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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 • Evangelical • Leaders • Politics

soundoff (2,816 Responses)
  1. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    October 20, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • prufrock

      Yeah, because belief in mythical beings is healthy for them.

      October 20, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • freespeechadvocate

      Liberals are so tolerant, until it comes to Christians. I love how this forum has become a platfor for hatespeech against Christians. There are plenty of justifiable reasons for people to pray to whatever God they choose, and if Billy Graham wants to support the person who is more aligned with Biblical values, that is his right

      October 20, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Miklan

      Aside from my disagreement with nearly ever tenet of modern fundamentalism,I dont deny I have an irrational contempt toward Christians, but this is only because they are such a dominant force in this country. I as most other humans have natural tendency to root for the underdog and Christians are far from that.

      October 20, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Miklan

      I guess I should add that Christians' attempts to portray themselves as victims doesnt help their cause.

      October 20, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • freespeechadvocate

      Miklan, Christianity is the most persecuted faith in the world. Painting isn't necessary. The Bible is illegal in 52 countries. You're hatred is far more irrational than anyone's faith, and it is not founded on anything scientific or reasonable.

      October 20, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  2. Seattle

    Biggest disappointment is with CNN's coverage. Graham is respected by many in America, and his endorsement clearly supports Romney...If a similar individual had favored the President, the headline would read "______ endorses Obama". Instead, we have "Graham buys political ad" ....

    October 20, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • a preacher

      How true...I see lots about "baptist" hypocrites on here, when the real hypocrites are the media and liberals. Its okay for Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev Al Sharpton, and countless others to endorse a democratic candidate with celebration from CNN. But never can a "Rev" endorse a Republican candidate

      October 20, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Cheri Trilian

      CNN is only stating the truth.....Graham is Buying Ads for Romney!

      October 20, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Miklan

      CNN is liberal biased foxnews is conservative biased wheres your disappointment coming from?

      October 20, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  3. allens

    funny thing about christians when it comes to politics and money, they are not so christian

    October 20, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • GertieGala

      Suffer the poor upon which the backs are born nations. Suffer the weak upon which the legs do walk the richest. Suffer the meek upon the shoulders it is so written.

      October 20, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Joshua Dezentje

      Romney is not a Christian. Also, there are millions of poor Christians. In many nations around the world, Christians are systematically hunted and killed. Here's another question: In how many countries is the Bible outlawed? You're making sweeping generalizations.

      October 20, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  4. Dicazi

    Billy Graham has NEVER taken sides before. My opinion of him has just plummeted. It's partially because of my Christian values that I cannot support Romney, who wants to ignore the poor and disadvantaged. His "47%". Jesus said it's easy for a camel to go thru the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven. That the love of money is the root of all evil. He told people to take the 2 bu 4s out of their own eyes before worrying about the specks in other people's eyes. And 'Love they neighbor as thyself" is just as important as loving God.

    October 20, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Janice

      I thought the same thing. I think this is all Franklin's doing.

      October 20, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Dexter

      Mitt Romney gave $4,000,000 to charities last year. How much did "Dicazi" give last year? Yeah...that's what I thought.

      October 20, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • freespeechadvocate

      So, you are in effect saying that forcing people to give money to the poor is how we run the country? I always thought that charity should be something that comes from the heart.
      "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:7

      October 20, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  5. xirume

    Dirty racketeering scoundrels. Sewer rats have more self-respect.

    October 20, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  6. Cheri Trilian

    PAY OFF THE NATIONAL DEBT......TAX THE SCRIBES AND THE PHARISEES.....I MEAN THE CHURCHES.....

    October 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  7. mb2010a

    Apparently the old man has finally lost it...Billy Boy is in for one H E L L of a surprise when he finnaly does die...

    October 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • bob aussie

      And what surprise is that? You know from personal experience, or you just "believe" you know?

      October 20, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  8. catch

    Oh Billy, very sad. Don't follow mormonism and go to hell after 94rs of hard work for Christ

    October 20, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • bob aussie

      Oh Catch, don't go to h e l l for not following Christ's teachings and being a true Christian to all people, including Mormons and Muslims, and Catholics and Hindus.. or do.

      October 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Oy

      catch,

      Be careful not to strangle yourself when you try to tie your shoes. Oy!

      October 20, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • freespeechadvocate

      You really need to read your Bible dude. It says,"Bless and do not curse." Romans 12:14

      Quit speaking for Christians if you don't really understand the central tenets of the faith.

      October 20, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • freespeechadvocate

      that was for catch.

      October 20, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  9. Not surprised

    So the pope of the Blabtist church tells the Mittster that he'll support him, buys campaign ads to do so but words them so he is following the letter of the law but not the spirit of the law... what's the word for that ? Oh, yeah... Hypocrite. Baptist, hypocrite... same thing...

    October 20, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  10. Robert

    The only problem is that many Americans don't see absolute and obvious corruption like this, even as it's right there staring them in the face.

    October 20, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  11. Scholar

    Organized religions followed from moral philosophy. People cast their moral beliefs into virtues of deities such as the Greeks personified their gods and associated each with a virtue. The Jews cast their morals into the Ten Commandments.

