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. miamialum2010

    My favorite part of the Bible is where God gives people free will and then kills them all in a flood for their choices.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  2. Welch

    His magic underwear will keep us safe. Bombs away!

    October 16, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  3. Drew

    Ha! One cult calls out another and then takes it back. Fear the cult(s?), but which one?!?

    October 16, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  4. Please Grow Up

    Now religion is Etch-a-Sketch, too. Go Republicans.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • IamAmazed

      I don't understand the reference?

      October 16, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  5. dld

    This reminds me of the time when BYU became a basketball powerhouse and, since their dogma looked down on African Americans and they didn't have any at BYU, they were not allowed to play in the National Championships. Suddenly, their leader had a vision from God that proclaimed that African Americans were acceptable. Funny how sports can influence God.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  6. windsockmitt

    So the etch-a-sketch virus is contagious?

    October 16, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  7. MrApplesauce

    Changing your religious beliefs for political reasons.

    Sad Billy... sad.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Pepou27

      Does that surprise you? Two awful clowns who flip flop when convenient ....

      October 16, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  8. bob

    I am sure Mit offered money to change Bill's mind.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • lauren

      Shame on you, Bob. Regardless of your political affiliation, please do not tarnish a man's reputation you have never encountered. Billy Graham is one of the most humble men alive. The photo above is in his more than modest home he has lived in for half a decade. Billy Graham is a great man and loved by many. My wish for you is that you can say the same about yourself.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  9. john felty

    The scriptural definition of Christianity is irrefutable! When an "old soldier of the cross" like Billy Graham compromises his position on Jesus Christ and his ministry on Earth for the sake of partisan politics I am saddened and now have greater empathy regarding Rev. Jeremiah Wright's emotional "God damn America" sermon! It is incredulous that a person whose whole life has been dedicated to defending the universal Godhood of Jesus Christ can now, like Simon Peter, deny the deity of Jesus Christ and demote Him in parity with cult leader Joseph Smith! This begs the question, "Who IS on the Lord's side?"!

    October 16, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • MrApplesauce

      If one professes to be a true Christian, this is a legitimate question.

      Most people who claim that in America aren't really Christians, though.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Vidyashanti

      It proves most religions are bogus or under bogus command.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • John K

      Ah the no true christian falicy. What is a "true christian" anyway. Everytime I hear one christian disagree with another I hear this argument levelled in response. I say they are all bonkers but their wholly babble says all they have to do is believe and they are "true christians". Leaves me off the hook in any case, thank the stars.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Scott

      Ah the no true scotsman misapplied falicy. So, would you call someone who labels themselves a vegan but dines on sirloin a true vegan? Yeah, I didn't think so.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • John K

      Perfect application by me poor analogy by you but thanks for playing.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • gunnard larson

      How can the scriptural definition of christianity possibly be irrefutable? Christianity didn't exist until long after the last book of your bible was written.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Scott

      And yet you fail to demonstrate why it's a poor analogy. Good job.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  10. martiniano

    Silly, silly. So yesterday LDS was a cult but, because Graham doesn't want that danged neegra for another 4 years he has received a directive from God Hisownself that LDS is now good. Or at least better than a neegra. Hypocrite.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  11. Bresson

    Proving politics rules in all things religious. Obama shares Grahams faith much more closely than Romney's cult of Mormonism. The members of his church should be outraged!

    October 16, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  12. savvie

    You know the difference between a 'cult' and a 'religion'? A cult has a leader who is alive and knows it's a scam. A religion has a leader who's dead.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • martiniano

      Cute Savvie, but the difference is that you can't leave a cult alive. Like when ex-Muslims are stoned to death or Jim Jones pours you a cup of Kool Aid or when there is a mothership in the tail of a comet. Like that, see?

      October 16, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  13. jane

    As a mormon I resent a mormon running for president. we have a leader to follow and it is sad the mormons who will vote for Rommney without looking at the facts. So sad. Mormons supporting a man that is not a good man. Check investments in China. Those alone are reasons enough for the case that he is a bad man. Boy you other mormons really can't believe Mittens has the high ground! Jesus never sought public office! Wow. Mormons are looking weak as they support this bad bad man.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • IamAmazed

      As a "real" mormon I can say the Jane is probably lying and not a member of the LDS church as this statement is inconsistent with I think a typical LDS member would say. While the LDS church is neutral on political parties and candidates, members support their government and the political process. Further, a "real" LDS member would not comment on whether another member is good or not. In the opinion of this LDS member Mitt Romney is a good man and from all that I have heard and read a good LDS member.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • LinSea

      jane, so what if a member of the church runs for public office? Members of the church serve in Congress. They are elected officials in local and state governments. A member of the church served as a cabinet member for President Harry S. Truman.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  14. bill

    It's amazing how politics can influence the GOP's version of religion.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  15. Tim

    I might not be religious, but for someone to sit up on a pulpit and preach about being a "rock"..seems hypocritical to me. You change your stance on another religion just because you don't like the current president. Way to be an immovable rock Mr. Graham.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  16. STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

    To learn about hinduism, absurdity called Billie's faith, visit limitisthetruth.com

    October 16, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  17. ThebullJ

    @ThebullJ, Franklin doesn't like Obama..he is misleading his father, for his own ego..denial of gospel=Hell, remember!

    October 16, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  18. JohnO

    I'm reminded of the old conquistador's quote on the New World: "We came here to serve God and the king and also to get rich." Thanks for showing your true colors, Billy and Franklin.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:45 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 gentile, filthy slave of the hindu King, filthy pig.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  19. Jake- NYC

    As it should have been. I am atheist, but it's a free country. Let people believe in whatever they want. Mormons tend to avoid alcohol and trouble, so it seems like it makes them better people and they seem happy. Get over it already, if you truly believe in live and let live, let people causing no harm enjoy religion if they want.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Scott

      Thanks jake, I appreciate that.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
  20. smart man

    when will he die already!

    October 16, 2012 at 5:45 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.