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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. NoTags

    Google Lying For The Lord and see which church supports that philosopy. Hint; It isn't Christian churches.

    October 20, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  2. alex

    Who cares about religion.I think will vote for romney, because he has experience in buisnes and he turn before up side down busines to recover.

    October 20, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Carol

      Romney is speculator, not a businessman.

      October 20, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  3. john

    Neither one has Bible truth according to the new testament plan of salvation in the books of Acts chapter 2, How can one condemn the other.

    October 20, 2012 at 11:51 am |
  4. Keith

    This election is all about the dollar. That is it. Religious leaders lose the respect of the legitimate spiritual community when they envolve themselves in world affairs (politics). A true President of the people would not even allow this type of endorsement.

    October 20, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Sue

      I couldn't agree more with you,right on,thanks for posting.

      October 20, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Ancient Texan

      So only athiest should be interested and involved in politics?

      October 20, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  5. NoTags

    I doubt that any Christian that understands the Bible cares what Billy or Franklin Graham says. Billy Graham left Christianity years ago when he accepted 'new age religion' theology rather than what the Bible teaches.

    October 20, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  6. Floyd

    About time someone stands up for what they believe in!

    October 20, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Ancient Texan

      Absolutely! The secular progressives have picked on those of faith long enough Stand up and be counted!

      October 20, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  7. Hutterite

    Billy is american religion at its' worst. Power hungry, money mad, and shallow.

    October 20, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Meade21

      You know nothing about Billy..so keep it shut!

      October 20, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • doug

      We know he's a flip flopper.

      October 20, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  8. felix el gato

    How does Billy Boy square what Jesus said with what the Republican Party says?

    October 20, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • ChrisVC

      Forget that. How does Graham square Christianity with Mormonism?

      October 20, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  9. Joan

    Dan, Obama was a Christian long before he even thought or dream he could be President. Read his book "Dreams of my Father"...he wrote this book before he was even a Senator. Romney is getting a way with a lot with his Mormon Faith. I f you remember how the media drag out Obama and Christain association in the 2008 election.

    October 20, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  10. Michael

    I wonder what Billy's tax rate is?
    Think of it if you send him money?
    Jesus weeps.

    October 20, 2012 at 11:44 am |
  11. jesushateschristians

    mitt/graham- why religion has no place in my life!

    October 20, 2012 at 11:44 am |
  12. Cheri Trilian

    At 94 Billy Graham is worried that this might be his last presidential election? Why worry? Didn't Jesus Christ himself say, "My kingdom is no part of this world." His mission on earth was to do the will of his Father not rally around Caesar trying to help him get elected....you should know that Mr. Graham......

    October 20, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Michael

      Graham is only about Graham.
      A sham. A fake. A charlatan.
      With uneducated followers who send him R$money.

      October 20, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Meade21

      MICHAEL......you are the fraud........and know nothing about the man.........

      October 20, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  13. LouAZ

    Judas Iscariot. Dollars for Jeebus !

    October 20, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  14. leroy jackson

    Keep religion out of politics – trying to enforce so called bibical laws would be the same as trying to enforce shariah law – there is very little difference – bibical laws endorse: slavery, stoning, selling of your children into slavery, selling your daughter, patriarchy, genocide, literal witchhunts, pologamy, and so on. -

    October 20, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  15. It's Rather Amusing

    David

    I would try to refute your idiotic claims, but you'd just put your head in the sand and call me a liar. Keep being a dumb bigot, it's really working out for you.

    ******
    There's a lot of liberal spin going on here. Mainly because how dare someone who has a lot of following such as Rev.Billy Graham endorse someone other than Obama? Don't let it get to you. I don't. I think it's really actually amusing.

    October 20, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  16. Nate

    Since the unemployment number is fake,as it does not include part time and those who have stopped looking to jobs,things are in bad shape. I am going to vote for Romney. I am not even a Christian.

    October 20, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • John

      I guess there a fool born every day, and If you vote for Mitt Romney that make you a fool.

