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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. Flagship, NC

    Billy, you have walked off the straight path to heaven!
    You have sold your reputation and possibly your soul.
    Where do you think you are going to end up now!

    October 20, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Patricksday

      He will go where Donald Trump, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld will go to the scrap heap as they are only Robots, not thinking or feeling human being could do this to the Poor, Elderly and Sick.

      October 20, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Nana

      Serisouly, you think hes going straight to hell for this?I bet if he supported Obama you wouldnt be saying that.

      October 20, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Kathryn

      I would be careful judging Billy Graham. That's God's job. I think a life of doing God's bidding – calling people to Christ makes him a friend of God.
      Billy's son Franklin is the motivation behind this. He is Fundamental Evangelical. I wish he's get back to his business of ministry too..

      October 20, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  2. wazuri77

    so mormonism was a cult a week ago but its not now lol..

    October 20, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Kathryn

      Why are they bothering a 94 yr old man that way? It's Billy's son that wants to have his hand in the politics.
      Romney waving his hands around trying to sell himself to Billy Graham.
      Mormons have no belief in common with what Billy Graham believes. Mormons say We are going to Heaven no matter what" and Billy Says "Repent or you won't enter into the Kingdom Of Heaven.
      Can this election get more ugly? Leave Billy Graham alone wanna be Prez's He's 94.!! Obama visited as acting President on a personal trip. There were no cameras and entourage.

      October 20, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  3. Most important vote

    Good god we have a lot of sheep in this country!... People please don't be followers with your vote, be responsible and listen closely to what the candidates are saying ....when a candidate bashes the other candidate with nothing to back it it up with detailed solutions on his plan , isn't that cause to question?? Hello??

    .....NO president could have fixed the mess we were left by the the Reublican George W.Bush quickly....with 2 wars, and Wall Street collapsing ... Please I mean really?? We r so impatient and quick to judge......
    I certainly don't want more wars (cough, Iran and now Rssia, cough ahemmmm....) and I certainly don't want Medicare and Social Secrity Priviatized, not to mention having some president making decisions over what I can and can't do over MY body! No thank you......
    That will set women back 50 yrs very scary!!!!!
    If a candidate disinfranches 47% of this country, AND only pays 14% on his own taxes, and NOT even showing most of his taxes, and says please vote for me, and once I am in the White House then I will tell you my plans......Please people research
    And search your soul..... B 4 you vote.......

    October 20, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  4. Cecile

    This preacher is the biggest hypocrite of all time. You would never find Jesus associating himself with politicians especially those that have blood in their hands, but this guy does as well as many churches. God rejected the nation of Israel as a whole and then he turned his attention to the nations Acts 10:35 to take a people for his name but this idiot continues to support what God himself has rejected. This hypocrite has surrounded himself with the rich when Christ indeed surrounded himself with sinners, the poor, etc. Woe to him on the day of destruction.

    October 20, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Keeping It Real

      Cecile,
      " Woe to him on the day of destruction."

      There are quite enough real things with real consequences to fear and beware of – no need to make up fantasy ones. Living your life like a scared rabbit - there's your "hell".

      October 20, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  5. Tax-Free?!?!?!

    Seriously, goodbye Tax Free Status for a religious organization... talk to your followers about it? Sure, not problem... use finds donated in the name of God to buy TV advertising for a former "cultist"? Yeah, you're not a church anymore, you're a super PAC

    October 20, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  6. No Tax

    This why religions, churches, whatever you want to call them should have their tax exempt status removed. They are a business no matter how you slice it and if they want to get involved in politics then they should play by the same rules as all businesses do. Why should the Catholic church, Billy Graham, Joel Olstein or whoever get tax free status and live like kings while amassing a fortune and not paying their share while taking from others?

    October 20, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  7. dsangiovanni

    He has lost his credibility...

    October 20, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  8. Chrisopher

    I'm a liberal who is pro-life. There's no way that one can support equality and the general welfare of humanity without first recognizing the rights of children. The rights of infants, women and people of all races is emphasized in the Bible. It's indisputable. I'm truly sorry that women have been mistreated by men throughout the ages but that doesn't take humans rights away from babies. No one deserves to be murdered.

