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. Pusser

    Billy G. parroting the GOP line, as usual. Mormons are NOT Christians, but to help win an election, Billy G. will toe the party line.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:51 am |
  2. Bostontola

    "And the day will come, when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as His Father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva, in the brain of Jupiter.", Thomas Jefferson.

    Christians calling Mormons a cult, pot calling the kettle black.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:51 am |
  3. sparky91

    Whew! I am so glad there is an official website that is the point of record on which religion is a cult. Otherwise I would have thought they all were.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:49 am |
  4. SuZieCoyote

    Theses charlatans will do say and do anything to put a white male back in the saddle.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:47 am |
  5. randy

    Mormonism is a cult and not Christian. Joseph Smith (the founder) was told not to join any Christian sect because they were a wrong. For years they did not identify with Christianity. And Smith was not a martyr. He was shot after escaping from jail and shooting a couple of men.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • Scott Wells

      Mormonism is a cult. Christianity is a cult. All religions are cults. Some are just older and more widely accepted than others.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • PurpleStikyPunch

      Three men to be exact. And he was not shot because of his religious beliefs, as a martyr is. He was shot because he had a long record of lieing and stealing (43 charges for "glass-looking") from the public and trying to form a seperate nation, in which he was God-king.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:53 am |
  6. Mari


    October 17, 2012 at 12:43 am |
  7. matt houston

    Hey, what does your "belief" or religion matter if reneging your statements helps get a black man out of the White House right?

    October 17, 2012 at 12:43 am |
  8. Drea

    Mr. Graham, You have been someone I looked up to my whole life until today. You know that Jesus said in the Bible in John 14:6 That I am the way, truth and the life, no one comes to the Father exept through me. This is not what Mormons believe! They believe in false prophets! I am deeply saddened. If Christians dont stand up for Christ then who will?

    October 17, 2012 at 12:43 am |
    • Kev

      Actually, Latter-Day-Saints very much believe what Jesus said in John 14:6. In fact, it was the very first scripture that was given me to study when I went through the LDS Seminary program as a teenager.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:08 am |
  9. BrightStar

    Senile, old man hanging on to his white supremacist thinking.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:43 am |
  10. pasquinel cobra

    Isn't it the greatest thing to behold how the most polar of beliefs will united to try and expell that Black Devil from the Oval Office. How can you not judge his Christian Faith when he goes so far as to treat gays and lesbians as if they are HUMAN BEING like us real God fearing folks! If Obama was a good Christian he would have US Military round up these horrible plague on our society and set up another Camp like Gitmo just for them. What would Jesus do? Perhaps, now this is just my opinion, perhaps Jesus would treat them just like ever other human being on this planet, with love, compassion and understanding. Graham changing view on Morman religion just to get President Obama out of the White House speaks volumes to his true core values! JUST MY OPINION!

    October 17, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • Mari

      I agree...

      October 17, 2012 at 12:41 am |
  11. TDLEC

    So when Romney loses the Election will Mormonism become listed as a Cult again?

    October 17, 2012 at 12:37 am |
  12. Actual Mitt Romney quote in tonights debate

    “Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives.”

    October 17, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • BrightStar

      "should" as opposed to "would" shouts out loud how phony Romney really is.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      That makes him somewhat consistent with Billy G who has been quoted as believing in planned parenthood. But Romney wants to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:56 am |
  13. I TOLD U SO!

    That picture scary me!

    October 17, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  14. back when Billy was getting around a bit more . . .


    October 17, 2012 at 12:33 am |
  15. CronoT

    There's a reason Jesus stayed out of politics in His day, too. It's because doing doing so would have forced Him to compromise His principles. Welcome to the Dark Side of the Religious Right, Pastor Graham. I hope you can swim in all the filth.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • matt houston

      I am no Christian, but I would disagree on you assertion. Jesus died for his beliefs on the cross.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:46 am |
  16. Austin

    Galatians 1

    No other Gospel than that of Christ

    October 17, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • Mari


      October 17, 2012 at 12:39 am |
  17. Young

    Mr. Graham, you just lost my respect. How can you remove Mormon from the cult list? Did you forget about Revelation 22:18 – "I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book."

    October 17, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • Jesus is Dead.

