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. Observant Historian

    Billy Graham is welcome to his opinion, like any other American. In so doing, he highlights the hypocricy of this type of right-wing religious figure, who is willing to throw his weight behind the most two-faced and dishonest politician the Republicans have put forth in my lifetime, out of long field of two-faced and dishonest Republican politicians. Graham might have used the opportunity to implore Romney to begin to exhibit some use of and respect for the basic Christian values of honesty, humility, and compassion. But I would have no expectation of that from Billy Graham, who has a long history of aligning himself with the soiled toilet tissue that is the Republican party, for the greater aggrandizement of Billy Graham. He possesses no more a moral compass than Nixon or George W. His progeny is even worse. Don't make the mistake of believing that these people represent Christians in America – they represent the kind of pseudo-Christians who use their religion as a prop for their prejudices and ignorance, and who use it as a cudgel against anyone who dares to point out the blatant hypocricy of their selective "moral" and political stances.

    October 20, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • Ancient Texan

      Nice rant...but just that ...a baseless rant.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • Jamesrini

      [8] Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. [9] Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. [10] If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: [11] For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • Orwell prefers Guyana punch

      Acting as his agent I am here to report, Richard Nixon vehemently objects to your posting.
      His enemies list is long and he is methodical.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • mama k

      I agree with you about Mr. Graham, completely. But regarding "Christians who use their religion as a prop for their prejudices and ignorance" – I would say there are more of that type than you think.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • Carla

      You echo my sentiments! How in the world can anyone justify the lies Romney tells or the unethical destruction of the American family due to Bain Capitals job exporting.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • Orwell prefers Guyana punch

      Thanks ancient texan for that short rant.

      Thank you Jamesrini for that Mormon chant.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • Observant Historian

      Ancient Texan wrote, "Faith, morals, and ethics are not bad things even though the Radical Left seem to see them as a reason for their war on religion.". These pseudo-christians make the mistake of believing they represent Christian faith, morals and ethics as those are a single universal Christian value. But their brand of "Christianity" is rather different from that of plenty of other Christians in this nation. The difference is most clearly illustrated in our history by looking at the Christians who recognized slavery as a montrous evil (big stretch) and started the abolitionist movement, and those so-called "Christians" who declared slavery a God-given good that kept the races in their appropriate relationship to one another, who had no problem with raping slave women, selling off children from their parents (sometimes even their own illegitimate progeny), and who treated abolitions as radicals undermining society and doing the devil's bidding.

      That school of "Christian" has been a cancer in this nation every generation. Slavery is the clearest example, but look at every period where people have had to struggle to have their basic rights and humanity recognized in this nation, and you'll find that they have always been fighting against the same kind of "conservatives" and "Christians" who dominate the right today. These people have always been the millstone around the neck of humanity, and no more represent Christianity anymore than they represent democracy. They can fire off all the snappy comebacks they want – it doesn't change history.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Orwell prefers Guyana punch

      If you do not handle poisonous snakes and drink deadly poison, then you are not a TRUE Christian.

      We need a national budget for poisonous snakes, start clearing out non-Christians from this great Christian nation.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  2. Iberatus

    I'm interested in knowing the origin of this video. Who produced it?
    If this is an accurate representation of the Morman beliefs, it is very enlightening and disturbing. If not, you shouldn't post this and mislead people.
    I tend to think it's accurate, since not one Romney supporter has tried to discredit it?

    October 20, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • insight

      You may be able to learn a bit more by more by clicking the "watch on YouTube" button and then reading notes and comments.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Kev

      I'm not sure which video clip you were referring to since there were many such clips posted, but seeing that whoever is posting those clips obviously have their own agenda,.so it's also likely they are putting their own spin on what they are presenting. So, it may best to look at both sides of the coin before making your conclusion, so you could check say sites that also promote Mormon ideas.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  3. Fern

    One foot in the grave and he buys himself a ticket to hell. Imagine that.

    October 20, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • Orwell prefers Guyana punch

      He will get a quick baptism of the dead by a living apostle of Christ in salt lake city.

      Jesus was in hell for three days. Billy might get four days, max. Unless he has friends to visit.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Alex

      So supporting someone who is against his beliefs will get him into heaven?

      October 20, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • Ancient Texan

      Billy Graham will have a special seat at the right hand of God. YOU don't get to decide.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • midwest rail

      @ Ancient - nor do you get to decide. Therefore your statement is only an opinion, and not fact.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  4. Puddin

    I've never put any faith in the sincerity of Billy Graham or his son, Franklin. Anyone who would vote for Mitt Romney, much less endorse him, after hearing the "47% tape" which left no doubt about who Romney is, has his same mindset. It's all about ...............m-o-n-e-y. The Grahams have used religion to make their millions. Franklin with his fleet of airplanes, homes in foreign countries, etc. I have only had one minister in my life whom I have felt was the real thing. This man and his wife would donate most of their salary back to the church, and were self-sufficient in other aspects of their lives and wasted nothing. They did not drive one caddiliac, much less two. It's bliblical......"the love of money is the root of all evil."

