October 18th, 2012
11:45 PM ET

Billy Graham buys election ads after Romney meeting

By Eric Marrapodi CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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Washington (CNN) - The most famous and revered pastor in America, Billy Graham, is calling on voters to cast a ballot for their faith in full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and other newspapers.

Graham's picture appears prominently in the ads, next to copy that reads, "As I approach my 94th birthday, I realize this election could be my last."

It continues, "I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman. Vote for biblical values this November 6, and pray with me that America will remain one nation under God."

The ad hit the prominent papers Wednesday and Thursday, and could hit a dozen more newspapers, a week after the famed evangelist met with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at Graham's Montreat, North Carolina, home and less than a month after his son Franklin Graham issued a full-throated endorsement of Romney in a USA Today opinion piece.

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Shortly after the meeting with the Grahams and Romney, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association scrubbed prior references to Mormonism as a cult from its website because, the association said, "we do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has become politicized during this campaign."

Romney is a longtime member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Last week's meeting between Romney and Graham was their first.

After the 30-minute sit-down in Montreat, 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.

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The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association said the new ads were paid for by "friends who support the ministry" and that no general ministry funds were used.

"The ads intentionally do not mention any candidate, political party, or contest, urging instead for readers to cast votes for candidates, at all levels, based on their support for biblical values," the group said in a statement.

Billy Graham's long-time personal spokesman, A. Larry Ross, said of the ads, “[Graham] is challenging citizens, particularly the faith community, on how to vote, rather than for whom to vote.”

Ross said the 93-year-old is still active with the ministry, though not necessarily with the day-to-day operations. In this case, he said Graham was consulted about the ad and signed off on it.

"This ad is consistent with both the mission of the BGEA and Billy Graham's personal methodology to diligently and consistently remain politically neutral and nonpartisan throughout his public ministry," Ross said.

"Against the backdrop of moral decline and a cultural shift in our nation that reflects timely issues, Mr. Graham's quotation in the ad is an extension of his faithful preaching of a timeless message and strong stand on biblical values for more than six decades."

The campaign also includes bulletin inserts and posters of the ad for churches to download and distribute.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Leaders • Politics

soundoff (2,816 Responses)
  1. Lazyh

    Rev. Graham is nothing but a false prophet and cult worshiper

    October 20, 2012 at 4:34 am |
  2. AEvangelista

    Religions must upgrade like everything else in order to remain relevant. Old fogeys like Graham have got to go.

    October 20, 2012 at 3:56 am |
  3. Lisa

    Only the devil himself could have hoodwinked a dying Graham out of millions of his followers' dollars. Can you imagine how much good Graham could have done with that money, helping the poor, sick and downtrodden...oh, but wait...that's the "old" Jesus. The new Jesus is about profits, outsourcing, hate and discrimination - I forgot!

    October 20, 2012 at 3:46 am |
  4. The trumpet sound is near!

    Calling all pastor's, leader's of God come back to your rightful duty as servant of God, study, prayed, seek God, for some have gone back, thinking and acting like the world, repent, having a form of godliness but denied the power.

    October 20, 2012 at 3:44 am |
  5. Qev

    TAX this poli-gious front organization.

    October 20, 2012 at 3:26 am |
  6. wazuri77

    one false "leader" endorsing a false "religion" and imposter..the enemy of my enemy is my friend ...

    October 20, 2012 at 3:02 am |
  7. Flower doe

    tsk tsk tsk

    October 20, 2012 at 3:01 am |
  8. popeye

    Just look at that freeze frame above of two old codgers. Says it all.

    October 20, 2012 at 2:52 am |
  9. popeye

    Billy Graham is a dead man walking. He didn't buy anything. His family did.

    October 20, 2012 at 2:48 am |
  10. Chris33

    Graham is a fool.

    Mormonism is a cult.

    October 20, 2012 at 2:47 am |
  11. CeR

    This is probably more his son's doing. Both are nothing but phony, lying, racist,hypocrits!!! I never would have thought this country is still as racist as it is proving to be!!!

    October 20, 2012 at 2:45 am |
  12. queename*

    For christians every where. God is not mocked. For what so ever a man sow that he will also reap. Mitt Romney, his money can buy what I once thought was a great man can also buy him a place in hell.

    October 20, 2012 at 2:43 am |
  13. brich22

    Cults make strange bedfellows.

    Next thing you know they will be supporting Scientolgy.

    Organized religions of any color only wants your money. Tell them to get lost and earn an honest living.

    October 20, 2012 at 2:41 am |
  14. Just Call It A Hunch


    Somewhere the Anti Christ is laughing he didn't know it would be this easy. I though Billy Graham retired, but he only did that so he didn't have to counsel President Obama the first African American President. Then all of a sudden he miraculously comes out, takes picture with Mitt Romney who is a Mormon. All of a sudden Mormons are not a cult? He is leading people astray and that is truly a shame. Mitt Romney is trying to lie, cheat , buy and steal this election. He is a liar, arrogant and rude!

    I assure you, the anti – Christ isn't concerned with either Romney or Graham is my guess. He's concerned more with the unbelievers. Just call it a hunch.

    October 20, 2012 at 2:29 am |
  15. David Crosby

    I wonder how many pieces of silver Romney has just given to Graham..And I have yet to meet this Jesus character...Last I heard ..The Romans killed him 2,000 years ago...What a con job...

    October 20, 2012 at 2:27 am |
  16. peddlers

    for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. oxymoron

    October 20, 2012 at 2:26 am |
  17. Michael Siever

    Didn't Billy Graham's website classify Mormonism as a cult as of 5 days ago? Oh yeah, that's right, they changed it so as not to conflict with his endorsement of Romney.

    October 20, 2012 at 2:25 am |
  18. Eric of Reseda, CA

    Let's see..Biblical values...OH YEAH! Slavery is a Biblical value, and the Bible preaches equating women like property too. The Bible says, "Thou shalt not kill!", so then I guess that means we should vote for a candidate that wants us to AVOID war at all costs. We're not supposed to pray to the Golden Calf, but yet, there is a big Bull there on Wall St, an while it's not made of gold, it certainly represents it. So, per Graham, we should not vote for a candidate that puts riches above most all else. Uh, Mr. Graham, are you SURE you want us to vote for Biblical values?!? If we do, well, then, Romney is SURELY not the candidate for us.

    October 20, 2012 at 2:21 am |
  19. Chutzpah

    The Grahams wh*re for cash... guess God's the next one who'll be taking payoffs.

    October 20, 2012 at 2:21 am |
  20. 1234LISA1234

    Remember that The reverend Billy Graham said that anyone can sin all he/she wants and have eternal life. I am a sinner like the reverand and every one elso but I prefer doing my best to keeping the Ten Commadments and the golden rule. The fact that the Old Testament and the New Testatament have been perjurised by the translators, the churches and the reverand Billy Graham himself is not news. The fact that there is no god that does what the church teaches is already known.

    October 20, 2012 at 2:20 am |
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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.