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. beairdboy

    Franklyn is not following in his fathers footsteps, The sin of Greed has taken the church into politics. I't has to follow it's wealthy donors advice. Wealth, Politics and Religion are sinful together and easily persuaded by one another. I believe Obamas principles are more Christ centered then Romneys will ever be. Shame on you Franklyn for allowing your donors to sway your principles.

    October 20, 2012 at 6:32 am |
    • GI Joe

      I suspect Franklin's old drug habits have returned with a vengence, and RMoney probably greased his palm with enough money to keep him happy for a long time (cash from the Koch's for Coke, no doubt).

      Franklin has stabbed the 94 year-old in the back now that he is too old to defend himself. I didn't hear Billy endorse RMoney, and after him believing mormonism s a cult for 94 years, I double he wrote the editorial or scrubbed the web site.


      October 20, 2012 at 8:22 am |
  2. a dose of reality

    A few questions should help shed light on the relationship between religion and rational thought.
    The completely absurd theory that all 7,000,000,000 human beings are simultaneously being supervised 24 hours a day, every day of their lives by an immortal, invisible being for the purposes of reward or punishment in the “afterlife” comes from the field of:
    (a) Astronomy;
    (b) Medicine;
    (c) Economics; or
    (d) Christianity
    You are about 70% likely to believe the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with only one man, one woman and a talking snake if you are a:
    (a) historian;
    (b) geologist;
    (c) NASA astronomer; or
    (d) Christian
    I have convinced myself that gay $ex is a choice and not genetic, but then have no explanation as to why only gay people have ho.mo$exual urges. I am
    (a) A gifted psychologist
    (b) A well respected geneticist
    (c) A highly educated sociologist
    (d) A Christian with the remarkable ability to ignore inconvenient facts.
    I honestly believe that, when I think silent thoughts like, “please god, help me pass my exam tomorrow,” some invisible being is reading my mind and will intervene and alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to help me. I am
    (a) a delusional schizophrenic;
    (b) a naïve child, too young to know that that is silly
    (c) an ignorant farmer from Sudan who never had the benefit of even a fifth grade education; or
    (d) your average Christian
    Millions and millions of Catholics believe that bread and wine turns into the actual flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because:
    (a) there are obvious visible changes in the condiments after the Catholic priest does his hocus pocus;
    (b) tests have confirmed a divine presence in the bread and wine;
    (c) now and then their god shows up and confirms this story; or
    (d) their religious convictions tell them to blindly accept this completely fvcking absurd nonsense.
    I believe that an all powerful being, capable of creating the entire cosmos watches me have $ex to make sure I don't do anything "naughty". I am
    (a) A victim of child molestation
    (b) A r.ape victim trying to recover
    (c) A mental patient with paranoid delusions
    (d) A Christian
    The only discipline known to often cause people to kill others they have never met and/or to commit suicide in its furtherance is:
    (a) Architecture;
    (b) Philosophy;
    (c) Archeology; or
    (d) Religion
    What is it that most differentiates science and all other intellectual disciplines from religion:
    (a) Religion tells people not only what they should believe, but what they are morally obliged to believe on pain of divine retribution, whereas science, economics, medicine etc. has no “sacred cows” in terms of doctrine and go where the evidence leads them;
    (b) Religion can make a statement, such as “there is a composite god comprised of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit”, and be totally immune from experimentation and challenge, whereas science can only make factual assertions when supported by considerable evidence;
    (c) Science and the scientific method is universal and consistent all over the World whereas religion is regional and a person’s religious conviction, no matter how deeply held, is clearly nothing more than an accident of birth; or
    (d) All of the above.
    If I am found wandering the streets flagellating myself, wading into a filth river, mutilating my child’s genitals or kneeling down in a church believing that a being is somehow reading my inner thoughts and prayers, I am likely driven by:
    (a) a deep psychiatric issue;
    (b) an irrational fear or phobia;
    (c) a severe mental degeneration caused by years of drug abuse; or
    (d) my religious belief.
    Who am I? I don’t pay any taxes. I never have. Any money my organization earns is tax free and my own salary is also tax free, at the federal, state and local level. Despite contributing nothing to society, but still enjoying all its benefits, I feel I have the right to tell others what to do. I am
    (a) A sleazy Wall Street banker
    (b) A mafia boss
    (c) A drug pusher; or
    (d) A Catholic Priest, Protestant Minister or Jewish Rabbi.
    What do the following authors all have in common – Jean Paul Sartre, Voltaire, Denis Diderot, Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, David Hume, René Descartes, Francis Bacon, John Milton, John Locke, and Blaise Pascal:
    (a) They are among the most gifted writers the World has known;
    (b) They concentrated on opposing dogma and opening the human mind and spirit to the wonders of free thought and intellectual freedom;
    (c) They were intimidated by the Catholic Church and put on the Church’s list of prohibited authors; or
    (d) All of the above.
    The AIDS epidemic will kill tens of millions in poor African and South American countries before we defeat it. Condoms are an effective way to curtail its spread. As the Pope still has significant influence over the less educated masses in these parts of the World, he has exercised this power by:
    (a) Using some of the Vatican’s incomprehensible wealth to educate these vulnerable people on health family planning and condom use;
    (b) Supporting government programs that distribute condoms to high risk groups;
    (c) Using its myriad of churches in these regions to distribute condoms; or
    (d) Scaring people into NOT using condoms, based upon his disdainful and aloof view that it is better that a person die than go against the Vatican’s position on contraceptive use.