    October 20, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • GertieGala

      The wanton murdering of children via abortions falls upon deaf ears Chris. People have become hardened and set in their minds that a child yet in the womb is not a child but something other. Suffer the little ones before they can even breathe. So sad, so sad

      October 20, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • End Religion

      The rights of men, women, children and entire peoples are routinely trampled in the bible. The bible is absolutely not a positive advertisement for morality. It is rife with wanton violence and hate.

      October 20, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  9. Get Real

    Apparently Billy Graham can now relate to Joseph Smith's CULT, since he tried to create a similar following! It goes to show you that it is better to be a member of a cult than to be a Christian and disagree with Billy Graham. And, I would not be surprised if Romney and/or the Mormon Church are now Platinum Members of the Billiy Graham CULT.

    October 20, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Chrisopher

      Billy Graham has also made anti-semitic remarks in the past which I whole-heartedly disagree with.

      October 20, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  10. Erik

    No, thanks. I will vote for American values on November 6th - freedom, fairness, and equality. I will vote for Barack Obama.

    October 20, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  11. Psalmistic

    @Martin Von Heagron III, what is concerning to me and others is that Graham, for years, classed Mormonism as a cult and now has willfully allowed himself to become infected with "Romnesia" and flip flopped to remove the cult from his list. Neither Jesse Jackson nor Al Sharpton has done that. Neither of them are anywhere near the level of influence as Billy Graham. This is a huge disappointment for many. And what about the Mormons who left that faith to become Christians? They are shunned by those closest to them to learned that the man whose ministry influenced them to leave Mormonism say he no longer holds that view. Very sad day for many.

    October 20, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • GertieGala

      Pslamistic,

      Remember well what the Bible/Gospel says, "This world is not the Kingdom of God" for "The Kingdom of God is INSIDE you". Game. Set and Match

      October 20, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • lovethisus

      he got a promise for a 0% income tax from Mitt.

      October 20, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • nottolate

      @ Psalmistic

      Don't be so place blame on Graham. There's probably a lot more going there then meets the eye. At his age, it is very doubtful that Billy is running the daily operations of the organization. It is also conceivable that at that age he is unaware that Romney is a member of a cult or bought any ads himself. The more likely scenario is apostates and heretics have infiltrated the organization because of his age and they are the culprits behind this while using Billy's name.

      October 20, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • nottolate

      Should read: Don't be so quick to place blame on Graham.

      October 20, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  12. beairdboy

    Religion a politics? Didn't we go through that in the late 1700s?

    October 20, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  13. Charlie Ammen

    It doesn't matter to me how we got here. I don't care what your theory is on that matter. We are here now, and we have to deal with what is going on now. How things got to be this way is of no consequence to me because that knowledge is of no use to me in my day to day struggle for survival.

    October 20, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  14. GertieGala

    To live life MORE ABUNDANTLY does by no means to live a solitary life forever. Read the Bible correctly and you will see that Jeebus said we will live life "MORE ABUNDANTLY" within the Kingdom of God which by the way is within our bodies.

    October 20, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • nottolate

      Not your body apparently with that blasphemy by purposely mocking his name.

      October 20, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • GertieGala

      nottolate,

      Huh? What exactly do you mean? I am slow to understand much dribble,,,,

      October 20, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • nottolate

      @GertieGala

      "Huh? What exactly do you mean? I am slow to understand much dribble,,,,"

      Then understand this: His name is not JEEBUS its JESUS.

      October 20, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  15. Gordon Hurst

    I am ashamed of you both! I have always respected and gave to your causes, but you have never endorsed a candidate, much less a cult candidate, and have counseled every president regardless of party! You've sold out! I am from Asheville and my daddy knew Billy and I remember you Franklin when you cruised around on your Harley! You will never see another dime of money from me and will always tell everyone you support the cult leader! I am secure in where I am going when I die. all you all now?

    October 20, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  16. wazuri77

    a false "leader" endorsing a false "religion"/imposter....the enemy of my enemy is my friend...

    October 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  17. Yep

    So what exactly did Mitt do to Billy G. that has him changing his opinion in regards to the Mormon Religion, or as Billy G. would have put it a week ago, "A CULT." Maybe Mitt just showed Billy how white his skin was? Hypocrites and Racisits!

    October 20, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Martin Von Heagron III

      billy grahm mentions no names in the ad. did you read the article at all? he says to vote for those that are xtian.

      and obama is a xtian.

