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. 21k

    is he still alive? looking at the photo, it's more like mittsy doing a "weekend at bernie's" thing.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  2. Navaho

    If Mormons deny the "Deity of Jesus Christ" – how can they be Christians? Of course this statement may not be true and Mormons do not deny the deity of Jesus Christ... but it all makes me rather confused.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • Jamesrini

      second epistle of John / states if they come to your house without doctrine meaning the Bible not to let them in Mormons never bring a Bible they bring the book of Mormons with them written by Joseph Smith a man that they think is a profit /// [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 10:35 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Mormons are still tweaking and revising what they believe – particularly what they're willing to show to the non-Mormon world and ordinary Mormons.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • mama k

      Yes, Tom Tom – in their short history, Mormons have had to adjust their tenets – and it seems to have always been for political convenience. No wonder Mitt is so adept at flip-flopping.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • Orwell prefers Guyana punch

      Navaho, listen to Jamesini, he is a professional Mormon oracle, he quotes directly the book of Mormon.

      If you have not read it, get a copy. It gives Genesis a run for the money, fills in all the missing gaps!!!

      If you love Jesus, read it.

      Jamesrini can also arrange for two missionaries to visit you.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  3. Jamesrini

    you need to read it again !!! it says if they come with out the Bible to your house to witness don't let them in Mormons come with the book of Mormons not a Bible it's not an accident that the capital of United States call the White House

    October 20, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Cheri Trilian

      The last time they showed up at my door I point blank asked them, "if you had to choose between the Bible and the Book of Mormons which would it be?" There was a long moment of silence before both of them enthusiastically said, "The Book of Mormons." To me that said it all. As far as your comment goes regarding the "White House" I too have always thought it ironic and perhaps inappropriate considering that it was built by slaves. Sort of like the Metro in NY. When you enter the bus it says, "Stand behind the White line." I find that flashing sign to be rather insensitive out of respect for Rosa Parks. (I'm White)

      October 20, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  4. Mopery

    Tax this law breaking piece of sh!t, keep your religion the hell out of my government!

    October 20, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • 21k

      which one, there's two that meet your description in the photo.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • mabear87

      Amen. Graham is no Christian. H is a bigot and a liar and has gained wealth over his "crusades to raise money for Billy". He does not practice one word of the New Testament, but only the old, which is geared to the Jews. I was raised thinking he was a saint, but I am inclined to believe he is the devil.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  5. Dan from Orlando

    Very well stated. My grandmother was a BG supporter most of her adult life but, she was also very racist. Not to lump the two together in all cases, but there is an element of racism in Franklin that permeates his thoughts from time to time. As well, the connection to Mitt's 47% philosophy is no coincidence – theirs is a money game and Mitt offers them the best chance of continuing the tax-free sham.

    Mark, I could not agree with you more. The current Republican ideology is so anti-Christ, I find it incomprehensible. I try to live my live according to Jesus' teachings in Matthew 25:36-41 which contains the verse, "In as much as you have done it unto one of the least o these by brothers, you have one it unto me." I truly believe that Jesus would be appalled at the current Republican ideology and the comments of Mr. Graham through whom so many have come to know Christ. I also believe that Mr. Graham has been influenced by his son, Franklin. I don't believe that Franklin comes close to the person his father once was.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  6. lois faler

    I AM SO DISSAPOINTED in Billy How much did you get paid for this ???? shame on your org. lois faler

    October 20, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  7. Jamesrini

    Billy Graham should be ashamed of himself !! second epistle of John clearly states if they come to your house without the Bible don't let them in Mormons come with the Book of Mormon written by Joseph Smith that they think is a profit .. the capital of the United States is called the White House and that is not an accident .also I'm tired of Republicans calling self the right wing and the right side they sit on the left side of the Senate and Congress Democrats set on the right side the LORD said cast your net of the right side of the boat he didn't say make a moral judgment and then pick who you think should be the right side

    October 20, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  8. dtexus

    Romnesia does'nt care for the 47% and Jesus had invoked to care for the less privileged that will come in that 47%. So who's teachings are MR Graham or his son supposedly preaching!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 20, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • dtexus

      I believe that the top 1% is the most united group in America regardless whether he is a Christian preacher, Mormon Presidential candidate or whether he is Casino moghul!!!!!!!!!

      October 20, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • dtexus


      October 20, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  9. Skeptic

    Billy Graham spends religious and tax free money for political propaganda and the IRS is doing nothing about it.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  10. rare_earth

    Grahams message: Vote for caucasian cult member – do not vote for black christian.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • DJ

      That's it – couldn't have said it better. I am white and a Christian – so anyone should be able to see this. This wreaks of RACISM and none of these people will every own up to it. God in heaven knows though!

      October 20, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  11. The Oracle

    Well, that's too bad most of you feel that the Grahams don't have a right to endorse whomever they want. Billy Graham is not using church funds to do this from what I understand, so you can stop blathering about that tax exempt status thing. I could be wrong, but I honestly doubt it's going to change any of the momentum Romney has. It comes down to the economy and what people are experiencing financially ~ and perhaps also this thing with Libya. This article about Graham is only bringing most of those out who won't vote for Romney anyhow and those on here who said they are changing their minds ~ well, there are a few, but I think most are attempting to paint a picture of what's not really there anyhow. They were never on board to begin with.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  12. Mike

    Thank goodness the country is moving away fro this kind of hogwash. Billy Graham and his son have no legitimate reason to preach their filth.....they close their eyes and raise their hands to get money from the fearing masses who know no better.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  13. Philojazz

    So, as BG says, "Vote for biblical values this November 6". Well, as any rational American knows, "biblical values" are just whatever any reader of the Bible says they are. So, to translate BG for those rational Americans reading this, what he's really saying is "Vote for whatever you believe this November 6". Hey, I'm okay with that. With BG and his first quote, not so much..

