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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. Bhawk

    This old fart is one of the biggest con artist of all times. He built a financial empire sell religion–not God. On the Nixon tapes he showed his true colors expressing great hate for the Jews. Sounded like a Nazi. How does he justify that hate with a Conservative movement that believes Israel is an American State and one of the primary fuctions of the President and the Government is to protect Israel. He raked in money, became rich and did nothing for people.

    October 25, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • nuntukamen

      This is the man who claimed Nixon was a great moral leader. And also said after Watergate he's stay out of politics. Not when a black is involved. The whitest Crusades in history. He's senile, and its sad.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  2. harry

    wow!

    Dear Franklin Graham, you have just made the work of reaching out to the lost in America very difficult. Paul said if even angels preach another gospel may they be eternally cursed. You will reap what you sow!

    October 25, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  3. John

    Since BIlly Graham is in the God business, it is remarkable how many Godless Republicans he has supported.

    October 25, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  4. KCLOVEDOVE

    SMK too bad you don't understand that Jesus was not, is not and never will be a living soul. He is Pre-existing, self- existing and always was and always will be the Supreme King of Kings and Lord of Lord. He is Alpha and Omega! He is the creator of heaven and earth. You'll never find a grave with his name on it as you will others because He reigns and super reigns and now sits on the right hand of His Father God!

    October 25, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • donner

      If a Mormon is elected, Jesus Christ will turn his back on America. True Christians would never vote for a diaper wearing cult member. Romney believes that when he dies, he will be transported to planet Kolob. I can't find planet Kolob in my Bible. Can you? Is Mitt Romney the anti-Christ? Read the Book of Mormon. He probably is. Forgive them Lord. They know not what they do.

      October 25, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • Bhawk

      Jesus has nothing in common with Billy Graham

      October 25, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  5. Yup

    "Thou Shalt Not Eat Chicken On Sunday" Church of ChicFila.

    October 25, 2012 at 9:56 am |
  6. toneitdown

    Keep your religion personal. Vote for the best candidate for the countr, not the best candidate for corporations.
    Let's have a government for the people who are citizens, not for the people who are shareholders.

    October 25, 2012 at 3:49 am |
    • Terry

      and the best candidate is not obumer of course!

      October 25, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  7. Noah Pologies

    OK, according to Billy Graham's advice, I will vote for Obama, a Christian, and married to one woman. While Mitt Romney is also married to one woman, he a staunch member of a church whose founding fathers upheld the meaning of marriage as a union between a man and SEVERAL women. I heard that that is why his Grandfather moved to Mexico, to be able to continue a polygamist lifestyle. His religion also didn't allow blacks for all these years. Does that sound very Christian?
    Cult or not, there is much to be looked into in the Mormon Church. But of course, they won't let you in to find out unless you are one. Beware! Maybe there are some good people in the church, but the religion itself is something to be cautious about,
    and much too secretive for me to want to find out.

    October 24, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • Ordinary Average American

      What a piece of nonsense.
      Are we now electing leaders based upon what someone's ancestors did?
      If we vote according to what some of Romney's ancestors did, then we should also consider the irresponsible lives led by Obama's biological father and mother. Barack Obama Sr. was not a very nice man.

      We should vote based on the person, his abilities, and his political ideas.

      October 24, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • donner

      the person, his ideas, and his abilities are trash. America will never elect a diaper wearing cult member. And after romney loses, we should invade Utah and restore democracy.

      October 25, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • Wow

      excellent comment

      October 25, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Bhawk

      Nice reply–but lets not forget that the Christian religion based in Judism was the same. How many wives did Solomon have? The founder Abraham had concubines and children with them to gain sons. The buried the girl babies often. A mans wealth was measured in goats, sons, women. All the psuedo christians of today think the values of today should be those of back then, so they change what the world of the past was to fit today.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  8. Nathaniel Green

    Are you kidding me they know hat the Mormons are a cult . I guess you can change your mind if you do not like the color of the other guy. sad and shameful. They know better. but God will Judge.

