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. E-Man

    You can believe or choose not to; it's your decision. Billy caved on this one. Oh Billy,Billy,Billy bahrough...... You're going out with a black eye on this one.

    October 17, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  2. Hey - let's have a KING preside over the Mormons and the Evangelics! It'll be one big, happy family!


    October 17, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  3. Nick Naranja

    Romney is the anti-christ, all my fellow evangelicals are completely blinded by racism.

    October 17, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Burps

      Actually, the anti-christ will be someone from Europe. Not the US.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • fintastic

      I thought New Jersey???


      October 17, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  4. qrs

    compromise comes in different shape and sizes. I hope Jr will be able to keep this legacy !!

    October 17, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  5. GrowUp

    Meanwhile the Chinese are studying math, science and engineering while Americans are watching DWTS (or Honey Boo Boo) and voting for a guy for President who believes his underwear is "magical" and that there is some "God" on planet "Kolub" telling him what to do. Still wonder why jobs are going to China?

    October 17, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • GAW

      Then move to China. It's not getting any better here.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Tarkin

      Romney = war with China inside 3 years

      October 17, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  6. MikeB

    And truth sets us free.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  7. Jeffrey

    These grahams and mormons are full of chyte.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  8. adam

    "We've got the American Jesus, he helps control the President's estate." Bad Religion

    October 17, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  9. Horus

    So "real" Christians claim they don't "judge" others. I'm thinking there had to be some degree of judgment for Graham to even have such a "list" of cults.....

    October 17, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      You have a mistaken impression. '1Cr 6:4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.' It's very easy to become unpopular after doing a little judging.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Seth

      I'm right with you on this. If your going to label a group or a group of people, there is a lot of judging in that. How can he call Jehovah's Witnesses a cult when they are really the only ones out there knocking on your door on Saturday spreading the word of Jesus (which is what Jesus commanded people to do in the first place). I don't see him out knocking on peoples doors spreading the word. It must be nice to be a multimillionaire sitting on a mountain protected by a religious tax shelter. If people want equality, then start taxing these religious millionaires (because obviously the money is not going to help the poor and the homeless as the bible teaches). It just makes me sick to see this kind of stuff.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  10. Doug

    Romney bankrupted companies and on his way out of town took working men and women's pensions with him.. I would never vote for a thief.. His religion has nothing to do with my vote, it's the stealing that makes me now want to see him president..
    Robme will do anything to make sure his family is rich, including taking from hard working people.. The man has the win at any cost mentality , therefore I will vote for Barack Obama !

    October 17, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • parkmore

      Your logic does not make any sense. Ask your self this question. if you have a company and one of the employees did not do a good job for 1 year, do you think you will keep that employee or you will ask him/her to look for another job?

      October 17, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  11. The Truth

    If Rev Jim Jones had just been able to get more people to follow him, say 12 million more followers, would it then change from cult to a religion?

    October 17, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  12. Bella111

    Money can buy ANYTHING but only in America.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Burps

      ....after it's been shipped here from China.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  13. Jim Jensen

    So the matter came down not to theology, but to power politics. Jesus would be proud.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  14. Patrick

    Purely a political decision. Mormonism didn't stop being a cult. Graham stopped standing firm for the Gospel.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Jenn

      So the Grahams have just sent their followers down the road to hell. How a Chrisitian can say Mormons are not a cult is unreal. They believe Jesus was just a man, not the son of God. AND that they can become God when they die.
      Vote for Romeny. He will be your God when he dies. Just Great. I have NO respect for the Grahams. And the son is so full of hate and bias and ignorance.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  15. Bella111

    Romney must have given a big donation in exchange!!!!!!

    October 17, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Jim Jensen

      The LA gangster Mickey Cohen apparently was given a bribe by the Billy Graham campaign to stand up and "accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior" at some big rally in Madison Square Garden. Mickey decided to remain a good Jew.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  16. Doug

    It's a cult..

    October 17, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Jim Jensen

      Can you describe a rational procedure for determining that any one religion is nuttier than another?

      October 17, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      "Cult" isn't about who's nuttier. A cult is ANY organization based in the supernatural, so that would include all religions, all the gods.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  17. buzz

    believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins is what matters, not some man made name called religion whose leaders are brain washing manipulative fake false prophets taking the bible out of context to justify their wrong doing. Please stop trying to justify that Billy Graham and his racist son is the Messiah.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      Jesus is nothing more than legend. The words you ascribe to him were just as much fabricated by men as Joseph Smith's golden plates. There is no such thing as magic or virgin birth or gods or demons or people that return from the dead after days. Snakes don't talk and men can't live inside whales. You cannot make a woman from a rib and a god would not live in a bush.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • The Truth

      "Christ died for your sins is what matters"

      What sin? Prove to me that I have ever sinned.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Apostle Joseph

      Plenty of people here are calling Christianity cult. You call Mormonism a cult. Who's to say you are more right than others? Everyone is a Christian. Just because Mormonism isn't exactly the same as the other versions of Christianity doesn't mean it isn't legitimate. Mitt Romney is a good Christian just as much as Billy and Franklin.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • sam stone

      buzz: man wrote the bible. man came up with the concept of sin.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • sam stone

      "Mitt Romney is a good Christian just as much as Billy and Franklin."

      That could be not so much of an endorsement

      October 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Kris

      I'd love to, but Santa Claus has done way more.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  18. Pete Clarke

    Now even Billy Graham flip flops he's in perfect company with Romney. Is there no end to the reach of Grover, Karl and the Koch boys. Don't be fooled America you still have your vote.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  19. Loathstheright

    The Mormon cult is completely made up by John Smith while high on mushrooms. Not that it matters, all religion is made up.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      He wasn't high on shrooms. He was trying to start his own masonic lodge and accidentally created an entire religion.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • sam stone

      mushrooms would have been better

      October 17, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • FYI


      John Smith was the Pocahontas guy - this goofball was named Joseph Smith.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  20. John

    Could it be? Another right wing religious flip flopper?

    October 17, 2012 at 2:50 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.