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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. Faithless

    ...and now Billy Graham has embraced his hypocrisy.

    October 20, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Martin Von Heagron III

      how so? please explain. his ad says to vote with your beliefs. how is that wrong?

      October 20, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Faithless

      He now supports a candidate from faith he has long called a cult, that's how.

      October 20, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • fretnomore

      agreed! he is not supporting his beliefs as much as he is supporting the republican party line. i smell a franklin!!

      October 20, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  2. Obam@2012

    Mitt stopped by Graham´s house so he can actually influence some Southern Baptists to become Mormoms.... and Billy just fell for it!

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

    As an atheist I do not doubt the sincerity and conviction of all Christians. Yet your religion does not extend the same courtesy and in fact explicitly condemns me. Do you understand why we are sometimes at odds?

    October 20, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Martin Von Heagron III

      muslims condenm you too. but i see very few athesit come out agains them for some reason.

      As an atheist i am tired of athesit picking on xtians and then being apologist for muslims

      October 20, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Miklan

      Dont get me wrong I have great disdain for fundamentalist muslims, but that it is the Christians who I am confronted with daily in this country so my Christian rhetoric will be more pronounced.

      October 20, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • fretnomore

      i am in total agreement with your comments.

      October 20, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • freespeechadvocate

      There are also several atheists who openly attack Christians. Hitchens does for example. In another post, you attacked Christians. I am no way justifying any Christian who has mistreated you. In fact, it grieves me when people say they are Christian and continue to mistreat people. The Bible does say that you can tell a tree by its fruit.

      October 20, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  4. Martin Von Heagron III

    wow the liberals are really going ape over this.

    what gives? Obama is a xtian he could of just easily been endorsing Obama since he does not mention any names.

    In an interview with the evangelical periodical Christianity Today, Obama stated: "I am a Christian, and I am a devout Christian. I believe in the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that that faith gives me a path to be cleansed of sin and have eternal life.

    Obama claims he was washed by the blood of jeebus christ. and now has eternal life.

    how come the liberals dont get upset at rev al sharpton and rev jesse jackson endorsing candidates? oh ya thats right they support obama.

    October 20, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Miklan

      Yes we support obama so we may indeed attack someone who supports romney as you would vice versa. Im not sure youre making a point here at all.

      October 20, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Patricksday

      When you favor protecting the Riches people in the History of the World (as we know it), and who hold the economy hostage until they get a Corporate Robot like Romney to do their bidding at the expense of the Majority of Americans we have a problem. And Jesus was not about service to only the Kings of his day.

      October 20, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  5. Sagebrush Shorty

    The country definitely needs to be saved. Praise the Lord!

    October 20, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • fretnomore

      the country does indeed need to be saved... from people like you who proclain that YOU know the truth.

      October 20, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  6. RoadRunner, Albuquerque, NM

    WARNING TO BILLY GRAHAM: You're playing with fire. You know what happens next, don't you?

    October 20, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  7. Joan

    Franklin make over $500.000 from Samairtan Purse. This is a ripped off for all the poor people like myself who thought this was all volunteer work for all involved. I used my lost buck each year to pack at lease 3 boxes for these poor children. Why is this man taking all that money in salary. I collected some boxes from my church last Sunday but I am not going to pack them now. We must send a clear message this year that we will not support this fake man who is getting down and dirty in politices. Some other group must undertake Samaritan Purse we must insist.

    October 20, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  8. Jude

    is the united states of america a huge family needing work, education, protection, health care or is the usa a big business which prefers to eliminate those that do not make the cut OR is the usa a huge military that only looks for a strong fearless leader to defend the hill??? your leaning will most likely influence your vote. OBAMA 2012...he get's it. we're a family..warts and all.

    October 20, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  9. Patricksday

    Billy Graham an agent of Greed, Selfishness and Materialism. How sad, but thankfully his generation is rapidly passing away.

    October 20, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  10. Rod M. Chicago

    Having called mormonisn a cult, I find that hilarious. Billy Graham stands for nothing as does Romney. Its clear that principals mean nothing to the white people wh hate this black man THIS much. Then again, maybe since mormons have no problem with lying, Graham identifies with THAT. Bigoted whites are pathetic.

    October 20, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  11. kenny

    isn't it funny how religious people all think they are going to heaven when they die, yet they are so intent on avoiding death they will go to the most extreme measures possible to extend their lives... kinda funny... or just deep down we all know there is just nothing but can't seem to accept that ... how many religious people would die for their religion? if its a contest the muzzies have you xties beat hands down... lol

    October 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • GertieGala

      More than religious people try in vain to avoid death kenny. Death is inevitable and prolonging life is all anyone can do. Why prolong the inevitable? Live life accordingly and when death comes a knocking grab onto it and do not let go! My parents both died of COPD. They were smokers till the day they died. I too will die from COPD for I smoke just like my parents did. I do not wish death to come. I await its' coming with little fan-fair. I put my faith into the powers that be to give me another life to live after I use this one up.

