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. Joshua Ludd

    To put it another way.. he either never believed that and was just using it because he is a grifter or he changed it because he is more interested in being on the ride side politically... because he is a grifter.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  2. Geo

    If Dr. Graham is accepting a sin so big as erroneously calling the Mormons a cult, shouldn't he proclaim his wrongs from the mountaintop so other Christians will learn from his mistake? Maybe its just politically convenient for him to tuck it away quietly for now, then bring it back when he needs it again.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • liberal hypocrisy

      Sorry dude. People can just get along.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  3. followerofchrist


    October 16, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • His cur jests

      And a fine yardman he is too.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Athy

      And he painted my house!

      October 16, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • lordnimrond

      He mows my lawn for CHEAP!

      October 16, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  4. jeffshana

    Evangelical leaders have preached throughout my lifetime that Mormonism is a cult. But now that Romney is running for President, Mormonism is a-ok!

    It proves that the religion they partake in is not Christianity but Republicanism.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • liberal hypocrisy

      Maybe evangelicals have become more tolerant.

      It is funny that liberals were really hoping that evangelicals would continue to be intolerant of others. Well, sorry, it looks like people everywhere can still get along.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • lordnimrond

      liberal hypocrisy farted:

      "Maybe evangelicals have become more tolerant.

      It is funny that liberals were really hoping that evangelicals would continue to be intolerant of others. Well, sorry, it looks like people everywhere can still get along."

      Ha ha! Yeah,..if Mitt had promised to give me a monetary bl0wj0b to help convince my supporters vote for him, I'd "get along" with him too!

      October 16, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  5. Andy

    Man will always be man and can change while God will always be God and SHALL never change.

    With all respect I had for Billy, its sad that you finally exchanged your Jesus with man (Romney)

    Fortunately truth never changes whether you change or not, mormon is still a cult

    October 16, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • good one

      All religions are cults.Some are more successful and more bizarre than others.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • Joshua Ludd

      Except, of course, when he did change... you know.. the new covenant Jesus supposedly brought about. He even said he wasn't there to change the law but to fulfill it. At no point did he say that some religious laws were no longer in effect.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • Damien

      Amen....Amen...Amen. Thank you!

      October 16, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Damien

      That comment was for you Andy....not the genius that thinks all religions are cults.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  6. Steve S

    That's a pretty good Halloween costume that the Rev. Graham is wearing.

    Oh, wait.................................................................................................................

    October 16, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  7. Vinny

    Their both members of a religious cult. Fùck 'em both. Dóùchebags.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Athy

      Fuck them all!

      October 16, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  8. winchester74

    Religions are nothing more than ancient outdated versions of science.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  9. liberal hypocrisy

    Funny that there are LIBERAL POSTERS on here that are in favor of INTOLERANCE and BIGOTRY. Seriously kids, read your own liberal posts. That is just one reason I support Romney over obama.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Anomic Office Drone

      I don't care that Romney is a Mormon.

      What bothers me is that a politician being a member of the LDS church was a problem for evangelicals until it became politically inconvenient to hold that position. To me it's like saying "We hate Obama so much that we'll now recognize your cult as a religion."

      October 16, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • lordnimrond

      Sorry dude,...but it's no crime to show intollerance to the intollerant, or bigotry to the bigotted.... They deserve it by their very nature!

      Saying otherwise is like saying that murderers don't deserve to be punished with the death penalty just because some people think killing is bad...

      You are SUCH a sanctimonious D O U C H E!

      October 16, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • Duh

      When it comes to Mormonism and Scientology, I am barely tolerant, and I tolerate presenting my views on it.

      Putting a Bishop (pick your religion) or a high church official as POTUS is a bad idea.
      Pat Robertson, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Mitt Romney. Equal opportunity on this, bad idea. Might vote for them as Senator or Governor, but not POTUS.

      As for conservative hypocrisy. Considering every POTUS except that Catholic Kennedy has been mainstream protestant, putting a high official of a recently reclassified "ex-Cult" (B.G. certified) seems to be not very conservative. But when it comes to money, conservatives usually fold to their core values: power, money and self-interest.

      But speaking of B.G., he was also close to Richard Nixon, another great Republican like Senator Joe McCarthy. Bunch of wingnuts. How about science is a hell hole lie. Creationism, now legislated as a science in Tennessee. The world is less than 9000 years old, and the rest of the wingnut crap.

