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.
Eddie Long crowned King. And check out the Torah that guy's wearing.
What you are witnessing is the total collapse of whatever credibility and perception of integrity Billy Graham may have mustered in his many years of service. The challenge for his ministry is that in compelling voters to choose based on biblical values at the same time as aligning himself as willing to support Romney no matter what the cost, he is forced to jettison biblical truth as regards false teachings and the cult of Mormonism. Regardless of your perspective of Christianity, this serves as the definition of religious hypocrisy and should rightfully result in an immediate removal of any tax exempt status BGEA currently enjoys. Nice work Franklin, you have single-handedly destroyed whatever legacy of goodwill your father may have built.
Billy Graham lost all credibility to Christians a number of years ago when he accepted the 'New Age Religion' theology.
The snake oil salesman even gave Billy graham a sales pitch! Romney is picking on old people now! Billys so old he probably doesn't know he's living.
I hope this old fárt dies soon and stops the mórons who follow him what to do. They should start charging taxes to churches that become involved in politics. No representation without taxation!!!!
Maybe Mittney promised Billy Graham a reserved seat on the Planet Kolob.
For Christians that are not aware, Mormons believe that the dead can be baptized. They believe, contrary to the Word of God, that after death one still has an opportunity to go to heaven. This is clearly at odds with our belief that one must accept Jesus as Lord and Savior prior to dying to be saved. The Bible is clear, " And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." Hebrews 9:27.There is no other course. There exists no holding area for those who die without accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. There is no hope of salvation – even for those that we love - who have passed without a saving knowledge of Jesus. The suggestion that there is a second chance after death, is a demonic attempt to diminish the relevance of our witness to the living. It suggests that they can wait until and beyond death. Mitt Romney is not merely a member of the Mormon church. He is a Bishop, Mormon leadership. He has stated that he believes in this ungodly practice. When you characterize him as a Christian like you, you imply a support for this cultish practice, which attempts to set aside the redemptive work that Christ did for us on the cross. For the Christian, this should be an immediate disqualification for the office of president. For those of you who are members of a Christian church with a pastor who is suggesting that you cast your vote for Mitt Romney as one of us, recognize that it is your vote. You will give an account to God for your deeds. As a believer, you know better. The scripture says that it is better not to know, than to know and not do. Now you know. But don't take my word for it. Do some digging. Find out for yourself.
Blessings to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Hearmenow, the only disqualification for being president should be the sanctioning of the murder of the unborn children that God has given us. May the Holy Spirit lead you into such an understanding, as He has led me.
Thank you very much for saying this. I cannot believe that they endorsed a Mormon. There are alot of Christians out there that are going to vote for this cultist. I cannot believe that Billy Graham would go along with something like this. I have lost all my respect for the Grahams. If Romney gets into office we will have the devil running our country! God help us all! Thank you for trying to get people to see what Mormans and Romney are all about.
am i wrong to say" who gives a rats behind" about what this clown is saying???? i do not think bowing to israelis is a pre qualification to be the president of the United States.
OK Rev. Graham. I'll vote for the true Christian – the one who is concerned with the health and well-being of all – especially the poor. Obama is the true Christian here. So, thanks for the encouragement to vote! Blessings!
Yes! My feelings exactly.
i am with you brotha!!!!!
But Grahams church supported slavery in exchange for donations from wealthy slave owners. What do you expect?
It is sad to see such a distinguished individual get involved in politics late in life.I wonder if Rev. Billy Graham agrees with Romney's comments about the lazy, dependent, 47%.
his true hindu, ugly face.
Florida if you are reading this please don't vote Romney. Don't let the republicans convince you Romney is your guy. For the last 2 elections they have given you horrible candidates. So if you know Romney is not your guy don't vote for him!
What the h ell is that sitting next to mitt? Looks like an old drag queen. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
All these evangelists are parasites. I am not sure why presidents keep these guys in humor.
These dregs make me sick.
This is a shame for us evangelicals. I grew up respecting Graham. I am a minister who has a close tie with Billy Graham Association when I was a younger seminarian. Down the years I started to notice the hypocritic nature the rich white evangelical so called consevative groups. My heart aches. They do not represent Jesus. Obama is Liberal but his values towards the poor, his view of social Jestice represent Jesus. What makes Romny a Christian. If he devalued the most central tenet of Christianity there is no way he is more Christian than Obama.
I wish this add was not advertised at all.
It is a matter of money, hindu, ignorant.
TA, with your professed belief in Christ, I pray that you feel a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable of all Americans - our unborn children who are a gift from God.
Rick, do you have a womb?
@ Rick..Children are not a gift from god-most are a gift from Budweiser.Ps;I hate to break it to you,but there may not even be a god.
JB, I came from the womb, and so did you. You and I survived and were blessed with a chance for life. Why would you deny it for others? And for the 50 million we have already lost? If you are a Christian, I urge you to read what the Bible says about the womb.
Thank God (pun intended) that religion is on the decline. May reason continue us towards true enlightenment.
So you have to be a christian to help the sick and poor. I do not think so. I have to believe in myself and use my brain. I do not need a church to tell me what is right and wrong.
"The ads intentionally do not mention any candidate, political party", etc – isn't hypocrisy a sin in Billy Graham's sanctimonious world? Because he (or whoever is using his name for this ad) is _for sure_ telling his "followers" who to vote for. They may think they are riding on the safe side of the line, but I'd *REALLY* like to see them lose their tax exemption over this.
I hope those 30 pieces of silver keep you company in Hell, Rev Graham.
billy needs to mind his own business when it comes to politics. their are many empty churches for sale all over this country because the church leaders brought politics into gods house. they picked the party to preach about as well the republicans. demorats like me stopped going because i was made to feel unconfortable in my fathers house. be unconfortable in my fathershouse made me understand that he was not there anymore because up until politics entered the house i always felt confort there!
i rember the tape of billy and nixon you were telling what you felt youl face your god soon and pay for your evil thoughts and coments
I must respectfully disagree. The moral decline in our great country can be largely attributed to the church's silence, not its message. The apostle Paul wrote, "How will they know unless they hear? And how will they hear unless there is a preacher?" The great divide we are experiencing I believe is because we have lost our way, we don't believe in Absolute Truth anymore. We each do what we think is right, not what The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob commands. One last point–having spent 40 years of my life in My Father's House, I am rarely comfortable. Why? Because He Is holy, and I am unrighteous, a sinner saved by His Grace. Soli Deo Gloria!
If you are white and rich, then you are no longer on the list of cults if you are running against Obama said Billy Graham. Mormonism is no longer a cult with all these millions coming my way.
The Grahams should include the fight against hatred, racism and hypocrisy with their stance on morality.
No, all of them are his tools to attract other hindu's, deniers of truth absolute God.
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.