am |
  16. Lazyh

    Billy Graham is nothing but a self proclaimed false prophet and a cult lover

    October 20, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • nottolate

      Hold on there. There's probably a lot more going there then meets the eye. At his age, it is very doubtful that Billy is running the daily operations of the organization. It is also conceivable that at that age he is unaware that Romney is a member of a cult or bought any ads himself. The more likely scenario is apostates and heretics have infiltrated the organization and they are the culprits behind this while using Billy's name.

      October 20, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • I wonder

      I agree, but I wonder what you would be saying if he was endorsing *your* favorite candidate? That he has the mighty wisdom of age and experience and that "Jesus" himself has "revealed" this "truth" to him?

      October 20, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  17. joe

    All he said in the ads is vote biblical principles at all levels, state, local and federal without mentioning anyones name at any of those levels.Boy the knives comes out quick as we eat are own. No wonder the world thinks we are hypocrates. No love.

    October 20, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • nottolate

      They are right to be in uproar. That shows they are spiritually sensible rather than insensible which God hates. This is apostasy by the organization and that's serious. There only fault is not considering all the possibilities behind the scenes in light of Billy's age.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:04 am |
  18. Dena

    We can still be "One Nation Under God" while allowing, and not dictating or legislating, personal beliefs on other people. America was founded on Religious Freedom!! We do not need to forget that! It is also very "interesting" that "all references to Mormonism" being a "cult" have been pulled from the Billy Graham web page; how convenient and two-faced!!

    October 20, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • nottolate

      @Dena

      We can still be "One Nation Under God" while allowing, and not dictating or legislating, personal beliefs on other people. America was founded on Religious Freedom!!

      That freedom of religion never meant freedom by all these fake religions out there like Islam. The founders really meant freedom of the Christian religion only. The definition has of course been distorted over time just like the real definition of "separation of church and state" has been distorted into a lie. We were always taught that means the government is to not interfere with the affairs of the church and not the distortion and lies like keeping prayer out of schools. Proof? You can't be one nation under God if your god is a different one and doesn't even exist . Not to mention that idolatry is an abomination.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • BYRON

      nottolate: The last word you used was misspelled ... Should have been "OBAMANATION"

      October 20, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • LinCA

      @Dena

      You said, "We can still be "One Nation Under God" while allowing, and not dictating or legislating, personal beliefs on other people."
      No, we can't. Claiming to be a nation under god is forcing a belief on those that don't believe in gods. The freedom to believe in imaginary friends is not in any way abridged by not using the force of law to claim they exist.

      You said, "America was founded on Religious Freedom!"
      Yet there are many instances where the religious freedom of a disliked minority is trampled on.

      October 20, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  19. adam

    Any way the wind blows...

    October 20, 2012 at 8:47 am |
  20. Robert Middleton

    Religion is the root of all evil in the world. Die, Billy, die!

    October 20, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • BYRON

      Sorry, but "The love of money is the root of all evil"... By the way: Jesus HATED RELIGION... He wants a personal relationship; not pansy pew warmers!

      October 20, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • nottolate

      @Robert Middleton

      "Religion is the root of all evil in the world. Die, Billy, die!"

      For Billy to die is gain. For you, not so much.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • sam stone

      if death is gaining eternal life with god, why aren't there mass christian suicides?

      October 20, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
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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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.