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. Liberty

    I lived in a predominantly LDS community (over 90%) and not only know the dogma (having been visited at length by bishops) but was persecuted BY the LDS because I led an Evangelical Church in the community. The LDS believe they out-Christian Christianity. Seriously, they will tell you they do. Have had it said to me personally. Also, the LDS believe their god had a father and a grandfather and was completely human (the god they call heavenly father). They believe Jesus and Satan are brothers. And just ask the LDS about what it takes to receive and maintain a temple recommend. Cult – absolutely. In fact, their religion and word of faith religion very closely tracks as far as dogma (they just use different names for the same thing – like, revelation knowledge is just another name for burning in the bosom). LDS has all the hallmarks of a cult (so does word of faith). Neither are Christian.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • The Watcher

      Then why don't you LEAVE the place where you're surrounded by 90% mormons? GET OUT! it's not the place where you and your family belong.

      October 17, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  2. JJ

    Graham has been preaching hate and division his entire life and his sheep have been licking it up the entire time. The horrific things he said about Jews in the Nixon tapes are repugnant but Christians just gloss over it as they do everything. No one buries and re-writes history the way Christians do.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
  3. Ken

    Cult or not Mormons are not the same as Christians and Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, nor anyone else calling themselves Christian should try and equate the two. You want to recognize the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as a religion... No problem, religion and cult are merely words. But, having the name Jesus Christ in your church does not make you Christian. Not even everyone who calls themselves Christians will be recognized by Christ. Matt. 7:21-23
    See the scripture differences below.


    October 16, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • JJ

      But of course you are that ever so rare True Christian®.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  4. HM8432

    Pretty interesting, since Billy Graham IS a registered Democrat, who was the first TV preacher to desegregate his revivials, eulogized LBJ, he posted bail for MLK on several occasions, and GWB was the only sitting president he refused to see...yeah, real racist Repub-type. The other tele-preachers are usually at odds with him. The Jews? The same people complaining about what he said 40 years ago, are the same people who want to see Israel wiped off the map today. So, where's the problem? It's his son you have to keep your eye on! He's trouble, and he obviously fell very far from the tree.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  5. Jim

    All religons have one thing in common: My way or to hell with you!

    October 16, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  6. ash

    their unifying factor is hatred for Islam... and then black people... and eventually anybody else who is different in some other way.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  7. PaxLoki

    he sold out–lost respect for him–but now I agree with him

    October 16, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  8. THIS JUST IN!!!

    This just in. Billy Graham removed references to Scientology being a cult on his website. In other news, Franklin Graham has landed a supporting role in the new Mission Impossible sequel.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  9. Journey

    I'm starting to think that the United States presidency is a cult...people will do ANYTHING to get access to that office. These people are snake oil salesmen folks....one and all.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  10. Oppa gangnam style!

    Give me solid evidence that life does not need a creator and solid evidence atheism is a logical choice.Oh and if you admit you "know" there is no God or life does not need one,you need evidence,REAL evidence.Otherwise YOU atheists need proof as well.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • JJ

      Grow a brain.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
  11. MIchele

    Just more of the same slimy Republican twists and turns.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  12. Rev BillH

    How remarkably "progressive" for the BGEA to have expunged decades of Morman "cult" status to endorse Chameleon Romney. Have they forgotten their Nixon debacle? The younger Graham practically tripped over himslef to condemn President Obama, questioning his Christianity, presumably because he is too liberal. How quickly the Pharisees come to mind.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    October 16, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • NickZadick

      apparently it does....it brainwashes you to post the same stûpid post over and over again!

      October 16, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  14. Kurt

    Think about how bizarre it is that the evangelical right is supporting a candidate for president whose religion teaches that God lives on the planet Kolob, and someday he will be a god with his own planet if he has enough children, and a vice presidential candidate that worships an atheist. The majority of Republicans evangelicals don't follow Jesus, they follow Judas and his bad of silver.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
  15. RaisedMormon

    Thank God for Romney. Without him I may have doubted my choice to quit the Mormon Church! He's lying POS just like my Bishops before him!

