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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. zebra_man

    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."

    Hmmmm.....Mormonism NOT a cult....but ONLY for the election....I can't help but wonder....how long before it "officially" becomes a cult again?

    October 20, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  2. toyman123

    Even the very elect will be fooled.

    October 20, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Meki60

      Brace yourselves for Obama's voter fraud.

      October 20, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  3. Lion

    The US evangelists are just the other side of the coin of radical Islamists. Not much difference between the two. That is one reason the founding fathers (who were very wise) kept State & Religion apart. US Evangelists have made a good living (Financially) including all the well known ones, by selling Christ to the gullible. If Jesus Christ was alive today he would be horrified what these guys are doing using his name. Christs teaching is being misused by these Evangelists. Yes, the gullible send these suckers "seed money" & 'love gifts" to seek a place in the imaginary heaven as described by these shysters. Its such a shame how they use the teaching of Jesus Christ to suck in dollars from the gullible – Yes they talk to god each day. Oh yes?

    October 20, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Jared

      Very well said Lion. The other thing about these so called men of god is, they all seem to get busted for buying pu$$y, drugs and having $ex with young alter boys.

      October 20, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  4. Meki60

    Billy might be 93 but he can still kick Obama's butt.

    October 20, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Miklan

      so primal

      October 20, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • landon

      Billy is being used by Franklin so sad.

      October 20, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Meki60

      Early voting in Tx begins this Monday, I'll be there right at 8:00am to pull the 'R' lever.

      October 20, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Miklan

      its a good thing that vote will be wasted since texas is solidly republican. Stacking more votes that way will not gain you any more electoral votes.

      October 20, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Allen Pringle

      It is obvious you need psychological help. Mormonsm is a cult and most devout Christians are aware of this. There is no reason, to vote for or not vote either of the two, President Barack Obama or Governor Mitt Romney based on the endorsement of Franklin or Billy Graham or any other non-popular or popular evangelist.

      There are plenty of issues at stake. I am voting for the candidate who is for the people, who demonstrates personal value and respect and has a history of doing that. The candiddates are their history. No marketing message is going to make me forget what one candidate is believable and what they will do once they are in office. Sometimes the tactics used by the the opposition and what they do covertly, reflects their ill-intention or selfish montives. Even the intense actions of either of the candidates most staounch and adamant supporters should say something to many of you. You need to look with your own eyes at what is going on.

      In the end God will hold you accountable for not using all the blessings He has given you, namely 'your' mind, spirit of discernment and your heart . Somebody is countingf on you to vote for their sales pitch and not their plan,

      As Chrsitians we need to look at that. What is best for the American people? I am voting for the candidate who has compassion and respect for all people, believers or non-believers. God is a merciful God, not a hateful or 'unloving God.

      People of God know that morality should stem from faith expressed through daily living. It is the body of Christ who must allow non-believers to see 'who they can be by being open epistles the world can read. If they did that, mayble they would not be so 'gullible.' and wait for directions or sugestions by a popular preacher, pastor, evangelist, etc.....whomever. What candidate is best for the people. I will vote for the lesser of 2 evils and that is the President of the United States, Barack Obama and has demonstrated hard work in the face of adversity. He is what is needed to take our country forward.

      October 20, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Miklan

      Penguin I just look at all the top scientists through history who are atheist. So i draw the conclusion that God is either a sicko likes blessing minds that dont believe in him or there really is no God.

      October 20, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Miklan

      err pringle sorry

      October 20, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  5. philip

    Billy Graham is evil as are most televangelicals. They rob people blind of their hard earned pay and make them shake with fear. These men (and they are usually men) should be called to task. His endorsement (after years of saying that mormonism is a cult) of Romney really says something abot Romney. Stay away, stay very far away from Romney as a president.

    October 20, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Miklan

      I agree with this for most part, except I dont believe these televangalists are deliberately conning money. It would be so much easier to believe it were that the case, but if we gave in to that belief we would be no better than them. As is true in most of life this is a complicated issue where these people truly believe they are doing the right thing. Even though they would never extend me as an atheist the same courtesy, If we can come to understand that they are not just cheap conmenn we will be that much better for it.

      October 20, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Gonzales

      I agree Philip. I just understand how BG can believe the church of LDS can be so evil and label them a cult and now wih a flip of a switch change his opinion. I have lost respect for Mr. Graham.

