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. Alger Dave

    And that's too bad. Mormonism is still a cult by the standard definition. Accepting Christ as your savior continues to be the only requirement for being a Christian in evangelical theology. Cults are groups who add a step or two to this – saying, yes, but you also need to .... fill in the blank. If you also need to do something else, it's a cult. While it's too bad that Romney is part of a cult, Obama who claims to be a Christian routinely violates biblical truths by espousing abortion, gay marriage, etc.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  2. Harold


    Cartoon Banned by Mormon Church – Not a sympathetic rendition, but essentially accurate...

    October 18, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • molly

      Wow. These people are completely nuts.

      October 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Harold

      But I don't have any clue what I'm talking about...I just like to make fun of people's religion and beliefs. And you should see what I can do with a gerbil and a cardboard tube!

      October 18, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  3. Mingers

    so Billy is cool now with the magic underwear?

    October 18, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Billy Graham

      Act your age, not your shoe size.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  4. IO

    The United States is the most influential nation on Earth and I can tell you that right now Satan is actively at work in America trying to misguide humanity and influence the rest of the world to turn away from God. What form that deception takes is open to interpretation. Stay true to the Bible and be skeptical of any teacher who deviates from the word of God.

    October 18, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • molly

      Actually it's a beautiful fall day here where I am – all courtesy of nature. No gods, no monsters, no satan. You sound silly with your fables and monsters.

      October 18, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • sam stone

      Wow....you can tell us about Satan, can you? Why should we believe you?

      October 18, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • sam stone

      Which Word Of God (TM) are we supposed to stay true to?

      The bible has many interpretations. Which one is the true WOG?

      October 18, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Jesus

      IO, your "Bible" was put together by men. So what makes you so sure it's God's word?

      Because a "preacher" told you? Yeah, right. Someone who gets paid by an organization to tell you what to think.
      And you believed it, because everyone else does.

      Didn't I say that strait is the gate and narrow the way back to God? Yet all these preachers make it sound so easy.
      I said it's hard, preachers say it's easy. Hmmm...who's right? Gosh. Tough decision.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  5. Hey - let's let a KING preside over both the Mormons and the Evangelicals!

    Eddie Long is Crowned King!

    October 18, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • molly

      This is hilarious. I can't believe they wrapped him up in a Torah before his "elevation" to kingship. What a hoot!

      October 18, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • sam stone

      I suppose some folks will believe anything. Fvcking slaves

      October 18, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • mk

      This was so painful to watch (praise jesus). Who is that dramatic cheeseball on the stage? (praise cheeses) And even after his transgressions, they still revere him (praise sheeple).

      October 18, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  6. true blue

    The Prophet Moroni is devil

    October 18, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Jesus

      Really? I guess I'd better tell him.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  7. true blue

    The Prophet Moroni was cast from the heavens, but so was the Satan the most pretty angel in heavens. just be careful what you let it your hearts and house.

    October 18, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Jesus

      And you know all about being cast from the heavens, don't you?

      Thanks for the heads up. By the way, Lucifer says you can come back home now.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  8. DWN

    Since Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were freemasons, that would be members of "secret combinations" for Mormon readers, and Billy Graham by most accounts is a freemason, why should anyone be surprised. The brotherhood sticks together. Also check into Billy grahams rise to prominence. The Hearst newspapers starting hyping him as an ardent anti-communist preacher. Graham became an instant sensation. Even he was a bit baffled, if you believe his version of events. Also Mormon readers are encouraged to google the Anti-masonic party for the source of the phrase "secret combinations." Adieu

    October 18, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  9. LYNN


    October 18, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      This is America, there are no lords.


      October 18, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • Dippy

      Please, Lynn, turn off your caps lock. It looks so childish.

