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. John

    Notice that they didn't say Mormonism isn't a cult. They said the removed the reference "because we do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has become politicized during this campaign."

    October 17, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Church Lady

      How conveeeeeeenient to make something disappear just like that.

      October 17, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
  2. Saints Gone Wild

    October 17, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  3. MikePrescott

    Have any of you actually gone to the website? What was removed was the statement that gave the example list that included the Latter-Day Saints, as well as the entire list published in this article. So if you are going to rant about this, rant with the facts to back you up at least. But that wouldn't be rant, and not near as much fun.

    To go a little further, the leading publication of the Christian Apologetics is by Dr. Walter Martin, who lists the Catholic Church as a cult as well, along with Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. Basically the definition of a cult used in this context is "Anybody that doesn't agree with us."

    Fun stuff, huh?

    October 17, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Church Lady

      Well isn't that special?

      October 17, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
  4. Sam Yaza

    I few days ago i reported on
    "good news for all of the realm of Gaia. during last week ends discussions from the Muliti-Realm conference the three major democrats decided to look at who else can take Billy Graham with a unanimous decision from delegates (Sraosha rep from Heaven, Decarabia the Common Wealth of Pandæmonium [CWP] formally hell, and Rūpadhātu) decided to allow other delegate. with hell and heaven putting the differences a side it seems we are closer to finding a place for Billy Graham but um rep. Cernunnos from Avalon said with out a doubt no possible way he can come in; so were currently looking into Patala.

    don't be made humans we will find a solution for all of us, i know you all don't want him and nether do we. but soon we will have a solution."

    so update
    it would seem Patala will not work, apparently the Naga (Half snake people) don't want this Sake in with them; they afraid his going to steal all the oil (snake oil)

    October 17, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  5. Church Lady

    Well isn't that special. I wonder who thought of that one... Could it be.... SATAN!

    October 17, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • seriously

      He will replace it with Obamacare as a cult.

      October 17, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  6. JeremyJK

    Another example of evangelicals warming up to the conservative party for the sole purpose of power. Evangelicals are surrendering orthodoxy for political gains. What happened to their outcries against mormonism before Romney was the only conservative with a shot. Now all the Rick Perry's, John Hagees, Grahams, etc have fallen silent on the issue because they value the kingdom of this world over the kingdom of our God. Go figure,

    October 17, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  7. Gino

    These guys act as if hypocrisy is a virtue, just pouring out the drivel in the name of piety. The best comedy show since Fox News!

    October 17, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • John abraham

      your words and face is the best comady forever? look at the mirror near to you.

      October 17, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  8. Journey

    Back in the Civil War era American Evangelicals used to have the moral high ground with their anti-slavery stance. Now they have just become a sick joke, the U.S. equivalent of Wahhabi Islam; they mostly live in a dump (the South), they give tacit support to racists, misogynists, and terrorists (KKK), they have complete nut-job clerics going 24/7 (christian radio and TV), but the first sign of a business opportunity all that conviction means nothing and they make people hate their faith.

    October 17, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  9. OrganicManLives_N_anOraganicUNiverSE

    Mitt smiles like the grinch that stole the vote.

    October 17, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  10. Hey - lets let a KING preside over the Mormons and the Evangelicals! It'll be one big, happy family!


    October 17, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  11. t3chn0ph0b3

    It's funny watching Christians tell other Christians that they're not Christians.

    October 17, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Baptist Minister

      For your information Mormonism is NOT Christian.
      They believe in a god that lives on a planet named "Kolob"!
      They believe they will become as God when they die!
      They believe in all sorts of things that are completely and totally against the teachings of Christ!
      Mormonism is a cult of Satan (Who was most certainly NOT, as Mormons believe, a brother to Jesus Christ)!

      October 17, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  12. OrganicManLives_N_anOraganicUNiverSE

    Graham has turned away from "the God of Abraham" to "the God that lives on the planet next to Kolob!"

    October 17, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  13. OrganicManLives_N_anOraganicUNiverSE

    The liars are gathering! HillBilly Graham has turned away from "the God of Abraham" to "the God that lives on the planet next to Kolob!" Good GOD ALMIGHTY ...the man has lost his head! Billy they wear golden underwear for safety!

    October 17, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  14. no nothing

    OH how convenient. Does this make Billy Graham a flip-flopper too?

    October 17, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • peter

      We don't know what bill thinks of this because his son has him locked up in the attic–i know for a fact he rejects the book of mormon as the word of God as does christendom

      October 17, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • nancy

      Yes it does..

