Billy Graham site removes Mormon 'cult' reference after Romney meeting
Mitt Romney meets Thursday with the Rev. Billy Graham and his son Franklin Graham.
October 16th, 2012
02:53 PM ET

Billy Graham site removes Mormon 'cult' reference after Romney meeting

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(CNN) - Shortly after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney enjoyed cookies and soft drinks with the Rev.  Billy Graham and his son Franklin Graham on Thursday at the elder Graham's mountaintop retreat, a reference to Mormonism as a cult was scrubbed from the website of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

In a section of the website called Billy Graham's My Answer there had been the question "What is a cult?"

Answer: "A cult is any group which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from the biblical message of the Christian faith."

"Some of these groups are Jehovah's Witnesess, Mormons, the Unification Church, Unitarians, Spritualists, Scientologists, and others," the site continued.

No longer. On Tuesday, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association confirmed that page has recently been removed from the site.

“Our primary focus at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has always been promoting the Gospel of Jesus Christ," Ken Barun, chief of staff for the association, told CNN in a statement. "We removed the information from the website because we do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has become politicized during this campaign."

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Romney is a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, members of which are known as Mormons.

The information about cults can be found on cached sections of the website on Archive.org from June 5, 2010.

The theological question of where Mormons fit on the religious spectrum has drawn more attention because of Romney's candidacy. Mormons consider themselves to be strong Christians. Many traditional Christian denominations disagree, though rank-and-file members have their own views on the matter.

The removal of the post from the Graham group's website was first noted by the New Civil Rights Movement website and then later by the Asheville Citizen-Times, which reported that the information on cults was accessed as recently as Thursday afternoon.

Last week's meeting between Romney and Graham was their first.

After the 30 minute sit-down in Montreat, North Carolina, 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.

"I will turn 94 the day after the upcoming election, and I believe America is at a crossroads," Graham's statement continued. "I hope millions of Americans will join me in praying for our nation and to vote for candidates who will support the biblical definition of marriage, protect the sanctity of life and defend our religious freedoms."

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When asked about Graham's beliefs about Mormonism, Graham spokesman A. Larry Ross said in a statement that "Through an inclusive evangelistic ministry spanning more than 60 years, Mr. Graham was called to preach the transformative message of the Gospel to the whole world, regardless of one’s religious background, affiliation or none. As such, he never proselytized, targeted or labeled specific people, groups, faiths or denominations.

"Neither did Mr. Graham attempt to divide his audience before he had opportunity to preach to them. He has a genuine love for all people, and faithfully proclaimed the love of God to everyone, providing opportunity for them to respond by making a faith commitment.

"Mr. Graham’s calling is not to pass judgment, but to proclaim the biblical truth that Jesus is the only way to heaven, allowing every individual and group to fall along that plumb line," the statement went on.

"He further stressed that salvation is the work of Almighty God, and that only He knows what is in each human heart," the statement said.

The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest Protestant denomination, lists the LDS Church as a theological cult.  The Catholic Church also does not recognize Mormon baptisms as being theologically compatible with its own.

The LDS Church has long bristled at being called a cult.  Mormons note the many similarities and overlap between their teachings and that of other churches but point to their belief in other scriptures like the Book of Mormon as the reason they split with other churches.

In the 2012 campaign Romney has been generally quiet about his church, though his role as a lay church leader was prominently featured in the Republican National Convention, and his campaign has allowed members of the press pool accompanying Romney to film him attending services.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Billy Graham • Christianity

soundoff (4,065 Responses)
  1. Jon

    Take your literary electronic pitchforks to 'em here: http://mormon.org/

    October 16, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Orwell prefers Guyana punch

      Be sure to get your ammunition here

      They also provide past and present play books, stats, and inside skinny of who is screwing who on the apostle board of directors.

      October 17, 2012 at 9:31 am |
  2. GI Joe

    I'm allowed to believe what I want to believe. I believe mormonism is a cult formed by two con-men less than 200 years ago so they could have multiple-12-year-old girls for wives. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Pffffft.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • texcal68

      Joseph Smith, a fraud, started writing the Book of Mormon in 1830. The final version of this mythology wasn't completed to around 1838. When murdered, he had between 30 and 40 wives, which he kept concealed from most of his followers. The man was nothing more than a con man with a very vivid imagination.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  3. Jon

    All the deep dark details of mormonism revealed: http://mormon.org/

    October 16, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  4. Joker

    What a joke! – Billy Graham and his son endorsing the said thing they preach against. Billy Graham & his son are big hypocrites. I am wondering whether or not they ever met with Obama. Well Billy Graham and his sons are probably thinking they will not have to pay taxes. I guess they are not in the 47% but their followers certainly are.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Jesse

