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.
Graham erased from his site that Mormonism was a cult after Romney visited him. I wonder how much the payoff was.
It's usually about power. Some of these guys get their rocks off with power over the masses. The same can be said about greedy big business owners who threaten their workers with termination if they don't vote Republican as has been happening lately.
I am just curious: is there any statistical data on success of prayers? I now, for example, very sick people receive disproportionate large number of prayers and they still die. Perhaps too much praying for something contributes to an opposite effect?
Meditating, for some, actually stimulates certain parts of the brain. In fact there have been studies, using MRIs, showing that pain is reduced in some people who are in meditation. The same occurs with placebos. The mind can be a very powerful thing.
Take care in whom you revere...a man will disappoint you but God never will. I once witnessed the pastor of my church ignore an old man lying in the middle of a road. The old man had passed out on the yellow lines of a 4 lane main street with cars flying by his head. I was 9 years old and I crossed over those lanes of traffic to help this man up and to his car. When I returned back to the church I looked up at the preacher and he said that he was going to help the guy if he didn't get up...I could only wonder how many cars the pastor was willing to allow to whiz by this man's head?
I didn't think Mormons believed in the bible? I thought they followed the "Book of Mormon"? Using that bit of info, isn't Graham really supporting Obama?
tumbs up to you...... i don't believe "Billy" was not to one to do this it was his greedy son Graham. Mr.Billy Graham did not get involved in politics
I guess Graham's "God" now approves of lies, deceit and greed. It's becoming very clear that Christianity is more of a sham led by control freaks and greed than anything else.
I fully agree with you DeeCee. The Devil is having a hellava laugh on this one!
Yeah, and so are Gargamel and Lex Luthor!
Everyone who listens to this guy is already voting for Romney and anything anti Democrat anyway...
Well he's either too old and demented to realize he's supporting a liar and deceiver OR he's sold his soul to the devil.
were it his to sell, he'd have done that a long time ago. such as it is however, his character like that of his devilish son has been revealed.
If Obama wins that will prove either: (a) god does not care about Billy Graham and prayers, or (b) god does not exist. Take your pick. On the other hand, Romney win will prove that our stupidity deserves god's punishment.
Good one :) :)
Wow Simon. Someone has really pulled the wool over YOUR eyes. How sad.
Really Graham? I've lost respect for a guy I always believed in and admired. He has no business endorsing Romney over Obama after Romney's cynical careless statements and all out lies and disingenuous campaigning. No one who is representing the rich and their interests at the expense of the poor should have a Christian leader's endorsement.
Pretending that Rmoney knows anything of the God that Rev. Graham worships simply demonstrates that the Religious Right is more interested in economic mysticism than Scripture.
I thought that Rev. Graham cared about the poor, the vets, the senior citizens and the disabled. I guess age has not been his friend. I used to have the utmost respect for him because I thought he cared about everyone as God does. I pull my support. I don't think Romney's God is any more/less than the God that Obama serves. Sad day when Rev. Graham thinks so.
The Grahams are politicians in preachers clothes.
There is something wrong somewhere. I personally don't know what is going on in this nation anymore. What will The catholic, Protestants or any other religion say about Mormonism?. And what will Christ say about all of this religions?. A religion that promotes bigamy and polygamy. There is too much hypocrisy among this religious setup and one day the wrath of God will come descending terribly on mankind. I am amazed and shocked at this man who is so called the man of God. Let God do his work by judging people and not human alike judging others.Follow the ten commandments, this is the most supreme Law ever to be given to mankind. Do not judge, least ye be judged. God gave man thee WILL power. The will to chose good from evil. The will to chose who you want to be with, the will to chose what you want to do with yourself and only God reserve that right to take away that WILL and only him alone stands to judge whether what we chose to do with our WILL is right or wrong not this people who called themselves MEN of God. They are just common ordinary humans subject to like passions and probably have their dark sides and on that day will face God to account. They should live people alone to decide how they vote and not instigate or instill fear in people to vote for a particular candidate just because somehow in their own dark souls just don't like one particular candidate for a reason known to them rather than trying to use this cheap excuses of who supports marriage sanity and others as he stated. Whether America likes it or not, all those things he stated will still be among us and neither of the candidates can change them. He better get the memo. Talking about faith, faith is an individual thing and has absolutely nothing to do with the Government, people chose where and what to place their faith in. If the American people chose to place their faith in God and only God alone, then they should stop talking about religious freedom and pass a law that will outlaw all other religions and make it mandatory for all citizens to worship God alone. This is a nation that has so many regions, each practicing it's own faith and bowing to what they believe in. GOD IS WATCHING!!!..Now, there are some things that will not change or go away regardless of who is in office and this people should get this clear and face reality and think through..LET GOD BE THE JUDGE ALONE...!!!!
Historically. god record of watching after and caring for mankind is not impressive.
Wasn't this old geezer, the guy who called for a meeting of US protestant evangelical pastors to oppose the election of Kennedy as he was a Catholic and did so in Montreux, Switzerland so as not to garner attention, when he knew Kennedy was wining he conveniently sided with him. Some people could be fooled all of the time, but not all.
Two words: Establishment Clause. Religion has no business in politics; in fact, political activities should disqualify any tax-free status of these "religious" (aka, political merely using religion as an opiate) organizations.
I think we can agree that Romney is desperate. Forward thinking voters look to unite our country, not divide it.
"...he said Graham was consulted about the ad and signed off on it." Billy hasn't been himself for quite awhile now. This is Franklin's doing and he's using his father's legacy to promote himself. Shamful!
what a dinosaur
So sad that a man that claims to be a Christian would use his position to promote political beliefs. I hope people know that not all Christians are this way.
Hey Billy! Go to hell! Your life just lost its meaning to me.
When a lady told me she grew up near the Graham home and knew a few things different to what I had believed, I tossed it as someone who was not into Christianity...then I read articles about how one of Graham's sons and a dear, dear friend to Mrs. Graham were so upset with Franklin because he was twisting his father's arm to not honor the sworn statement that both Grahams had signed to be buried at a quiet place near their home. Instead, Franklin wanted it to be at his establishment where Mrs. Graham thought was more like a zoo. And the son spoke of the antics they did, so I change my mind of what my friend had told me. I have no more faith in him. I also think that preachers who preach their personal candidates should be taxed!! Do you realize how many mega-buck evangelical preachers do not pay taxes? Imagine what a difference it would make in our economy, and maybe it would change peoples' minds about the poor people who need food stamps and welfare. Our preachers should be preaching to help these people!!!
After just a 30 minute conversation? Billy is willing to do a complete 180 degree turn. Sounds like Palin supporter son Franklin baby had a hand in this. So sad to see even Billy has price. Why don't they take a trip to Freeport IL to talk to the 170+ people whose jobs Bain/Romney just shipped to China? Perhaps the Biily G ministries can pray for them?
Bravo to you for posting this!!
wait and see the election outcome, if Romney loses, you might find a CNN blog " a complete 180 degree turn – Billy Graham declares mormons "Cult" ".
Billy's endorsement means zilch, but if you think that he made his decision based on a 30-minute for-show meeting, I do wonder where your common sense is.
Why does that surprise you? I'm sure Romney did with him what he's doing with everyone which is to tell him exactly what he wanted to hear. Romney is the biggest flip flopper I've ever seen run for president.
"Let us PREY", indeed. Tax every church!
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.