    October 24, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  9. S. I. Daniel

    Dear Mr. Graham:

    Shame on you Sir, I'm disappointed completely in everything you preached and said about Jesus and those who claims they believe in him. It’s now clear that you are doing this because you dislike President Obama. With this reason, I therefore call on all African Countries that receives the extension of your ministry to boycott The Billy Graham Evangelist Outreach. African people can go to heaven without your ministry.

    I also call on every Christian in America that Mr. Billy Graham does not speak for us, we have the right channel to God and that is through his TRUE SON Jesus Christ and absolutely Jesus is not Racist God in Man against anyone regardless of their skins and colors.

    This is also to confirm that all Billy Graham Outreach Ministry for Africa is fake and not true. You love those who are poor in Africa to keep your ministry going but you refuse to love the one that is successful in America. You are not God sir, and the President doesn’t have to bow down for you to get elected. Romney will do anything; he will bow down to Alien from an unknown planet if he will get elected through that.

    I'm so sad that I sat down one day under your stadium outreach; listen to you preaching wishing Africa people can become great, I guess you do not expect that would happen soon! Right? It's now clear the Christian Churches in America is a business for financial gain, not about preaching the gospel to the lost; especially when one of the so-called lost souls is now The President over you. It’s sad Indeed.

    Finally, ask yourself, would Jesus endorse one candidate against another because one is White and the other is Black? Let me remind you what your bible said, “…give Caesar what belong to Caesar, and give God what belong to God”. Sir to all due respect you are not doing what you preached

    October 24, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Pete

      Mormons are getting ready to Celebrate in two weeks; the ascending of Mitt Romney – one of our very own Saints to the leadership of the free world. That would be a first and would be quite an even. Saints all over the world would be ready and waiting to welcome him. Remember, anything that is of god CANNOT be bad- the man is a dedicated lifelong christian.

      October 24, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @S.I. Daniel,

      you need to address this letter to Franklin Graham.

      Ask Franklin why he wants to destroy his father's legacy.

      October 24, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • donner

      If America elects a diaper wearing cult member, Jesus Christ will reach down and wipe America off the face of the earth. Forgive them Lord, they know not what they do.

      October 25, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • Terry

      NOBAMA, NOBAMA, NOBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      October 25, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  10. PETE

    At the end of the day its god that runs everything and if god has a choice for this election please tell me who he will choose. We don’t even know how a true family is defined anymore and while all people needs to be respected for who they are we don’t have to erode the Christian moral foundation that America was built on. We have always put god first – its etched on our money. And one thing I know for sure- GOD IS PRO LIFE!!! The Democrats have moved too far left and now their values is “everything goes- everything is ok, its all good”. NO ITS NOT, something has gone wrong. America is a nation that was founded with god at its centerpiece, the Christian holy bible dictated our values , the very values that made America great. Mitt Romney has shown a strong commitment to an uncompromising Christianity and that deserves some consideration for we need god on our side to succeed. ITS TIME WE GO BACK TO OUR ROOTS AND ELECT A CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS LEADER IN THE WHITEHOUSE.

    October 24, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • donner

      Mormons aren't Christians, you lying piece of filth.

      October 25, 2012 at 12:43 am |
    • Voter

      donner
      "Mormons aren't Christians,"

      Who cares?! All have a deep delusional streak... we can only hope that it doesn't impair practical judgment too much.

      October 25, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • KCLOVEDOVE

      Sorry, but you don't even know what it means to be a Christian. Romney is not a Christian he is a cult follower. He believes as all Mormons believe that Jesus and satan are brothers. Do your home work. Dr. Graham is human and has made a grave mistake. I'm sorry that I thought he would choose color over Christianity. I am really disappointed.

      October 25, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  11. PETE

    I President Obama is seen by the jews in Florida or elsewhere as not supporting Israel, then they have their justified reason for not voting for the Democratic Party- or President Obama.

    P

    October 24, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Nathaniel Green

      ROMNEY WILL DO ANYTHING SAY ANYTHING TO WIN IF PEOPLE VOTE FOR THIS FLIP FLO-PER YOU WILL BE SORRY IF HE WINS THE WHITE HOUSE HE IS A DECEIVER. YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT HE RELIVES FROM DAY TO DAY. this MAN WILL HAVE US IN ANOTHER WAR IN SIX MONTHS IF HE WINS.