      October 20, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Carol

      Is was inapropriate to say the least for Graham to take out ads after meeting with Romney. It almost looks like a bribe. I notice, too, that the Graham's website is "down for repairs" as it should be. I wonder what Romney said to "inspire" Graham to take out the ads. Interesting, too, that like Romney, the Graham's suddenly changed their belief that Mormonism is a cult.

      October 20, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Carol

      Please provide detailed information that the numbers are a fake. You refuse to acknowledge that things are getting better in this country.

      October 20, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  17. John

    I wonder just how much Money Mitt Romney give to Billy ,for him to change his mind about MORMANS and Mitt Romney. Something had to change Billy Mind, and I'm sure a little talk with Mitt didn't do It.

    October 20, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  18. achepotlex

    I would support a policy of putting people like Graham into FEMA camps.

    October 20, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  19. Bill

    I thought we had separation of Church and State in this country? Someone needs to look into stripping Graham's organization of it's tax-exempt status.

    October 20, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • David

      We also have freedom of speech. Separation of church and state has absolutely nothing to do with what Graham did. Separation of church and state dictates that there be no state sponsored religion, that no religion receive preferential treatment by the gov't over any other religion. Graham is asking his congregation to support candidates who share Christian values. Not even close to a church/state issue.

      October 20, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Ancient Texan

      When far left radical organizations like Media Matters are tax-exempt, you want to strip that same status from non-profit organizations like churches? There is freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.

      October 20, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  20. Saint_John

    Mormons are not christians. Mormons lie profusely. Mormonism is definitely a cult. Mormons are in no way politically neutral. Mormons are not to be trusted. The LDS church has a very shady history. Joseph Smith was a psychopath and Brigham Young a mass murder. All religions are toxic. There are no deities, period. Mormons are only superficially squeaky clean. Mormons have a hidden agenda to economically take control of the USA. The LDS church is not a benign organization. Watch your back if you are not a mormon. Google the doctrine of "Blood atonement" for a peek at their true colors. It would be a major mistake to elect a mormon bishop as president which would put the LDS church in the driver's seat. OTOH, if Willard does manage to get elected it probably would not be too long before he was impeached. Obama for sure in 2012. We have no sane alternative. Wake up people. You are being duped by the LDS church. Don't let it happen. Jesus !

    October 20, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • David

      I would try to refute your idiotic claims, but you'd just put your head in the sand and call me a liar. Keep being a dumb bigot, it's really working out for you.

      October 20, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Loathstheright

      The Reichwingers hate truth and only accept the "Truth" they are told by their coordinated propaganda machine. Don't even try and bring truth to them, they will just ignore it.

      October 20, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • coltakashi

      There are six million Mormons in the US and 14 million worldwide in 150 nations. If Mormons were the kind of criminal underclass some comnenters describe, they would bebas large anthreat to society as the jihadists. Instead, Mormons are law abiding, don't get drunk or take recreational drugs, work to suppirt themselves and their families, believe in education and rise to leadership positions through the acclamation of their peers. Every year a hundred thousand Americans join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because it helps them worship Jesus Christ and live as Christians in the midst if a world thatis often hostile to Chrustians.

      Mormons have excelled in every academic pursuit, and Brigham Young University is a top rank school in many areas, including the number of its graduates who go on to earn PhDs in the sciences, where it ranks seventh in the US ahead if Yale.

      October 20, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • ryan

      You would have fit in well with the Third Reich. Stereotype, generalize, overstate and demonize to develop prejudice and hate. It worked against the Jews, and it works against Mormons. Your tactics in the 19th century led to the only extermination order in US history. In Missouri it was actually legal to kill Mormons...and they did, lots of them. As a Mormon bishop myself, I can testify that your concerns are completely irrational and unfounded, based on assumption and bias. Be careful, your demonizing tactics are not harmless! Just ask someone from Riwanda.

      October 20, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Ancient Texan

      Asinine Nonsense

      October 20, 2012 at 12:11 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.