      Why are they political- Jesus would tell them off. Grahm is not different, He's just another MAN looking for his interest on earth. He just had the power he was pushing with his Buddies- You know them from his history.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  5. labandme

    God is God...no matter what name people want to use. The evil is in the man made religions who mold their interpretations for profit, power and corruption. And if as an educated person, you fall for the rhetoric, you are no better than the persons who tell us their way is the only way.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  6. Jon


    October 16, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  7. History Bear

    Of course the LDS church is off the list. They are big republican backers now and Mr. Graham has always been a staunch republican. If Mittens loses, they will probably be back on the list. Who cares. Believe as you will. The only thing I ever liked about graham is he talks the talk, but he walks the walk as well. So few do.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  8. Ronnie Harper

    How convenient it must be for these religious oligarchs that they can change positions so rapidly. All of these men are charlatans.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  9. Lofty

    Fact: There is no beginning to time and no end to time. Ergo: We must be constantly in 'the middle' . Deduction: It will be as peaceful following our death as it was prior to our birth. Therefore: Do as much for your fellow man during the short time you are here.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Veritas

      Time began with the Big Bang

      October 16, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  10. Jon

    Yes...its all true...Mormons ARE different....go to mormon.org and find out more

    October 16, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  11. charles bowen

    Billy is in it for the money i wonder what the payoff is for this lie .... Morman Cult has and will always be a cult. ... Don't drink Billys Cool-ade.... Christians do what ever their leaders tell them too do, mindless self serving Puppets that they are.. Looks like billy sold out to this devil, go figure..... Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

    October 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  12. dmwilliams11

    I find it more than remarkable that this hits the front page of CNN on the eve of the second debate. So far, religion hadn't been a meaningful part of the public debate, but now it seems, as Romney gains a little momentum, that not only have CNN's biased gloves come off, it is now no holds barred. So now we'll see if the right wing PACs retaliate with a race card? or their own religion Jeremiah Wright spin, and if so, wanna bet it's buried in the back waters of the mainstream media reports? Doesn't this no longer subtle biased media leave anyone else wonder who the heck they can trust to provide meaningful facts? Not CNN, Certainly not Fox, or ABC, or NBC, or Huffington or local news even. Any one? Arrrgggg – I give up trying and will now just go to bury my head in the sand.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • sam

      You've already had your head in the sand, this crap has been going on nonstop. Don't bitch about it now.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Billy Bob Cletus Feckwood, III

      Interesting. Weren't you one of the people whining about Obama's "religion" in 2008?

      October 16, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Veritas

      Are you implying that the Obama PAC had something to do with Romney going to see Graham?

      October 16, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • J Sanders

      The Book of Mormon is the Race card. 2 nephi 5:21 etc. Mormon priesthood manual teaching don't marry out of your race, social or economic background. https://www.lds.org/manual/aaronic-priesthood-manual-3/lesson-31-choosing-an-eternal-companion?lang=eng Please tell us why nonwhites could not be priest in the Mormon church before 1978. Please, I want to know. Every Mormon I have asked say they don't know.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
  13. Bob

    "What is important is that people of different faiths understand that not everyone is going to share the same beliefs, and this fact is OK. "

    Tell that to Mr Etch-A-Sektch.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  14. Jesus

    If I ever needed another reason to vote for Obama, here it is!

    October 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  15. Ven

    Franklin sure does look comfortable doesn't he, LOL – Probably thinking about where he'll spend his newly acquired 30 pieces of silver? Steakhouse? Strip club? Bar? Sooo many options!

    October 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Jesus

      He looks comfortable because for the first time in several years, he doesn't have a big load in his pants.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  16. Jon

    see what them "marmons" really believe: mormon.org

    October 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  17. Bob

    "I just do not get society today"

    So check out already. No one is asking you to stay.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  18. GI Joe

    Billy Graham is senile and Romney probably slipped his son a huge sum of cash to remove that from the site.

    God my butt. Its all about controlling people and making $$$$$$$$$$$.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • BobG

      wow GI Joey, ur one scary dude

      October 16, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  19. Jesus

    See, what's really funny is if you're really in touch with God, and nature and the universe, it really doesn't matter what church you belong to, because religion is about being in touch with your spirit & it's place within the universe. But as soon as you try to put a technical political or financial spin on that spirit, your religion is no longer a spiritual journey, and only a journey to increase your wallet.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  20. John

    As a Mormon I recognize that Mormons to Christians are no different than Christians are to Jews. Unless you believe the Book of Mormon then you would be correct in labeling us a cult, or simply not believing in what I believe in. This is no different than Jews denying that Christ is the savior. What is important is that people of different faiths understand that not everyone is going to share the same beliefs, and this fact is OK. As a human I share more commonality with other fellow humans than discord. I don’t want to force my beliefs on anyone, and I believe in our freedom to choose our own beliefs.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
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About this blog

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.