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.
Jesus said, "Billy, get thee behind me."
Billy has received the Mormon magic underwear and a guest visa to Willard's other planet Kolob. He will meet Moroni there and view the Golden tablets found by the pious Joseph Smith.
So, Mr. Religion, you want us to vote for the party that puts corporate greed before the environment and your health, defers to the wealthy first, started a war that killed tens of thousands for NO REASON, destroyed the economy, promotes ignorance of science, and tries to deny voting to the poorer among us. Just like Jesus would do, right?
Unbelievable that people still listen to this nobody. He has proven time and time again that the morals of Religion are easly shaped by politics. Stop asking preachers for endorsements!!!!!!!
He is still a favorite puppet of Richard Nixon.
Soon they will meet in Kolob for a joyous reunion and get some new wives.
Richard arranged for his Mormon baptism of the dead well in advance.
Billy is advised to get the same ready. Willy can make it happen, and not get stuck behind a holocaust bus.
I think it's time that Mr. Graham's church pays taxes.
If his organization has tax exempt status he should lose it because the IRS rules make it clear that a charitable organization cannot engage in a political campaign. Mormonism is polytheist & in no way represents Biblical or Christian values.
There is no morality in Romney and Franklin Graham to take advantage of Billy Graham's less than active brain. I do not believe that if Billy Graham was in his right mind he would endorse a Mormon - plain and simple.
Reverend Billy Graham has a long history of staying neutral politically. He has counseled both Democrats and Republicans. I don't recall him ever preaching a gospel of ultra-conservatism. His son, Franklin, however is much more right-wing, and is likely behind this shift. I think it's deplorable that he would coerce his father into doing something that his father would have rejected 20 years ago.
Doreen, I agree with you completely. Billy Graham has never sided with one candidate over the other, even when President Obam ran against Sen. McCain, and the Democratic Party has always been pro-choice on the abortion issue. Franklin Graham is using his father's name to try to gain the influence his father always has had; however, Franklin is NOT his father.
I hope this really is Billy Graham making his own decisions and that he is not being used by the people taking care of him.
Liberals want everyone who doesn't support Obama to shut up. They would be happy if no one else could vote. Just keep their dear leader in office forever! Billy Graham is right. And a lot of people respect him. Too bad he couldn't just say "Vote for Romney." Hopefully everyone will understand who he is talking about.
Greta, you could not be more wrong about liberals. Mr. Graham has NEVER endorsed one candidate over another, even when President Obama was running against Sen. McCain, and the Democratic Party always has been pro-choice. He always has remained neutral. I do not believe that Mr Graham is responsible for these ads; Franklin is using his father to advance his own agenda of having the same influence his father always has had. Unfortunately, Franklin is NOT his father. Mr. Graham was much more attuned to the teachings of Christ as in Matthew 25: 36-41 when Jesus says, "In as much as you have done it unto one of the least of these my children, you have done it unto me." Mr. Billy Graham would be very concerned about Romney's comments about the 47%.
Greta, it is a liberal conspiracy.
Jesus is a rich fascist now and has no use for the poor, especially the 47%. He figured how to get a camel through the needle!
After that run in with the money changers at the temple, he took their gold and bought nuclear weapons.
Turn the other cheek is for Satan's fools, those stupid liberals.
Have you heard the 47% remarks? Have you analyzed the Ryan Budget? Do you believe the government has the right to dictate on issues of women's reproductive health? Do you believe that laws passed by men can make America a rightious
nation? Do women in America give up their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness because they are the ones who get pregnant? Do you believe America shoudl have the right to impose militarily upon other nations in the absence of a clear and present danger to national seccurity? Do you believe Amewrica is for all 325 million of its people, or just for Christians?
I fear you are being poorly used.
Great post Mike !! Im pretty sure the good revernd doesnt know what year it is let alone the issues at hand. Id bet a nickel His son Franklin is behind this, Given Billy Grahms history of supporting all sitting Presidents this is very out of characture for him. And if Franklin is using his fathers name for political purposes,....SHAME ON HIM !!