    Religion followed moral beliefs rather than moral beliefs deriving from religions. Good moral people can be so with or without adherence to a particular organized religion. People who are not moral can still belong to organized religions and demonstrate bad moral behavior.

    October 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  12. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    There are always economics built into one's beliefs. For example, is Susan Jacoby an atheist because there is money to be made from books, speeches and columns on the subject? Unless she and others in the business of making good income from books, etc. on religion, secularism, or atheism take a vow of poverty, we will never know.

    Glen Beck, $32 million in 2010, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/08/glenn-beck-earned-32-mill_n_529903.html

    and from guidestar.org

    Rev. Franklin Graham $800,000+/yr.

    Rev. Billy Graham, $400,000/yr

    Rabbi Bradley Hirschfield $331,708/yr

    Rev. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, $200,000/yr

    Erica Brown $134,221/yr

    Eboo Patel $120,000/yr and his “non-profit’s” investment portfolio of $1.2 million

    Dr. Herb Silverman $100,000/yr. ?

    Imam Rauf and his wife Daisy, $400,000/yr/ea estimated

    Susan Jacoby ????

    October 20, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  13. Gary

    I wonder if Graham's organization is tax exempt. I find it to be a gray area when preachers speak out on how people should vote.

    October 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Reality

      Yes they are tax exempt. See guidestar.org.

      "For the latest salary issues with the Grahams see:

      http://www.cleveland.com/nation/index.ssf/2009/10/franklin_graham_moves_to_addre.html

      CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Concerns about his rising financial compensation during tough economic times have prompted evangelist Franklin Graham to temporarily give up future contributions to his retirement plans at the two Christian charities he leads.

      As president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, he receives two full-time salaries and two retirement packages. Last year his total compensation from the two Christian ministries was $1.2 million.
      The size of Graham's total 2008 compensation - $535,000 from Samaritan's Purse and $669,000 from Charlotte, N.C.-based BGEA - drew questions from nonprofit experts. They doubted that one person - even the energetic, globe-trotting Graham - can do two full-time jobs when those positions are head of organizations that employ hundreds and spend hundreds of millions around the world.

      As head of the Boone, N.C.-based Samaritan's Purse, Graham earned more last year than any other leader of an international relief agency based in the United States. That includes eight with larger budgets, according to data compiled by Guidestar, a group that monitors non-profits."

      October 20, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  14. organically

    Religion is the biggest scam in the history of humanity and mankinds greatest hypocracy.

    October 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • NEcitizen

      Well, millions beg to differ worldwide. You obviously don't understand true faith, why not pick up a Bible & begin a study it?

      October 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • GertieGala

      NEcitizen,

      I've read the KJVB. Let "US" create man in "OUR" image and after "OUR" likeness. Just exactly who are these Us ad Our God is wanting of?

      October 20, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Miklan

      # of people believing in something is proof of nothing. We are animals susceptible to any form of irrationality as long as it makes us feel good.

      October 20, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  15. WachetAuf

    Christianity has been devolving for two thousand years. Jesus' teaching was first twisted by Paul. Constantine came along and twisted it more when he converted. The Catholic Church twisted it even more. It was not until the 15th or 16th century that the populous began to be able to have access to the Bible. A Reformation occured after that. Joseph Smith, a 17 year old, twisted it even further. Paganism reigns. Santa Claus, Christmas celebrations ony hide the true meaning of Jesus' message. Now Billy Graham is redefining Christianity. What we think we know about Jesus' true message is buried deeply. What we have witnessed is what I have known to be "cooking a frog". You cannot put him into a pot of hot water. He will jump out. You must put him in a pot of cool water and turn up the heat every so slightly from time to time. Before he knows it he will be cooked. That is what has been happening to "Christianity".

    October 20, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • GertieGala

      Many Christ-like bibles are not without sayings such as "the sons of God" and "Let US create man in OUR image and OUR likeness". Who ever believes Jeebus to be the only one son of God are lying to themselves.

      October 20, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  16. Jude

    is this 1344 in old england when priest and lords all went to bed together for selfish gains or what??? history repeats and fools genetically continue to produce fools...

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

      "As it was in the beginning,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,"

      October 20, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  17. rick

    While I used to hold Billy Graham in high regard even though I sat on the fence, this particular move of his to persuade others to vote for Romney is too much.

    People should simply look at the facts of each candidate, Romney and Obama, and vote for whichever candidate they feel will best serve the US.

    October 20, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • GertieGala

      The left and the right hands of the political are raised together and in union always united and never divided

      October 20, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  18. david from Illinois

    let me get this straight...Mormonism was a cult according to Graham until the day he met with Romney? Now Romney is the savior of our nation and Mormonism is "scrubbed" from Graham's list of cults. How convenient...how hypocritical...how pathetic...

    October 20, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  19. Miklan

    In the end we're all essentially the same no matter political party or religious affiliation. Therefore our democratic decisions should be based off trusting ourselves and not distrust of others.

    October 20, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  20. mike

    Graham sold his soul to the devil

    October 20, 2012 at 3:14 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.