      October 18, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  10. disgusted

    the vast majority of you people sicken me...nothing more than a nest of evil vipers who slander a Godly man. You seize on every opportunity to bash Christianity and anyone who is Christian. I suppose by now you know that I am Christian and yes I am not only proud of it but I am blessed to have been called by Him. Oh btw I voted absentee ballot for Romney...did not and will not ever vote for another Libdemwit.

    October 18, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • Rick

      One shouldn't be "proud" to be a Christian (since this insinuates works and deeds to boast about). We are saved by grace through faith, not of our works. One should be humbled to be a Christian, because its about what Christ did, not us. And yes, Mormonism is still a cult. That's not slander, its just reality.

      October 18, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • dougsams

      Casting the first stone are you?

      October 18, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • sam stone

      A godly man? Did you just pull your head out of his a$$?

      Do you remember the way he spoke of gods "chosen people", the jews, when he was taped with Nixon?

      Is your persecution complex going strong?

      October 18, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • mk

      "I am blessed to have been called by Him".

      See, here is your problem and the problem with religions. You think you're special and better than everyone else because of your religion and your god. While the poor pathetic people who don't abide by your religion will burn. Doesn't matter, you're above them. You'll excuse us if we don't bow down to worship you, Mr. Chosen.

      October 18, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  11. Reality

    Bottom line: Romney is Mormon because he was born Mormon. Should we hold this against him? After all, Obama also believes in "pretty/ugly wingie thingies, bodily resurrections and atonement mumbo jumbo.

    Warren Buffett, THE AGNOSTIC, for President !!!!
    Bill Gates, THE AGNOSTIC for VP !!!!

    One should be voting based on rational thinking. Believing in angels, satans, bodily resurrections, atonement, and heavens of all kinds is irrational.

    BO, MR and the Grahams have been severely brainwashed in their theologically and historically flawed Christianity and they are too weak to escape its felonious grip.

    October 18, 2012 at 9:03 am |
  12. Reality check

    This is probably an unpopular comment, but...we have got to stop dancing around this subject of "Mormonism" in our fear of being labeled bigoted/reactionary/whatever. This is a scary group. They have a history of violence, racism, mysogyny, fraudulent business dealings, and general intolerance for anything not Mormon (think Avenging Angels, Danites, blood atonement, polygamy, their weird fascination with wiretapping and other covert activities garments, secret wife names so the husband can call his woman into heaven). I'm not much into religion, but for the record, they are NOT Christians. They believe God was a man before he was God, lived an exemplary life, and then became God, and that consequently all men who convert to Mormonism have the potential for doing the same (becoming God). Not women, of course. And not black men. I'm unaware of any Christian sect that follows this line of thought. Mitt Romney is a nutcase. He. Can. Not. Win. You think we've got problems now? He's a self-serving hypocrite, and if you think he has the average American's best interest at heart, then God (or Gods, depending on your perspective) help us all.

    October 18, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • poquimoqui

      Please check the tin foil in your hat, I think it's unraveling.

      October 18, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Can you name an Abrahamic religion that DOESN'T have a history of violence, racism, mysogyny, fraudulent business dealings, and general intolerance for anything non of their sect?
      "It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creeds into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics."
      – Robert heinlein

      October 18, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Reality Check

      Doc Vestibule...yes, you are absolutely right. My point wasn't to single out Mormonism as an exception to the rule in re: Abrahamic religions and violence, mysogyny, etc, but to point out to those Christians who do find Mormonism's link to cult status to be an issue, that it is still an issue. To believe that God was born a man first, and then aspired to be God, and then became God, is not a Christian belief, so I would hate for anyone to think that Billy Graham's half-hearted endorsement of Mitt Romney suddently reconciles one cult with the other, more mainstream, cult. It isn't fair to try and fool these good folks with that kind of chicanery.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:35 am |
  13. t

    This is a shame. Billy Graham was one of those preachers whose sermon converted a lot of people like me. Now it all look like a scam or maybe it was but we just didn't see it. No one can fool me now, I have read my bible for myself and know that Jesus didn't like the pharisees and NEVER changed his view on them. Makes me wonder what billy graham stands for

    October 18, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • Rick

      Amen t

      October 18, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • poquimoqui

      Jesus was perfect, Billy Graham is not. He now sees that it was wrong to exclude Mormons and insult them by calling them a cult. Give the man a break.

