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. james -

    Mr. Graham may have been a decent and generous soul before he became senile. His son has ruined the family name by using this organization for his own personal political goals. My guess is that the old man did not even know who was sitting with him for the photo opportunity. The fact that Mr. Romney will allow Franklin Graham to use his father for this "meeting" as a political took is equally shameful.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:07 pm |

      God bless you, James.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  2. Just Wondering

    So did Graham remove the other religions from his "cult" list? Or was it just Mormons? This religious stuff is quite funny if one thinks about it. Just an effort to help Mitt in election?

    October 17, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  3. Dyslexic doG

    Is Mormonism Christian?" is a very important question. The answer is equally important and simple. No. Mormonism is not Christian.

    The reason Mormonism is not Christian is because it denies one or more of the essential doctrines of Christianity. Of the essential doctrines (that there is only one God in all existence, Jesus is divine, God in flesh, forgiveness of sins is by grace alone (Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 4:1-5), and Jesus rose from the dead physically (1 John 2:19; Luke 24:39), the gospel being the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, 1 Cor. 15:1-4), Mormonism denies three of them: how many gods there are, the God of Christianity, and His work of salvation.

    Mormonism teaches

    Mormonism teaches that God the Father has a body of flesh and bones (D. & C. 130:22) and that Jesus is a creation. It teaches that he was begotten in heaven as one of God’s spirit children (See the Book, Jesus the Christ, by James Talmage, p. 8). This is in strict contrast to the biblical teaching that he is God in flesh (John 1:1, 14), eternal (John 1:1, 2, 15), uncreated, yet born on earth (Col. 1:15), and the creator all (John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17). Jesus cannot be both created and not created at the same time. Though Mormonism teaches that Jesus is God in flesh, it teaches that he is "a" god in flesh, one of three gods that comprise the office of the Trinity (Articles of Faith, by Talmage, pp. 35-40). These three gods are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. This is in direct contradiction of the biblical doctrine that there is only one God (Isaiah 44:6,8; 45:5). See Trinity for a correct discussion of what the Trinity is (see also, false trinity)

    Because Mormonism denies the biblical truth of who God is, who Jesus is, how forgiveness of sins is attained, and what the gospel is, the Mormon is not Christian – in spite of all his claims that he is Christian. Quite simply, the Mormon god doesn't exist.

    Mormonism teaches

    Mormon theology teaches that God is only one of countless gods, that he used to be a man on another planet, that he became a god by following the laws and ordinances of that god on that world, and that he brought one of his wives to this world with whom he produces spirit children who then inhabit human bodies at birth. The first spirit child to be born was Jesus. Second was Satan, and then we all followed. But, the Bible says that there is only one God (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6,8; 45:5), that God has been God eternally (Psalm 90:2) – which means he was never a man on another planet. Since the Bible denies the existence of other gods (and goddesses), the idea that Jesus is the product of a god and goddess couple is rejected. The Bible tells us that Jesus – The Jesus of Mormonism – is definitely not the same Jesus of the Bible. Therefore, faith in the Mormon Jesus is faith misplaced because the Mormon Jesus doesn't exist.

    Mormonism teaches that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross itself (and receiving it by faith) is not sufficient to bring forgiveness of sins. It teaches that the forgiveness of sins is obtained though a cooperative effort with God; that is, we must be good and follow the laws and ordinances of the Mormon church in order to obtain forgiveness. Consider James Talmage, a very important Mormon figure who said, "The sectarian dogma of justification by faith alone has exercised an influence for evil," (Articles, p. 432), and "Hence the justice of the scriptural doctrine that salvation comes to the individual only through obedience," (Articles, p. 81). This clearly contradicts the biblical doctrine of the forgiveness of sins by grace through faith (Rom. 5:1; 6:23; Eph. 2:8-9) and the doctrine that works are not part of our salvation but a result of them (Rom. 4:5, James 2:14-18).

    To further confuse the matter, Mormonism further states that salvation is twofold. It maintains that salvation is both forgiveness of sins and universal resurrection. So when a Mormon speaks of salvation by grace, he is usually referring to universal resurrection. But the Bible speaks of salvation as the forgiveness of sins, not simple universal resurrection. Where Mormonism states that forgiveness of sins is not by faith alone, the Bible does teache it is by faith alone. Which is correct? Obviously, it is the Bible.

    Mormonism and the Bible

    In order to justify its aberrant theology, Mormonism has undermined the authority and trustworthiness of the Bible. The 8th article of faith from the Mormon Church states, "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly." This means that when the Bible contradicts Mormonism, the Bible isn't trustworthy.

    The interesting thing is that Joseph Smith allegedly corrected the Bible in what is called The Inspired Version, though it is not used by the LDS church. Though they claim they trust the Bible, in reality they do not. They use Mormon presuppositions to interpret it instead of letting it speak for itself. For example, where the Bible says there are no other gods in the universe (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6,8), they interpret it to mean "no other gods of this world" – which is not what those verses say. They do not trust the Bible and they often state that the Bible is not translated correctly.


