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. jvance

    Not a cult anymore? Things that make you go hmmm.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  2. dskillz13

    I believe that religious followers are all nuts. Weak minds rely on religion to do the hard work of rationalizing their pathetic existence for them. Just accept what is. Be spiritual if you need to be. Be agnostic if you don't care either way. What is shameful is this manipulative pandering that politicians do to believers who already have weak, docile minds. Who needs government to enslave the minds of the population when people voluntarily do it for their preachers every Sunday.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • EndTheFed

      *standing ovation meme*

      October 16, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  3. danielatlanta

    "For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect" (Mark 13:22). Looks like it is possible.–Dan Bruce. The Prophecy Society

    October 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      From hindu corrupted book of hind Mithraism, savior ism called Christianity.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  4. kurgen99

    How convenient.

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

    "Kettle No Longer Black" – Pot

    October 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  6. Bible Clown©

    It will be back 5 mins after Romney loses to Obama, with a note that Mormons can be very persuasive and threatening sometimes.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  7. Name*Doug

    Shame on the Grahams for their flip flop on cults

    October 16, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  8. EndTheFed

    Every religion is a cult.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      Religion's are hinduism, corruption of truth absolute.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • billybobtheracist

      Billy Bob Graham removing the cult reference from his site is like a bozo now accepting Krusty as a normal member of society.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  9. Say it ain't so

    Granted i'm not religious BUT i do believe in the father (God) & i'm disgusted with so much anti God that i see everywhere. We'll see when The day of judgement comes & then suddenly everyone is going to be praying to God but, it'll be too late.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      You are a hindu denier of truth absolute GOD, bigamist.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  10. Maybe a KING could preside over the Christian God and the Mormon God . . .


    October 16, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  11. Boston Guy

    This is too funny. People will vote for a cult member just to get the black president out of office. That's good ole south and midwest for you. How can you go from a cult to not being one over night? Billy Graham is a great person but this is just not right. I remember when Obama was elected he was accused of being a Muslim and was going to bring the extremist into the government and the very same people who were saying this now thinks it's ok to have a cult member as president.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      Way of hindu' racist, they may have a different label to hind, fool humanity.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Tom

      And other people will vote for a black/white man to keep a white man out of office. I will vote for the MAN who can lead this country into a grater sense of truth and morality.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • sam

      Tom, your reasoning skills as are impressive as a cheese grater.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • a reasonable atheist

      That really grates on my nerves.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  12. Jon

    MORMONISM EXPOSED: http://www.youtube.com/user/Mormon

    October 16, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  13. Jon

    Eat you heart out: http://www.youtube.com/user/Mormon

    October 16, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Agnes

      Graham suddenly has selective disdain for the Mormons. Will the "cult" page go back up the day after Romney loses?

      October 16, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  14. Laura

    I was raised with Billy Graham as a world wide preacher for our Christian faith. I was very happy to see that the Mormon cult reference was removed from his websight. Humanity and Christianity must go together; and the Mormon or LDS church has stood with deep convictions that both humanity and Christianity are necessary together. What else would Jesus do? Billy Graham's heart and spirit are a testament to my question what would Jesus do?

    October 16, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • darth immaculate

      Since when is Billy Graham the grand arbiter of cults vs. faiths?

      October 16, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      No, hinduism, denial of truth absolute God, goes with hinduism, denial of truth absolute, just like hinduism, mafia.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • nanna

      Lets all play God!! Billy says Get it removed and I mean NOW! I am sick and tired of preachers making rules, they suck at rules, just want money. Billys church is all about money as always they want more and more.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • david

      Laura, You may need to read Jesus word about adding to or taking away from the Bible, the morons think this to be ok.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  15. sayquitter

    Is that guy still alive?, what's he? 300 y.o.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • connie

      Billy G. has one foot in the grave already, so what he says does not mean nada to anyone! He has always been a racist not a man of God which he pretend to be, as long as someone is fighting against someone of color that is white, he will take the white side everytime, no matter how wrong it is, but you suppose to be a man of God, yeah right!

      October 16, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  16. keeth

    End of credibility at the end of his life. What a shame.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Pete

      Only a complete moron would think he had any credibility to begin with.

      October 17, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  17. Rocq

    3 mormons came to our house when I was little to talk to my mom and dad about joining their church. They said that because we were black we could not go to heaven as saved people because we are born to be servants and only serve whites, therefore, in heaven we would still be servants. I don't have to tell you how the conversation ended.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      hindu Mithraism, called Christianity is based on hinduism, racism, what do you expect from a hindu racist pig, self centered.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Jon

      Yeah...they ARE bad...these videos expose it all: http://www.youtube.com/user/Mormon

      October 16, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • connie

      You all should have given them a swift kick in the you know what!! slammed the door on their racist nose.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • concerned

      I am sorry that it went that way. I ensure you that their behavior does not represent the rest of the Mormon people or the doctrine of the church. Every religion is full of imperfect people, and the way you and your family were treated is completely wrong.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Truth

      I'm sorry that happened.. as a mormon I can tell you that is completely UNTRUE. Get your facts straight. Please.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • sam

      It was true until the 70's, when someone decided, oops, maybe we read the original plates wrong, people are frowning over our racism! And it conveniently disappeared.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • craig

      i am a life long member and professor of church history and doctrine. i doubt your story, or memory, maybe nice try to stir up religious bigotry. i love God, His Son, Jesus Christ, people of all faiths, cultures, genders, age, colors, etc. and i am one of the most conservative Mormons around. Hate mongers have tried to tell me what I believe because the scriptures, prophets, (yes, even the Book of Mormon) inform me along with the Spirit of God of one doctrine that God so loved the world, He sent His Son to save, not to condemn. The Spirit of God persuades us to learn and believe the truth, not lies about other people. I have friends of all Christan faiths, Moslems, Jews, non-biblical faiths, etc. I haved lived and taught at a unversity in Jerusalem twice and experienced good will from all peoples while loving the back. let us look for win-win solutions for all. No more bi-partinsanship in politics or religion! Sorry for errors, writing from hospital bed

      October 16, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  18. Kevin

    I long for the US to be like other, modern democracies. That's a place in which a candidate's religious beliefs aren't an issue, by either the political parties, the candidates or the voters.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Timodeus

      Why must we be like everyone else? Why should should we adopt other systems that are also dysfunctional, just in different ways?

      October 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • phil

      If a senior figure in a cult was running for leader in Canada, the UK or Aus, it would be a big deal.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  19. bigfoot

    Billy Graham sold out. I used to really admire him.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      He sold out back in the Nixon administration.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • RomneyIsWorse

      This decision by the Grahams is bad. It gives credibility to the statement by Mormon missionaries that "we are Christians, we believe the same things that they do." They use this deception to break up real Christian families with "conversion by dating" conspiracies.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:16 am |
  20. Tom

    I do not believe that Rev Graham has changed his beliefs, he only removed the cult page because he does not want that to be the focus of this election. I also believe that these things are of little value given that we must choose one of these two men to be our president. Dr Graham is holding on to the strongest of moral values not the greatest spiritual leader.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      hinduism, excuse of a follower of hindu, denier of truth absolute GOD, hindu sanatan's, filthy goon's always change their belief to satisfy a a hindu filthy reason,

      October 16, 2012 at 4:54 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.