      October 18, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  14. atomD21

    I find this to be extremely interesting. I was always taught that the LDSers were a cult and were not true Christians. And now that a Mormon is the Republican nominee, no one is going there. Very interesting. Of course, I moved past that viewpoint a loooong time ago, but I know very many people personally that haven't and are just ignoring it now so they can still vote republican.

    October 18, 2012 at 6:34 am |
    • Al

      They are willing to overlook that to get a white man back in the white house.

      October 18, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • Jesus

      And many other things will I reveal to my followers as the end approaches. Just because something has been around a long time doesn't make it true or real. Think about it...if the everlasting gospel has been on earth all this time, why is this foretold of the end times:

      Revelation 14:6-7 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  15. Darla

    You are correct, myway. Graham has always been serving his own needs. He is a freemason, by the way, strictly against Christian beliefs. I say tax him on everything he has taken in since the beginning of his career. That is what it was, a career, not a ministry. He and his son live like kings and solicit money from people daily. They need to pay taxes like everyone else does. No more church nonprofits.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:34 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Retrospective taxation would be highly unfair, although subsequent taxation is the only right way to do it.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:37 am |
  16. Darla

    That old fossil needs to climb into the box and pull the lid over him. He is a charlatan. He and his son are just angry because they got snubbed by the President because they were racist against him and called him a muslim. Obama is a Christian and Romney is a cultist. They are adding all those cult Mormon beliefs to the Bible and that is blasphemy. I also think that all churches and charities need to pay full taxes. They live like rock stars and I am going to campaign that all of them pay taxes on every cent donated to them. That old harridan of TBN is a Billy Graham supporter. Get in the box, Graham. You are finished. Take your son with you.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:30 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Christian, Cultist. Cultist, Christian. It would take a very wise man (or a very biased man) to tell the difference.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:35 am |
  17. clement2012

    Billy Graham is himself a cult because he has appropriated for himself to teach (most falsely) what God commisssioned to His Apostles and their successors. Graham is not in the lineage of those commissioned to teach. Further, Graham has led millions to a false faith by denying the basic teachings of Christ and ignored what He commanded in Matthew 28:20 - Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. [20] Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:" Has Graham commanded that all should be baptized or be denied heaven, or that the Body and Blood of the Lord is most needed for salvation? No, he only preached that "Receive Jesus, be born again and you are saved." This is not what Jewsus taught, At this last stage of his life, he should be renewing his life in the true faith. There is no salvation ouside of It,

    October 18, 2012 at 3:58 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Freudian slip with Jewsus methinks.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:04 am |
    • myway

      We now know that both Graham and Romney share a distinct characteristic: Flip flopping.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:21 am |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      '......not in the lineage of those commissioned to teach...........' There is no lineage.

      October 18, 2012 at 8:18 am |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      '.........Has Graham commanded that all should be baptized or be denied heaven,...........' There is only one baptism so it can't be water.

      October 18, 2012 at 8:21 am |
    • poquimoqui

      Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.

      St. John III:5

      October 18, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  18. Thomas

    Anything to advance their republican agenda shame shame.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:01 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Yeah, it's not like the Dems don't do the exact same thing (SARCASM ALERT).

      October 18, 2012 at 3:26 am |
    • Rick

      Both sides have an agenda pal. Its not having an agenda that's wrong (it's GOOD to have an agenda, it means you are organized and prepared!), its the TYPE of agenda that is wrong. And liberals/socialists have the WRONG agenda that will destroy this nation and crumble it economically from within, not to mention morally. Not all Republicans are innocent either. Many of them are elitists as well that only care about power and control and will say and do anything to get elected and keep that power. This is present on BOTH sides of the political isle.

