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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. Nancy Consolo

    Graham is not political neutral if he is backing Mitt. I am disappointed. I met Billy Graham in Winona Lake a very long time ago eating ice cream on that corner; I have always admired him even though I am not a member of any church and never will be because of all the hypocrisy. Here is more. The Evangelicals don't really like the Mormons, now they are backing them. Does that mean churches like a Mormon more than a Black? But more than that, Mitt is a liar and makes money off the poor and middle class by sending their jobs overseas and he will give you a voucher instead of medicare, of course that won't bother th rich. That is more important that what God he prays to. Too much phony faith in this campaign.

    October 20, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • GertieGala

      On the backs of the poorest are many nations' built

      October 20, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  2. renee

    If its his last election the world will be a better place..maybe an Obama win will send him on..

    October 20, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  3. Chris33

    "The first clergyman was the first rascal who met the first fool."

    October 20, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • elgeevz

      Whom are you quoting?

      October 20, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  4. Chris33

    Science flies you to the moon.

    Religion flies you into buildings...

    October 20, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  5. Brian

    Christ warned us to beware of false prophets – even "revered" ones. Graham made anti-Semitic remarks in Nixon's notorious tapes. Our "journalists" buried this in fine print on the back page at the time.

    October 20, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • GertieGala

      Brian,

      Temptations are many and Truths are fleeting

      October 20, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  6. Zipper

    This is why churches need to pay taxes

    October 20, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  7. Chris33

    Billy Graham was Nixon's golf buddy.

    October 20, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  8. GertieGala

    The richer a preacher is, the more they should give to the poor. They in fact should give mostly all of their ill-conceived wealth to the needy and poor. But alas, poor Urich, they knew him not. Damn rich folk! Let's unite and take back our coinage before China wants their loaned money back!

    October 20, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  9. Zach

    Whether we agree with Rev. Graham or not, there are still evangelicals and others who do respect him.
    If Graham's message gets voters to the polls whoever they want to vote for, it's a good thing.

    October 20, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  10. Truman Angel

    "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." So vote for any candidate who demands women be stoned to death for being rapped.

    October 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  11. Church Lady

    Let me see if I understand correctly Mr. Graham, you're asking us, your Flock, to vote for a heretical Polygamist,cultist on Election Day instead of a Christian to be the President of the United States of America? That just doesn't sound like you Mr. Graham. It sounds like someone... oh I'm not exactly sure who.... oh, I don't know...hmmm......could it be SATAN???!!!!!! Well isn't that Special? If I were you Franklin Graham, I would make sure to pack some nice , light , loose fittin, cotton clothing cause it's going to be hot where you're going.

    October 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • me

      church Lady u r not only ignorant but full of heated. What church you go to? Repent, we are not electing the pastor of America. Obama is sending the unborn to death, changing traditional marriage, eradicating our christian heritage etc. Romney oppose to all that....

      October 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • kousa

      @me. Obama is not sending the unborn to death. People who chose to get abortions have to account for their own sin. The far right is using religion to mask what they really don't like....a black man as president! How soon they forget that Richard Nixon was in the White House when Roe v Wade became law. Like I said, the only reason the far right and people like Billy Graham who would support a known cultist like Romney is because they want to get this black man out of the White House! Think about it, it Obama was a white man I doubt if Billy Graham would buy an ad saying that Mormonism is not a cult.

      October 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  12. jordans

    How sad that Mitt went and used an old man, risking the tax exempt status of grahams ministry, for his own gain.
    This man would take the wallet off a dead man he has no ethics, just goals of power and money.

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

      Rev. Graham must not be much better.. Birds of a feather you know !

      October 20, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  13. Kevin

    As someone who has spent time at the Billy Graham Training Center in Asheville I am very disappointed that Rev. Graham chooses to get in the middle of the election. I am a Christian and I support Obama... and you know what? LOTS of other Christians do too. All you are doing is isolating some of your own supporters Rev. Graham. That is very sad.

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

      I I don't understand your type of Christianity. How can a Christian support a men like Obama?, He is sending the unborn to death, changing traditional marriage, eradicating our christian heritage etc. Romney oppose to all that.... He don't become our pastor He jjust happens to favor what we and God favor. OBAMA DOES NOT

      October 20, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  14. Alana

    Black churches say whatever they want politically and prompt their choice all the time...no one wants to take their tax free status away.

    October 20, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  15. larryb

    he used to be a reasonable person and his voice actually meant something...now we are really hearing his far right son's opinions coming from a senile old old man

    October 20, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  16. Miklan

    fundamentalism is clearly just a rationalization for intolerance

    October 20, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  17. GertieGala

    Science preaches and teaches while religion mainly preahes what it teaches, Where's the difference?

    October 20, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  18. hitchensrotsinhell

    he's about to meet Satan, and hopes to deceive Satan with his ads?

    October 20, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  19. D. Hamilton

    I have not seen his ad but I hope it focuses on the obligation to serve the poor in our communities. Serving the poor and protecting children are major tenets of the Christian faith. If you are proposing to cut taxes so there is no revenue generated, you are supporting efforts to cut social services intended to benefit the poor and children. This is NOT Christian like behavior!

    October 20, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  20. Miklan

    You yourself must know that assumption to be false. I don't want to be condescending toward you as I am trying to learn to respect other's beliefs, but it just seems to me that fundamentalism rather than i dont know what to call it, I guess normal Christianity?, has been the dominant force in the republican for the last few decades. Literal interpretation of the bible has seemed to trump Jesus' teachings.

    October 20, 2012 at 2:57 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.