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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. kate

    I will no longer support the Billy Graham Association. Can't believe they have stooped this low!

    October 24, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  2. donner

    Mitt Romney believes that when he dies, he will be magically transported to planet Kolob. He literally believes he is descended from space travellers. Odd, that is not in my Bible. the Mormon church is blasphemy. And anyone who would endorse a Mormon is a blasphemer. Much like Clint Eastwood, Billy Graham has flushed his reputation down the drain trying to get a diaper wearing cult member elected. Brace yourself, Billy. Jesus is going to take it out on you.

    October 24, 2012 at 1:28 am |
    • kate

      You have got that right.

      October 24, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  3. rws

    Bill – What do you have to say about the spiritual gymnastics the "christians" are playing right now? That's why they have collectively decided to play down religion this election cycle. That's why we have not been subjected to the Muslim prez this time around. Because this would mean highlighting Romney's Mormon faith. And the Religious Right knows they cannot defend that with a straight face or any face! So they resort to playing spiritual gymnastics because they can't defend the indefensible. It is a fact that the Religious Right, and possibly majority of Christians, believe that Mormonism is akin to cultism. Billy Graham should tell us if he has now changed his belief. He has chosen to compromise his beliefs for political expediency. He is nothing less than a political pimp!

    October 23, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  4. wanda Cody

    The money wouild have been best used to free women in bondage and suffering economic bondage beatings murder and mayhelm. Do you really want to see salvation flourish. Do like Jesus Billy.. FREE THAT WOMAN! ELECT A PRESIDENT THAT BELIEVE IN FREEDOM FOR ALL NOT JUST THE MAJORITY OF MEN WHO (yes) CONTROL THE WEALTH IB AMERICA. ITS TRUE THE HAND THAT ROCK THE CRADEL RULE THE WORLD BUT THE YROUBLE IS THAT HAND IS TIED UP BECAUSR OF MITTS PRIVATR SECTOR AS MITT CALL THEM NOT. ALLOWING WOMRN ACCESS TO TH WEALTH AND EWUSL OPPORYUNITY TO MAKE 500 MILLION AND A CHANCE TO SOW THEIR 14% INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD TO FACILITATE AND USHER IN RIGHTEOUS CHANGE FOR ALL HER CHILDREN NOT JUST A PRIVILIDGE FEW! AMEN?

    October 23, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  5. Pauline

    Since I can remember I have respected Rev. Graham for NOT allowing himself to be pulled into the political game. That ends today. I have lost all respect for him. I truly and sincerely hope that President Obama is re-elected. I simply have no faith whatsoever in Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan. That said, no matter who you vote for ... PLEASE VOTE!!!

    October 22, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  6. Selfempsinglemom

    I am so disappointed. I grew up and was confirmed at an evangelical church. I have been to many of his crusades. I am confused, shocked and disappointed by this. We evangelical people have solid values. We do not compromise out faith to become flip floppers. I don't understand this. My vote is solid for President Obama.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  7. wanda Cody

    What is the difference between a person who climb out of an immoral cessation pool and another person who climb out an immoral cessation pool with God help and someone still in? Thousands of dollars to buy an add and condemn the one still ? OHH!? AAHHHH!

    October 22, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  8. chester marx

    Sins of the son, visited upon the father. Franklin Graham sells his father's legacy for gold pieces.

    October 22, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  9. Monica Post

    And when exactly did Billy boy make these statements was in before or after he nodded and drooled?

    October 22, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  10. Monica Post

    I guess Graham believes that god lives on a planet called Kolob, now.

    At 94-years-old, Graham ought to just come on out and say what I've known about him from the beginning...

    "I'm a bigot." Billy Graham

    October 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  11. bdm

    Billy Billy Billy so irrelevant, mirrors Lance and his BS. Really Who cares what a demented old man says when he cant remember what he said yesterday. its like getting a new spin from that alaska girl {palen} not many care. Who gives a poop. god gona get you just you wait and see hes gona make you pay for all your sins, gona burn baby burn. but wait all you have to do is say your sorry and want to repent and all is ok no more charred bones. wake up people your being led by the ring in your nose. better go now got to figure how to stop the rath of god for all this sinnen im doin

    October 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  12. John Thomas

    Gosh oh golly, and holy molly me, Roy Rogers! That there Billy Graham Cracket, that there well known, white Southern, Bible-thumper, past adviser on all things sacred to every president from Dwight D Eisenhower to George W Bush, is taking out advertisements to get that there, black Muslim out of the White House! Wow, wow and double-wow, what a surprise.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  13. Jeff

    As a regular mass-attending catholic, I have never had any need to listen to Billy Graham. While my religion shapes a lot of my views on how I, and my society, should conduct their personal lives in order to reach heaven, I recognize that not everyone is catholic and it would be entirely inappropriate for me to impose my religious views on others via electing politiicans who promise to impose restrictions on others based on their own personal religious views. Roe v Wade was already deciced decades ago so why don't we focus instead on preventing unwanted pregnancies and creating an environment where more people will want to choose to keep it instead? Even if gay marriage were allowed in all 50 states, it still would not require my catholic church to marry gay couples whether I agree with it or not. It would just enable gay couples to have the same *legal* marriage rights as straight couples.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  14. Dana Little Sr.