      October 18, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  19. back when Billy was getting around a bit more . . .


    October 18, 2012 at 1:25 am |
  20. Michael

    Good for Billy Graham!
    It is great to see Graham and Romney working together, to accomplish good for the USA!
    I wish that ALL AMERICANS could overcome their religious bigotry–including many commenting here...

    October 18, 2012 at 12:59 am |
    • End Religion

      Tell us Michael, are Muslims going to heaven? How about Jews? Mormons? Scientologists? Tell us what you believe will happen to these people after death?

      October 18, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • myway

      Working together? If that's what's going on here, it would be great. Graham has compromised his life long policy on cults to dislodge Obama, who's more Christian than Romney according to Graham's previous religious views. Nothing wrong with that if Graham was an ordinary citizen, which is not the case. It looks like Graham's views are for sale and his principles are less important to him than political cronyism. Not exactly what you'd expect from a religious leader like Graham.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:17 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      @ End Religion: Everyone is Catholic. It's just that some don't know it yet. Everyone can experience unconditional love, if they accept it. Your buddy Michael cannot tell you if any particular person is going to heaven and neither can anyone else. God makes that decision and He doesn't poll us for our opinions.

      Jews are already the chosen people and the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator – ie. Muslims. For the relationship between various non-christians and church see below.

      The Church and non-Christians

      839 "Those who have not yet received the Gospel are related to the People of God in various ways."325
      The relationship of the Church with the Jewish People. When she delves into her own mystery, the Church, the People of God in the New Covenant, discovers her link with the Jewish People,326 "the first to hear the Word of God."327 The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God's revelation in the Old Covenant. To the Jews "belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ",328 "for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable."329

      840 and when one considers the future, God's People of the Old Covenant and the new People of God tend towards similar goals: expectation of the coming (or the return) of the Messiah. But one awaits the return of the Messiah who died and rose from the dead and is recognized as Lord and Son of God; the other awaits the coming of a Messiah, whose features remain hidden till the end of time; and the latter waiting is accompanied by the drama of not knowing or of misunderstanding Christ Jesus.

      841 The Church's relationship with the Muslims. "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day."330

      842 The Church's bond with non-Christian religions is in the first place the common origin and end of the human race:

      All nations form but one community. This is so because all stem from the one stock which God created to people the entire earth, and also because all share a common destiny, namely God. His providence, evident goodness, and saving designs extend to all against the day when the elect are gathered together in the holy city. . .331

      843 The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as "a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life."332

      844 In their religious behavior, however, men also display the limits and errors that disfigure the image of God in them:

      Very often, deceived by the Evil One, men have become vain in their reasonings, and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and served the creature rather than the Creator. Or else, living and dying in this world without God, they are exposed to ultimate despair.333

      845 To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son's Church. the Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation. the Church is "the world reconciled." She is that bark which "in the full sail of the Lord's cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world." According to another image dear to the Church Fathers, she is prefigured by Noah's ark, which alone saves from the flood.334

      "Outside the Church there is no salvation"

      846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?335 Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

      Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.336

      847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

      Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.337

      848 "Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men."

      October 18, 2012 at 6:36 am |
    • WASP

      @chick: nah i say all "Christians" are Jews. you all follow the "old testament" aka the torah, then added some new stuff that you call the "new testament". if god had it right the first time with the handing down of the torah, then why would he need a second book that contradicts the first?

      October 18, 2012 at 6:41 am |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      Chick-a-dee, the catholic church was fraudulent from the get-go as proven by Scripture.

      October 18, 2012 at 8:09 am |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      WASP sayz, 'why would he need a second book that contradicts the first?' You are perpetuating your own misunderstanding.

      October 18, 2012 at 8:14 am |
    • End Religion

      @chick: we are all atheist. You don't pray to Zeus do you?

      October 22, 2012 at 7:29 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.