      As for the 9000 year insanity, these people of biblical God, won't admit the possibility that creating the universe in seven days, might be in God days instead of earth/man/24hr days. Hubris is why this country is screwed, it is passed off as fact.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • Geo

      I am SO in favor of tolerance. I have spent a lifetime of being intolerated by a Christian family and Christian-dominant employers and coworkers. I don't begrudge them their religion nearly as much as they actively begrudge my lack of one.

      I am so much in favor of tolerance that I think something so profound as Billy suddenly deciding to quit denouncing members of other religions is cultists is worthy of MAJOR headlines. But then, I don't think he is really that tolerant - I think he's just siding with the devil to whom he most closely relates.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
  10. sneed

    I am a christian and unfortunately all these so called Evangelist, Prophets, Bishops etc are running the church as a business. I don't believe any of them . i believe in God.. Now they have become political..BG is at his lowest low..

    October 16, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  11. Duh

    Just like polygamy! God calls, money talks! POOF! change of plans, no more cult.

    Just like Job, God was screwing with Billy, letting him believe it was a cult. Being faithful to the end God clued him in to the plan.

    Just like Moses, God showed him the promised land before he died. A seat at the table in Kolob is reserved.

    Fortunately for Billy, he is going to get a righteous Baptism of the Dead at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City.

    But with far more pomp than the holocaust Jews got, a living Apostle of Jesus will call his name!! And will greenlight his wife and family, all expenses paid in Kolob!

    When it comes to politics and money, senile Pat Robertson set the modern standard for sell out. Billy is driving a hard bargain, money is not the priority, its the principle.

    Mormonism, the 19th century version of Scientology and the big business to sell it.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  12. Veryproudaya

    What was in those "cookies and soft drinks" exactly. Muhaha. Oh, I know – money.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  13. GIUK

    Wow, just like that! POOF! From cult to Friends of Billy and His Buddies after a sit down over some cookies, and soda.

    And people say there are no miracles today.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  14. Gwats

    Looks like Racism has replaced Xenophobia in Billy Grahams personal agenda. Doesn't matter..... if there is a hell Evangelists like Graham will be leading the way down. What a bunch of lying hypocrites.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Ruben Gonzales


      October 16, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • lroy

      He is who without sin, can seriously complain about another man's religion (even if it is a cult). And that goes for atheists too!

      October 16, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Geo

      @Iroy: To paraphrase Edmund Burke, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men [say] nothing [even if they too have sinned]."

      October 16, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  15. sonotso

    Wonder what he would say if someone who dressed up as a Panda Bear and worshipped the Moon God was running for President? Beliefs for sale; get your fresh beliefs right here. I guess Mitt can now attend Billy's tea parties.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • lordnimrond

      Dude,...that's AWESOME!!! I totally want to be a part of THAT religion... Moon-worshipping panda cultists for the WIN!

      October 16, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  16. Dubben

    I'm glad they could put fundamental logic and eternal beliefs aside, and just agree that the gays are gross. That's what's really important to this country.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  17. chrisco

    All religions start off as cults

    October 16, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  18. Tim

    "Oh, you're a Republican? Okay, then I guess I'll take back what I said about your ridiculous religion being a cult."

    October 16, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • liberal hypocrisy

      Are you in favor of intolerance? It appears that you and many others are.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • lordnimrond

      Since when is stating the truth about a situation being intollerant? Oh, wait,...that's right,....it's not the "truth" unless you and those like you say it,...right?

      October 16, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  19. Belseth

    So racism wins out over religious bigotry?

    October 16, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Anomic Office Drone

      I imagine Graham said something like this: "You guys stopped saying God made black people dark because of their unrighteousness in the 1970s? That's about when we had to stop saying things like that publicly, too."

      October 16, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Gwats

      The Apostle Paul said that "they have a form of Godly Devotion, yet prove false to it's Power". Evangelicals and Mormons, forming an alliance of Evil and Hypocrisy. Good luck with that.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  20. JIM Burns

    Wow any respect I had for Graham is gone. In fact I'm done with religion sickening..

    October 16, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Tim

      You're done with religion because of what some man said or did? I think I see the problem with your faith. That said, I doubt there are many normal, legitimate televanglists and so many people appropriately represent their so-called faith, that it can be confusing for people that don't believe for their own personal, sensible reasons.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • liberal hypocrisy

      You are 'sick' because the world is a little less intolerant? Crazy, crazy.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Anomic Office Drone

      Religion is a social construct to keep the masses in line.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • lordnimrond

      No, "liberal hypocricy" we're sick because you are such a stinky d o u c h e....

      October 16, 2012 at 7:20 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.