    Why is Mormonism a non-Christian religion? It is not Christian because it denies that there is only one God, denies the true Gospel, adds works to salvation, denies that Jesus is the uncreated creator, distorts the biblical teaching of the atonement, and undermines the authority and reliability of the Bible.

    No-one denies that Mormons are good people, that they worship "a" god, that they share common words with Christians, that they help their people, and that they do many good things. But that isn't what makes someone Christian. Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23, " Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" (NKJV). Becoming a Christian does not mean belonging to a church, doing good things, or simply believing in God. Being a Christian means that you have trusted in the true God for salvation, in the True Jesus – not the brother of the devil, not the god of Mormonism, not the gospel of Mormonism. Mormonism is false and cannot save anyone.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Madtown

      Is Mormonism Christian?" is a very important question.
      It's really not that important of a question at all. At their essence, each is a religion created by the human mind, in an effort to organize specific thoughts about man's idea of God, and the spiritual. That's it.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Apostle Joseph

      My stuff is just as legitimate and it just updates some of the older teachings. You wouldn't quote the old testament to talk about Jesus so you shouldn't quote the new testament to show Mormonism is wrong. You're just a different type of Christian than Mormons.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:16 pm |

      Isaiah 53

      New King James Version (NKJV)

      53:1. Who has believed our report?
      And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? Brother, keep it up. Watch out Calvary Chapel twisted head on Mitt Romney.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:35 pm |

    Christians are learning to not lean on the arm of man, let God be TRUE and every man a liar...Pictures not make the truth, and removal of the mormans stance on the Son of God (Jesus Christ) whether is is God or not does not make for the truth. If you study and study and study some more you will know the truth. I am not really at all surprised of any change, instead of making peace and making a stance for Christians some evangels prefer to believe that today's Christians are still gullable enough that your word is more important than the Word of God. God will separate truth, It really doesn't make any difference what a web site says, Read your Bible. Christiany is ALL ABOUT WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE SON OF GOD, JESUS. We should at this point in time want the truth because it is very clear that man will send you down the river; When will you learn O MAN....

    October 17, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  5. gina

    *Mormons believe that black people are under a curse of God called "the Curse of Cain" (true at one time, from 1848 to 1978, but not true today) nuff said

    October 17, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Jameson

      yep for sure. Thats why there are millions of black people in the mormon faith. Youre smart arent you?

      October 17, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Hey Gina, any chance you could explain to us why the Southern Baptist Convention was formed?

      October 17, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • cedar rapids


      yep for sure. Thats why there are millions of black people in the mormon faith. Youre smart arent you?"

      actually hes mostly right. up until 1978 blacks were not allowed to be ordained into the lay priesthood. And by the way, you millions comment is wrong. There are about 6 million mormons in the US and African-americans make up just 3% of that, so that makes it 180,000, not millions.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • sam

      I guess you're not as smart as you hoped, Jameson.

      Primewonk: no one gives a damn.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  6. hymie


    October 17, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  7. XYZ

    Similar story... and yet different. I work with a lot of people in Mexico, and I hear this a lot: "Vamos con Obama." Sometimes they say, "Obama es mi gallo." "He gonna let me Tio vote wisout bing citizen."

    October 17, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Dean

      Nice try. When the Right Wing tries to circulate that, it is all claimed to be one sentence: Obama es mi gallo, voy a votar por él otra vez. I am sure that it is just a coincidence that in your story the "Mexican" you imagined was able to stay the second half in English (well, English you turned into a racist's imagined way of Mexican pronunciation of English but you get the point) and not just because most people would not understand "voy a votar por él otra vez," as relating to having already been able to vote for him (and which your imaginary Mexican somehow managed to mistranslate, by the way).

      October 17, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  8. Deva

    I wish that Dr. Billy Graham will retract his or his group's decision on the issue of the Mormon faith. It's still a "cult"; something that Mr. Graham had always advocated. Although Graham now is trying to be soft on the issue – Mormonism is a cult. He knows that. It looks as if his allegiance to the Republican Party is more important to him than his faith in Jesus Christ who would have a problem with Mormonism!

    October 17, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG


      October 17, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Just Wondering

      Must be heavy stuff to know what Jesus would have thought and believed....Real heavy....You got super powers??...

      October 17, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  9. Ruben Gonzales

    Aron this is what you and Rev. Billy Graham and his son Franklin Graham, belive as biblical truth as they justifid your Mormanisam that goes aginest the Christian faith ... Mormon leaders have taught that Jesus’ incarnation was the result of a physical relationship between God the Father and Mary. Mormons believe Jesus is a god, but that any human can also become a god. Mormonism teaches that salvation can be earned by a combination of faith and good works. Contrary to this, Christians historically have taught that no one can achieve the status of God—only He is holy (1 Samuel 2:2). We can only be made holy in God's sight through faith in Him (1 Corinthians 1:2). Jesus is the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16), is the only one ever to have lived a sinless, blameless life, and now has the highest place of honor in heaven (Hebrews 7:26). Jesus and God are one in essence, Jesus being the only One existing before physical birth (John 1:1-8; 8:56). Jesus gave Himself to us as a sacrifice, God raised Him from the dead, and one day everyone will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:6-11). Jesus tells us it is impossible to get to heaven by our own works and that only by faith in Him is it possible (Matthew 19:26). We all deserve eternal punishment for our sins, but God's infinite love and grace have allowed us a way out. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

    Clearly, there is only one way to receive salvation and that is to know God and His Son, Jesus (John 17:3). It is not done by works, but by faith (Romans 1:17; 3:28). We can receive this gift no matter who we are or what we have done (Romans 3:22). “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

    Although Mormons are usually friendly, loving, and kind people, they are deceived by a false religion that distorts the nature of God, the Person of Jesus Christ, and the means of salvation.
    ( Got Question )

    October 17, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • GrowUp

      Dude–you have WAY too much time on your hands. Are you part of the 47%?