      October 20, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Michelle

      I totally agree with you!! I am saddened how Billy Graham flipped the script. It just amazes me that how Billy and Liberty University (my alma mater) promotes Christianity and then at the same time promotes Romney who is not Christian and both acknowledge that Mormonism is a cult and then change is unbelievable! President Obama is a Christian and if the evangelicals, Billy Graham, and Liberty University are so "Pro-Christian" who do they not endorse President Obama? If "they" believe" in voting on someone who strictly adheres to all Biblical principles, then they shouldn't vote at all because we all sin and do not perfectly live a Christian life. Of all people they endorse a Mormon. I'm not saying that in a bad way either. As a Christian I have nothing against the Mormons or any other religion for that matter, I just don't like so-called professed Christians who flip-flop on their beliefs! Chose ye this day whom you will serve! Don't flip-flop! Gee whiz!!!!

      October 20, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  6. GaryOwen27

    Time to start taxing religon...if they want to play, they need to pay.

    October 20, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • barbraS

      Amen to that, brother.

      October 20, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Nah

      gary: "Time to start taxing religon...if they want to play, they need to pay."

      Nah. Religious organizations aren't taxed because they're engaged in predominantly charity work, and a tax on them would be a burden on the free exercise of religion. Especially for small religions and poor congregations.

      But your bigoted desire to financially hurt groups you dislike is duly noted.

      October 20, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Miklan

      ehhh its a coinflip. The charitable work of evangelical churches is balanced by their intense fear of knowledge and their wish that creationism be taught in schools.

      October 20, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  7. Robert

    Humorous how all the comments on this list disapproving of Graham's actions are Pro-Obama. Graham never mentioned either candidate in his ads. Why do the Pro-Obama folks feel these ads will work against the president? Obama has claimed he is a Christian. Everyone should be supporting this.

    October 20, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Miklan

      Cute attempt to bash obama supporters, but a five year old knows which way this old codger is leaning.

      October 20, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • GaryOwen27

      Because 1 + 1 = 2

      October 20, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • evolution0117

      Most Christians have to ask themselves which ticket supports the heart of Jesus' teachings from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew): "...Blessed are the poor, the meek, the hungry, the peacemakers..."

      After they do that, Christians have to go back and ask when was the only time Jesus Christ got angry? Oh, that's right – the moneychangers in the temple trying to make a profit off of God's name.

      Religion can be bought. Faith cannot.

      October 20, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Lion

      Whom are you kidding? Some people may be stupid enough to believe that this is not a direct endorsement of Romney by the evangelist Graham. It is obvious to any right thinking person, why he is doing this after meeting with Romney and then erasing all reference to Mormonism as a cult in their books. You drink too much of their cool aid. Many of us do not, we think with our minds.

      October 20, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Louis

      Because for 60 yrs it's a cult then after a 30 min meeting( and a check) all is well????? Graham is nothing more than a snake oil salesman like Romney the con men stick together

      October 20, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • not a moh-ron

      Like you, it seems.

      October 20, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  8. Beatlearl

    Anyone with have a brain knows the old geezer is a T..bagger supporter,so nothing is new here and who gives a flip what he thinks?

    October 20, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  9. appmonger

    Religion just can't seem to get out of politics. What ever happen too separation of church ans state? These people are disgusting, imposing their religious views onto others.

    Religion is a private matter between you and what ever god you prey too. Sad that people what them to adopt their views. No one thought to think that maybe people don't want to prey to the god you promote?

    People have choices in religion, why shove your religious views down someone else throat who doesn't care about you care about?

    We should never allow for any religious beliefs to take over politics and laws to tell people what they can't and can do with their bodies and free thinking mind.

    October 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • RocRac

      Dude, nobody is imposing religion on anybody. It's called free speech. As far as "imposing"? When you get a major tax increase to fund Obamacare next year,.....that indeed we can refer to as "imposing" something on us.

      October 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  10. MBW

    It is entirely consistent that Billy Graham is a supporter of Romney. They are both flip-floppers. Remember how Mormonism was once a cult? The Evangelical right used this as an argument against Romney during the Republican primaries. Now that Romney is the Republican nominee, Mormonism is no longer a cult. Billy Graham is now trying to appeal to Evangelicals to forget about the cult thing. How crass is this? Is he speaking as a man of God, or is he just doing what he has always done, gone with the flow. It is sad that he has devalued his legacy by not sticking to his principles, whatever they are.