      October 24, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
  12. Pauli

    So, they have scrubbed any references of Mormonism being a cult, in a trade for votes for Romney. Wow, this is a new LOW in the annals of Christianity.

    October 24, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Pauli,

      it's pretty low. Still not as bad as the Crusades, inquisitions, etc, but yes, pretty low.

      You can thank Mark DeMoss (formerly of the Moral Majority) and Franklin Graham for this episode.

      October 24, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • Nathaniel Green

      just SHOWS HOW DEEP RACISM IS IN THE Christian Church WILL THE REAL CHRISTIANS PLEASE STAND UP. RACISM BIRDS OF A FEATHER FLOCK TOGETHER.

      October 24, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
  13. OBAMA

    Sounds like a lot people here have a case of ROMNESIA....OBAMA WINS FLORIDA

    October 24, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  14. Jano

    I cannot believe that Billy Graham issued this statement. I feel like it was his son Franklin (who is no Billy Graham). I have all of Billy Graham's books and have listened for many years to his sermons at this conventions. He has counseled with Democrat & Republian Presidents. I have never heard of him endorsing one. I honestly believe that his age has affected his mental health or this was the work of Franklin. I am pro-life with a few exceptions. When I weigh Mitt Romney against Barack Obama it is a no decision for me. I think Romney is more interested in the wealthy and Obama is for the middle class. I look at what Obama has accomplished in 4 years with all the odds against him. He inherited a disaster and is doing a good job getting things back on an even keel. The eyes are the mirror of the soul and I see compassion and caring in Obama's eyes and shiftiness in Romney's. Go Obama!!!!

    October 24, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Jano,

      of course it was Franklin. Did you read the USA Today editorial Franklin wrote? (It was linked in the article.)

      Dr. Graham is very old and not very well. I doubt he can remember what he had for lunch.

      October 24, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  15. bullet1

    Billy Graham is a lying hypocrite. He agreed with Richard Nixon that something needed to be done about the Jewish problem in the U.S.A. That disqualifies him from being holy or a good person. He later apologised to the prime minister of Israel after he was exposed.

    October 24, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  16. Paumill

    Sent from my iPad

    Begin forwarded message:

    Dear Mr. Graham,

    First I want to say that for years I have greatly admire you for you have done in the Christian Community and to promote the Christian Faith.

    The reason I am writing is because I recent,y read in the news about your support to candidate Romney. As a person who has familiarity with the Mormon Faith after living in Utah for ten years, and after being part of them for about two, I have to say that I was very disappointed in hearing such news.

    You are a person of great vision, and the only way I can understand this that you have been decieved. Satan knows how to get us and makes us tripping.  I consider you a visionary, however, your decision seem to be based only on few points. Mr. Graham, regardless the values that served as motive for you to support Mr. Romney,  you are supporting a false teaching. That is a sin. Even though your intention is to support moral values, the ultimate result of this entire game is to move Christians to believe that Mormonism is part of Christianity, so more of us can convert to it.  Why do you think the LDS Church just lowered the age for girls going on missions?  You will see how the teaching about Joseph Smith is introduced to schools if Romney wins. Wait and see. You are being used by Satan. Please reconsider your position.

    Mormonism states that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are three different people; they believe that Jesus is fully human; they believe that he was conceived through the human act of conception between God and Mary. They believe that each of us will go to heaven based on how many deeds we performed for the Church; and that men will reign as gods. Each having his own kingdom along with seven virgins.  

    Mr. Graham, unless you are in for the money, which I don't think is the case, you should reconsider your decision.
    You have been deceived. For the love of Jesus, please get informed and reconsider it. Do you think Jeus would have supported Romney? Who do you think Jesus would vote for?  
    Jesus does not support false teaching and yes, He is pro-life as well.

    I am sorry to tell you, but as a Christian I don't think there are candidates we can support at this time.

