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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. Joan

    This is a sad day for the Christain Faith. I know as a devoted Christian that Mr. Billy Graham would not have gone this far to endorse Romney, whose faith is NOT the same as the Christian faith. Franklin Graham you are an immoral man. YOu are abusing your fathers good christian name. It was Franklin Graham who a few years ago when he thought Sarah Palin would run for President , took her to Haiti under pretense using Sarmaitan Purse contribution from us the people. As a christian I don't believe in abortion and I know that marraige should between a man and a woman. But as President Mr. Obama have to represent everyone even against his believe. Romney the liar may say he is against all these things now as he flip flop on it everyday anyway. As president Romney will and cannot do anything better in that regards than Mr, Obama. It is the people that are driving this agenda. So people of God use your thinking power and vote for the man who will look out for the poor and desolate. That is what Jesus did in his days. Obama is not perfect but he his looking out for everyone (all). My mom died in an Hospital in Pennslyvannia 10 years ago because she did not have proper healthcare. As soon as the policy ran out they disconnect all the plugs and send her halfdead into a rehab centre. She was never able to regain her health and died soon after. She would be alive today if she had better healthcare.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  2. saved and pray you get saved

    A Mormon as our leader are you serious? A Mormon who believes he will be a god some day. A Mormon who has his own bible not the Holy Bible. People you better do your research on his church and what they believe. If he gets elected maybe it is the end times scenario people are hoping for to usher Jesus in being caught up(some of you refer to it as the rapture.God BLESS

    October 20, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • You Don't Say?

      Oh, horror of horrors. We may get a Mormon in office. I find that ironic for reasons I won't spell out here. I think to most people on the whole, it's not going to really matter if a Mormon occupies the WH. We have had a Catholic President with JFK and a nominal Quaker (Richard Nixon). It didn't matter to people years ago, and somehow, I don't believe it's going to matter to most people now. And this thing about the end times. I could be wrong, but I seriously doubt the World is going to end because of there will be a Mormon in the WH.

      October 20, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Real America

      Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse Project can be contacted at
      (828) 262-1980

      I suggest that people opposed to Franklin Graham's political efforts call and explain that you are entirely committed to having their tax-exempt status revoked ( or say something equally scary within the law ).

      October 20, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Orwell prefers Guyana punch

      Even an agnostic can tell the Mormon stuff is not possible or plausible, just like Scientology.
      Besides strange, it's crazy impossible.

      Don't believe me, go read Book of Mormon. If it is your belief, join them. Should be required reading to develop critical thinking.

      October 20, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  3. topfuel500

    Religion is a business with a tax exempt status,not to say they don't do good things for people but a business non the less.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  4. a different Dan

    Mormons say they believe in Jesus and probably do but they may have been tricked into believing some things that are not true and anti Christ. The times, signs, and world conditions strongly suggest this is the time of the anti Christ. People will be running (there vehicles) to and fro. Knowledge will increase (on the web).There will be earthquakes, wars and rumors of wars.(Iran, North Korea, Palestine, and on and on) Will Romney turn out to be the anti Christ. Obama the Muslim who joined the Christian Church. Was that for real or part of a plan to get power? These are scary things which no one seems to be paying any attention to. The women in an article on CNN that is on disability so is her husband also get food stamps but spend money eating out , in reference to the election, says why can't I have that meaning why am I not given more.
    Jesus said; be satisfied with your wages. This generation is not satisfied with what is given to them. We are heading for big trouble and Billy Graham, a Christian leader is telling us to pay attention to the real problems that are facing us and look in the direction of Christ for guidance.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  5. Joe

    Like many Americans, I have a lot of respect for Rev. Graham. Although, I have to admit, this action diminishes my respect for him to a degree. I think any church or other organization with non-profit status should automatically lose that status once they spend any resources on any activities related to politics. That should cut both ways for organizations that support Democratic or Republican candidates.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  6. George

    94 year old man is obviously being used here. SHAME ON THE SON

    October 20, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  7. hubert39

    With Billy Graham being a life long Democrat and his son being a SOB I know who the senior Graham likes.Cult taken off web site? I bet the SOB had it removed.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  8. Edwin A. Bowman M.D.

    One of Billy Graham's early associates accurately described him as a "fraud".