    October 20, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Kedwards

      That is because their true Gods are right wing political ideology and money.

      October 20, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Michelle

      MBW you hit the nail on the head!! I couldn't have said it better myself! Well said. I'm so disappointed in Billy.

      October 20, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  11. joe the plumber

    Billy Boy's rationale for supporting Romney is predicated on "his take of bibical principles." Others could use the same rationale for supporting Obama "given their take of bibical principles." What a stupid approach to vote deciding.

    October 20, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  12. nick2

    Very secular of the old geriatric to butt into politics. It will backfire with the undecideds.

    October 20, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Mkat2

      This ountry NEEDS all the prayers Rev. Graham can offer! When you have a president, right after the murder of our ambassador by Islamists, appoints SALAM AL MARAYATI to represent the U.S. at a European conference on "Human Rights"....... excuse me now, I need to go barf.....

      October 20, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Miklan

      well i see mkat2 is a standard arab fearing conspiracy believing christian. Conspiracies aren't real.

      October 20, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  13. JP

    Christians confuse me. Wouldn't Nationalism and politics be a form of idolatry? If their god is so powerful why do they have a hard on for Pagan politics and tyranny. Pretty sure Jesus said something like leave the Law to Lawyers and Politics to Politicians and Live like me...............

    October 20, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Me

      So, so wrong. What are you talking about??

      October 20, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  14. J. Sanyer

    It is outrageous that a precher, regardless who he or she is, who does not pay taxes, openly endorses a candidate based only on his or her religious beliefs. If we continue this way we are going to become not a SOCIALIST state as the right wing republican call our President but a TALIBAN STATE, Thus it is up to you votrers, for me the choice is clear.

    October 20, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Miklan

      While I am not one for conspiracy theories and wild assumptions of one party's socialist agenda or the other's disdain for the poor and agenda for the rich, the implication's behind the religious right's ideas for america are unsettling. History has proven that no society has ever thrived for long with a national religion or in the case of communism, national atheism. So in this case I do agree that we need to be more aware of the seriousness of the situation and remember the dangers of a religious state.

      October 20, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  15. SandyFeats

    I have a feeling there was a dollar amount offered and accepted somewhere along the way. A pay to pray moment if you will.

    October 20, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      Ya' think.

      Peace...

      October 20, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • Louis

      I agree 110%

      October 20, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  16. Searles O'Dubhain

    I'm surprised that Billy Graham woud support anyone who was truthful. It makes me think that he is being mislead by those around him. I am hopeful that he will awken to serve the good and save those around him from the snares in which they are trapped.

    October 20, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  17. reverend amongst us

    God is not a respecter of persons, it is written, so why should we be smitten by mr graham, or his son? At the end of life he will have to stand before God, who sees everything, and answer for his own life decisions. We as people must not be smitten because mr graham endorses anyone whether political or not. Instead we should examine ourselves and that we are not selfish to our own ways in this life, but that we are always hungry after the truth, and respectfully so that when God created us in His likeness, that we love one another and care for one another. Put down hatred, selfishness, envy and jealousy so that we may enjoy this thing called life, and live it for its full abundance that it yields- we should access it when we keep our commitment without effort.

    October 20, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  18. Miklan

    The day this man dies will be a great one for humanity.

    October 20, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  19. LMC

    Although Billy Graham has prayed with presidents and hopefuls before, I don't remember him taking out ads to support anyone. I agree that this sounds like the doing of Franklin Graham, who has made many conlicting comments about President Obama in the past.

    October 20, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Diana

      Maybe Mr. BG believed there was a reason to endorse someone for president because Mr. Obama has endorsed gay marriage and gave rights to people who broke the law to get into this country. I can't speak for Mr. BG, its just my opinion. Me myself I will not vote for either of these guys. Mr. Obama sold his soul to the devil for gay votes and Mr. Rommney believes in a religion thats discrimmates against Black people. Amazing how he would love for AA to vote him into a office when he and his religion refused to do the same for qualified Blacks to hold office in his religion.

      October 20, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  20. Ancestorscamein1650

    My fondest memory of Billy; his support for Richard Nixon.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Pop the Zitt Mitt!

      He sure can pick 'em.

      October 20, 2012 at 1:37 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.