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. ohforheavenssake

    Anyone who can think a logical, independent thought has to wonder what sort of people put any credence in what this gray-hair, racist, flip-flopping, money-loving thief has to say . . . he's fleeced his flock just like the other evangelical snake-oil vendors.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • Mike L

      And you can't prove one word of what you stated. All you have done is made slanderous comments about a genuine man of faith.
      I couldn't disagree with you more.
      I have watched Billy Graham for many years and he is the real deal. How can I say that? Answer: Billy Graham will always point people to Jesus. Always!

      October 16, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
  2. Mike L

    There will always be doctrinal differences among Christians.
    In the end, the only thing that matters is wether one has believed with the heart that Jesus is the Christ and receives Him as Lord and savior.
    The real evidence of one's faith is not in what they say with their mouth but rather in the life that is lived.
    Anyone can profess "Right" doctrine. A Profession of "Right" doctrine proves nothing.
    Genuine faith is demonstrated in the way one lives.
    Jesus left us an example of what true faith looks like.
    People should not judge others as to wether their faith is real. Rather, they should be evaluating their own lives as to wether their faith is genuine.
    God shows no partiality toward those who confess Jesus as Lord but are not living out those words.
    As for me, I won't judge wether someone is or isn't a true believer. What I will do though is pray for all peoples that they come to the knowledge of the truth because I want to see them all in heaven.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • jungleboo

      I guess you are taking your eyes with you and not donating?

      October 16, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • My reality is crumbling!

      But Mike, what does this have to do with someone who lacks conviction and compassion?

      October 16, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • Mike L

      You better believe I am a partner of the Billy Graham ministries. I have watched the Billy Graham evangelistic association over the years and they operate with integrity and excellence.
      It is a shame and disgrace for people to make slanderous comments about people, especially men of this caliber without having done their homework-Without knowing the facts.
      No surprise though, the people that lived in Jesus' generation did the same thing.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
  3. Sarah

    I wonder how many planets Billy says exist on his site.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  4. Mormon Jack

    The angel Moron i tells me it's okay to hate if the Book of Mormon says so. We use weasel words like "love" to twist the truth and make our century + of hating blacks somehow be God's divine love and our present campaign of repression against the gay community be "god's will" and "defense of family".

    Of course (wink wink) we love gays. We are only doing what God tells us, and that relieves us of all responsibility for our bigoted actions.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  5. Anit-cultist

    No website determines my view as to what is a cult or not.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  6. Anon

    A religion founded on the heretical teachings of a so-called "prophet" who added to and altered established Scripture, promulgated a theology that states that God has a material body and physically pro-created in another physical realm, or planet, with a Mrs. God to give birth to Jesus, that Jesus' death on the cross was not the redeeming act of history, that states that Jesus will return to a town in Missouri, that the highest form of marriage is plural, and a thousand other crazy ideas, certainly counts as a cult, regardless of how they have re-represented themselves throughout the 20th and into the 21st century to suit the current political environment. Graham once said that the most dangerous possibility for America would be a wedding of the political right with evangelical Christianity. Well, it's now happened with his blessing. So sad, and frightening.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
  7. Andrew

    What a coward. It is a cult. But then again so is Graham's cult.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • Andrew

      Billy Graham – a very old etch-a-sketch.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • llosano

      right on!

      October 16, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
  8. Norm

    Why thats just such a nice thing for the Christian right to say Mormonism isn't a cult....right before election time.
    Isn't that nice of them?

    October 16, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • Martin

      WOW.. After a life long belief, Romey's visits changes their mind. Talk about compromise.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
  9. nothing new here

    2-faced flip-floppers, just like their candidate, flip-flop Romney.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • Sam's Uncle

      You mean like the President can't even get his story straight on what happened in Libiya. "It wasn't a terrorist attack!...Well maybe it was, but I didn't know because the people I hired to work for me suck!" What a joke.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • GeoffM

      100% agree.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • jungleboo

      @sam: You must accept that you are addicted to 24 hour news reports from talking heads who will tell you anything just to keep you logged in (literally) until the next commercial. That is their function, in case you haven't thought about it. Our government leaders and officials are under no such contract with you. Their job is to carefully gather the facts, and gather them accurately. Taking too long, you say? You are spoiled. You expect an instant answer and images to go along with the answer. I for one am very happy that they do not pretend to have all the answers immediately. If they were that kind of government, they'd have the correct information of you and use it, whether it was correct or not. Bombs create shock to those in attendance, if not injury or death itself. Any report from the front would necessarily be fragmented, less than accurate, seen from this angle or that, prone to hearsay and what ifs. I respect my President and Secretary of State for not pandering to the screaming infants who want all their information instantly. They are in the business of leaving an accurate record, not a throw-away pepsi bottle for the easily bored.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
  10. rob

    The Mormon cult is a repulsive, immoral, disgusting, bigoted organization that spreads hate against others. And Mormon beliefs are laughable. Golden tablets? Space aliens? Magic underwear? And if they can spend tens of millions of dollars on hate campaigns, why can't they pay taxes? Why are taxpayers subsidizing government services to this pathetic, faux "religion?" The sooner this cult is brought down, the better off the country will be.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • Sam's Uncle

