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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

(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. Dianne

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    May 20, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
  2. Ted

    I've always respected BJ But , he like so many calls anyone who disagrees from his believe as a Christian to be a Cult.
    With that definition any Christian group or denomination could call another a cult just because they don't think alike.

    You can call them wrong, or different or reason with them as to how they may be wrong.
    But you are just showing yourself small minded to call another religion a CULT on that basic .
    PS: I am not a Mormon.
    But I do like to sit and talk and reason with them and show them how I feel they are wrong. But I appreciate that they have a respect for God and Christ.

    April 14, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
  3. Dhow Cruise

    Decades of political and doctrinal compromise have rendered Graham spiritually blind, deaf, and mute. He has never been a deep scholar, but any discernment he ever had dissipated over the years he spent kissing up to the likes of Richard Nixon and kissing the rings of various popes.Desert Safari in Dubai

    March 8, 2013 at 12:16 am |
  4. Dhow Cruise

    jThanks for the 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,,,,Many thanks

    February 15, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
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    January 28, 2013 at 8:51 am |
  7. Dhow Cruise in Dubai

    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.

    January 28, 2013 at 5:04 am |
  8. DI CABALA

    Anyone who doesn't rightly divide the scriptures as we are commanded to do ( 2 timothy 2-15 ) and rejects the Grace messsage of 1 Corinthians 15 1-4 and 2 Corinthians 5 17-21 fails short of knowledge and is tossed by every wind of doctrine today. Sad to say , OUR LEADERS who would rather be pleasing to men than to God , have not stood for what they believe to be true and have given in to acceptance of a lie instead . Compromise instead of standing for truth no matter what cost.
    You will never be popular when you stand for truth . so all this hoo ha we are seeing today is the deception of what Christ himself warned us of when he was on earth . False Christ's , false apostles, false prophets and departing from truth as outlined in the scriptures of the ho;y bible. These warnings are not to be taken lightly as your salvation depends on who you are going to believe???? and listen too. NEVER TRUST OR PUT YOUR FAITH IN MAN BUT GOD ONLY. ! NO MATTER HOW GOOD OF A SPEAKER HE MAY BE. INCLUDING BILLY GRAHAM AND MANY OTHERS.

    January 23, 2013 at 3:57 am |
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  10. Steven

    I have posted my thoughts on this at http://www.BeDevotedMinistries.blogspot.com.

    December 31, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
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    December 20, 2012 at 5:38 am |
  12. Cat

    since Judaism deviates from the "biblical message of the Christian faith" does that mean Rev Graham believes that people of the Jewish faith are actually cult members? Would that mean that Jesus, a practicing Jew, himself would be a cult member?

    December 18, 2012 at 1:32 am |
  13. Don

    Graham spokesman A. Larry Ross is either uninformed or lying when he states Graham has "never proselytized, targeted or labeled specific people, groups, faiths or denominations". In the 1950s Billy Graham had the guts and the insight to boldly proclaim that Communism, Roman Catholicism, and Islam are the 3 greatest plagues on humanity. Decades of political and doctrinal compromise have rendered Graham spiritually blind, deaf, and mute. He has never been a deep scholar, but any discernment he ever had dissipated over the years he spent kissing up to the likes of Richard Nixon and kissing the rings of various popes.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:49 am |
  14. HoustonOilMan

    Now that Mitt has lost do you think mormanism will be put back on the cult list?

    November 15, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Sabrina Williams

      No, they will continue to deceive many and one day become the world's most powerful religion and rule over the USA. They will not stop until they put a Mormon President in the White House and rule America which is their New Promise Land. Find out more at http://www.worldgreatestscams.com, you will not believe what they really teach.

      November 19, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
  15. eigenklarg

    Mitt promised Billy a planet

    November 8, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  16. John Beavers

    If Obama wins (moot question since Pat Robertson predicted a Romney landslide), will Mormonism be a cult again?

    November 6, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  17. stevoreeno

    There is no God.

    November 5, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Luis

      Yes there is a God my brother but it's way beyond all this. Jesus it's the Lord. And looking at all this we really need him.

      November 6, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  18. Harry Seay

    I will not give another penny to the Billy Graham ministry. If he and Franklin can afford to run full page political ads in newspaper around the country, they don't need my money. Supporting a candidate for president that was last month deemed to be part of a cult in downright hypocritical. I think this organization should no longer be allowed tax free status.
    With this type of behavior going on (Pat Robertson is even worse) it is no wonder church attendance is dropping in churches across the country.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Amhlair

      On the Liberty University student and faculty portal, Graham urges readers to "Vote Biblical Values Tuesday, Nov. 6' and then delineates those "values" right out of Romney's platform. And yet Romney, a recent commencement speaker at Liberty, is a member and leader of a cult that believes this: "What does the Christian world know about God? Nothing...Why so far as the things of God are concerned, they are the veriest fools; they know neither God nor the things of God." This from their third 'prophet' John Taylor. He also said, "What! Are Christians ignorant? Yes, as ignorant of the things of God as the brute beast."

      I think Graham and the young Falwell have some 'splainin' to do to the true and living God, who hates false cults.

      November 3, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
    • Betty Marr

      I am of the same opinion. It seriously concerns me that evangelicals are embracing a "cult" who does not believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God; who have their own translation of the Bible; who have denied thare is a hell; who have in every way seperated themselves from Christians. Billy Graham is Wrong...........

      November 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Harry,

      where do you think the BGEA got the money to run those newspaper ads?

      They said it didn't come from contributors like you, but from "friends of the Ministry". I'd hazard those 'friends' were a Rmoney SuperPAC. Franklin Graham didn't have to spend a penny.

      November 9, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Chris Ericksen

      No, Harry, our Church is not a"cult"; having said that, however, I consider Mitt Romney a disgrace to this church. The hypocrisy of adhering to church teachings about no smoking while pushing Big Tobacco companies during his tenure as the head of Bain (1990- 1994 and beyond)- Philip Morris and British American Tobacco ((into Russia) goes beyond the pale. This man was a bishop and stake president. How many deaths have resulted- and will result- due to his very successful endeavors?
      Shameful!!

      November 11, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • Sabrina Williams

      In the bible it talks about the elect being deceived. The Mormon Church is a Great deceiver and many are not aware of their true teaching. Go to http://www.worldgreatestscams.com are I will show you a new world created by the Mormon Church and they will never stop until their prophecy come to past.

      November 19, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  19. Kate

    I judge would be recommended to quit with pending dismissal when they change the record. I've seen it done. But, churches are an animal of their own.

    November 2, 2012 at 1:27 am |
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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.