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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. common sense

    Seperation of church and state! Is that no longer true???

    October 19, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • 2tor

      Huh? Way out there...

      October 19, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  2. Riley

    God continue to bless us with Billy Graham. He has been such an inspiration for generations.

    Romney 2012!!!

    October 19, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Eliminate hindu Judaism, Atheism, secularism, 'SELF CENTER ISM' for peace among humanity.

      Have your head examined please, seem's like you are suffering from hinduism,, mental dyslexia.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  3. gingersue

    Apparently religion can be bought and sold as easily as politics. Shame on Billy Graham for muddying religion this way.

    October 19, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Carol

      You are right. It struck me as completely inappropriate for Graham to take out ads in the first place and, second. right after Romney visited him. UGH.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Eliminate hindu Judaism, Atheism, secularism, 'SELF CENTER ISM' for peace among humanity.

      Every thing for sale for these hindu's, diners of truth absolute, even their mother's.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • 2tor

      Wow, last I looked, he's still an American.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  4. faithfulliberal

    Interesting that Billy decided to endorse someone who is a member of what he's always declared to be a cult. Maybe Mittens baptized him as a Mormon so he can get his own planet after he dies and become a little god, like all faithful Mormon men (only) are promised, if you read beneath the surface of the Mormon beliefs. So.... does a politician who buys that nonsense have the judgment to lead this country? I think not.....

    October 19, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Eliminate hindu Judaism, Atheism, secularism, 'SELF CENTER ISM' for peace among humanity.

      This is America hindu, ignorant, he just changed his mind.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • 2tor

      It always boils down to the same thing, every election. The lessor of two evils. Pun intended. I imagine Billy sees this as a no brainer.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  5. Carol

    Graham was wrong to do this. Did Romney buy the ads for Graham. I don't usually say things like that, but this miraculously happened after Romney paid him a visit. Graham is wrong to insert religion in the election.

    October 19, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • 2tor

      lol, Really? Where have you been?

      October 19, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  6. jimmie

    It's his right to support whom ever he wants, but that doesn't sit well with socialist democrats who support a Kenyan born muslim for president.

    October 19, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Carol

      Man, you are so infected and obsessed with the Kenyan and Muslim thing. It appears you have been listening to FOX, Palin, and Beck. They are the champions of hate.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Cedar rapids

      dont be a fool all your life jimmie, take a break once in a while.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • faithfulliberal

      Poor jimmie – like Mittens, all you have to say is to repeat the nonsense and lies that the Tea Party has been spewing for the last 4 years – aren't ALL black people Muslims after all? I mean, every picture of Jesus I ever say has him as a nice white guy with blond hair and blue eyes – I guess that PROVES that Obama is a Muslim, huh? BTW – I have a bridge for sale jimmie – cheap, and I think it's meant for you.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • RapidOne

      jimmie = pathetic tard

      October 19, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • Florida4Me

      Its real simple.... A Muslim or a Mormon.... I'll take my chances with a Mormon!!

      October 19, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • 2tor

      I't sOK jimmie, ignoran ts get to post too, still a free country. I know Obama said in his book he was born in Kenya, so don't let the trolls bother ya.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • tom berg

      Village is missing an idiot.....

      October 19, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @jimmie

      You Said: " Kenyan born" 8O

      This was never a real issue, except for the political pot-stirrers.

      http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/birthers/birthcertificate.asp

      Jesus christ... are you *birthers* really that stupid, or are you just trying to keep a controversy going for the social conservative sheeple for more votes ?

      President Obama, arguably *the most vetted* man in history... somehow was able to get one past everyone including his place of birth. Oh, and right... he's a Muslim too.

      Good grief.

      Peace...

      October 19, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  7. Jo

    They have no shame!!!

    October 19, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  8. Greg C.

    Principled men with a deep conviction to doing God's work.