      What are you talking about? You must be referring to some other Mormon church because that is not the Mormon church I belong to. Do some research. Just sayin'.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • jb

      Rob, suck it.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • llosano

      Mormonism is the most demonic, satanic, devilish church on earth, for the believe that Jesus Christ and satan are spiritual brothers; they believe that they will become a god with their own planets; they beleive that black people are inferior to white and they are cursed from Yahweh. Satan was trowed out of Heaven because he wanted to be like Yahweh God, now tell me, isn't the same thing mormoms beleive that they will be one day (become god)? You who still going to the mormon church, you are spiritual blind and deceived, YOU ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
  11. rob

    Billy Graham is a fossilized, washed up, extremist, nobody. And of course he would help Romney, they're both repugnant bigots. Both of them need to disappear and leave the rest of us normal people in peace.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • Athy

      Unfortunately, that's not going to happen. We'll just have to wait and vote accordingly.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Mike L

      And you can't prove one word of what you stated. All you have done is made slanderous comments about a genuine man of faith.
      I couldn't disagree with you more.
      I have watched Billy Graham for many years and he is the real deal. How can I say that? Answer: Billy Graham will always point people to Jesus. Always!

      October 17, 2012 at 12:36 am |
  12. Abinadi

    Why was it necessary for Joseph Smith to restore the true church of Jesus Christ to the earth when the Lord had already established it ? The earth was not ready for the church during the Roman Occupation. The world was a brutal, wicked place. Almost immediately the early churches began to apostatize as is detailed in Revelations. the apostles did what they could, but the world began to kill them off faster than they could organize and ordain new apostles. Paul knew that the true gospel would be lost for a time. In 2 Thessalonians 2 he said, “1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
    2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
    3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;”.

    Finally, there were no prophets or apostles left, but only bishops who were dependent on the apostles for authority. Left entirely without divine direction and authority, popes arose who were anything but representatives of Christ, such as Pope Alexander VI of Banquet of Chestnuts fame. One truly has to question whether God would run his church through men such as these. The church that Jesus Christ had organized had fully apostatized and was no longer found on the earth.

    The early apostles also knew, however, that the church would be restored in the latter days and in anticipation of that great day they spoke directly to you and me in Acts 3, "19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
    20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:
    21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of rest itution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”

    Can a thing be restored that has not been lost? We are indeed grateful to the great reformers for their sacrifices and work to prepare the way for the true gospel of Jesus Christ to be restored to the earth. They were like John the Baptist, who prepared the way for our Lord Jesus Christ. But, just like John the Baptist had to diminish while the Lord increased, so the protestant churches also need to diminish and give place to the true church. They have done their work and must end. I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and I know that Thomas S. Monson is a true and living prophet on the earth today. I invite you to visit mormon.org for more information.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
  13. JP

    As a Mormon, I really never was concerned what Mr Billy Graham thought what we were. I know what I am an that is a Christian. Thank you very much!!!

    October 16, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • StayinAlive

      No. You are not a Christian. You are a Mormon. The difference between the two is like day and night.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • Mike L

      Dear Mr stayinAlive.
      You should be spending 100% of your time judging yourself, wether you are true person of faith.
      You should be spending 0% of your time judging the faith of others because you don't know. Only God knows.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:27 am |
  14. j

    Google: lifeaftermormonism.net

    Former Mormons give details about their beliefs and practices. Who they say God is. Who Yeshua/Jesus is. How many heavens there are. What you must do to get into heaven.


    October 16, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
  15. rb

    Billy looks like he's got a bit of that Charlton Hestin thing going

    October 16, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • Athy

      Actually, there is a bit of a resemblance there, don't you think?

      October 16, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • Norm

      Yes...I agree.
      They both look like the walking dead.
      Only neither of them do much walking.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
  16. Seyedibar

    All religions are cults. It's not a loose definition.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • Mike L

      Jesus is the way, the truth and life. No one can go to the Father but through Him. (John 14:6)
      Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. HE IS ALIVE!
      Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords of whom we will all have to give an account on the day of judgement.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:33 am |
  17. gary woodall

    This is a Franklin message. Franklin your mother would be ashamed. You need to grow a pair and stand up for what is rught. You disgust me..

    October 16, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
  18. Mark H

    Still a cult according to all the major Christian denominations. Mormonism is NOT a Christian denomination.