      He's senile. His son did this. Give the old guy a break.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • Austin

      I agree with you 100 %. How dare a follower of Christ or Leader of the Church every lay aside the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the authority of the Bible aside to apease a system of religion that is in total contrast

      October 17, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Jesus is Dead.

      The Bible has no authority. A book written by humans about what they belied to remind themselves what they believe, VOTED non-unanimously in Councils, into the canon had "authority" ? Bwahahahahahaha.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • Kev

      You realize that the scripture was just referring to the Book of Revelations and not the entire Bible. Chronologically Revelations was not the last book written in the New Testament and when the New Testament was finally compiled in the fourth century, it was decided to place Revelations at the end because of the prophecies about the end times.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:44 am |
  18. Pragmatist

    Mormonism is definitely a cult and a corrupted version of Christianity that nothing more than a made in America club. Joseph Smith created this club that those who belong will be looked after. I too belong to such a club that I also attend on Sundays – it is called Costco. There I meet like minded people looking for good deals and we all leave feeling good with more stuff. At least I don't insult all other Christians all over the world by saying that the visit by Jesus to USA was left out of their outdated Bible.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • Jesus is Dead.

      Yup. Just like Saul of Tarsus cooked up the Christian cult.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:29 am |
  19. Joseph

    There are only 2 kinds of people in this world, those who follow the literal word of the Holy Bible and all the rest. Mark my words, true Christian soldiers will impose our will on this world and if you are not with us then you are the enemy.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • Jesus is Dead.

      Good luck with that. Did you kill your disobedient kids today ? Sacrifice you goat today ?

      October 17, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • Jesus is Dead.

      Eat shrimp today ? Touch blood today, (hope you didn't go to communion), eat pork today ? Marry your wife's slave ?

      October 17, 2012 at 12:24 am |
    • Antifa

      "true Christian soldiers will impose our will on this world and if you are not with us then you are the enemy."

      Yes, Jesus is exactly like Hitler. Thanks for pointing that out.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • Athy

      What about all of those people that lived before your precious bible was written? Did they get some sort of "free pass"?

      October 17, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • Leave it to the atheist to clue in the Christian about the Bible.

      Uh Joseph? If you had actually read the Bible that you insist on totally obeying, you would realize that no prophecy says what you just said. That ain't part of the plan.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Dippy

      Joe, you're deluded beyond recover. Get help. Maybe there's hope, but I doubt it.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • PurpleStikyPunch

      Two kinds of people in this world... those who believe in the literal Bible, and those who are educated. "Soldiers of Christ". Since Christ never supported any such teaching, you must be a believer in the pastor that taught you that, more than a believer of the message of Christ. With the mentality you have, you might make a good terrorist.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • Michael John Anthony

      "There are only 2 kinds of people in this world, those who follow the literal word of the Holy Bible and all the rest"

      I'm proud to be part of "all the rest".

      October 17, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • Joseph

      It don't matter what you Godless heathens say, America is and has always been a CHRISTIAN nation and the day the pagans and atheists take over is the day we burn America to the ground!

      October 17, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • Jesus is Dead.

      Careful Joe. That is a terroristic threat. You could be arrested for that, tonight.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:43 am |
    • Jesus is Dead.

      Washington wrote the Treaty with Trippoli. It says this is NOT a Christian nation. This is not a theocracy. If you want that, move to Iran. Traitor. Terrorist. Arsonist.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • matt houston

      What an awesome way to show the true "compassionate" teachings of Christianity. Congratulations, you just manage to prove the Atheist's accusations against Christianity a billion times better than they could ever do on their own. Stupid is what stupid does I suppose.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • Is Joe a Poe


      October 17, 2012 at 1:42 am |
  20. Ron

    President Obama won a great victory tonite. Romney looked flustered and like the clueless plutocrat he is. With his final statement, Obama blew Romney out of the ballpark. We are so lucky to have as our president such a great man as Barack Obama.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • Jesus is Dead.

      Amen. Crowley and Obama interacted with the audience, and "dismissed" Romney who would NOT shut-up. He looked like he knew he had not done very well.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      You can tell how well Obama did by the amount of whining at Fox News – they are not at all happy!

      October 17, 2012 at 12:35 am |
    • Jesus is Dead.

      Do tell.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • matt houston

      I wish I could have seen Romney's face at the end while Obama reminded everyone of Romney's 47% remark from the hidden video.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:51 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.