      October 17, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Baptist Minister

      Yes, it most certainly does! Providing that this story is true...!

      October 17, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  15. nancy

    Billy Graham has spent a LIFETIME in Christian service. Having said that he just joined to thousands, perhaps millions of HYPOCRITS that preach one thing and do another. I see in this photo that Graham is surrounded by his "seed" called Franklin. He's a hypocrit, liar and a cheat too. The IRS had better start pulling records on all of these religious organizations and make sure they pay their fair share in taxes. There's no reason for the Graham Programs or any other PULPIT POUNDING RIGHT WING PREACHERS SPEWING HATRED AND RACISM FROM THEIR PULPITS TO BE TAX EXEMPT. I am a Christian. I am a Democrat and I VOTE. I WILL NEVER STAND SILENT WHILE MY GOD IS HIJACKED IN THE NAME OF POLITICS, WHETHER IT BE DEMOCRAT OR REPUBLICAN. Mormonism IS a cult..Check it out for those that don't believe it. You'll find some very scary things. Look what they did to Howard Hughes for instance. Oh I am angry.

    October 17, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • == o ==

      Go nancy!

      Sincerely, your local atheist

      October 17, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Baptist Minister

      Hear, hear! Nancy!

      October 17, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  16. Baptist Minister

    How could Rev. Graham choose a cult leader who blasphemes God and berates the poor and the less fortunate over a sitting president who is a true Christian and has consistently shown a Christ-like compassion for the sick and the poor? ..Ultimately, I believe only God knows the answer to that question!!

    October 17, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Baptist Minister

      ..but!! I for one will never stop seeing this man's 'religion' for exactly what it is.
      Mitt Romney does NOT have my support nor the support of my congregation.
      And I plead with All Americans to take some time and think very hard before you decide to support a man who has spent his entire career doing exactly what the mafia does. This man's business experience is exactly the same, prey upon the weakest and most profitable companies and "harvest" it's hidden wealth. All at the expense of the company they're claiming to be rescuing! It's a scam! A legal one, but still a scam. This man has destroyed countless lives with his insatiable greed, and then what does he do with it. He enriches himself, even through his so-called "donations". His "church" is NOT a church. Those donations do NOT help ordinary folks, it used in a fight against them! Politically and otherwise!

      Please, for the love of God, America, do NOT support this vile and wicked man.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • nancy

      See sonny boy Franky sitting beside his father..that's a big reason, I'll bet. Billy Graham has been a spiritual advisor to all Presidents as far back as I can remember. I'm not upset that he chooses Romney over Obama. It's the south..a snowball on a hot July day has a better chance being President. What I am angry about is the BLATANT HYPOCRISY NOW THAT THEY HAVE A "WHITE BOY" but his "flaw" is he just happens to be a (gasp) Mormon. Since Graham can't change that, let's just rethink how we define a "cult"...I hope he has to wrestle with his conscience on a nightly basis.

      October 17, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  17. back when Billy was getting around a bit more . . .


    October 17, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  18. Ob@ma2012

    I am even in shock to know that the people from my church is supporting Romney, mostly because Obama is a black man. American Christianism is a joke. It preaches racism, segregation, and now they even allied themselves with mormons in the name of ^fixing the economy" . Well, if Satan could fix the economy, would they or you make alliance with him?

    October 17, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Baptist Minister

      He does not have the support of this white male Christian!

      October 17, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  19. Ob@ma2012

    One reason I stopped attending the Baptist church. They pander to republicans, even though they may be the antichrist, the wolf dressed as a sheep. If Obama were a mormon, they would still keep it there, but since Romney is white and has gone extremelly right, they will even remove what has really described what mormonism is from their website.

    October 17, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • peter

      I never have nor will vote for obama or the mormon-However, if you told me they would take that off their website and change their mind a week ago–i would not believe you in a million years. Doesn't change the fact of what the the book of mormon, another testament of jesus christ is nor the lds.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • == o ==

      It is important to note that there are lots of very different kinds of Baptists. Some Baptists even grew up within SBC and now would not have the first thing to do with them (even though they are still Baptists).

      October 17, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Baptist Minister

      I'm sorry for your experience. Please keep in mind though that not all Baptists "pander" to politicians.
      I, for one, refuse to endorse this terrible man. I wouldn't vote for him if he was running for county dog catcher!

      October 17, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  20. Charlie

    Romney always has the grin on his face, like he's selling a used car.

    October 17, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Gino

      At least, he's not stmping for his cult.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:57 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.