      October 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • freespeechadvocate

      Do you really want Christians to kill infidels while screaming allah akbar? I hope not. Before you post, do more research.

      Check out this site: http://www.persecution.com/

      October 20, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  12. JamTown

    eliminate the tax exemption now!

    October 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Nathan

      How about, instead, just enforcing the law?

      October 20, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • John

      I am in total agreement with you. It seems these religious fanatics want things both ways...theirs. They want to be considered separate as to avoid taxes, but yet want to get their views and beliefs imposed on the American public via mass media by putting money behind the candidate THEY want. They can't have it both ways, and if Billy Graham is hiding behind a tax exempt status, this should be proof to take that status away. Plain and simple. They can broadcast their beliefs, but let them pay their fair share of taxes like the rest of us. In fact, that may be a great way of shrinking the debt!

      October 20, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  13. Dakota

    So religion was important and Mormans were a cult...UNTIL Billy realized they better pretend it does'nt matter because the black christian .

    Billy will lose te respect he had from the other religions that have gave him a pass .

    I have NO respect for this Man anymore.

    October 20, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Obam@2012

      I feel the same way... Let me burn some of his books I got...

      October 20, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Justin

      I agree, you're so right on this point. I'm a God fearing man, I believe in God, but why do these so-called religious people stay to their religion and BUTT out of politics and State government? The government do NOT interfere with their religions!

      October 20, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  14. GertieGala

    Let US demoralize the renegades whose Trump Towers make many folk poor and poorer and for what eactly? The Babbling towers of,,,,,,?

    October 20, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  15. Dicazi

    And I've just seen where the Salt Lake City newspaper has endorsed Obama, NOT Romney. They called Romney a "shape-shifter".

    October 20, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  16. obvious

    With a support choice between a cultist and a ni.., sitting President a southern evangelical will obviously not choose the ni.., sitting President.

    October 20, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • zufree2b

      You're a NI!

      October 20, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • obvious

      Say what?

      October 20, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • farmwife1972

      You should be ashamed of yourself for using that word!!!!!!!!!!!! Shows how big your brain is. If you do not like this country and its president then just leave.

      October 20, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  17. Mary

    I am so dissappointed with thihs decision that he has made in his old age to tarnish what has been a stellar reputation, supporting and praying for all Presidents, to get embroiled in an election like this encouraged by his son Franklin no doubt... I will no longer support Samaritans Purse or any other cause that he is involved in... what a tragic way to end his witness...

    October 20, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • MaddieB

      I am sure Billy doesn't make any decisions anymore. His son & Mitt made this decision.

      October 20, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • fretnomore

      i agree! i have always respected this man. now, he (or his son franklin) has turned decidedly far-right. i wonder what his answer would be to poor people or those without insurance who want advice on who to vote for? i refuse to beleive that billy, in his lucid and ethical moments would actually say such things. franklin is definitely a 'person of interest' in this 'crime' against bill graham!

      October 20, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  18. Scientificpoetry

    Hey Billy... keep your damn religious views out of the political system – unless you want to start paying taxes..

    October 20, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • jmac121

      'Billy' ... show some respect for starters. Second, of course he pays taxes, so don't speak ignorantly. Last, he is not a politican he has the freedom of speach last time I checked.

      October 20, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    October 20, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Imagine No Religion

      So, have you ever threatened YOUR children with eternal dam nation? I haven't, but I'll bet you have!

      I challenge you to take the George Carlin Prayer Test. Pray to your imaginary god friend for a month, then pray to Joe Pesci for a month. You'll find the percentage of prayers answered by god, and those by Mr Pesci, will be about the same (50/50).

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RT6rL2UroE&w=640&h=390]

      "There ain't no jesus gonna come from the sky.
      Now that I found out, I know I can cry." – John Lennon

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

      @Imagine No Religion
      Do videos and drugged out lyrics from dead guys do ALL your thinking for you?

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

      nope....

      October 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • zufree2b

      Thank you I needed that! God I miss him. lol

      October 20, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Imagine No Religion

      @oblivious, oops I mean @obvious...

      Nope. I do ALL my thinking for me, thank you very much. I quote videos and lyrics which are in sync with reality.

      Does a 2000 year old fairy tale from a bunch of nomadic dead guys do ALL your thinking for YOU??? Someday, you'll realize religion is the ultimate dr ug for the masses.

      -–
      "Keep you dop ed with religion and s ex and TV,
      And you think you're so clever and classless and free.
      But you're still f** king peasants, as far as I can see.
      A working class hero is something to be." – John Lennon

      October 20, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Imagine No Religion

      @zufree2b...

      My pleasure!

      October 20, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  20. palintwit

    I'm beginning to believe that Sarah Palin is the only one who can heal and re-unify our country. But first she must return to her motorhome and resume her cross country tour. She will have to visit cities both large and small, taking care to speak to only to "real Americans", dispensing her sage advice and folksy, homespun common sense solutions. We can be a great nation once again but first we must all follow the Palin Path.

    October 20, 2012 at 3:49 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.