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.
JOSEPH SMITH'S ARREST RECORDS FOUND
He was arrested many times but so was Paul and many of the Apostals, what is your point?
Billy Graham didn't ENDORSE Romney, he espoused Christian principles and values.
Considering Obama, I can see why you THOUGHT he endorsed Romney.
Evangelical Christian and you other hate mongers,
You all need to repent, sounds like you all have some real issues, and very judgemental, go back and read the good book and PRACTICE IT, and stop passing false judgements on others.
Romney is a good christian, and good man, no doubt in my mind I'm not saying he's perfect. Regardless its not your place to pass judgement on him, there is one who is greater then us all who will.
All this negativity and false accusations, then you all clame you're christian? If you are so called christians them I'm ashamed to be assosiated with any of you. Get down on you knees and repent and then go do something good, a random act of service. All this hate inside I don't know have you have any room for God or goodness. Do yourself another favor and cast those evil thaughts away.
Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only.
Anybody who would criticize Billy Graham is out of line. That's low even for the far-left.
Billy Graham is a fine guy, but you talk about him like you idealize him. If he is as good as you think then he could only be bless for the pursicutions he receives. So don't worry to much about what people say about Billy Graham and perhaps you should use Jesus Christ as your beacon because he is perfect, Graham perhaps not so much.
Pastor Graham's balls are taintstanky.
Typical Obama whiner.
Romney shouldn't even be mentioned in the same article as Christ. His moto is do unto others first, then they can't do you.
YOU PULLED THE WORDS RIGHT OUT OF MY MOUTH AS for the abortion issue....it is nothing more than a rally flag the gop pusll out of the trunk for elections and puts back into the trunk after the election is over. I am not quite sure why people can't see the truthabout this Roe vs Wade will never be repealed by the gop
Another Obama whiner.
Not a whiner nor a Obama supporter, that doesn't keep me from seeing the truth about Romney
Romney, Christ.... I get the impression you all are a bit self righteous. So if anyone is different then you then we must ridicual them, not very christian? I've meet people from all different faith's all around the world, there is good in all cultures, religions... and to think you are better then everyone else is just unchristian. Try finding the good in people, Christ did, try focusing on commonalities, Christ did, try loving your neighbor, Christ did. Things will never get better in America until all of us start carring about one another. Thats why America was blessed when it was founded, once America starts being more Christian then the we will start to prosper again. So do you part and start with yourself. Stop the complaining, and do something good.
Don't accuse me of being a bad Christian, I would not even want to be a bad one much less a "good" one. Religion has cause this country and the world so much death and destruction that I would be ashamed to be associated with it in any way.
America will prosper again when they get the Scoundrels and Thieves out of Washington DC. God will have nothing to do with that.
Mitt Romney represents everything Christ spoke out against in regards to the sick and the poor in the most extreme way. How this wealthy of a man can viciously deride and heartlessly scapegoat the sick and the poor of this nation for the economy which was instead callously destroyed by the very people who are supporting his campaign – and be taken seriously by any Christian is beyond me!! Regardless of whether or not he's a Mormon, he has consistently demonstrated that he does not care about the things that Christ did, and, that he cares instead about all the things that Christ clearly rejected.
The man is a liar, a thief, a tax cheat, a draft dodger, a cowardly chickenhawk and an incredibly wealthy and greedy megalomaniac. And, worse of all, he is a Mormon. And, because I am a Christian, I cannot support him. And, in good conscience, neither can any other true Christian.
I agree. How can somebody that rich call himself a Christian? LOL! Didn't he read that part about the camel and the needle?!! Hahahahaha! The guy's a creep!
Do you have any idea how STUPID you sound?
I stongly disagree, your judgement is clouded by your pride. I sense a bit of jelousy. Yes is he rich and yes he is successful. And yes it is mentioned in the new testament that it is difficult for a rich man to enter into the kindom of God, but not impossible.
Question, what would you do with that type of wealth if you had it?
