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. sflamanno

    I am catholic , Mitt Romney is a Mormon , Mr Graham is a Southern Baptist , What does religion have to do with this election . Mitt Romney is a good man from what i see ; so leave out RELIGION ;

    October 16, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • us_1776

      A good man does not hide his tax returns when running for president.

      A good man does not get voted "Worst Massachusetts Governor of All Time"

      A good man does not need to be a serial flip-flopper.

      A good man does not need to be such a liar.


      October 16, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Rod

      Well, maybe you should find out what mormans believe. While you are at it you might want to take a look at some of the Morman churches holdings. You just might find it a little scary. In addition, I bet you were one of the People that called President Obama a Morman.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Sam's Uncle

      Rod learn to spell "Mormon". Second, what are you talking about. There is nothing scary about the "Mormon" church.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
  2. JR

    People should follow Jesus' teachings, not preachers, pastors, etc.... Billy Graham sold out a long time ago.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  3. dreamer96

    What about Pat Roberson, Jerry Falwell...Do Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell still say the Teletubbies are gay and evil....

    and I hate to say it but Billy Grahams has said some bad things on the Nixon Tapes about the Jewish people...What are Mitt's Views again...

    October 16, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  4. Tom

    Religion–the red light district of human endeavors. BG can rationalize anything.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  5. DennyRicky

    Wow! Billy must have taken lessons in flip flopping on an issue. What I want to know is, how much $$ did it cost Slick Willard and/or the mormon cult?

    October 16, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  6. us_1776

    The GOP has Christians selling out their very souls to try and elect Romney, the Mormon.


    October 16, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  7. Ray

    More proof of the narrow minded Ultra Christian viewpoint. Mormonism is a CULT UNTIL something worse like the anti christ Obama shows up. Time to flip flop. Once branded a cult..possibly not one now at least not now if it helps sway the election away form the Islamist Obama. These ultra christian zealots are reprehensible! Is there any way to take faith out of US politics?

    October 16, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  8. Brian

    Christians are uniting together and we will TOGETHER throw president Hus-s-ein under the bus just like how he throws everyone around him under the bus.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  9. a slozomby

    obviously a cultist is preferable to a black man.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Brainiac

      Just dumb comment. Boring.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  10. Brainiac

    For those who judge Billy Graham for endorsing Romney I wonder how you would feel if he endorsed Obama? He has a right to his opinion and just like you and me. As soon as you learn what Mormons believe you know they are not Christians, but then why give ammo to those who oppose Romney? I'm glad he changed the website to not inlcude Mormonism. It's called being smart.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  11. Pineal

    Arab/Chinese proverb: The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  12. Doug Gilligan

    One cult leader complaining about another cult leader. Nice.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Brainiac

      To you everyone is a cult leader looks like. Nice.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  13. Gurgyl

    These idiots are cult, GOP is CULT. I approve this message.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  14. David

    What a faker Billy Graham & Co. are! The Mormons have been labeled a cult by him for years, and now all of a sudden they are not?

    Billy... you are a faker, a fraud and a huckster... and a joke!

    October 16, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  15. Ambrose Smith

    My admiration for Billy Graham has plummeted further. What a sell out.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  16. cal usa

    When JFK ran for President, he had to dispel the fear that the Pope would have a say about US policies. It appears that Mr. Romney had to get tacit approval from his church to run for the Senate in Mass as pro-choice and supportive of gay rights. The question we have a right to ask is whether or not the LDS would set polcies under a Romney administration. Salt Lake City is closer than Rome, but neither one is acceptable to most of us a dictator.

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

      In 2008, when Governor Romney was running for President – the acting Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gordon Hinckley, was asked what he thought about Mitt Romney running for President. He said, "well, it should be a good experience for him." That was it. He did not have to get approval from the Church to run for any political office. The LDS church does not take a political stance, but does encourage people to be "politically involved." Lastly, it might surprise you to know that the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, is an active member of the LDS church. If elected President, Mitt Romney will be the President, and no one else. Sure, his personal views will contribute to how he governs – but he will not be taking direction from anyone in Salt Lake City, UT.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  17. onestarman

    Its AMAZING how Cooperative a Sack Full of CASH makes SOME People.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  18. Steve

    "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..."

    "he never proselytized, targeted or labeled specific people, groups, faiths or denominations"

    Erh, "cult" sounds like a label to me. Another example that lying for a religious belief is considered acceptable in the name of truth.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  19. 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

    Leading USA charlatans may have removed the cult label but Fanklin Graham refused to call Romney a christian last night despite repeated attempts by Piers Morgan to get him to clearly state whether or not mormons are christians. What a hypocrite, but then he is a believer...

    October 16, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  20. iklindo

    one cult trying to legitimize another for some kind of twisted power gain...

    October 16, 2012 at 6:00 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.