    October 20, 2012 at 6:26 am |
    • ChitownDoc

      Many of your thoughts are understandable and I one shared them out of a similar frustration. I believe your argument is with what men have done as "organized religion" (much of your anger is against the Catholic church and like any organization with a long history that includes many abuses, but also much more good work, there are many regrettable mislead people who hurt others in the worst ways). Jesus never hurt or killed anyone. He never forced anyone to accept Him. It is a free choice. And, as a man devoted to science and having taught at some of the top research/medical universities in the US, there is no conflict between science and what Jesus taught. You only have to open your mind a little more to understand that (an open mind is a critical part of being a scientist). That stated, I am revolted how some people try and use my faith to try and steer my vote (it is not a religion to me). Politics have become revolting- on both sides.

      October 20, 2012 at 7:00 am |
  3. Peter

    This is all Franklin Graham. He is a hater who is using his father's name and ministry for his own agenda. This is all so sad. Rev Billy Graham never made his ministry political. That's why he was friends with so many presidents.

    October 20, 2012 at 6:19 am |
    • Joye

      I agree and he is beinf infulenzed by his money grabing sonn

      October 20, 2012 at 6:53 am |
  4. Stephanie

    I think this is very interesting!! But it makes me immediately question credibility!! This whole thing has a stink about it and seems like corruption at work to me!! I mean why would something like this, something so strongly divisive and definitively anti-mormon, happen this close to the election?? It's such an obvious betrayal of Grahams beliefs.. and, because Barack Obama's a christian.. the only thing I see is some really dirty backdoor political power plays being made! Maybe the LDS church bought this?? They have billions afterall...
    Anyway, I won't vote for Romney. He lost my vote during the second debate for sure. I thought he was disgusting to harp on whether Obama said "act of terror" or not. It was really low of him to try and score points on those who died, especially when he didn't even know what he was talking about!! But, what really bothered me was his answers, or lack of them, about the economy and how he's different from Bush. He sounded like he was trying to hide everything he was going to do if elected and that he'd lead a war on women.

    October 20, 2012 at 6:10 am |
    • BYRON

      "Obama's a christian" – I'd laugh, but that statement is just CRAZY! He's as much of a TRUE Christian as Hitler was! Simply calling yourself a PENCIL won't make you one either! – FAIL!! Try again; he quotes the Quran like he wrote it. Is was raise and born Muslim. DO YOUR RESEARCH.

      October 20, 2012 at 6:18 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      BYRON: No true Scotsman Fallacy...do your research!!! Obama is very much christian...stop following conspiracy theories and grow up! The fact that Obama follows the constitution as he should really frightens you christians...rather pathetic that you'd rather have your imaginary friend rule and condemn those who who believe in him than a president who cares about everyone!

      October 20, 2012 at 6:50 am |
    • malkittens

      Byron – it is you who needs to do their research. BTW Fox News and Rush Limbaugh do NOT count as research. Sorry to disappoint you.

      October 20, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • GI Joe

      I'm retired and have watched and listened to all the flip-flops and lies of R-Money for 18 months.

      He lost my vote before he was selected as the least of the crazies in the primary. But he is still a dictator who wants to control everything and everyone. He baptized HITLER – for god's sake. How much worse can it get??

      October 20, 2012 at 8:26 am |
  5. Dystopiax

    Following Tet, in 1968, President Lyndon Johnson decided I should cease being an Air Traffic Controller and go shoot bad Vietnamese, but certainly not any good ones. I chose to study how to distinguish the difference between them, in Toronto. I got an "A" in the course. So – I was not in the USA for the 1968 election, but my Nazarene parents were. When they came to visit me at Christmas I wondered how they had voted. Father chose to ignore the question. Mother answered she had voted for Richard Nixon. "Why on earth did you do that?" I asked. She assertively replied: "Because Billy Graham HUGGED him." I replied to her: "Say Good Night, Gracie."

