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
(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.
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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.
Laughing at all the christians who are ashamed of Billy for taking down the page. They should be shamed of him for having it there in the first place.
"A cult is any group which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from the biblical message of the Christian faith."
Translation: anybody and everybody who thinks differently from us should be marginalized.
Athiests marginalize people of faith, and vegans marginalize meat eaters. It's called a group for a reason, genius.
Can you get Naturally Deselected sooner, rather than later?
@scott, one big difference is that atheists and vegans don't preach that other groups will burn forever in he'll for not believing as they do.
And if you don't believe in hell, why would that bother you? Your flying spaghetti monster believes in hell...
Graham is a bigot and hypocrite. Amazing how religious leaders can flip their viewpoints at whim. Makes me ashamed and embarrassed to be a Christian with horrible and degrading religious leaders like Graham. Shame on you! You should have been Catholic so that hierocracy would be more tolerated.
What a disgusting show of nothingness. This story is very sad – as is Billy Graham.
hypocrisy by right wingers knows no bounds.
Disconcerting. One either believes that when they pray to "God" they are praying to an eternal preexisting unique God, or to a really-old Mormon sinful man from Planet Kolob who got promoted to be "Earth's God". One either believes what Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would be with the Church "always", or one believes the Spirit abandoned the Church until Joseph Smith showed up. Apart from the rather-clear allusions to the doctrines of the Antichrist presented in the bible (especially Revelation) and their obvious direct correspondence to official Mormon doctrine, Graham is toying with assent to Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit here. It'd be a shame to see his lifetime of work thrown away for expediency's sake, to cast his lot in with the single unforgivable sin, according to his own beliefs.
Nice to see Billy Graham is still alive – or is he? Caving into the guy with the Magic Underwear is not a good sight.
Quite sad to see Billy Graham caving into this guy with the Magic Underwear.
Oh, is that like magical rosary beads?
God has already chosen Obama to win the election. It's His will.
This kind of says it.. and there is even a comment at the bottom that names Mormonism.
I guess Billy Graham can be "Bought" too..$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
He was bought and paid for a LOOoooonnng time ago.
After all these years, you just figured THAT out?
How is the Mormon church any more of a cult than the Catholic church? They both follow the lead of a human on earth who tells them what the religious text (bible, book of Mormon, and so on) say. If the bible is the word of god, why does it need an accompanying book like the book of Mormon? Why can't Catholics read the bible for themselves and make their own determinations?
You are showing that you do not know what you are talking about. Catholics have been taught for years to follow your own free will, most catholics are like Biden, not that ideologue catholic on the other side. And as far as some guy teaching the bible? You have no idea what he taught but it had nothing to do with the bible, nothing...
In other words, the definition is: Cult – the other guy's religion
It's so sad that a man that so many people see as the light of Christianity is so hypocritical. I wish people understood that he doesn't speak for all of us. Many Christians are not as close-minded and hate-filled as him.
Money changes everything
I find it facinating that the christian right is willing to accept Romney with open arms despite the fact that historically they have demonized "the mormon cult" yet they continue to vilify Islam even though their own scriptures clearly state that the God of Abraham will bless Ishmael and his descendants and make them into a great nation. Then again, I don't know why I'm surprised, it's not like it's unusual for christians to completely ignore what it clearly says in their bible.
A$$ KISSING SELLOUT!
Amazing isn't it. I am 58 years old and was raised as a Jehovah Witness by my dad, I have got to say that all my life from the age of about 6 years old I heard how Witnesses and Mormans were cults and not Christians from main stream Christians. However, now, when it's needed to get the first black President out of office, main stream Christanity will except anything but a black President who is a main stream christian. They will even accept a person who is a member of what they claimed to be a cult even before I was born ( wonder what caused these christians to change their minds) I am not claiming anyone to be a cult and never have. I just find it funny how main stream Christianity can be such hypocrites. Billy Graham, whom I respect is no longer calling it as he sees it I guess. My question, where you wrong then or now, you can't be both. If so he and all Christians taught to believe Mormans and Witnesses are cults should apologize. That's all I am saying!! Oh by the way, I am Non-denominational now, am I in a new cult?
J. Witnesses can be accepted as Xtianity too. They just need to have a straight white guy running as the Republican candidate next time.
From one cult to another, Mitt don't worry we got your back.
You Libs can KISS MY A S S
We don't want your anal herpes, no thanks.
Hammer, you are obviously too imature to be commenting on this site. Does you mommy know you are on the computer?
This is troubling, but Romney is not going to turn America into a Mormon nation. I have just as much a problem with Obama's shoddy theology as I do with Romnneys, but at least Romney doesn't want a government takeover.
I find it interesting that people can demonize the religion of one GOP Mormon as "evil" and "unchristian," while conveniently forget that one of the highest offices in the Senate is held by Harry Reid, a Mormon in full fellowship. The Mormon Church does not espouse any political ideology. It seems the majority of these comments detest only one brand of Mormons–the ones that don't agree with them.
Hypocrites to the end! Graham is a money-grubber who cloaks himself in religion, just like Romney. Both disgust me beyond words.
Probably in the debate tonight, Romney can now claim that he has met with Billy Graham and they are the best of buddies. Nice.
What are these leaders turning to? This is a SHAME!!! Why would they removed that segment from from their website? If it is the will of God for Obama to be win, He will win the re-election. I am a believer, I may not suppose Obama 100% but I will not be calling the right wrong and the wrong right. Christianity is more than politics...