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. JB

    Just because Billy doesn't call them a cult doesn't mean they aren't. Have you ever actually read the Book of Mormon? It directly conflicts with the Bible several times. Then you need to check out Joseph Smith Jr.'s background. He was put in jail for being a grifter. And who in history has ever written a book on plates of gold? And just where are those plates?

    October 16, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
  2. Derp

    One cult agreeing to not call another cult a cult . . . Riiiiiiiiight . . .

    October 16, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  3. Erik

    Well if you have a doctorate, you are the dumbest doctor I know, anyway I have to go kiddies, going home from my 6 figure job to my beautiful White wide and I am Black, put that in your pipe and smoke it, lmaooooo

    October 16, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Suuure thing, dear.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • Athy

      "wife", not "wide". And you really need help on the rules of capitalization. Improvement here would really help you in giving others the illusion that you're educated.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Athy, with all due respect, I don't think Erik could convince anyone that he has more than one working brain cell. No matter what.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
  4. Lobo

    billy billy billy, got a load in your pants becuase you stink dude.

    October 16, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
  5. Erik

    Athy, you are am idiot, go back to Kindegarten.

    October 16, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It's "Kindergarten," you moron.

      When you say "higher," did you mean "drunker?"

      October 16, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Athy

      "am"idiot? Hm, try "an" next time.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Athy

      And kindergarten is not capitalized. It's hard to believe you have a degree in anything.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
  6. Erik

    Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son
    I actually have a higher education than you, nice try though! lol

    October 16, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No, you don't. Guaranteed.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
  7. JA

    In other words, they're trying to make nice and encourage religious voters to vote for Romney by saying now that he's not a cultist.


    October 16, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
  8. Erik

    Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son
    I write like a third grader? That is a very funny statement; I actually have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management and I am working on a Master of Science in Sports Management. My grammar was off because I am currently sitting at my desk at my job at a major University finishing up some last minute work and I really do not have time to check my grammar while I am doing other things while I am entertaining you fools in your folly; next! See how I used the semicolon there buddy? LOL!!!

    October 16, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • Athy

      You incorrectly capitalized university.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oooh, how impressed am I??

      How, exactly, does sitting at a desk affect your ability to write, moron?

      October 16, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "I really do not have time to check my grammar while I am doing other things while I am entertaining you fools in your folly."

      Could you perhaps insert yet ANOTHER "while" into your little diatribe, dear?

      October 16, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
  9. Doc Ock

    wow...what timing....what a weird coincidence....what a load of.......

    October 16, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
  10. Erik

    So when the truth hits you in the face you try and twist my words, my words show that I am nto a Christian? Why because I call you idiots and dummies? Jesus called the pharisees snakes ,I guess he was bad to huh? lol you people make me laugh. I call a spade a spade and if you against God you are idiots and dummies, period! Read the Bible and come into real knowledge because none fo you know what you are talking about

    October 16, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No, ErDICK, your "words" show that you're a microcephalic dolt who never made it past the special ed program in your middle school.

      Get a clue.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • Athy

      Erik, you need help. Maybe a tutor? Try the fourth-grader down the street, he could certainly help.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
  11. Journey

    Romney/Ryan 1040

    Obama/Biden 2012

    October 16, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
  12. Erik

    Euna Rugg
    Your religion Mormonism was founded by a racist pervert, no furtehr statements.

    October 16, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
  13. retief1954

    Well, how very convenient! Nice timing! Perhaps the Good Reverend might be willing to meet with the President, and confirm for all his followers that Mr. Obama is indeed an American citizen? That he's a Christian? Hmm.... not holding my breath waiting for THAT to happen.

    October 16, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
  14. Nancy White

    There are several reasons for saying the Mormons are not Christians, note a Wikipedia article has its "neutrality disputed". That's Wikispeak for "someone is lying". Or at least omitting the whole truth.

    Also note that the Wiki article for "Mormons" is locked from editing (semi-protected), while the one for "Catholic Church" is not.

    Anyhow, Mormons typically do NOT own a copy of the Bible.

    Mormons typically do NOT read the Bible.

    It's pretty hard to be a Christian if one doesn't know what Christ said, eh?

    That Wikipedia article is misinformation, because the Mormons haven't so much "adopted additional scriptures", as they have written new ones, are CONTINUING to write them, and largely ignore the Bible. (And the Koran. And the Talmud, etc.)

    Very significantly, you have the opinion of other major religions. There are two major religions whose baptism is not recognized by the Catholic Church - one is that of the Mormons. That means their beliefs are so far outside of what Christ said, they can't even be considered to be following his teachings.

    If you know Mormons, you'll know their behavior is hardly Christian. They forbid members drinking Coke-a-Cola, but have a major investment in the company. That is, they don't want their own people drugged, but it's ok to sell drugs to non-Mormons to make money.

    It's one set of rules for the Mormons, and another for everyone else. That is incredibly opposed to the teachings of Christ.

    October 16, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • Whitney

      I am a Mormon and I know lots of them. As a factual matter, pretty much all the Mormons I know own a Bible and read it.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • quartni

      Most Mormons do not own a bible, eh? Then perhaps you do not know Mormons as well as you think you do. I own several copies, and I read it often. I especially love the parables of the New Testament. If you'd like to argue with someone about this, then I suggest you stop the boys wearing suits who are riding their bikes – they no doubt would be happy to chat!