    October 16, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • Jim

      Mark, I am sure you are an intellegent person. Have you even looked at the teachings of the Mormon Church? Have you even read the Book of Mormon? Have you attended a Mormon Sunday service? All we do is teach of our Savior Jesus Chrrist. He is the only way we will return to our Father in heavan. Our first Article of Faith states, "We believe in God the eternal Father and in His Son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost."(13 Articles of Faith) Our fourth Article of Faith states, "We believe the first principles and ordianaces of he gospel are first, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, second repentence, third baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, fourth, the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost." I would encourage you to do some serious research before you conclude that we are a cult.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • Mike L

      Men created denominations.
      True Christianity is not a religion but a relationship with Jesus Christ the risen son of the living God.
      Jesus is the way, the truth and life. No one can go to the Father but through Him. (John 14:6)
      Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. HE IS ALIVE!
      Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords of whom we will all have to give an account on the day of judgement.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:43 am |
  19. Bob

    Why is no one pandering to the Spaghetti Monster vote? The Starch and Meaty one is the only true path to salvation.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • HM8432

      Nobody cares about the Spaghetti Monster vote, or the people who think they're clever talking about it. A Mormon (not necessarily Romney) will become president long before any souless radical atheist does.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  20. Abinadi

    Calling the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints nonchristian or a cult is absolute nonsense! The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is based on the teachings of Christ and the New Testament. Christ founded his church on apostles and prophets. Ephesians 2 states: "19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
    20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;"
    Apostles and prophets are absolutely essential because they hold the keys to the priesthood. If the apostles all die, the authority is lost along with revelation; we no longer know the mind and will of God and Christ is no longer the "chief cornerstone". False teachers and priests arise and we are "carried about with every wind of doctrine". Paul taught in Ephesians 4: "11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
    12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
    13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
    14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;"
    Without apostles and prophets we cannot come to a "unity of the faith" nor be perfected in Christ. Without a prophet who speaks authoritatively the will of God, only confusion can reign as people argue what God meant and uninspired men tamper with the holy scriptures!i

    October 16, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You'd know a lot about "uninspired men," Abi.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • Abinadi

      Guess you would know about that, tommy.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • loucozz

      Abi...Not everyone is a prophet. Mormons believe Jesus is a half brother of Satan. Therefore they have the wrong Christ. They also believe heaven is works based. They also believed Jesus reappeared yet he said the next time he came you would see him coming in the clouds. They also wear spiritual underwear if they get really holy...wish that was a joke, it's not. The list goes on. It is a faith that leads to hell, not my judgement but it is what the Holy bible states. America will get the king we call for, either pres elected is a sure sign of judgement.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • DANIEL

      1 John 4 (KJV 1611)
      Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirit whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
      Hereby know ye the Sprit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
      And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: abd this is that spirit of antichrist,whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • End Religion

      There is very little distinction between cult and religion. Generally, a cult worships a person as a god, whereas a religion worships a supernatural god. However it is then argued from one belief to another why one's brand of belief is not a cult. As it is used today, generally, 'cult' is used to disparage while 'religion' is applied out of consideration. But it is all the same fraud.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • wj

      Mormonism is not Christianity. It is a religion of working your way to heaven by being good. God said all our righteousness is as FILTHY RAGS in His sight. Jesus said that you must be BORN AGAIN of the Spirit. Otherwise you will not see the Kingdom of God. When one puts his faith in Christ alone to save, not works, Christ's righteousness is imputed to him, and God sees that person as righteous. Mormonism does not preach this, but says that you have to be good enough with your own personal effort to progress into a higher heaven and to become a god. This is false teaching. There is only one God in 3 persons–God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Mormons also say that everyone will go to heaven, even the wicked. They will go to a lessor heaven than those who do 'good', but even that heaven is better than life on earth. So they do not believe in the unquenchable fires of hell that Jesus clearly teaches about, reserved for the devil and his angels, and those who do not repent and believe in Jesus Christ alone to save them. Mormons believe that Jesus is the spirit brother of Satan. They also believe that Jesus was married to Mary, Martha and Mary Magdalene. They believe that Jesus was born of Adam who came down from heaven to impregnate Mary, and that God Himself used to be a man like us, who progressed higher and higher until He became a god, which we will become if we work hard to be good enough.They have a form of righteousness, but miss the whole point of true salvation–trusting in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross to save them. Any faith in one's own works to get them to heaven will not fly on judgment day. And that is characteristic of most cults–works to gain salvation. It will fall short in God's eyes, and those deluded by these cults had better wake up. There is only one way to God, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ alone to save. "For by the grace of God are ye saved, through faith. Not of works, lest any man should boast." Romans 3. "He that has the Son has life, He that does not have the Son of God does not have life." 1 John. "For God so loved the world, that He gave us His only begotten Son, that whoever BELIEVES in Him will not perish, but will have everlasting life." John 3:16.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • Milton Platt

      Wasted effort. The christians were once a Jewish cult. But they can't be bothered with history...

      October 16, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • Jesus is Dead.

      So you have the astounding arrogance to tell us what the creator of billions of galaxies has in his mind ?
      Idiot. God HAS no mind. "mind" is a anthropological projection, as that is ALL we know.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • Mike L

      Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. HE IS ALIVE!
      Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords of whom we will all have to give an account on the day of judgement.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • Real Deal

      "God said..."
      "Jesus said..."

      More cult talk.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • Mike L

      The resurrection of Jesus is objective truth and reality not subjective. The truth and reality of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection is true wether anyone believes it or not. We will all stand before Him one day and have to give an account. No one will have any excuses.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:56 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Mike L, do you have smidgen of evidence for your claims? Or are you just another believer liar, or are you mentally ill?

      October 17, 2012 at 1:00 am |
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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.