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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. MDNC

    North Carolina's budget woes would be over if Billy Graham Inc. would start paying their share of corporate tax. It is nothing more than a big box business. Are you listening IRS?

    October 20, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  2. A

    But this nation was founded with a separation of church and state! We can be religious and in office, BUT we shouldn't make it all about that. This nation isn't just full of Christians – we have atheists, Muslims, agnostics, Mormons, Buddhists, etc. these people (the extreme religious ones) don't think the others exist.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  3. Observant Historian

    No Tag keeps saying "Billy Graham left Christianity a number years ago when he accepted 'new age religion' theology rather than what the Bible teaches." I know what he means, but I doubt that most people on this list understand why some Christians who are to the right of Billy Graham have long accused him of not being a "true Christian" (as though that phase has any objective meaning). The term "new age religion" means something rather different to most people than how No Tag is using it, so I think It would be enlightening for No Tag to more specifically describe what he actually means.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  4. Sam E

    You finally sold out Billy Graham. I respected you because you stayed out of politics. Now you betray your own faith by choosing a Mormon just because President Obama is not particularly religious. I don't rust anything about you anymore.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • K from AZ

      No, not because Comrade Obama is not particularly religious BUT, because he is truely EVIL!

      October 20, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Russ

      Stayed out of politics? Every Republican candidate and president payed homage to the old coot. They all went to him to get his blessing. Romney is just one more in a long chain.

      October 20, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  5. roberthaggerty

    Billy Graham loses his moral authority when he tells people to support the brutal occupation of the Palestinian people by the Israelis. That occupation goes agaimst everything this country has always stood for

    October 20, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • foxfire

      It is a well known the Grahams are a buch of hypocrite and have lived off the donations from the ignorant for decades.

      October 20, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  6. Lann12

    No Preacher has a right to put their preaching into politics to try and back a Political party in any way! It is wrong,completely wrong!!! Further more, I am a straight woman happily married to my husband for 20 years now. And in no way is it right for any church to get in the middle of Gay Rights either. The Church is suppose to be open for ALL, no matter who you are, what color you are, and if your rich or poor! They half to stand before God for their sins and their beliefs. It is not our place to JUDGE anyone whom does not affend us by the way they live their life.
    It is time the Preachers go back to the Bible and read where it says thou shall not JUDGE. God is the one whom does the Judging on Judgement Day. Now I can say that I don't believe in that life for "ME". I face judement judgement for myself just as the Gay face judgement for themselves on Judgement Day. The Churchs have no right in saying anything in Politics on any of these matters, This is wrong!!!!

    October 20, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • NC

      I agree

      October 20, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  7. rob

    Billy Graham is a fossilized, washed up, extremist, nobody. And of course he would help Romney, they're both repugnant bigots. Both of them need to disappear and leave the rest of us normal people in peace.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  8. James PDX

    Too bad the Mormon church still thinks Billy is a heathen. But then Mitt has never minded doing business with a heathen, or anyone else for that matter, if he stands to gain by it.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  9. Jan

    I guess 'god' really does not what this old clown in heaven. Otherwise why the hell is he still alive??

    October 20, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  10. notogop

    How much revenue would be raised if churches and their associated orgainizations were to be taxed, as they should be?

    October 20, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • foxfire

      Good point....they should be taxed. Most give nothing to people but a dose of guilt.

      October 20, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  11. Moby49

    Yeah he signed off on it with his son Franklin guiding his hand. The old man was duped and used by his own son for political purposes. Very sad.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  12. ForGoodOfAll

    senile alert!

    October 20, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  13. 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). And the "one nation under God" thing which apparently the evangelicals feel the need to have at the expense of everyone else who is not a 'fundie.'
    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 12:20 pm |
    • James PDX

      Billy also said that he has never singled out any religion right after pulling the bit from his website about mormonism being a cult.

      October 20, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @James PDX

      Yeah... I know, it's just pure insanity on the part of the religious nutters, as far as I'm concerned.

      But, to get into who is *the right* christian, blah, blah wars is just crazy.

      Peace...

      October 20, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  14. judith

    How sad. I used to admire Billy Graham, but no longer. Perhaps he's developed senility and this is the decision of his right-wing, partisan, hateful son. I certainly hope so.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • James PDX

      He's pulling a Jimmy Carter.

      October 20, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Gina

      Agreed!

      October 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  15. ron

    Plainly, Billy graham has gone senile. Why do the religious always, ALWAYS, fall for politicians that very conveniently are "born again" like Bush. Did you EVER see Bush anywhere near a church during his rule? Or Romney, in whom I see NO evedence of charity, compassion, or any other Christian principles. But come election time, boy, oh boy, they get religion. Do you religious zealots not understand? They are L-Y-I-N-G to you.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  16. lois faler

    SHAM ON YOU BILLY WHAT A FLIP FLOP > MONEY CAN BUY ANY THING >>EXCEPT YOUR WAY TO HEAVEN

    October 20, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  17. dee0002

    Dear old (senile?) Graham - I remember the days you were best buds with Nixon.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  18. ForReal

    I can't believe Romney bothering this old man for support. Back fired because he didn't get the endorsement he was looking for. According to CNN he is leading so why is he running around begging for support this way. Now he's got CEO telling their employees to vote for him, he's encouraging these CEO to do this. For someone who is winning, he acting pretty desparate.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • NoTags

      Romney will do ANYTHING to win. Flip-flop, outright lie, whatever it takes. He has been running for POTUS for the past six years and knows this is his last shot.

      October 20, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • ForGoodOfAll

      ForReal, The New York Times electoral map looks great for Obama/Biden. They are in the lead, so look at various sources b/c the info varies according to how data was collected, etc. Remember a candidate needs the electorial points to win. Popular vote does not necessarily indicate the winner; only the electorial count (270) indicates the winner.

      October 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  19. keeth

    Loss of credibility at the end of his life. How sad.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • ForGoodOfAll

      I'm sure Romney bribed him with a hefty sum of cash...

      October 20, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  20. nanalou

    I am saddened Billy Graham has been duped in his later years to abdicate his beliefs after a 30 minute visit. We have been warned about being alert to charlatans of faith. Although I believe Mr. Romney is a good man, he lacks many of the traits needed to lead a country. Americans need to remember that the finacial troubles have been global, and you are doing better than many other countries in the world (Spain at 25% unemployment). No matter who was in the White House it would have been difficult. Christ did say there should be separation of church and state (give unto Cesear that which is Cesear's), but praying for Godly leaders is also a good thing. However, Christ also has open arms to all people, no matter race, social economic status, culture, ethnicity, sinner, or saint. Look at the amazing miracles happening in the middle east today where Christ is coming to the Muslims in dreams. You need a leader who will embrace, heal, and empower. I encourage all Americans to choose someone who comes from that place, not just piggy-backs and tries to be that person.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • Keeping It Real

      nanalou,

      The fact that you think that Graham changed his mind after a 30-minute visit with Romney really negates your credence on any of the other matters which you discuss.

      I'm not a Romney fan, but I just can't let this lack-of-reality post go.

      October 20, 2012 at 12:45 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.