    October 20, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • True Insight

      Interesting...sounds like Romney and all the charity work he did - in just one year - more than Obama and Biden combined for twenty plus years

      October 20, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • sally

      @True Insight

      Yeah – I'm sure Rummy put as much thought into his charity work as he did searching through the "binders of women".

      October 20, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  5. Orwell prefers Guyana punch

    Reality99 is a recent migrant from Republistan. Apparently so.

    October 20, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  6. Tom Fleming

    Are billy and franklin taking religius based deductions are their income taxes? If so they should stay out of polotics, You can't have it both ways. Separation of church and state is their for a reason. If billy and franklin want to run the government then they should fully participate in satisfying the nations deficit.

    October 20, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • True Insight

      You mean....similar to when black churches get-out-the-vote on behalf of Democrats too?

      October 20, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • True Insight

      ....and the deductions those black churhes take...does that agitate you to?

      October 20, 2012 at 9:41 am |
  7. Ancient Texan

    J.R.- It might interest you to know that your disagreement with religion is only shared by 14% of Americans. Faith, morals, and ethics are not bad things even though the Radical Left seem to see them as a reason for their war on religion.

    October 20, 2012 at 9:31 am |
  8. BOb the Prairie Dog

    If Billy Graham wants to influence politics from his pulpit, then Billy Graham should pay taxes on all the money he's fleeced out of this country over the last six decades.

    October 20, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • True Insight

      ....and the black churches (Democrat arm and apparatues) should pay taxes too, right?

      October 20, 2012 at 9:42 am |
  9. BYRON

    Calm down... Jesus will be back soon enough. NO MAN will EVER fix this world; it will take the return of CHRIST JESUS. I pray we will be ready... He wishes NO ONE to perish, but YOU have a free will. WHOM will YOU choose this day? Choose LIFE, Choose CHRIST! Have a blessed day!

    October 20, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • Tom Fleming

      Do you LIVE a christ like life? Do you support fairness in taxation, full employment, protecting gods earth, cutting wasteful defense spending, respecting womens rights, supporting health care reform so that your fellow human beings can obtain health insurance?

      October 20, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  10. Paul

    GRAHAM ENDORSES HERETIC FOR PRESIDENT!! Well done Franklin!! Your mission is accomplished.You've now succeded in destroying your fathers' lifelong legacy of selfless, noble work. May God in heaven forgive you.

    October 20, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Reality99

      Paul is just angry that Obama is losing.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  11. Chris33

    Graham was friends with Nixon.

    October 20, 2012 at 9:26 am |
  12. Lucky18

    Didn't the Grahams list Mormonism as a cult?

    October 20, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Reality99

      Your ignorance could be cured if you spent less time revealing it and more time trying to learn the facts.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • stephan


      Graham did indeed just remove Mormonism as a cult from his website after meeting with Romney..... what point are you trying to make?

      October 20, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  13. Kathrn

    Billy Graham is not a saint. His opinion is only that.....one human's opinion.
    More and more, Christians are telling the American public what they should do and for whom they should vote. It's time to start taxing churches.

    October 20, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Maggie Magwire

      It is time to start taxing churches.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • Karen

      Actually, it is what God says in His Word. The Bible stands on its own, with or without Rev. Graham's help.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • Diana


      October 20, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • nottolate


      "Billy Graham is not a saint."

      Mr. Graham has led more people to Christ than anyone in the history of Christianity to include the apostle Paul. How many have you led to Christ? So he is in fact a saint just like every Christian.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • Mike Texoma

      Actually, Karen, Jesus told us that we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. He put it right up there with loving the Lord. Who are your neighbors, Karen? Who was Jesus talking about? And what does it mean to love them? You might have some thinking to do.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • stephan

      Actually Christians are less able then ever to force the literal ugly portions of the religion on the public. Hence they complain more.

      Graham is so desperate he was willing to remove Mormonism as a cult from his site!

      October 20, 2012 at 9:47 am |
  14. Robert


    October 20, 2012 at 9:24 am |
  15. J.R.

    Guess what, Bily, America is not and never will be a theocracy. And abortions and gay marriage have nothing to do with you so STFU and let people live their own lives with YOUR faith kept to yourself !! This is why America is not the strong country it could be – because we waste so much time listening to religions and it's wacko band of lunatics WAY TOO MUCH. Obama's got my vote!!!