    The Rev,and his ministries should be ashamed of themselves!!Firdt for years mormonism was thought to be a cult,then Romney comes along and Poof!!,it's not a cult.I sit and scratch my head at this!!Do people realize that Franklin and his dad sit at that 1% top and are looking to benefit from this election,if they were as they say they were they would be helping people that really need it!!I think the Rev.and his ministries are a cult and should be investigated by the IRS!!!!!!!!

    October 22, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  15. Allen

    Billy Graham was friends with the disgraced Richard Nixon too back in the 1970's. Based on his friendship with Nixon, I don't think him a good judge of character!

    October 22, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  16. Mark

    Mr. Graham, have you heard the latest? 20% of American's now claim "none" as their religious affiliation. 16% are Atheists, What does tht do to your "one nation under 'god'?" With your endorsement of Romney, I'm even more determined to vote for Obama.

    See you at the polls! GO OBAMA!

    October 22, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • aeropage

      Whether we are, or are not, "under God" has zero to do with polls, votes, or your opinion. It is either factually true, or factually not true. I can understand your nonacceptance of religion, but at least try to accept the logical rules of basic rationality.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  17. Dave

    So it's ok for CNN to push a candidate. But not Mr. Graham? Hmmmm...

    October 22, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Mark

      Yes, CNN is not a religious tax-exempt organization.

      October 22, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  18. wes

    Graham also scrubbed his website of all the anti Mormon material it had on it.

    Flip-floppers unite!

    October 22, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  19. Celeste

    The President is a firm and strong leader, with unyielding Christian beliefs. Solid on human rights, equality for all regardless of race, gender or religion, time for the haves and have not. Sturdy, passionate man, genuine and a strong kindness like this country has never seen, helpful to all and a rare concern for others including his enemies. The President answered a calling for America. We were as low as a country in self-esteem and much needed life support after the eight full years of Bush and Cheney chaos, combined with the Republicans taking advantage of the trust their citizens put in their hands, and adding to the drama by voting no and collecting their welfare checks with Premium insurance and retirement plans, that this President is the best man for this job. The President ‘s Administration came to the rescue of Mississippi, Alabama, Missouri, Florida Louisiana and all the other States with unusual national disasters when your own Republican Congressman’s and Senators stood in his way, trimming your relief and placing road blocks to America’s recovery including your own. President Obama should be rewarded with your vote.
    The new Christian, a wolf in sheep clothing, Willard Mitt Romney who says you are on your own, no matter what, would have left America stranded, while he increased his personal wealth. The new Christians on the block are promising you a steak sandwich, but I see bologna.
    The pretend Christians that wave the flag “I am a Christian” and break the basic 10 commandments will see their judgment day. DEFINE CHRISTIANITY.

    October 22, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • LJ

      Someone with solid Christian beliefs cannot possibly support abortion or gay marriage. If America do not repent and seek God, judgement will be imminent. NO-BAMA..Go Romeny
      2 Chron:7:14

      October 22, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • D. Calrk

      But apparently LJ, a good Christian can support HERESY!

      October 22, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • aeropage

      @LJ: One can indeed be Christian enough to admit that human politics and laws could not force God to recognize gay marriage in its religious meaning, while acknowledging secular and legal equality. On abortion, Biden and Obama have stated they are against abortion in the general case (as it should always give one serious pause for introspection), but they would not impose their views on a woman faced with that choice. As far as which side God is on in such a scenario, I suggest reviewing Exodus 21:22.

      October 22, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • John Sonnenberg

      This is a great example of how few Christian’s truly believe in Jesus and God. A Christian is running against a Mormon, and Billy Graham endorses the Mormon! If Billy really believed in the Christian church and salvation through Jesus, he would know how disappointed Jesus would be by his abandoning a Christian for a Mormon just because the Mormon is more politically correct.
      But Billy Graham is not the only fake believer. Lots has been written by Billy’s insiders revealing his lack of true faith. We can only hope Mitt has the same level of conviction. The Mormon faith is so bizarre:
      http://wecreatedgod.com/my-faith-defines-me/ let’s hope Mitt Romney’s religious conviction is as deep as Bily Graham’s.

      October 24, 2012 at 12:52 am |
  20. aeropage

    Remember this, fix it in mind,
    take it to heart, you rebels.
    Remember the former things, those of long ago;
    I am God, and there is no other;
    I am God, and there is none like me.
    I make known the end from the beginning,
    from ancient times, what is still to come.
    I say: My purpose will stand,
    and I will do all that I please.

    –Isaiah 46:8-10

    October 22, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Mark

      Um, no.

      October 22, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • aeropage

      Thanks for clearing that up for me, Mark. Don't you have some getting Naturally Deselected to get on with?

      October 22, 2012 at 2:05 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.