      October 17, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Apostle Joseph

      Yeah but my stuff is more up to date.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:04 pm |

      Amen brother.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • LinSea

      Ruben, you have some ideas about Mormon beliefs that are not completely accurate, but to clarify one particular point: We do NOT believe that our works will ever save us. We can never do enough on our own. We absolutely believe that it is ONLY through Jesus Christ's love and sacrifice that we can be saved. The reason we believe works are important is because that is how we come to know God and Jesus Christ, but ultimately it is Christ's grace that saves us because we all fall short. There is no salvation without Him.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:29 pm |

    Jesus said to Peter,
    New International Version (©1984)
    "I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." Franklin leading Papa with Gehazi's mind. John 21:18.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  11. Jesus suffered

    All of culture is a cult of the flesh. Seek the spirit of Christ and you will find Truth.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  12. Anybody know how to read?

    I am not a crook, so let's open up China for factories and all the Americultians followed. Night, night.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  13. Rick W.

    If there are millions of Christians in the world and they purport to follow the teachings of Jesus, why are there so many poor and homeless people?

    October 17, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      Just a little matter of decimal points. Millions, billions, get it?

      October 17, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  14. The_Mick

    The people, who hated the Jews who "killed our Lord" until the 70's when they realized pro-Israel sentiments would gain more adherents will agree to anything if they can make money or power from it. I'm sure Romney promised things in return that have financial advantages. If the Satanists promised big dollars, they'd be saying witches are misunderstood!

    October 17, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • XYZ

      Nope. Israel is a strategic ally in a hotbed of anti-American countries. It has nothing to do with Jesus or Satan.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  15. WhataCrock

    Gotta love it – tell Billy G what he wants to hear and he'll kowtow. Hey, Tom Cruise – maybe you can get Scientology removed from the "cult" list...just tell Billy that you believe in the same right-wing nonsense that he does.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  16. spleet

    Quote from article: "As such, he never proselytized, targeted or labeled specific people, groups, faiths or denominations."

    If he never labeled groups why is there a LIST???

    October 17, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  17. Ztom

    The only true faith is Pastafarianism. Praise FSM.


    October 17, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • sam stone


      October 17, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  18. Apostle Joseph

    I am finally glad I'm recognized as the apostle that I am. Paul wasn't the only one who heard God. You guys can start adding my chapters in the Bible now.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  19. GrowUp

    Maybe Mitt gave his pal Billy some Magic Underwear!

    October 17, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • sam stone

      Maybe Mitt pulled off Billy's magic underwear for an endorsement

      October 17, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Jameson

      and maybe youre and idiot

      October 17, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Re_GrowUp

      Why spend your time bashing other's beliefs? You make fun of sacred holy things. Just because you don't understand something doesn't mean it is stupid or silly. Spend your time uplifting others instead of bringing them down.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Jameson

      Its funny how your name is: GrowUp when you cant even be considerate of other peoples beliefs. Im baptist and im still getting frusterated with people like you not being respectful. Take the advice your username.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • GrowUp

      Maybe they both got naked and explored what they have in common.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • AL


      October 17, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  20. DismayedReader

    This validates my conviction that many so-called evangelical Christians would sell their souls to the devil rather than have a black family in the white house. This is why I have no respect for them or their religious convictions. They are clearly driven by something other than their moral compass in this regard and it shows in how they are willing to sell their core values in an attempt to unseat President Obama.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • GrowUp

      And you are surprised because why?

      October 17, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • RBSG

      What moral compass? People who attribute behaviors (good or bad) to religious teaching, usually lack a moral compass of their own, as well as their own inner sense of personhood, and are like iron that is just being pulled onto someone else's magnet.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Solomon

      You're right. So-called Evangelical Christians are unhappy to see a black president and are willing to change their views on biblical doctrine in order to achieve their goal of unseating him. It's pathetic.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • LB

      Maybe you need to read the quotes again. They did not change their opinion. They removed the reference to cults to stay out of the political discussion and to focus on the true message. Nothing there about selling their souls or abandoning their convictions. Perhaps you have a bias that influenced how you saw this story. CNN did not present it correctly either. They implied that BG changed his stance of LDS as a cult.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Sam

      Yeah i highly doubt that Obamas awful performance in the white house has anything to do with sain people wanting him out of office.... must be because he is black. No other reason. That makes total sense.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:11 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.