    October 20, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • Reality99

      JR just proved why America loves Billy Graham and rejects pukes like JR.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • Kate

      JR, you are absolutely correct. This kind of thing is why more and more Americans are quitting religion.
      Of course, that's what the Christian right is afraid of.....and why they are working so hard to push their beliefs on us right now. Billy Graham, worry about your own sorry soul, not mine. I'll be voting for Obama.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • The fact of the matter is...

      You have things exactly backwards. We decline as a nation not because of religion, rather that we've deserted it.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:59 am |
  16. Bev

    the mormon religion is not a cult mormons are very caring people & have a deep love for God just remember obama"s minister wright how can you sit in a church & listen to that garbage for 20 years & not have the same beliefs romney 2012

    October 20, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • scatheist

      Mormons were a cult to Graham until last week. Obviously getting the black guy out of the WH takes precedence.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • Kate

      I know something about Mormons. They are very caring to their OWN. One of my sisters moved next door to a Mormon family. The wife immediately came over all nice and friendly. My sister was thrilled to have met someone in her new neighborhood who she thought would become a good friend. Eventually, after weeks of a growing friendship, this new Mormon 'friend' began talking about her religion. My sister nicely told her that she was not interested in ever becoming a Mormon. The Mormon neighbor dropped out of her life. When she managed to talk to the Mormon woman a few weeks later, the Mormon told her she'd never been interested in friendship. She brought out a book, in which she'd recorded every encounter she'd had with my sister. It had all been a scam to bring a new person (hopefully an entire family) into the Mormon cult. She never spoke to my sister again. Later, my sister learned that she'd done the same thing with other women in the neighborhood. So yes, Mormons can be very friendly, but if you aren't one of them, there's usually a reason behind that big smile.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • lbpaulina

      Really? Mormonism is a cult, period. Billy Graham is the further proof that religion in America has lost its intrinsic spirituality becoming a farce. He is also evidence that at 95 a person should retire, and that Romney wants to win at any cost. I think he would reach any compromise for his win, not for the well of the citizens but for his super-ego. Sorry, I'm not even 100% democratic, but I cannot stand the falseness of such a man, who is able to constantly change his idea, if he has never had one. It is particularly painful to see how many people do not understand what they are going to do, but maybe it's better that Americans learn to grow and bear their own choices. It 's like when we educate a child: at some point he, or she, must learn to take responsibility.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  17. miket

    Don't you lose your nonprofit status as a church of you choose up sides in a political campaign?

    October 20, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • Kirk

      If you are a Religious organization and preach from the pulpit political views your non profit status can be revoked. Whenever and where ever Billy Graham speaks is always from the pulpit, whether its from his couch, office, car, church, or stadium. Just due to his nature of who he is.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:41 am |
  18. Josh

    Romney is NOT a Christian and does not believe in the Same God as Christians.

    As a Bishop in the Mormon church I'm sure he knows what Mormons believe:

    God came from another planet
    If you are not white you are cursed by God
    You can become a God
    you can get your own planet

    I'm sorry but Billy Graham lost cred with me. Obama is Christian, Romney is not.

    Based on that alone I will vote for Obama

    October 20, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Diana

      So TRUE!

      October 20, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • Ancient Texan

      Your opinion is just that; your opinion! My opinion is that Obama SAYS he is a Christian and I believe that Romney is a Christian.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:46 am |
  19. Marty

    I think this endorsement is the influence that Billy's Graham son is having own his ailing father. But it is interesting to see that the evangelical movement opposed Obama because THEY SAIDED he wasn't a Christian, yet they support Romney who is of the Morman faith which is a cult. Any faith movement that deny the deity of Jesus. Christ is a cult.

    October 20, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • Reality99

      "they SAIDED"?????? Are all Obama supporters stupid? Apparently so.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:26 am |
  20. sally

    Well at least they propped Billy up in the chair nicely. I think the taxidermist did a great job.

    October 20, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • Reality99

      The funniest thing is that hundreds of millions of people around the world love Billy Graham, while Sally is as relevant as a small pile of crab crap on the ocean floor. When Sally dies, no one will notice until the smell reaches someone else in the trailer park.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • Orwell prefers Guyana punch

      BIll Graham is one of the most successful religious snake oil Christians.
      He was smart by letting go of the snake handling and medical cures.
      He was not dumb like Swaggart, attacking fellow preachers, then sneaking off to a local motel.
      He manages his public image more carefully.
      Just as nuts, tho

      October 20, 2012 at 9:43 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.