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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. demsrule

    So Billy Graham compromised his belief and endorsed a political candidate. Too bad all of these years of being admired by so many, have gone down the toilet. I guess he was just a "professional" preacher after all!

    October 20, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  2. Freedom

    I think one can look at how Jesus lived his life, what Jesus said (literally), and who Jesus healed and helped.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • demsrule

      ...and Jesus stayed out of politics! He focused on His mission on earth!

      October 20, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  3. Father Malek

    The entire message of pro-life and strong marriage and family values that we conservatives espouse goes down the drain every time Israel is added into the mix (as Billy Graham did in his ad).

    The concept of Zionism – pulling Jews out of Europe and elsewhere and placing them in Palestine – is in itself ant-Semitic and racist, and has no place in Christian dogma. Jews, like all people, belong anywhere they want; and if there is discrimination against them, you correct the problem by punishing those who discriminate, not by pulling Jews out of their home countries and local societies.

    We Christian pastors need to focus on preaching our faith by example, helping one soul at a time; and not be distracted by politics. If we’re confident that God is in control, we should not get in His way. God bless you.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  4. therealpeace2all

    FROM THE ARTICLE:

    REV. GRAHAM SAID: "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 sanct-ity 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.

    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."

    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."

    AND THEN:------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "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. LOL:D

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------–

    To try to do this smoke and mirrors ploy to act like they "aren't endorsing a particular" candidate is ridiculous. He met with Mitt, they have stated they'll do everything they can to support him, and now they are putting ads in the paper about "biblical definition of marriage" *only*... which Obama, is not for, and the whole "protect the sanct-ity" of life is a veiled reference to being "Pro-Life" or what I call... ***Pro-Forced Gestation***(tm). 8O

    To tap dance around the whole issue just makes the Graham's, and Romney for that matter, look totally disingenuous and a typical lying evangelical religious nutter IMHO.

    But... hey... we are *not* endorsing a candidate here. Yeah... right, give me a break.

    Peace...

    October 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
  5. NoTags

    Billy Graham should just hurry on out and join the LDS church. If he does it quickly before he dies, he may have a shot at becoming a God himself and getting his own planet.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Ting

      Maybe Billy finally realized all religions are shams and decided that one's faith doesn't matter.

      October 20, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  6. RETTA

    Wayneross, your ignorance is showing, what do you think “The CHURCH of JESUS CHRIST of LATTER DAY SAINTS mean, I don’t think it means Devil. They help a lot more poor than any church I know....the differance is they don't brag about what they do...they just DO IT.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  7. Name*Doug

    I am saddened like so many that Billy Graham has flip flopped on mormans not being a cult and getting involved in this election using assos funds to advertise--SHAME ON YOU

    October 20, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  8. coltakashi

    Mitt Romney is a good man who has made making money a clear lower priority in his
    Ife. He spent his spare time raising his five sons, driving in a station wagon on family vacations, not flying on a corporate jet. When he was fetying his company Bain Capital off the ground, he was devoting 25 hpurs abweek to unpaid service to his churchmcongregation, inclUding counseling with and providing food and financial aid to the unemployed and helping them find jobs. He has performed innumerable acts of private, personal help to individuals, helpingbrepair houses with his own two hands. He reads the Bible and believes in thebreality ofnits testimony of thebresurrected Christ.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Cheri Trilian

      Lets not forget....he buys out and flips companies for financial gain while the 'average joe' employee loses his job in the process. Who can blame him! He has to do something to support that new house in La Jolla.....the one with an elevator for his 5 car garage. Vacations? Lets not forget the family dog tied to the roof of his car. Last but certainly not least why should the wealthiest 1% pay less in taxes per income ratio than you and me?