Mike, I'm afraid the only thing Graham (Franklin, because Billy has never taken sides) is concerned about is grabbing the influence his father always has had; unfortunately, Franklin is NOT his father. He is latching onto the abortion issue and ignoring the rest of the Republican ideology. How can he say that he is a Christian when he supports a nominee who doesn't follow Christ's teachings. Romney has said that those who need help (the 47%) are just worthless; however, that is not what Christ teaches in Matthew 25 when he says, "In as much as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it unto me." The one point of light in all this is that Graham's comments probably will be "heard" by those in the Souther state who weren't going to vote for President Obama in the first place; they want a "white" man, regardless of what that man will do to our country, in the White House. Racism is alive and well in the South.
Does billy graham have dementia or has he completely lost any character or morals he ever had? He is just like that racist son on his.
So NOW billy graham doesn't think the bully bishop will burn in hell for all eternity or that the mormon church is NOT a CULT?
How much did the twit pledge to his church? Anyone can be bought right graham?
Maie, I don't believe for a minute that Billy Graham believes this; however, his son, Franklin has made similar comments in the recent past. Billy Graham has NEVER endorsed any candidate, even when President Obama was running against Sen. McCain, and the abortion issue has not changed in the Democratic Party. With all the illness Mr. Graham has experienced in recent years, his mind probably is not as sharp as it once was, and you can bet that Franklin is behind the ads, not Billy Graham.
Why is it that religious organizations aren't taxed?
Billy Graham was a bigot when he maligned Jewish people in a taped conversation with Nixon and he still iis; and so is his son. It is his son who is behind this stunt which has absolutely nothing to do with religion. This is about "your President is black": and WINNING re-election.
Billy is right, BUT
1. Support for Israel should not mean support for Jewish settlements in the West Bank and it is possible to support Israel and at the same time also support the creation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as the capital which lives in peace and friendship with Israel. That's something the Republicans won't understand.
2. It's good to support biblical vaues, but what about the biblical values of compassion for the poor? The Republicans have declared war on Mediacre, Medicaid and Social Security and Mr. Romney by his 47% comment displays an utter contempt for Americans who are dependent on the government for help.
3. Jesus also taught us to love our enemies. With the Republicna talk of wanting to bomb Iran, it does not sound very Christian to me.
The leftists may not even believe in God or Jesus, but through their actions which support poor people and by their opposition to war, they are actually more Christian than many self professed Christian Conservatives.
I am a Christian, and I believe in God. And I have devoted my life, such as it is, to following in the way of Jesus. And I believe that h has it right.
H, I am a Christian who also is a liberal. It is unfortunate, but you are exactly correct that non-Christians often are more Christ-like than the professed Christian right. They seem to have forgotten the teachings of Christ when He said, "In as much as you have done it unto one of the least of these my children, you have done it unto me."
Apparently Graham believes Mormonism is a cult unless it produces a presidential candidate running against a black man. In that case, it's hunky dory.
It's unfortunate that you have to use these words, Doug, but looking it square in the face, what else could be said. Let's no longer bother ourselves about WHY fewer young people concern themselves with the church (whatever denomination that might be). They are smart enough to see and remember things like this in these days of limitless information. "America's Preacher" looks at the tenets of the Mormon religion, calls it a cult then in out of political desperation in the 11th hour, changes his mind and "deletes" his BELIEF from the internet. What do we tell people looking to believe? "Aww that's not a problem. God wants that for the good of our country. Obama and all, ya know?". Reverend Graham. A Romney supporter. Not the religious leader I thought him to be. I'm sure Franklin Graham has much to do with that backsliding move.
Sorry but if religion is insisting on political influence I strongly believe they should loose tax exemptions. Religion is given absolute freedom in this country but influencing elections crosses the line separating church and state. I realize most Christians won't see the harm but what if in 10 or 20 years it's a Muslim organization backing political candidates? Personally I see no difference in that religion is religion but I find most people have no problem with crossing the line so long as it's THEIR religion. The point with religious freedom all religions are free and follow the same rules. Allow one to get involved in politics and one day you may regret it. They enjoy tax exemption based on a separation of church and state so it's wrong they have it both ways and are able to keep exemptions while promoting candidates and policies that they approve of to spread their influence. If they want to run political ads then get rid of their tax exemption. The poor and even middle class need the breaks more than churches!
Great Post !!- If any Gov't agency were to endorse or oppose any religion im pretty sure the poop would hit the fan, cant have it both ways !!