      October 16, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • Layne Bracy

      Hi Nancy: As a lifetime Mormon, I can assure we do all have copies of the Bible and study it, as well as The Book of Mormon. Together, they testify that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Son of God.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • Rob

      I love how Joseph Smith claimed that all the Christian churches were an abomination unto God and here they are wanting to be called Christian? Seems to be a very major breach of the precepts of the founder/prophet of the Mormon church. In addition, since when does polytheism come anywhere near close to orthodoxy in the Christian Church? All semantics aside, they do not believe in One God, they believe in 3 distinct gods of this planet, that there are planets all over the universe being celestially reproduced by other gods....and the various wives each god has...that we will become gods one day as god was once a man...sorry ladies, you can only be a godess if you please your celestial husband and he calls you up. You have no power at all nor any choice in the deification of mankind.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
  15. STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

    What is the difference between Mormon and Moran, pig, self centered, secular? One A, not much of a difference, .

    October 16, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • gunnard larson

      I know this is a waste of time, but you also forgot the "m."

      October 16, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  16. RE McCray


    October 16, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  17. Mark H

    Still a cult according to all major Christian denominations. Look it up. Ask your church.


    October 16, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  18. Martin

    Well, majority of the Christian Right leaning still look at Mormonism as a Cult.

    Put it this way, these Evangelical Christians believes the ff:
    – The Earth is 6,000 Years Old
    – Noah placed both the Dinosaurs and Sheep side by side in the Arch.

    Now, lwet me ask everyone, "Who is now a CULT" ??

    October 16, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • Mark H

      The majority of the Christian Right might believe in a "young Earth" and reject evolution, but the largest Christian group (Roman Catholics) are not taught this. If they say otherwise they are misinformed. Even Pope John Paul stated that evolution is a valid theory. You wouldn't expect that, but it's true. But seriously, Mormonism makes even Scientology look halfway normal. It's really crazy!

      October 16, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • Jerlwayne

      Whoa...Noah came through St. Louis? Too bad he wasn't rocking a casino boat. He could have been famous around here.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
  19. fitz

    Anyone who has grown up around mormons know they are totally exclusionary. They are cut throat business people, only out to support their own. romney's team will be ver heavily Mormon as he probably knows few others. why isn't this aspect of his Mormonism being discussed.

    October 16, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • Just a person

      Have you googled "mormon humanitarian efforts"? You will get "About 1,210,000 results". Also, Massachusetts is only .38% LDS, a mormon would be hard pressed to have only mormon associates (even if it was their desire, and I have never met any who expressed that sentiment). I mean you no disrespect and I am not looking for an argument, I just thought you might be interested in some of the underlying facts (because I would like to believe that no one would deliberately malign people and invent faults using widely misunderstood religious beliefs to mask inaccuracies and factual discontinuities in their argument). Hope your day goes well.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
  20. Erik

    My parents didn't force me into anything, I came into the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ on my own. As for you calliing me a joke? Your opion is futile seeing as you don't know me or nothing that I have experienced lol you my sad little human are the joke and what is sad is you really have no idea! Also, there are Christians int he middle east to idiot, they all aren't Muslims. The Holy Land for all three Major religions is in the Middle East dummy!

    October 16, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Brampt

      NO you havent came into the knowledge of Jesus...You dont know the true Jesus!!!

      October 16, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • Answer

      You're still a joke even if people didn't know you be physical close contact. The mere fact that your words and reasoning are circular makes you a laughing stock. LOL

      October 16, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      Oh we know exactly what you experienced. Most a-theists were once believers. We just grew up.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      And you are mentally hindu, ignorant, unable to differentiate between truth absolute GOD and a hindu, fabricated god Jesus.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Erik, tell me, did you manage to graduate from high school? Get a college degree?

      Doesn't appear that you did either, based on your posts. You write like an 8th grader.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      You said you came into the saving knowledge on your own.
      Jesus said "no one shall come to me unless the Father draw him". So I guess that means Jesus didn't do it.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • Answer


      That quote is akin to a locked door.. a dead bolt scenario. Erik professes that he literally has picked the door open that god has locked. So he's quite special in his claims.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      Exactly. "Many are called, but few are chosen". ONLY American Fundamentalism does the disbelief as moral choice thing. It's NOT the really traditional position if Christianity.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yah, he's "special" all right. Special Ed.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • Athy

      Erik, go back to the fifth grade. And pay attention this time!

      October 16, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Staying awake will hardly be sufficient. Erik needs a working cerebrum. Alas, even Jeebus won't be able to help him there.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • Athy

      Yeah, you're probably right. No brain, no gain.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • Duh

      Erik>> The Holy Land for all three Major religions is in the Middle East dummy!

      And they are all fighting each other, their sub religions are fighting each other in their religion, their sub-cults are fighting each other and anybody else that gets sucked into their divine mission, imperfect as it may be.

      The only common claim is the same God. Unfortunately because they are three religions, with hundreds of sub religions, means they can never agree as to which, and there is only one, is the true follower of that God.

      So your lotto got you Jesus, congrats!

      As for the rest of your post, I doubt it would be what Jesus would say, and where did you learn to write?

      October 16, 2012 at 10:43 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.