    October 19, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  9. Martha in CF

    How much did the Mittens give to your cause. This is sick-Sorry Obama has my vote!!!!!!!!

    October 19, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • Elijah

      Mitt promised to baptize old man after he dies

      October 19, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  10. sando

    So disappointed in Mr. Graham.

    October 19, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • independent jim

      Romney belonged to a cult last month .. after $$$ talked ..Romney is now the comeing of the messiah

      October 19, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  11. acheptler

    I think job one of the next Obama administration should be sending these freaks off to FEMA camps.

    October 19, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • 2tor

      See that's the scary part. He actually has dictatorship like followers, like you.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  12. moses

    for many years i have been listen to that men.Not any more .mr graham who are you to judge people.
    he think now that he is a God.i will vote for Obama.

    October 19, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  13. Bostontola

    Romney must have made some big promises to Graham. Another example of politicians selling themselves for votes. Don't underestimate the potential of this deal. Many Christians are torn and this could swing quite a few votes.

    October 19, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Jo

      Romney gave Billy some magic underwear !!!!

      October 19, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • independent jim

      billy graham the once feared anti semite is now endorseing a cult follower ...so much for him going to heaven ..unless $$ can get you thru the pearly gates.. its true a camel can get thru the eye of a needle faster than billy bob can get into heaven

      October 19, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • Carol

      I think this is sad and frightening. Graham was USED! How horrible does it look for Romney to visit Graham and then have Graham take out ads inserting religion into this election. Actually, this makes me think even less of Romney than I already did!!!

      October 19, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • 2tor

      Maybe it's opposite of what you're thinking. Maybe Old Billy decided America needs all the help it can get to get rid of this inept foo! we have now.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  14. martiniano

    If this isn't reason to vote for Obama I don't know what is – creepy.

    October 19, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  15. xuaerdub

    Oh Billy. You've always said the words but I fear your heart follows the money.

    October 19, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  16. Art

    Speaking scientifically, he may have already seen his last election.

    October 19, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  17. Rick

    Good thing he put the ads in newspapers only old bigots like him will see it.

    October 19, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  18. Dr. Mitchell

    A person of hate- an avowed anti-semite and racist. Good. He joins the current flavor of hate officially. Want HATE? Vote Romney/Ryan!

    October 19, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • HM8432

      Considering Billy Graham (a registered Democrat) was the first to desegregate his tent revivals, eulogized LBJ, and repeatedly posted bail for MLK when no one else would or could afford to, the accusation that he's a racist is ignorant and silly. The anti-Semetic remarks were made were over 40 years ago, and he's since atoned for it many time over. In fact, the hypocrites who call him out on those remarks the most, are the SAME people today who want to see Israel and Zionism destroyed.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • inHISsvc

      Hate sounds more like you! GOD is love and Mr. Graham has lived his life sharing and showing that. Look a little closer and let that love impact you. :)

      October 19, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • 2tor

      America's seen two things for so long now. The hate that's growing, and the one's that are crowing about it. Seems to be one and the same.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Dr. Mitchell

      It is hard for those who look at Graham as a man of God and Justice to know he has worked behind the scenes to promote hatred of those who are not white or Christian. The delusional who litter the pages with :" he bailed MLK out" and disavowed anti semitism years ago forget what he has spawned- a son who he turned the keys over to, A son who is full of hate for anyone who has differences from the the Christian Anglo Saxon hetero conservative, I know it is hard to except that this is a soon to be minority slipping from its grip of total domination. Graham- a man who in back rooms- made sure the less than white and Christian suffered is facing his special reward- very soon.

      October 19, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
  19. Double A

    Amen!

    October 19, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  20. azmy

    Anyone has the tape recording of Mr. Mitt's conversation with Billy? so we no what is said behind the door!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 19, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • 2tor

      Nobody seems to care about the underhanded thing Obama did behind doors to get Obamacare. Why care now?

      October 19, 2012 at 7:15 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.