      October 20, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Get Real

      Bottome line, Graham cannot change the fact that Mormonism is a CULT! Also, no one can change the fact that Romney is the product of POLYGAMY and a member of a cult! I would not be surprised if the Mormon church is now donating money to Billy Graham CULT, too!

      October 20, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Michael

      Martin,

      Over the past few weeks, Graham and his son have made it quite clear who they endorse. There's a reason why they recently removed Mormons from their cult list after having told the truth for decades about Mormonism being a cult.

      October 20, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • dsangiovanni

      Heregron whatever III,

      The Ad doesnt say something, but what you said is the reason That guy has a party to follow. Religion has nothing to do with goverment on this earth. I think father and son are losing this one, and a lot of people think that they should keep his business in their area ...Religion...

      October 20, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • nottolate

      @Martin Von Heagron III

      "billy grahm mentions no names in the ad. did you read the article at all? he says to vote for those that are xtian."

      What planet do you come from that has you believing Obama is a Christian?

      October 20, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  18. Rick

    I address this to professed Christians. If the Rev. Graham's call for supporting candidates who are pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, and pro-biblical values strikes a nerve in you, it may be the Holy Spirit convicting you. Listen to Him and accept His guidance.

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

      I am a Christian and I also happen to be gay. I don't support any minister that would preach hatred against me simply because of the way I was born. God loves me just the way I am and for who I am. I'm sick and tired of Christians preaching hate against fellow Christians. You people are all going to hell.

      October 20, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Obam@2012

      I get it now! Paul Ryan said they have 50´s values. I think Billy thinks it is still the 50´s, or they want to take us back to the time of that "old time religion" ... and segregate people, take away women´s rights, civil rights, etc....

      October 20, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Rick

      RJW, God loves you. Your very reaction may be an indication that the Holy Spirit is speaking to you. Listen. Pray. And study His word. May the Holy Spirit guide you out of your anger and into peace.

      October 20, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  19. TJeff1776

    So much for seperation of Church and State. IT no longer exists. Some Churches are simply vieing to the highest bidder for political money. BUT watch'em squeel when government and politics start the reverse process of entering church affairs..........AND the Churches will be unable to stop it. The days of Constantine are upon us.

    October 20, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Martin Von Heagron III

      since when is billy grahm a church? hes an american with the right to free speech just like you.

      are you a commie?

      October 20, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • TJeff1776

      TO: Martin Von.........Graham belongs to a national religious organization. I call it a Church.....what do YOU call it, Mr. dummy, a morgue.

      October 20, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Rogue351

      Agreed.................... If Churches or pominemt member of churches spek out publicy regarding polotics that revokes the church tax exempt status. This is why we have LAWS. The rich should not be abve the LAW. And yes Billy is rich. He is Rch from donation given to him and his church from people who culd hardly afford to eat in many cases. STOP this religious extremist take over of American now why ou still can. Let them go and you will all be living under church LAWS just like Muslims do. That is Not Freedom.

      October 20, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Patricksday

      Its always the ones screaming about Commies who are buying goods made in a communist country. Christians who are into Materialism and Greed are not Christians. They are hypocrits of selfishness.

      October 20, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  20. Obam@2012

    I´m a Southern Baptist but since Billy removed the "cult" mention from his website and endorsed Mitt, I think I´ll become a Mormom too. If that was Billy´s goal, he´s achieved it!

    October 20, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • TJeff1776

      You will find that goal not easy to achieve.

      October 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Martin Von Heagron III

      obama belongs to the end of the world death cult called xtianity.......that does not bother you?

      he says he was washed by a dead mans blood and will live forever.

      does that bother you?

      signed an atheist

      October 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Obam@2012

      Well, the man has preached against Mormonism his whole life. Now he just embraced this candidate and removed from his website the explanation that says Mormonism is a cult. I guess, from now on if he meets Southern Baptists that become Mormons, he just can´t say that Mormonism is cult anymore. He, or they (meaning him and franklin), can no longer say that Mormonism is a cult and that Mormons are lost people.

      October 20, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • nottolate

      "I´m a Southern Baptist but since Billy removed the "cult" mention from his website and endorsed Mitt, I think I´ll become a Mormom too"

      And you'll find yourself in hell with the Mormons too, troll. How's that?

      October 20, 2012 at 5:11 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.