    October 20, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  14. Fez Head Phred

    The moment Graham's Ministry bought ads to sway the election, he became a lobbying group. The IRS needs to yank his non-profit status and start taxing his income. Maybe we could relieve some of the nation's crippling debts if these political groups hiding behind a charismatic, snake-charming minister and ministry paid their fair share.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  15. DJ

    The CHRISTIAN faith is built on the deity of Christ. Mormons do not believe in the deity. This shows you that not all that proclaim to be Christians are. Although I do not judge other religions, this is a sad story that a man that was so respected by all Christians can be bought.....or this could be his son and not him at all. This election has been a real learning experience for me and I am a Christian.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Read it

      No one can be a true follower of Christ, there are waayyyy too many contradictions in the bible.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Kent French

      Of course we are Christians.

      When people use the word cult and other disparaging words about someone else's religion they are purposely trying to insult someone else's faith in an attempt to make themselves look and feel superior. Thus, it says more about them than anyone else. To all those who are guilty of this I would suggest that they switch to talking about their own religious belief system instead of someone else's. On the other hand, since people are slamming my religion I have to defend my faith. So, here goes.
      What most people do not realize is that there are two types of Christians. There are traditional Nicene Christians and Latter-day Christians (Mormons). Since both of these Christian groups believe that Jesus is the Christ, that he is God's only begotten son, and since they strive to live their lives in accordance with the Savior's commandments it follows that they are both Christians. What's more, both of them believe they are saved by grace through their faith in Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice.
      So, when you really get to the bottom of things what is that bottom line difference? Simply put, there is a difference in their belief systems as to the nature of God. Nicene Christians believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are one and the same God, and that he (God) is a spirit without a body, parts or passions.
      On the other hand, Latter-day Christians teach that Jesus Christ is a separate person from his Heavenly Father, but united as one with him, and with the Holy Ghost, in mind, purpose, wisdom and power. They also believe that Jesus Christ is the God of the Old Testament who guided the ancient prophets, that he is still alive (resurrected), and that he now has an immortal, glorified, spiritual body of flesh and bones like his Heavenly Father's in who's image and likeness Adam's mortal body was created. Furthermore, they believe that since his ascension into heaven he has taken his place once again at the right hand of his Heavenly Father.
      On a personal note, after pondering the Nicene doctrine concerning the nature of God, I have come to the conclusion that traditional Christians must believe Christ has returned to being a three in one spirit without a body, parts, and passions, and that he is no longer a resurrected personage. Is that true? Whether it is or not I would be very interested in gaining a better understanding of their doctrine on this particular matter.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • The Oracle

      Well, as a matter of fact they do believe in Christ. Their church is known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I don't know where you got your information, but you are misinformed. And when I was a little girl, my parents knew a family of Mormons we visited ~ I actually went to Sunday School with them ~ and shock of shocks, our lesson was about Christ.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • GINA

      This election has brought out the worst in most Christians, especially those in spiritual authority. Amazing how they compromise their values when its convenient, like rooting for a mormon values. If mormons are twisted in their faith, they will be twisted in everything else they claim to do...

      October 20, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  16. Mango

    Wow. Anything to stop a black man from being a president. I guess Billy thinks Scientology, Witchcraft is OK too as long as they vote against Obama from Kenya.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • DJ

      Agree 100%!

      October 20, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  17. Bolly

    Billy has gone to the dark side. Doubt he is going to heaven now.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • GINA

      agree 10%

      October 20, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • GINA

      Billy Graham has fought a good fight, but I am concerned someone is manipulating his vulnerable state as an aging man. This is not the Billy we know. May God preserve him for the sake of the uncompromising gospel he preached for many years...and that this election will not leave a spot of blemish in his soul.....America go vote, God is big enough to choose the man of his choose, without any of our endorsements.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  18. mama k

    Christians sects were feuding with each other so badly around the time the U.S. government was being established that the 1st Amendment to the Constitution was a top priority for the key founders. And it's probably why James Madison, our 4th POTUS, and chief architect of the Constitution had this to say:

    During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

    (A Memorial and Remonstrance, addressed to the Virginia General Assembly, 1785)

    October 20, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  19. no big deal

    Have your say, Rev. Graham. Nice to see one wealthy religious man endorse another wealthy religious man. I'm sure they have a lot in common... and at least their prayers get answered. The rest of America – well not so much if Romney gets in there.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Sandoz

      You said it. I'm voting for the poorer candidates – and listening to the poor-ass preachers. Not this Graham joker....

      October 20, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • TomfromNJ1

      This is really not news. BG has always done things to help the right. He has a history of adapting his Christianity to how the wind was blowing. Many of us are old enough to remember how when true Christians were favoring Civil Rights, he stood with the the segregationists. To his credit, when the wind started to shift in maybe the mid 50's he began to change his views and is now once again with the majority view. But looking at his career, it looks like he was much more interested in financial gain than real Christianity - a Mother Theresa he was not.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  20. 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 10:11 am |
    • Lisa

      Wow, so [10] pretty much does say it's okay to disrespect or shun non-Christians.

      Conflicts with not being arrogant but the Bible is full of contradictions.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Kent French

      What if someone believes something to be true that reality isn't? Does that make him evil? After all, there is a lot of disagreement within the traditional Christian community itself. Is such a person forgiven by Christ? Or, would you pass judgment upon him by rejecting him, and consigning him to Hell? That's the problem with taking upon yourself such a narrow definition of who is a Christian and who is not. Certainly the faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints live exemplary Christian lives. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone!

      October 20, 2012 at 11:00 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.