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. Jim in Georgia

    My preacher, a strong Southern Baptist, still says they are a cult.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • KEKC

      Fire him.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  2. joe

    i find it somewhat amazing that the christan right would even consider voting for someone who is not even a christian by definition. the morom religion is by definition a cult. i personally don't care what religion someone is but is does go to show you that all of this has nothing to do with God but rather power and control. the only thing that really matters to the GOP is being in power and they are willing to sell their soul to get there. if that means voting for someone who is consdiered a memebr of a cult over someone who is a christian then that is what they will do.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Harry 101

      yes in fact you do care if you don't care for the person now if it's soneone you support well then it's all good.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  3. bgg1175

    Graham always believes a Presidential election is at the crossroads.
    Watch one of his old sermons from lets say 1980-85.
    He will almost convince you that we are about to get Nuked, until you realize its now 30 years later and the Soviets went Kaput.
    Hes good and seems like a nice guy but hes a Preacher, preaching about a false Messiah and using fear to pull people in. Its fear that keeps Churches in business.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Say it ain't so

      i'd add to that, the way things are going, that the U.S also went kaput.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  4. Rich - Vero Beach, FL

    Religion and politics – the Rev. Graham never kept them separate. Now Mormons are no longer considered a "cult" only because the republicans have a Mormon candidate. Perhaps from the planet or star mentioned in the Book of Mormons – chapter Abraham – Kolob.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  5. klkp

    mr. graham you have been bought out by Mr. Flip-Flop....mormonism is the biggest cult this country has, they are insidious with their clean talk and looks....my daughter was duped into believing their niceties when she was in college and eventually had the common sense to get as far away from them as possible...Mr. Graham actually do some research and then ask Mr. Flip-Flop if he's wearing his sacred underwear

    October 16, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Harry 101

      yep it's only the fithly and dirty talking ones you can trust hope your child finds one.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  6. chaing

    This is pretty convinient. Just in time for the election. Gotta support your canidate, I guess. What else REALLY changed?!

    October 16, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  7. Lou

    I believe that is called a hypocrite. I would rather be an honest sinner. The churches are full of them no matter what religion.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Harry 101

      True but theres always hope. There was only one without sin I don't think they hide that fact. But OK/

      October 16, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  8. Fred Evil

    Yet another xtian folding his reputed 'morals' so he can get his man elected..

    October 16, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  9. John

    We are being set up.Fake poll numbers,Obama giving the election away,and now this crap.

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

      CNN is doing a bit of social engineering on people to sway them to vote.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  10. connie

    The USA really is becoming a sad place to live, it is and always been so divided, we never stand with each other as other countries do. As long as their is power they will do anything to get on top.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Harry 101

      Don't you just hate that it's true on both sides. Wait don't you?

      October 16, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  11. GeorgeSales

    Read Billy Graham's comments carefully. He specifically does not endorse Mitt Romney and if you check his past, he hasn't personally endorsed any specific candidate. Also, do you really think Billy Graham was online editing the org.'s website. I have a feeling someone made that change without getting Billy's permission. At his age, he's doing the best he can to live and do good. He does have a son, though, who gets too involved in politics... who I suspect is behind the changes. This whole meeting was requested by the Romney team, and was to make it 'appear' as though Billy Graham endorsed him which he clearly did not do.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • jo an

      Don't make lame excuses for Billy Graham...he and his son Franklin have been ripping this country off for ever....

      October 16, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Billy Graham Sells Out

      Churches have become political tools for the Republican party. People need to wake up and see them for what they are. Religion has no place in our politics. The Graham family could've politely refused both candidates at this contentious time if they wanted to remain neutral and "avoid controversy" like their excuse for removing LDS on the cults page. Instead we get a smiling photo op. This isn't about LDS, it's about the hypocrisy in today's supposed Christian leaders.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Harry 101

      Wow I know of Churchs that support the DNC no if ands are butts. You little profiler you!

      October 16, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Billy Graham Sells Out

      Yeah but the DNC doesn't really pander to that crowd. They're pro-choice, the pro gay marriage and wants to drop God from some government stuff. So the "real" Xtians probably don't consider those real churches anyway. Most Catholics and Fundies are Repubs. The big name Xtian endorsements are Repubs. Oh and Mormons now, those good Xtians they are.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  12. KEKC

    To me, every religion is equally a cult. I don't see how the Mormons are essentially different from Christians or Jews – except that there are fewer of them. Those who outweigh the others in numbers proclaim them cults, as simple as that.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  13. drinker75

    Convenient. Although I think evangeicals border on cultism too.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • drinker75


      October 16, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  14. Tired of the hoopla against religion

    Just because you don't believe in God doesn't mean its a fairytale...this country was founded on freedom of religion to get away from people that don't believe...like you...if you don't like it... leave, or at least respect what other people believe!

