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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. Leigh sorry she from NC

    I am sorry I live in Montreat. Billy is now a pathetic man guided by the horrible children, his horrible wife raised. Let this prove he would have spent his time better on this earth if he had been home more than trying to friend the famous. His legacy will reflect the lack of compassion I always knew he showed the locals in Montreat.. Shame on you, the five rotton Graham children who were really raised by the neighbors and people other than your fame seeking parents.

    October 20, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  2. Jeetu

    In the separation of the State and religion, there is no place for religioud leaders to support any candidate or issue any political statement. It does not do any good for Billy Graham to endorse one candidate over the other and spend money on the political ads. He is doing a disservice to America as well as his name.

    Since we wish to keep the State and religion, I hope you ignore these ads and Obama for POTUS and all other democrats for House and Senate elections in November.

    October 20, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  3. MBW

    Good for you Allen Pringle. Billy Graham has obviously turned his back on "The Sermon on the Mount" and is now showing
    his true colors as a respecter of "princes and principalities". He needs to practice what he preaches and quit being a tool of the Republican Party.

    October 20, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  4. John q

    The best way to become reach is becoming a pastor. just think about 300 church members and each one gives 10% of their pay check to the church...... and that doesn't include the daily offering 3 times in each damm service..
    I would like to know know who are the real devils!!!!

    October 20, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  5. GianCarlo

    This ancient dinosaur needs to get on his knees and pray to God for forgiveness for all the hate he and his organization has promoted through out his life. Satan is keeping him alive this long so he can spew more hate. Any religious leader who gets involved in politics loses all credibility as a righteous man of God.

    October 20, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  6. toydrum

    Which biblical principles are those? As a lifetime Republican, I am sad to say my party does not follow the principles clearly stated in the Gospels: "Love one another as I have loved you" and "Love your neighbor as yourself". There are no other principles that you can elevate above these and call yourself Christian. Based on that, I can only assume that Billy Graham is encouraging voters NOT to vote for any Republicans this year.

    October 20, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  7. kelf62

    If Billy or any other pastor, reverend, priest, etc., says anything political while in church to try to sway the congregation, we should immediately take the church's tax-exempt status away. There's supposed to be a separation of church and state in this country.

    October 20, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • tony

      The "churches" are a HUGE chunk of Romney's parasitic 47%

      October 20, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Michael S

      They should not be allowed tax exemptions to begin with, They should do as Jesus taught and "Render Unto Caesar ..." as it is the government that keeps them safe.

      October 20, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Bob R., Maryland

      Amen!

      October 20, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Rich

      This is true... however, if the GOP gets they're way church and state will be the same.... but the new God will be money.

      October 20, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Patty Johnson

      Clearly and correctly stated. Shame on Mr. Graham.

      October 20, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  8. John q

    I guess Billy also believe Romny's statement about the 47% percent don't pay taxes.” Would it take much “brain power” to understand that? I feel sorry for billy. He's a fallen angel being contagious with Romsenia.
    Billy has forgoten that Jesus came to help the "poor", the "captive", the "blind", and the "oppressed."
    Are there ways in which people today are poor, captive, blind or oppressed? ask Romney.

    October 20, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • GertieGala

      Silly Goose Gaggle

      October 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  9. kelf62

    If Billy or any other pastor, priest or reverend speaks one word about politics as head of their church, their tax-exempt status should be immediately taken away.

    October 20, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Miss Demeanor

      Billy Graham is in every way except name, the pope of a church (and a cult leader)... which seems amazingly ironic since that cult that hates catholicism so much... until you remember they also have the highest percentage of hypocrites in the church business... (nearly everyone knows a member of that cult who delights in pointing out his neighbors faults while doing equally 'sinful' things on the sly... or a businessman,doctor, lawyer who goes to their cult (always the biggest church in town) to drum up clients.... it's ALL about money and body-counts to that cult)

      October 20, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  10. Name*Ann

    "A fool has said in his heart, There is no God!"

    October 20, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • GertieGala

      Temptations temper too

      October 20, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • tony

      Now here is God, keeping billions and billions of Earth's human, animal, plant, fish and insert populations fed and sheltered successfully for thousands of years (at least). And yet his presumably "Called", greatest leaders, and all their various levels of bishops, priests, pastors, deacons and subordinates, need millions and millions of weekly collection plates just to keep them going. . . . . . .

      October 20, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Miklan

      Wow yea great proof of god. If only the scientific method required such rigorous evidence we might have invented the wheel by now!

      October 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • gotup

      Well, I'm a fool for God. And this fool say's, "stop tryin' to make a fool out of my God for poltical gain!

      October 20, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • SkepticalOne

      A fool has thought in his mind, there is no evidence of a God but I will believe in one anyway.

      October 20, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • acheptler

      The thing I like about this quote is it shows that even back in Biblical times, there were rational people calling bull sith on the hocus pocus magical stuff.

      October 20, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  11. gotup

    Hey, the Devil knows the bible too! And better than any of us, and that's for sure! So when you see something like this take place, know that the Devil was in the details!