    October 20, 2012 at 6:04 am |
  6. Franklin Romney

    Google "is Mormonism a Cult"
    We need to educate ourselves regarding this cult.

    October 20, 2012 at 6:02 am |
    • BYRON

      Is ABORTION Murder?
      A 5 year old can tell you the answer to THIS... YES!

      We need to WAKE UP! America is going to HELL, and 90% cannot see it. Open your eyes, people!!

      October 20, 2012 at 6:09 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Byron: Science says you're wrong!!! Abortion is not murder!! A mother can't be charged with murder for aborting, so keep your irrational belief out of a woman's private life!!

      October 20, 2012 at 6:56 am |
  7. Jeff

    It is sad how the mind can deteriorate with advanced age.

    October 20, 2012 at 5:57 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      That's what happens when you take religion seriously...

      October 20, 2012 at 6:00 am |
    • BYRON

      Your response makes you out to be about 100+ then...

      October 20, 2012 at 6:11 am |
  8. BYRON

    If Billy Graham wants to help someone out, that's his own business; maybe he is simply tired of seeing America Murdering Innocent Unborn Babies by the thousands on a daily basis. – Judgement day is coming people. Talk about an "OBAMANATION" the blood of the babies will be on ALL those that vote for a murderer! REPENT!

    October 20, 2012 at 5:53 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      70+% of all abortions in the USA are had by believers. Belivers can dramatically reduce the number of abortions simply by following their cult's rules. No changes in any laws are required. Time for believers to take responsibility for their actions and to leave others alone.

      October 20, 2012 at 5:58 am |
    • BYRON

      Children are being partially born and having their brains sucked out – FACT! – If you are NOT against it; then you are FOR it; plain and simple. Do you REALLY want to be guilty of this LOWEST form of Murder? REALLY?? Obama is just as bad as Hitler.

      October 20, 2012 at 6:00 am |
    • BYRON

      0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls:
      DREAM ON ... You only WISH!

      October 20, 2012 at 6:01 am |
    • BYRON

      0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls:
      Believers in Obama! Not in Almighty God; not TRUE believers... Walking into a GARAGE doesn't make you a CAR.

      October 20, 2012 at 6:04 am |
    • Franklin Romney

      "Helping out" a cult leader is against everything he has stood for, for over 94 years.
      This is all Franklins doing, not Billy Graham.

      October 20, 2012 at 6:05 am |
    • BYRON

      Franklin Romney:

      Okay, then Franklin cares about the USA as well ... GOOD point!

      October 20, 2012 at 6:12 am |
    • ciking724

      You don't really care about unborn babies, and you're not really a Christian; if you were a Christian and did indeed care about unborn babies, you would be concerned about unborn babies' starving, uneducated, abused, and victimized mothers who don't have access to decent heathcare, housing, or well-paying jobs. If you were a real Christian, you would know that the real sin in this country is GREED, and an unfair system that favors the very rich and unfairly burdens everyone else. Read the eighth century prophets, Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, and learn what really got Israel into trouble. And if Billy Graham is supporting someone who only wants to continue the status quo, he's not a Christian either. Very sad.

      October 20, 2012 at 6:43 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Byron: If you are going to make claims, please attempt to back them with evidence. In fact your imaginary friend is one of the biggest baby killers out there!!!

      "About 105 billion people have ever been born, and of those born only 50% were able to live past childhood. The other 50% of all the humans ever born died in childhood, before reaching maturity.
      The number of conceptions that never made it to birth is closer to half a trillion.
      Seeing as Christians think that the soul enters the body at the moment of conception, these deaths could be seen as equal to murder. If there is a god then he will have caused these billions of deaths, robbing them of their lives before maturity."

      October 20, 2012 at 7:01 am |
    • malkittens

      Are you a troll with no life?

      October 20, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • BYRON

      ciking724: I give more than $500 a month to Compassion and have paid for two wells ... What have you done lately; you don't have a CLUE. Tell me the last time YOU held a dying child in YOUR hands, then talk to me. Until then LOOK IN THE MIRROR!
      Preaching to the wrong guy, no pansy here!