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

      There cannot be a God – it's the 21st century.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "Just because you don't believe in God doesn't mean its a fairytale...this country was founded on freedom of religion to get away from people that don't believe...like you...if you don't like it... leave"

      calling it a fairytale no way infringes on your freedom of religion..... if you dont like it...leave.

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

      Well, not exactly. Many of the early colonists came here to avoid being persecuted for their beliefs, which differed from the prevailing beliefs of their point of origin. It wasn't necessarily that the point-of-origin folks didn't believe in something just as unsubstantiated as the Puritans or the other religious exiles, they just didn't agree with the variant that the exiles espoused.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  15. STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

    Human my Aghori father, dead body eater, excuse of a follower of Billy Satan Graham, denier of truth absolute GAWD, Mormon sanatan's, filthy goon's always change their belief to satisfy a filthy reason,

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

      definitely time for your meds now.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
  16. RW

    So did he lie when he said God told him Mormonism is a cult ?, that would make him a liar.
    Did God just simply change his mind ?, how can that be ?

    October 16, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  17. mythoughts

    To the hateful commenters on this story- help me understand. Why go to such lengths to attack people of faith who want to privately live according to their conscience and values?

    The vast majority of all faiths believe in doing good to others, finding the good in others, and in building people up instead of tearing people down. An incredible amount of service comes from people who unite to change the world for the better, whether through a church, or other organizations that want to make the world a better place.

    What a different world this would be if civility were to return, and people gave others the benefit of the doubt when it came to their intentions. Not one of us is perfect, and I doubt very much that the people of faith in your life have claimed to be so.

    Have a look in the mirror today, and ask yourself what kind of influence you are having in the world. The time you've spent posting thoughtless and hateful comments COULD have been used to do something to make this world a better place.

    Maybe one of you will consider that. I sure hope so.

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

      So hating Obama is Godly ?, and hating Billy Graham's lies is hostile ?

      Just curious

      October 16, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      " An incredible amount of service comes from people who unite to change the world " Yep, I can see them all down at the cemetery screaming "God LOVES dead soldiers!!! Ha ha ha, your son is DEAD and in HELL!" Real world-changing stuff.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "Why go to such lengths to attack people of faith who want to privately live according to their conscience and values?"

      Easy, because people of faith rarely want to "privately live according to their conscience and values". Instead they insist on telling other people how to live their lives, to introduce laws and legislation designed to dictate to others how to live, etc. For example, gay marriage. They introduce bills that will block other people from doing what they would never take advantage of so really is nothing to do with them.

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

      It's the fact that they're not privately living their beliefs. They're constantly trying to get it woven into legislation and passed as law, insisting that their way is the most moral way, the only right way, and everyone must live that way.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Steve

      I appreciate the comment. It would be nice not to hear, my religion teaches me to be rude to you because your religion doesn't teach you what mine teaches me. I can appreciate the frustration that people feel when Mr. Romney misrepresents his faith, Mr. Graham seems to capitulate on significant points. (Is there anyway to say that and not hear a knee jerk reaction?) We will never create a better environment to live in, if we obfuscate. ( see: 2 Nephi 5:21 & 3 Nephi 2:15) and (1 Pet 3:15). The Bible teaches us to be kind. For me, I think: It's not how well I believe I stand up for my convictions, but how well do my convictions comfort those who are hurting. One does not have to compromise truth to be kind.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • Steve

      Above my appreciation comment was to "mythoughts"

      October 16, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
  18. Morcroft

    Is Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God? Is He equal with God? The Mormons teach that He is not. Therefore, historic and Biblical Christianity cannot call the Church of Latter Day Saints anything but a cult. A cult is marked by a denial of the deity of Jesus. If He is not God, then He could not have fulfilled the Law perfectly, hence we are unable to rely on His sacrifice to pay for our sins. It's simple.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • RP1509

      Simply put @Morcroft, wrong!!! Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is equal to God and is His Literal Son just as most if not all Christians believe. To attempt to deny that Mormons believe this shows your ignorance on this matter. Try going to http://www.mormon.org and see the true beliefs of Mormons.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Kim

      Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus Christ is the literal son of God the Father. Our first article of faith states "We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost". Jesus is a member of the Godhead. It is only through Him that we can have eternal life and be redeemed from our sins. To learn what Latter-day Saints believe about Jesus, you can actually go to the source. Mormon.org or you can read the Book of Mormon (the whole book testifies of Jesus Christ, but I would specifically recommend 2 Nephi Chapter 9.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  19. Bible Clown©

    Yesterday they were a cult, today they are the Great White Hope, and Graham's gonna vote against the Christian and for the Muslim to avoid voting for a black man. But it's ok, because God's not real, and if anyone knows that, it's Nixon's buddy Billy Graham.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  20. RK

    Doesn't matter who wins debate, the fact is Romney is next president and there goes USA in the bottom of every list, educational, economy, social....it's time Asia dominates the world!

    October 16, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Wendover

      what a dunce

      October 16, 2012 at 5:31 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.