    October 20, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • tony

      The Bible invented the Devil.

      October 20, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  12. Wilbur in Seattle

    So Billy Graham who has made all of his money from tax deductible donations, turns around and invests that same money in political attack ads. Why don't churches and preachers have to pay taxes again? Because they use those donations to help the needy? When he collected those donations was he talking about corporations are people too? A church is a corporation that already skips out on taxes. I think I see where this is headed.

    October 20, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • a preacher

      actually BGEA isn't a church, neither is Samaritan's Purse...they are non profit organizations. I am a pastor and I still have to pay taxes on my income....I have for the past 20 years. Pastors do get some extra deductions however. Churches are non profit organizations and that is why they don't pay taxes. They are nothing like corporations. The average church in America brings in about $150,000 a year. There are millions of households in America that bring in more money than the average church.

      October 20, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  13. acheptler

    Time to open the FEMA camp gates for these freaks.

    October 20, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  14. Miklan

    Sadly my brother has fallen prey to evangelism. It is rather unsettling how they view the branches of their own church, catholicism and mormonism. It is their belief that the pope is the antichrist and mormons they dont even acknowledge as being people.

    October 20, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • JPX

      It is sad when anyone is involved in religion. I can't believe in 2012 that people are still embracing Bronze Age thinking. Billy Graham has spent his life on absolute nonsense.

      October 20, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • tony

      It's what part of the collection place takings (supposed to be a sacrifice to god) he hasn't spent that is keeping he and his family in financial comfort and excess to spend on V politics ads.

      October 20, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  15. K from AZ

    I guess it's OK for atheists & godless liberal fascists to buy ads, but not Christians, right?

    October 20, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Miklan

      interesting fascism is more closely related to modern conservatism than liberalism. Witth their call for government censorshup of media, education and public health that is about as fascist as one can get. You must be thinking of socialism.

      October 20, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Pat

      Conservatards think anything that disagrees with them is liberal or socialist even if they are too stupid to recognize that facists are extreme right wing, not liberal. Learn your history son so you don't look like a complete embicile.

      October 20, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • tony

      You'd happily give fascists and atheists tax exempt status to spout their political views?

      October 20, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Miss Demeanor

      I want you to write 1000 times: People who disagree with Glenn Beck don't hate America... they can't stand Glenn Beck. I will no longer parrot Glenn Becks illogical nonsense like a drone. When I don't understand something and he or anyone else offers a simpletons easy-to-buy black-and-white solution, I won't automatically believe it anymore because that would be pure stupidity. I believe gawwwwd is not "America's Gawwwwd". I have been a tool and sincerely regret the pain I have caused others with my bigotry and hatred.

      October 20, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  16. Naija

    Why can he just die already,the world has moved past this relic.

    October 20, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • K from AZ

      Would not like to be in your shoes on 'judgement day'!

      October 20, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Miklan

      apparently we should be aspiring to be in yours, K from AZ! Teach me oh great one!

      October 20, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • GianCarlo

      OMG! My thoughts exactly!!!!!!!!! I agree, why does he not get on his knees and ask God for forgives for the hate he has promoted through out his "evangelical life".

      October 20, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Doles

      Could you really be this evil? I mean, Mitt Romney is the last person I would vote for as the man has no core values, but to wish someone to die because of political differences? I would rather people see through the hypocritical biases of some of these christians. I personally believe they're all after power. But I wouldn't come a million miles close to wish anyone of them to die. I think you're falling for the hatred propagated by many on the right. Please come back to reason!

      October 20, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  17. Sam Yaza

    why ever time Graham is in the news about his support for a person in office they say his not political,, i guarantee you if i ran for office he would not come within 50 feet of nor would i want him to; I'm not the biggest fan of snakes sure they Gaias creatures to and that make them family, there just so,...ewww,... i guess i should be happy their not slugs

    October 20, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  18. Mike

    Romney and Obama are really both inspiring to me. Obama wins the presidency against all odds. He's black and he has a funny name. Romney on the other hand is a Mormon and he is going up against a sitting president. He's actually doing better than I thought. It kind of shows you that people really care about the important things and not religion or color. I think one day we'll have an atheist president.

    October 20, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      hahahahhhahhahaha

      their will be a pagan President before that happens

      October 20, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Miklan

      Atheism is still more hated than being LGBT. I dare not speak of my atheism in public or show support of it in any way for fear of violent recourse.

      October 20, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  19. ohreally

    Is that even english?

    October 20, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  20. mike from iowa

    RELIGION NEEDS TO BE TAXED AS IT HAS OBVIOUSLY CROSSED INTO POLITICS. I WILL BE WRITING MY REPRESENTATIVES ACCORDINGLY. PLEASE DO THE SAME, FOR OUR FUTURE GENERATIONS' FREEDOMS' SAKE.

    October 20, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • ohreally

      Jesus-based Political Action Committees

      October 20, 2012 at 2:33 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.