    October 20, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  9. prayfast2

    Since when does Christianity include another revelación of Jesus. Revelation received in woods aré forbidden in bible. The founder of Mormonism Joseph Smiith tan for president. Now we have Mitt

    October 20, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Mitt has a little rock in a hat that will show him the way through every crisis. Obama doesn't have that.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  10. Genuflect

    Time to give up the 'Non-Profit' status!! (which it ever was, only a money machine, as they all are)

    October 20, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  11. ARAPIKOS

    I am a product of the 1960s, and I do not recall BG taking a stand against the KKK or the other racists in our society during that time period. Now, he wants to make a point before he dies–we know that it is never too late to "repent" "May Jesus Christ Our Savior have Mercy on me –a sinner".

    October 20, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  12. Um...no

    I wonder how often Billy cry's "Church and State".

    October 20, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  13. carlos

    well, so much for separation of church and state.........willard and LDS = Lie..Deceive..Smear........

    October 20, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  14. cathy

    Who didn't see that coming after BG took the part about Mormanism being a cult off of his web page. Better a white Morman than a black man...

    October 20, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • PA86

      Apparently better a white Mormon, than a black Christian. Whether its racism or not, I don't know. But I am at a loss for words to describe how I feel about him stepping into a political race and backing any candidate.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  15. Hasan

    I live in Pakistan. I know what religion does when it takes over politics. America, please be smart. The fundamentalist radicals have been winning over here. Don't let them take over your country as well. It doesn't matter what flavor of religion it is. These people have an endless thirst for power and no compassion or sympathy for their fellow man.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • NKB

      Spoken by someone with "experience".......this election is about "Greed & Power" VS "Compassion & Caring" Who will win?...it's up to us........I'm not ready for a "Burqa"!!!!!!!

      October 20, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  16. James

    This is commical. All the "somebody owes me something" crowd claiming that the Savior would by law, compell by force of law, one group of people, to become enslaved to another. Liberty means the right to be free from such slavery. Hate the rich, be jealous of the productive. It makes intelligent sence.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  17. sybaris

    That picture is disturbing.

    Separation of church and state?

    Bwahahahahahahahaha!

    Don't let 'em fool ya kids, you want to make money and control people? Start or lead a religion.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Cathy

      completely agree with you.Church should keep the bible out of politics!BG is wrong to interject.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Jamesrini

      that's why the LORD said Manny shall come in my name but I did not send them . the love of money is the root of all evil .. and who fights to keep all their money Republicans ?? Democrats try to give money Social Security ,Medicaid ,healthcare etc. Eyes to see ears to hear spiritually speaking

      October 20, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Randy

      "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are endowed by their creator" written in 18th century America.
      "one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all" written in 19th century America.
      "In God We Trust" printed on all US currency in the 20th century.
      "so help me God" pledged by every US president since Washington.
      A promise of freedom of religion does not wipe out more than two centuries of faith and devotion. I am not an overly religious person, but I know history. Any one who tries to say that our founding fathers envisioned a government devoid of spiritual guidance never really studied the lives of our founders.

      October 20, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  18. lindaluttrell

    THIS is news???

    October 20, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • CAL

      It's called the Belief Blog.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  19. Tom

    Tell you what, you want to push your views of your church on my politics of my state, then maybe the state can tax your church. until then please go away. Church and State, separate for a reason.

    PS, "Under God" was only added in the 1950's to counter the "Godless Communists"

    October 20, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Religious institutions should be taxed regardless of whether they are involvemed in political affairs. Tax them like gambling houses. They offer us Pascal's wager often enough.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  20. Religion=Power

    Well, he was the last of my hopes for a nationally known "man of God" until this. Guess the widow and her mite, and all the other poor and disadvantaged can leave the santuary now – the new creed is "survival of the fittest" in this harsh America. And, no, I do not see churches or charities responding to all the needs of those in true need.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Jamesrini

      these are definitely the end times in which we live first Thessalonians 5 verse 4 those with the wisdom knowledge and understanding I don't come back a thief in the night . my advice study your Bible and get the wisdom knowledge and understanding that you need

      October 20, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • midwest rail

      " These are definitely the end times..." Um, no. Men have been predicting the end of days since roughly 40 A.D. They have all been wrong. So are you.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Theen Allah Fat Mullah (the Original Hinduism Source.......)

      Religion=Power, Yes but dangerous when it spreads corruption, Isla m corruption of ALLAH, AL. The, LA, Lawless, H, Highly.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:53 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.