Christianity is fundamentally about what you BELIEVE, to paraphrase Paul, you are saved by your faith alone.. and a correct faith in that. I am so disappointed Graham has abandoned traditional Christianity. Maybe he's going senile and simply doesn't recall what Mormons believe and how it is at extreme odds with the faith of Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Reform churches, etc. I think the Christian God would not be so accepting knowing he had to be one of countless gods in the Mormon pantheon. Remember their Jesus isn't God, and God the Father is just god of this world... lots of other gods and Mitt Romney and all male mormons believe they are in the process (Eternal Progression) of becoming gods themselves. Sound like orthodox Christianity? It's nothing like it! Yet it they stick "Jesus" in the name of their church they can call themselves Christians. It's correct FAITH, not a just a name.
Mark, I could not agree with you more. The current Republican ideology is so anti-Christ, I find it incomprehensible. I try to live my live according to Jesus' teachings in Matthew 25:36-41 which contains the verse, "In as much as you have done it unto one of the least o these by brothers, you have one it unto me." I truly believe that Jesus would be appalled at the current Republican ideology and the comments of Mr. Graham through whom so many have come to know Christ. I also believe that Mr. Graham has been influenced by his son, Franklin. I don't believe that Franklin comes close to the person his father once was.
Bunch of BS, just another millionaire, laughing all the way to the bank!
Romney pays Billy to change Mormonism status ....
Billy uses that money to run Romney ads.
Religion has never been short on hypocrites has it....
The headline should read "Franklin Graham" buys . . .Billy is to old to handle this. However, I believe he is a great man.
I guess this shows you can never be too old to be a sell out....right Billy?
Not surprised that Mr. Graham influenced by his son and others has compromised his Christian principles to endorse Romney, a non-Christian. Evangelicals have gone out of their way, compromising Christian principles for politics. As I have said for more than a year, race trumps everything in this election. No matter how absurd Romney sounds it ihas been the GOP refrain in code–"Get that black man out of the White House!". Racism is sin! But too many evangelicals who should be at the forefront against it are MIA. This is an affront before Christ. And now all of a sudden for politics sake Mormonism is no longer a cult but Christian as decreed by Graham, Olsteen and others is a slap in the face of our Lord and Savvior, Jesus Christ, the second person of The Triune God, and not a created being. There will never be a candidate 100% doctrinally correct, but at least Pres. Obama believes that Jesus Christ, God the Son, is his Lord and Savior and Romney does NOT share this belief. Romney if elected will cut all programs that help the poor. How is this Christian? Too many evangelicals only focus on abortion and gay rights instead of the larger picture for our country. This is a huge mistake and if Romney is elected we will find out shortly thereafter that we have voted against our own interestsn and cause more misery for our our fellow countrymen!
Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, and the rest of the cabal of righteous Christian evangelicals,
What's the difference? Pat ran for POTUS, swag likes to stag, bakkerman an official felon, the bi-antigay Colorado youth preacher,etc.
When Lincoln was POTUS, his wife was into séances at the white house, and he was religious ambivalent. Nancy Reagan brought in her tea readers.
This time they got a rich de-culted-Mormon Bishop to fill the Republican goal of eliminating separation of church and state, and the catholic bishops are on board.
Nothing weird going on here.
Republicans, definitely got religion worked up and ready to FIX America.
ccb...You hit it right on point!!!!! I couldn't say it any better than that...I have always said that it's all about race...Billy and Franklin Graham need to be ashamed of themselves for what they are doing...If you research the LDS church, their beliefs are in total conflict with the beliefs of Christianity....MORMANS ARE NOT CHRISTIANS...Romney is a rich man who only wants to get in office to help his cronies and himself...He has already said how he feels about 47% of people in this country...Evangelicals need to wake up, because they fail to realize that the majority of them fall into that 47% and a Romney presidency is going to deciamte the middle class, poor, disable and the elderly in this country...Romney rich friends are trying to buy this election with money and voter fraud..Do you think that God is pleased with that?...If people don't know anything about Mormons, all they need to do is google on their computer or go to the library and do some research....I cannot believe that people in this country want to go back to the same policies that got us in this mess in the first place....I suggest that we Christians who see what's really going on with this presidential election need to fast and pray everyday until election day...Proverbs14 v31 states"He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God"...and Proverbs22 v16 state "He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich-both come to poverty"...God has a special place in his heart for the poor, widows and orphans and it just sickens me to see what this country is going to be like if we allow plutocrats like Romney to take over...
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.