Romney has given a huge amount of his fortune to charities and good causes, has served as governer declining to take a salary, and the 2002 Winter Olympics with no salary, He as dedicated his life to serving others ... read his biography. What more could in this life could he possibly want from being president of the united states? He is already rich, popular and successful, his name is being dragged through the mud, he doesn't need all this. I think hes the real thing why else would he do this, I think he really does care about this country, I really do, I have my doubts about you, if there country is ever going to get better, it will have to be with alot of hard work from each of us, for get about the government, things are only going to get better if we work together and stop complaining about everything.
Mormons are not Christians, no matter who says they are. Don't be upset by people saying that America is "no longer a Christian nation" if you are lining up to elect a cult member.
The Mormom religion is a cult. Billy Graham is a wolf in sheeps clothing. Since churches want to jump in politically they should pay taxes : period. Here in NC local churches played a negative video on Obama and they played a video of a baby being aborted. And yes while small children were present. Republican christians are very mean people. They are dangerous and America had better wake up. And you wonder why people in Germany followed Hitler?
That's so hypocritical! Romney's company has investments in companies that profit from abortion! I bet they didn't mention that in the video!
If Graham truly wanted to remain politically neutral he shouldn't of removed Mormonism from the list of cults.
And, if Graham truly wanted to remain faithful to Christ he should've spoken out AGAINST the Mormon Bishop's campaign. In my opinion, as a Christian, Graham has betrayed not only the millions of American sick and poor, he has betrayed all of Christianity. I will no longer be supportive of the BGEA and will instead be speaking out against their blatant bigotry and abandonment of God. May the Lord have mercy on Billy Graham and all Christians who turn a blind eye to this sacrilege.
I'm shocked at Billy Graham's involvement in the most contentious presidential race in modern times. Have been a long-time supporter of BGEA and Samaritans' Purse, but NO MORE. Vowing not to endorse after his disappointment in Nixon, apparently means nothing. Do the Grahams and other Republicans, who claim to be Bible-believing Christians, not know of Paul Ryan's basic philosophy, influenced by atheist Ayn Rand, who "preached": selfishness is moral, greed is good and altruism is evil. Ryan, who would be "one heartbeat away from the presidency", has been so taken by her teachings, that he has given her books as gifts to staff, requiring that they read them. Only seven years ago, speaking at a Rand conference, when asked who was the greatest influence in his life, this Catholic answered, "Ayn Rand". Need more be said?
When I see a religious leader actually truly irresponsible and contrary to the bible I wonder if they are truly christian. I have lost all respect for Mr. Graham. It is a sad day for christianity and it truly explains why so many are turned off to our faith. He and his son are abusing their position of power and he is betraying the truth. I pray that they will see the error of their ways especially before the elder Graham has to meet our Father in heaven.
I lost all respect for him when I heard what he said about Jews in the Nixon tapes. Old bigot.
You are not a Christian. You're that typical far-left idealogue who calls conservative talk shows and says "I'm a Republican and....(Obama talking points)."
Do you REALLY think you're fooling ANYBODY?
Billy is a catholic believer for many many years and he should be question by born again believers.
Mitt. Billy Graham. The odd couple.
I wonder if Mitt will tax Graham???
No, his donations to Graham are tax deductible.
This way Mitts gets free endorsement advertising (via a tax deduction) by the BGEA.
Not surprising that the fraud Billy Graham would hook up with Romney. Two peas in a pod.
Something I don't get. Why the fuck are all the super right wing so intent on being completely submissive to Israel? I can understand support, but what Graham and many Republicans are advocating is essentially making Israel Americas pimp.
Israel: Go kick those peoples asses over there.
America: What did they do worng?
Israel: *smack* Bitch what did I say?
because the fundies think the second coming will be here soon and they want the temple to be nice.
If you can stand it look at any of John Hagee's rants.
God is watching over this election.Romney will win and obama god dont like liars
Actually, God doesn't like blasphemers who write things like the Book of Mormon. But you already know that
God is indeed watching over this election. And if the Mormon Bishop wins it is inconceivable that he would be pleased.
The accension of a Mormon high priest to the most powerful position in the world is an abomination and an affront to God.
