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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. Nongeria

    This man realy, realy, nedds Jesus; I wonder how many social, and economic rescues his money making organizations have accomplished, other than reaping off poverty striken victims, and promoting racist agenda under the disguise of being liliy white honest.

    October 19, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • Rick

      I'm speaking to those of you who profess Christian faith. If Billy Graham's admonition to vote pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, and pro-Bible values has struck a nerve inside you, it may be because the Holy Spirit is convicting you. Listen to Him and accept His guidance.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • opinion8it

      Rick - listen to yourself. You act as though abortion and gay marriage is on the ballot in November. Republicans whisper those sweet nothings in your ear and you fall for it every time.

      October 19, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  2. random

    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."

    . . . but they are happy to engage in theological terrorism and politicize issues that are none of their business . . . old age hasn't lessened Mr. Graham's drain on society . . .

    October 19, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  3. Him

    mom told of her experience with her daughter's childhood friend who was Mormon. As she was inquiring into the differences in their religions, she asked the little girl if lying was OK for a Mormon, the girl's response: "Yes, just not to another Mormon."
    As it turns out, Mormonism is apparently the only religion that actively condones lying and it's instilled in them from the very beginning of life. It's called " Lieing for the lord". Look it up online! I can't see Billy supporting a cult like this!

    .

    October 19, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • CHC

      I looked it up and oh my god yes. Everybody google this. Newsweek wrote about it on Aug. 8th. It is for real. Obama did not create it. Wake up Romney voters. Don't encourage the republican party to give you people like Romney by voting for him.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  4. Robert

    Jeez, are you still getting tax exemption pretending to be a religious leader? Go already. You're almost as old as god, go say hi!

    October 19, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • David Rich

      completely uncalled for...even as an agnostic, what you say is offensive

      October 19, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
  5. Michelle

    Please! Focus on your own soul and past digressions. We have been given the gift free will. To say everyone must think and vote as you do. How intolerant. I think I'll vote twice for MY guy or gal just because you think your way is the only way

    October 19, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  6. Back when Billy was getting around a bit more . . .

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fuet7GRv7Bo&w=640&h=390]

    October 19, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
  7. opinion8it

    Sure, better to embrace a white man with a cult doctrine than a black christian... right Billy?

    October 19, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  8. us_1776

    Billy Graham is completely senile and being manipulated.

    .

    October 19, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Neil

      Not really.He has always been a republican shill.Makes you wonder what happened to the concept of seperation of church and state.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • mitten

      I think you may be right. I really wonder if Billy Graham would have done this 20-30 years ago. It seems like politics has taken over for Jesus in his case. I wonder what he thinks tax-exempt means? Christianity and religion in general is setting itself up for hard times in America in the future, and that isn't only being caused by one political persuasion, but both sides. I wish the important leaders would show more judgment.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • opinion8it

      @ Neill - Billy Graham never involved himself into politics, at least not to this degree, until the black president came along.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • mitten

      I disagree, Billy has long been a Republican. I don't have trouble with that or tacit endorsement of a candidate. Openly campaigning for a candidate or bringing up politics in church to me is wrong. You can speak of the issue without endorsing a particular candidate or party.

      October 19, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  9. Yosemite Sam

    Religion seems to be the only place where hatred and prejudice is not only alive and well, but blossoming.

    That cinched it for me. I'm voting Obama.

    October 19, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Michelle

      Truer word were never spoken! Religion and the horror of secrets of lies and mnanupulations breed intolerance of the worst kind. I am spiritual, but I DONT want Billy Graham or the Nazi Pope Pediphile telling me how to think or vote...or anything else for that matter. Sorry to soud so angry. I'm not so angry, just intolerant of those who think theirs is the only path.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • David Rich

      i'm confused what was pretentious about what rev graham said?

      October 19, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • CHC

      Yea! Many Obama voters understand how you feel. There comes a time when it just does't feel right to
      sign up for 4 years of this crap.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
  10. Clara Kong

    When morality takes over my Christian faith and have one of the most influential in my faith journey turn his back in loving the sinners and take side of a dubious sect believer, I am definitely re-electing Obama for President of this great nation.

    October 19, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
  11. Cesar Tirado

    Another false prophet bites the dust! Just like all the politician/priests of this land

    October 19, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
  12. Jimh77

    Wow, there comes a point in ones life where it is better to not speak, than to speak utter blasphemy, Bill knows not what he speaks these days.

    October 19, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
  13. LogicTrumps

    Another example of how the GOP relies upon manipulating the less intelligent. As noted in the link below, research shows that those feeling religion is very important, statistically will have a lower IQ. Translated....Billy, go fetch us some of your ignorants to vote for our boy!

    http://hypnosis.home.netcom.com/iq_vs_religiosity.htm

    October 19, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
  14. critic

    Obviously the poor deluded church goers have been far too generous with their donations to Billy Grahma if he can afford to support this male verison of Sara Palin. . What little respect I had for him just flew away.

    October 19, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
  15. kevin

    although I think it is ridiculous that billy graham is trying to fish votes from other people, I look at the democratic side and see all the hollywood lefties and realize 15% of obamas votes will come from people who idolize kanye west or alec baldwin... so the way I see it, this is just leveling out the playing field

    October 19, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
  16. HM8432

    I really hope that Billy Graham attempted to turn the tables and explain to Romney that Mormonism is false doctrine, and went on to tell him the correct way to find Jesus. If he did, I doubt Mitt listened.

    October 19, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
  17. Mark

    Sorry Billy Graham or his son's endorsement has no effect on voters. I am a christian but I was ashamed when Billy Graham sided with What he called a cult.I pray that he will go to be with the Lord before he proclaims that Islam is the way to heaven.

    October 19, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • Rick

      Mark, if you are a Christian as you say, then I urge you to study the Bible thoroughly and come to realize, as I did, that by voting for a pro-abortion candidate, you are depriving so many of our unborn children the very right to life.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • Rick

      Mark, if you are a Christian as you say, then I urge you to study the Bible thoroughly in regard to life in the womb. As Christians, we must stand up and defend the most vulnerable among us - the unborn.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Rick

      Ahh... I see. Another Pro-Lifer... I mean, another ***Pro-Forced Gestationer*** ™

      Peace...

      October 19, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • good one

      ..and what makes you SO sure Islam is not the way to god?Any proof,or just a hunch?If you were born in a Muslim country,you would have no problem believing in Allah.Can you see where I'm going with this?Simply,we are all atheists,some people are just better at it than others.Have a good day.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
  18. Mary

    Thank you, Billy, for standing up and reminding us we are ONE NATION UNDER GOD'

    October 19, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Added to the pledge during the red scare of the 50's.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • Lisa

      And what of the others who do not believe in that God? We don't matter, right?

      October 19, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • DustyOnes

      Right Lisa.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • opinion8it

      FYI - Republicans are not God.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  19. vidal808

    Billy Graham is a senile old fool.....

    October 19, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • David Rich

      that is completely uncalled for...just because he doesn't support your opinions.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  20. Zac

    Liberal crybabies. Look where whining and blaming has gotten us. Might as well man-up and see if a little character helps get things back on track.

    October 19, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • Lisa

      Oh yes, calling other adults whose opinion differs from yours "crybabies" is indeed showing values and respect for others. LOL

      October 19, 2012 at 7:36 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.