    Respectfully,

    PM

    October 24, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Nathan

      Your statement
      "Mormonism states that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are three different people; they believe that Jesus is fully human; they believe that he was conceived through the human act of conception between God and Mary. They believe that each of us will go to heaven based on how many deeds we performed for the Church; and that men will reign as gods. Each having his own kingdom along with seven virgins. "

      Your statement is totally false and obviously meant to mislead and slander. If you really knew mormons like you say, you would know that that is completely false. Nice try. Your premise seems to be, if you can't find something to hate about mormons you'll just make up your own reasons. Good luck

      October 24, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • donner

      If Romney is elected, true christians will rise up and lead a Crusade against these blasphemers. And if you think I'm kidding, you're in for a big surprise.

      October 25, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • Voter

      donner,

      Suuuuuure... just like they did when untrue Christian, John F. Kennedy, was elected, huh?

      Go read "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty", drooler.

      October 25, 2012 at 12:56 am |
    • donner

      You will be the first one up in the tree.

      October 25, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  17. Paumill

    Dear Mr. Graham,

    First I want to say that for years I have greatly admire you for you have done in the Christina Community and to promote the Christian Faith.

    The reason I am writing is because I recent,y read in the news about your support to candidate Romney. As a person who has familiarity with the Mormon Faith after living in Utah for 10 years, and after being part of them for about two, I have to say that I was very disappointed in hearing such news.

    You are a person of great vision, and the only way I can understand this that you have been decieved. Satan knows how to get us and makes us tripping. I consider you a visionary, however, your decision seem to be based only on few points. Mr. Graham, regardless the values that served as motive for you to support Mr. Romney, you are supporting a false teaching. That is a sin. Eventhough your intention is to support moral values, the ultimate result of this entire game is to move Christians to believe that Mormonism is part of Christianity, so more of us can convert to it. Why do you think the LDS Church just loweed the age for girls going on missions? You will see how the teaching about Joseph Smith is introduced to schools. Wait and see. You are being used by Satan. Please reconsider your position.

    Mormonism states that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are three different people; they believe that Jesus is fully human; they believe that he was conceived through the human act of conception between God and

    They believe that each of us will go to heaven based on how many deeds we performed for the Church; and that men will reign as gods. Each having his own kingdom along with seven virgins.
    Mr. Graham, unless you are in for the money, which I don't think is the case, you should reconsider your decision.
    You have been deceived. For the love of Jesus, please get informed and reconsider it. Do you think Jeus would have supported Romney? Who do you think Jesus would vote for? .

    Respectfully,

    Paulina

    October 24, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  18. hnbc

    I feel sorry for Rev. Graham. He used to be such an ethical person. He's probably senile and just nodded when Romney asked if he (Rev. Graham) would support him.

    October 24, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  19. eroteme

    Can this be allowed? Well, I guess Graham does not really have a church so we need not be concerned about this church and state fiasco. Anyway, it the Rev Sharpton and the Rev Jackson can enter politics I guess we can also permit Pastor Graham.to do the same, although reluctantly.

    October 24, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  20. smk

    “They even attribute to Him sons and daughters, without any knowledge. Be He glorified. He is the Most High, far above their claims.” Quran [6:100]

    “The example of Jesus, as far as GOD is concerned, is the same as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, "Be," and he was.” Quran [3:59]

    “No soul can carry the sins of another soul. If a soul that is loaded with sins implores another to bear part of its load, no other soul can carry any part of it, even if they were related. ... [35:18]

    It does not befit God that He begets a son, be He glorified. To have anything done, He simply says to it, "Be," and it is. [19:35]

    God will say, "O Jesus, son of Mary did you say to the people, `Make me and my mother idols beside God?' " He will say, "Be You glorified. I could not utter what was not right. Had I said it, You already would have known it. You know my thoughts, and I do not know Your thoughts. You know all the secrets.[5:116]

    The Messiah, son of Mary is no more than a messenger like the messengers before him, and his mother was a saint. Both of them used to eat the food. Note how we explain the revelations for them, and note how they still deviate! [5:75]

    (they are condemned) for disbelieving and uttering about Mary a gross lie. [4:156]

    Subsequent to them, we sent Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming the previous scripture, the Torah. We gave him the Gospel, containing guidance and light, and confirming the previous scriptures, the Torah, and augmenting its guidance and light, and to enlighten the righteous. Quran [5:46]

    Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to clear your misconception by going to whyIslam org website.

    October 24, 2012 at 11:48 am |
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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.