I pray for the sake of this great nation, and the world as a whole, that America rejects this Great Deceiver. The only good that can possibly come of this election is if this apostle of satan is defeated, and, in the aftermath, he and his cult are exposed for the frauds they truly are.
More reasons for churches to loose tax exemptions. Separation of church and state.
Yes! Lets get that on the ballot!
Billty Graham is the modern day Judas Iscariot. He betrayed America for 40 pieces of silver. Do you want a president who takes the oath of office with his hand on the Book of Mormon?? Can you find planet Kolob in your Bible?? Mormons are the false prophets God warned us about. Are you smart enough to figure it out?
I'm not religious but the book of Mormon is still less evil than the Quran which preaches for those who do not believe in Islam to have their heads removed. That it is a Muslims duty to remove all non Muslims off the planet. Obama will tell you what ever you want to hear about his faith, just depends which country he is in.
Fox Fake News was invented for one sole purpose. To dupe America's dumbest filth into voting Repubican. And here you see an example. Read a study the other day that polled a thousand GOP voters. They were asked to name 5 things they disliked about Obama. Government health care was named. The other four things were total lies made up by Republican operatives. The appalling thing is that there are several million Americans that buy into this. Total nonsense. My god, how will this country survive with such mindless dupes?
asd, you speak lies.
President Obama is not a muslim, he is a Christian.
Another bitter, far-left Obama whiner.
I will no longer support anything that has to do with the Billy Graham ministry. It is funny what money can buy. I have lost all respect for them. Now that they have gotten political they need to lose their tax exempt status.
He did not get political. He espoused Christian principles, something you obviously are unfamiliar with as a far-left Obama whiner. It only SEEMS political because Obama and his agenda are so at-odds with Christian principles.
I guess this is why Mittens still thinks that there are bayonets and horses. He hangs with 94 year olds.
He probably thinks that because there ARE still bayonets (I admit to not knowing about the horses). Personally i dont have a dog in this fight, but I fear that Dr. Graham's decisions are being influenced to a great degree by his son, Franklin whom I do not trust or care for at all. Certainly, Dr Graham has as much right as anyone to make a choice and to voice it. But I never base my choices about anything on anything anyone else says. Celebrities, etc do not live in the same world as the rest of us. i can remember when Christians were blowing the horns for Jimmy Carter and we all know how THAT turned out. Do your own research and make your own choice, people
There are 3x more bayonets and ANYONE actively serving in the military KNOWS that is a standard part of a kit and has been for century. The USA also have used horses for various needs in Afghanistan and Iraq and a submarine is not an underwater ship its a submarine, completely different (Just like a shuttle is not a space plane its a shuttle). Its embarrassing for anyone who falls for such a cynical trio of lies and failure like that. Although Obama has been one of the biggest failures of any president in US history so its not surprising... sadly.
asd Run along, little man. You're not bright enough to play here
No, it was Obama who brought up the subject of bayonets and horses so he wouldn't have to talk about relevant issues and his non-existent plan.
No, he brought it up because Romney raised a totally spurious issue about the Navy having fewer ships than in 1916. Hey, guess what? In 1916 we had gobs of battleships. Today we have NONE! OMG, we must have a BATTLESHIP GAP!!!
Or maybe the mission has changed, Romney, get it?
So what about the bayonets? There probably are a lot more bayonets now; they hardly get used as anything except can openers. I was in Viet Nam – no one on my unit carried the damn things, and I'll bet that troops in Iraq and Afghanistan didn't use them much, either, certainly not for combat. The rinky-dink little bayonets of today are about as useful in hand-to-hand combat as an M16 is, which ain't much. In 1916 they had real bayonets, long vicious mothers fixed to 1903 Springfields that in combination were serious weapons.
Horses in Afghanistan? Were any of them US Cavalry horses? I think not. Probably Afghan ponies borrowed from our allies (?). The only horses in the US military today are used for ceremonial purposes.
Obama probably should have said "horses and sabres."
Get over it.
This Graham is making millions under the guise of Christianity!
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.