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.
Just another right wing hack.
Thank you, Billy Graham, for encouraging all Christians to base their votes on biblical principles. Even in this 11th hour of your life, you stand up for Christ in a way that is inspiring. May more of us find that strength as we cast our votes.
Rick have you really looked at some of these "christian values" some have? Biblical principles? The ones that go to church and say that they are "christians" are the ones that will stab you in the back first.. And who is anyone of a "religious faith" to tell me how I should live, I am a professional woman that does not drink, steal, ect. I have been married for almost 30 years, yet I don't go to church and I don't believe..based on my values should I have to live by what you think I should because of your principles...I say no..we need division of church and state.
Billy Graham has sold out God to deal with a false teacher.
I hope God asked him to the ad for Mr. Mitt,
remind me again why churches that meddle in politics get to be tax exempt?
Totally agree with you. Where I live in North Carolina, conservative pastors are preaching against Obama from the pulpits. Church interference is not only pervasive, but is considered totally acceptable. No one has been able to tell me why they should continue to have tax exempt status.
Got that right, Red. We taxpayers continue to cover their municipal costs, e.g., snowplowing (remember, this is Wisconsin), street improvements, etc. They just want it both ways.
Red -> What makes you think Rev. Graham is "meddling in politics?" He's merely encouraging people to vote their consciences based on sound, moral judgement. If YOUR conscience differs than that, you should take a look in the mirror before trying to put down others.
"Wisconsin" says " ...We taxpayers continue to cover their municipal costs, e.g., snowplowing (remember, this is Wisconsin), street improvements, etc. They just want it both ways." You have GOT TO BE KIDDING! We pay education taxes on multiple properties for schools that our children will NEVER USE! IN ADDITION to paying for public schools, we pay completely out of pocket for our children's Catholic education. BY CHOICE! But if you'd rather – SURE! If you guys want us to stop paying our own way & feed our kids back into the public education system – guess how many more schools YOU'll have to build, pay for, maintain, plow roads for, etc.,etc.,etc!!
Bill Graham is a lunatic old man that yells at clouds. He's like Pat Robertson but with more class.
Oh Ye... why no comment regarding the woman in NC who's pastors preach against Obama from the pulpit?
NEW RULE: if you refuse to reprimand clergy for abusing children/touching children, you lose your tax exempt status
They don't mention thaat when he meet President Truman, Billy Graham had a prager vigil on the White House lawn without permission of the President and were kicked out. President Truman called Billy Graham a counterfeit. Never forget this.
It is so funny to see the teanuts all of a sudden express support for the mormon cult, just so they can get rid of that awful black man, who has no right telling rich white men what to do.
I am going to laugh so hard on Nov. 7th when Obama whups 'em good.
Me too. I already cast my early vote for Obama.
I AGREE WITH YOU – I HAVE ALWAYS WONDERED HOW ALL THESE PEOPLE WHO CLAIM TO BE CHRISTIANS AND FOLLOW THE WORDS OF GOD AND JESUS CHRIST – AND PLAN ON GOING TO HEAVEN – AS THEY ALL SAY THEY DO – WHEN THEY GET THERE AND FIND OUT THAT BOTH GOD AND JESUS CHRIST MIGHT BE BLACK – WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO DO – ASK FOR SEPARATE WAITING ROOMS? NO PLACE IN OUR BIBLE DOES IT SAY WHAT THE COLOR OF SKIN IS!
Since he has crossed the line from religion to politics it is time to start taxing all of his holdings and his "church"
Those "who base their decisions on biblical principles".
Uh ... where in the Bible does it say that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three separate gods? Where does it say that human males can become gods? Where does it say that the God of THIS universe was once a MAN in ANOTHER universe and he BECAME a god?
... all basic teachings of Mormonism.
it's not in the Bible. It's in the Book of Mormon.
Silly Grumpy old man. He is anyway on his deathbed. At least now, shut up and pray. Don't interfere into others' lives in the guise of God an religion. The very fact that you have lived so long proves that God is punishing you by keeping you alive for a long time.
At least show the same respectyou demand for those beliefs and values that you dismiss. It is shame that those like you who proclaim tolerance forgot long ago to be civil, hence the warlike divid between enlightened liberals and conservatives who would prefer to just be left the heck alone. When did one's beliefs harm you other than to be across the political lines. I am sure you are aligned politically with the not so reverand (self-proclaimed) Reverand Jackson, Rev Sharpton and finally the infamous Rev Wright.
I am glad the left is no longer "ashamed" of anything. At least on the right in conservative familys' we can count on common sense prevailing rather than emotion.
Please remember your rights (like your Rev Wright; not so Sharp- ton & none too Rev Jesse) are basically contingent upon the two-way street of tolerance.
I am neither liberal nor a neocon, but I don't like those who exploit religion for their personal and family benefits and take a stand that benefits only one side. You are a moron to believe these humans who act like they are God's messengers. Get a life and go pray on your own. Don't waste time with these politically inclined people, who call themselves God's servants. This is all farce,
All of the "Billy Graham" enterprises are now officially subject to being taxed, since this endorsement makes them political, not religious organizations.
Billy the Con.
This is the first thing that I thought, actually. Doesn't this cross a line?
perhaps you should know the law before you open your mouth and show everyone just how ignorant you are ... if it does not endorse a specific candidate then it is not violating the law ... or if it does mention a candidate by name and he used his personal money to pay for the ad - in America we call this freedom of speech.
MItt Romney's position on abortion disrespects his mother.
Billy the Goat!!!
Billy, no larger cult leader in the US, today and ever.
One nation under Kolob !!!
Selling out to Politics... apostasy. Shame on you Franklin for diminishing your Father's reputation.
Sounds like Billy Graham wants the U.S. governed by the Christian version of Sharia law.
Oh yes, markiejoe, most of the radical christian evangelists do. If they get their way, this nation will be the Iran of chrisitanity in a year.
How about we send our prayers to Israel and keep our soldiers home?
these post here seem to show disbelife in this change of convictions,by this great leader of the christian faith, scrach a religious leader of any faith and you will find a lier & Thife alway has been this way all throught history.
Why would Billy Graham specifically mention support for Israel over, say, countries where Christianity is more prevalent, or countries that are suffering more? To what biblical principles is he referring?
Mitt Romney wants those who are pro-choice to base their votes on the economy; those who are anti-choice should vote based on "biblical principles"?
Another example of how the church ignores their concern about maintaining separation between church and state. As for his remark about support for Israel, it's just a temporary position for the all mighty Jewish buck and votes. GOP is getting desperate and playing all available cards.
So – Flipper Romney conned an old man out of his money.
That is how he got so powerfully rich...through con work. I am so disappointed the Billy Graham Association for doing this. He has always stayed neutral in politics. This is very very disappointing. I will never buy another Billy Grahma book, attend an evangelistic meeting or give one more dollar to his association.
Franklin Graham has sold out and sold out his father's ministry. I'll be praying for him to get his head on straight and realize that there is no "culture war". Every problem facing mankind can be solved with prayer and through God. NONE can be solved through money or power or politics.
Cool. Go ahead and get started on praying away hunger.
A life of constant prayer and supplication may not go on for an eternity - it will just seem like it...
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.