      October 20, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • ciking724

      BYRON, a good percentage of your $500 per month and the money for the wells (40-50%) feeds the part of the GREED machine that benefits the likes of the Grahams; I hope you know that. This is why the Grahams support Romney; they want to keep this system intact. Also, if you're keeping count, you're probably not doing enough. Furthermore, scripture warns you not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing when it comes to charity. I never accused you of being a pansy; merely pointed out that you're NOT a Christian, as your posts so obviously prove. If you really care about the unborn, then use your Christian influence to convince a pregnant woman not to have an abortion. You can't because you don't have any.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  9. Geo

    I think social issue ads that the GOP run, actually help the democrats. Bring it on.
    No church funds used... I have a bridge to sell.

    October 20, 2012 at 5:47 am |
  10. Some dude in Atlanta

    Franklin is tarnishing all the good work his Father did.
    Sad. I have followed Billy Graham since 1968. His lifetime of good work is going down the drain.
    Now that Franklin is at the helm, I no longer consider it a Christian organization.

    October 20, 2012 at 5:45 am |
  11. true blue

    Man this false prophet has taken millions in the name of god, So devil have call his followers to join forces.

    October 20, 2012 at 5:39 am |
  12. John

    It is an unbelievable spectacle to witness so called " Christians" choose a Presidential candidate whose practices are heretical to the Holy Scriptures of the Bible rather than a Christian who actually beleives in the Holy Trinity who is Liberal. News flash people; Jesus was a Liberal! Remember, eternal damnation is a very, very long time.

    October 20, 2012 at 5:38 am |
    • ChitownDoc

      It is so sad that faith is being used in politics. Vote your conscience and what the scripture informs you to do. Perhaps Jesus was considered "a liberal" in His day, but he came to love, serve and forgive all of humanity. Those that twist that simple message need to "remove the beam in their eye" before condemning others.

      October 20, 2012 at 6:45 am |
  13. Shills

    This is so very disappointing.

    October 20, 2012 at 5:30 am |
  14. Cam Spurgeon

    UGH! Alters his beliefs for political reason. Jesus is not impressed.The post before mine said it all. Thank you C Huddleston!

    October 20, 2012 at 5:17 am |
  15. Geoff

    Too bad the Reverend Billy Graham has chosen to tarnish his amazing legacy in this manner. Politics is no place for an honorable man of God. I suspect his son Franklin talked him into endorsing Romney, and I also suspect it's for personal gain. Penguins are far more honorable than Franklin Graham.

    October 20, 2012 at 5:14 am |
    • Some dude in Atlanta

      Of course, this is Franklins doing. Rev Graham has considered Momanism a cult all of his life and suddenly at the age of 94 he is going to do a 180 regarding this cult?
      His son Fanklin should be ashamed.
      But he is not.

      October 20, 2012 at 5:31 am |
  16. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    October 20, 2012 at 5:11 am |
    • Mr. Spock

      Science can fly you to Mars. Religion flies you into buildings. If you want faith in God, try spelling it N-A-T-U-R-E and choose reality. Looking for morals? Try the fundamental "treat others the way you wish to be treated".

      October 20, 2012 at 5:22 am |
  17. Debbie

    Biblical values. he called Mormonism a cult for years and took it down last week off his website. Such hypocrisy.Hd means vote republican, nor christian. Christian is not just the American family. It is not just what certain pastors say it is, or what they decide is the top ten Godly priorities in the Bible.Ever since the Grahams called our President a Muslim even though he is a Christian and has all of a sudden endorsed Romney even though they claimed for years the Mormonism was a cult, I do not consider anything they say. I am a christian and I am voting for a christian the current president. GO Mr. President!

    October 20, 2012 at 5:07 am |
  18. Scott

    This Church organization should loose tax free status by becoming a political organization

    October 20, 2012 at 5:01 am |
    • Some dude in Atlanta

      They did cross the line with buying political ads.
      Sad that they are using Gods house for political gain.

      October 20, 2012 at 5:34 am |
    • BYRON

      As long as ALL not-for profits pay as well... Agreed?

      October 20, 2012 at 9:11 am |
  19. Cecelia Huddleston

    Personally, I am very disappointed in Billy Graham. Franklin is a mean spirited person who stirs up trouble so I'm not surprised at him. I'm rather shocked that they would support a Mormon. But after all, they adore Sarah Palin & that woman can't tell the truth! I totally understand why there has to be a separation of church & state & it's because of people like the Grahams who force their personal beliefs on others!

    October 20, 2012 at 4:56 am |
  20. Pop cored

    why hasn't this hateful old man crawled into his casket yet?

    October 20, 2012 at 4:44 am |
    • BYRON

      I'd be careful what you speak of – You, like ANY OF US is not promised a tomorrow. Watch your words; for out of the mouth comes life and death saith The Lord.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:09 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.