    October 16, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • Kristina

      Its sounds to me like you are the POS. I am sorry you left the church, that is very unfortunate for you.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • NickZadick

      leaving any church is to be commended..especially if you don't replace it with another! people who believe in fairy tales will be the death of us all!

      October 16, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I take it you're a fan of Brigham Young.
      "If there is a desp.icable character on the face of the earth, it is an ap.ostate from this Church. He is a traitor who has deceived his best friends, betrayed his trust, and forfeited every principle of honor that God placed within him. They are disgraced in their own eyes. There is not much honesty [within] them. They have forfeited their heaven, sold their birthright, and betrayed their friends."
      "I say, rather than that apo.states should flourish here, I will unsheath my bowie knife, and conquer or die. Now, you nasty apostates, clear out, or judgment will be put to the line."
      Yep – nothing but tolerance and love from the Mormons, eh?

      October 17, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • The Watcher

      If you are not a COWARD and DISHONEST, then post your name here and your ward and stake and stand by your words to be casted out from the church. You have a choice. Be COURAGEOUS.

      October 17, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      "...post your name here and your ward and stake..."

      Nah, he/she doesn't have to do that. Let your "prophet" divine his/her ident'ity!

      October 17, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • The Watcher


      Then you are also COWARD.

      October 17, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
  16. Duh

    If it is not a cult, what is it?


    All is not well in mormon land, their faithful are questioning the living Apostles of Jesus, like Elder Holland.

    Seems to be a fundamental problem between their Book of Mormon* and those repeatable scientific facts.


    * (as told to Joseph Smith by an angel of Jesus stopping by to pick up golden tablets God wants back. Then Joseph quickly learned this ancient script written on this gold tablets while the angel patiently waits, translating everything directly to American English the Book of Mormon in the 1800's without a single error)

    Go modern! Join Scientology! Better myths!

    October 16, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  17. OBAMA

    How can anyone respect these people, even Graham is willing to sell his soul for the White House...

    October 16, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
  18. onestarman

    MORMONS don't care about ANY of US 'Lesser Beings' – They have been told that if they perform all the RITUALS they will become GODS (Just like Jesus and his Brother LUCIFER) and the god on the Star Kolob (Really) will give them their Own Planet – so who cares about EARTH – and all Non-Mormons can ONLY aspire to be 'Ministering Angel' SERVANTS of the Mormon GODS.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • happywithlife

      You know nothing about Mormons!!!!!! I am one, I love people, all people. So don't you dare say what I am you sad individual. People will always ridicule what is right.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • The Watcher

      You work hard to own your own planet. It's good for your own family. Do the things the Lord Jesus Christ commanded you. Be loving to your enemies "the Mormons" because one day you'll stand in front of the judges of heaven with your enemy "the mormons" and a right judgment will be given to you and the mormons.

      October 17, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot


      And your verified evidence for this event happening is...?

      October 17, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • The Watcher

      If you love your own family, you have to do something that would give them happiness not only in this life but also in the next life. You and me will surely die but doing good here on earth will bring you to a brighter and happier world. I have a doubt if you really love your family. Don't you love to live in a better and happier world? where Jesus and his angels visit you and your family? and your children's children's families? This is now the time to do good for tomorrow we all die. If you want to die bringing all your sins then you have that choice.

      October 17, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • The Watcher

      If you love your own family, you have to do something that would give them happiness not only in this life but also in the next life. You and me will surely die but doing good here on earth will bring you to a brighter and happier world. I have a doubt if you really love your family. Don't you love to live in a better and happier world? where Jesus and his angels visit you and your family? and your children's children's families? This is now the time to do good for tomorrow we all die. If you want to die bringing all your sins and hatred to the mormons, then you have that choice.

      October 17, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
  19. bschaser

    Graham rolled over to big money. What a joke. Christians only care about money. Not the souls of innocent people.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
  20. atroy

    ahh...the everlasting, never-changing, irrefutable word of God.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:44 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.