      October 20, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  9. Joan

    They are some good thinking and bible references on this blog. As a devoted christian keep heart that christian people are not stupid and are not going to be brain washed by Franklin Graham. Did you read the part that part that Mr. Ross said that Mr. Graham remain Neutral and non-partisan LOL. What???? so why did he removed his long standing claim that MORMOM faith is a CULT. And why is he now running ADS endorsing RoMNEY... I sincerly hope and pray this will backfir and the real smart people of God will go vote overwhelmingly for MR, OBAMA. Franklin Graham is not a Christain like his DAD. And he will do anyhting. This is why his ministry will never grow like his dad. We serve a God who is true. Romney is a false prophet and so is Franklin Graham. I have read many of Billy Graham book and this is a man who have evovled over many things. Just like Davide and other man of God he has made his mistake. with race, getting to involved with the Presidents etc.,... But he would hear from God and know when he was going to far and STOP""" Frankin Graham you need to STOP::: I hope some of Mr. Graham really christian friends and family member willcome and and rebuke this immoral attempt by Franklin to tarnish his fathers' good name.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • NoTags

      Joan, you are somewhat misinformed. Billy Graham left Christianity a number years ago when he accepted 'new age religion' theology rather than what the Bible teaches.

      October 20, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  10. Rufus T. Firefly

    "The enemy of my enemies is my friend"
    (ironically, an Islamic proverb)

    October 20, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  11. ciking724

    The first line of this article is grossly incorrect: "The most famous and revered pastor in America, Billy Graham . . . " With all due respect, Jesus is the most revered pastor in America and throughout the earth; second would be President Barack Obama. All others pale by comparison. Among men, President Obama is currently the most influential and the best representative of the Christian faith throughout the earth. Billy and Franklin Graham fall far short of the mark.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  12. Kim

    It is time to stop basing on vote on the beliefs that others impose on us which are likely completely erroneous. God loves all people and Obama is the first president in years to truly care about the small folks. I know I can't speak for everyone but before he took office, this country was on shaky ground in every respect by a president who made horrendous without regard to anything other than his agenda, the Republican agenda. I worried that everything that I know could possibly end and was not sure about the future for my kids in many respects. Today, my employer is doing better and not threatening to cut jobs, I can refinance my underwater loan and my house has increased in value by over $12,000 which is the first time the needle moved in my favor in over 5 years. This country is going in the right direction cannot afford to elect Romney. If any of you posting here make less that 200k a year and are considering doing so, you are an absolutely brain-washed idiot. Sorry just speaking the truth.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  13. doug

    "It's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.'
    - Jesus H. Christ –

    I just can't waste my vote on someone I know will be spending eternity in hell.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  14. MBW

    The endorsement of Romney by Billy Graham is actually a double edged sword. On the one hand it seems to be an endorsement of right-wing Christian principles against abortion and contraception. However, Romney has double talked around both of these issues. And during the first six years of the Bush administration, when Republicans had total control of the White House and Congress, the Republicans chose to push through three tax cuts for the rich and businesses and did nothing relative to abortion legislation. The flip side of the Graham endorsement could actually be a rejection of Romney. If biblical principles were applied in our decision, Romney would not be my choice. There is nothing biblical
    about how Mormonism was founded by Joseph Smith. The idea that an angel named Maroni gave Joseph Smith a set of iron plates which contained the Book of Mormon is not considered biblical by mainstream Christians. Jesus himself said, "beware the traditions of man". So, I feel the Graham endorsement was of no real benefit to Romney. It is a shame that Billy Graham should allow himself to be drawn into a political dialog.

    October 20, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Cheri Trilian

      Well said....it is "a double edged sword!" The irony is whatever church Obama attends is probably more in sync with what Billy Graham actually believes......go figure! "The love of money is the root of all evil."

      October 20, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • notogop

      Billy and his "Crusade" have become who-r-e-s and sold their wares to the highest bidder. The religious right elected W and it may work here again. Tax the b-a-s-t-a-r-d-s!

      October 20, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  15. jeff ridabock

    Separation of Church and State. Last I checked we lived in the USA. Tax the Churches. End the lie.

    October 20, 2012 at 11:59 am |
  16. Steven Colo

    Gee, and I always thought that polytheism and polygamy after death weren't Biblical principals. Silly me.

    October 20, 2012 at 11:59 am |
  17. Patines

    And it took this man so long to show how charlatan he is. What a misserable roach!!

    October 20, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  18. Loathstheright

    Cancel the exempt tax statis of his church immediately.

    October 20, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  19. susannunes

    I will bet Billy Graham has nothing to do with this; this is his son using his ailing, 94-year-old father as cover.

    October 20, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Patines

      Who happens to be an ex-user.

      October 20, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  20. max

    plain and simple ... lose tax exempt status and pay like REAL Americans ... coward

    October 20, 2012 at 11:55 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.