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. Real America

    Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse Project can be contacted at
    (828) 262-1980

    I suggest that people opposed to Franklin Graham's political efforts call and explain that you are entirely committed to having their tax-exempt status revoked ( or say something equally scary within the law ).

    October 20, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  2. Viaaka

    Billy Graham (and Frankiin) are finished as ministry leaders. They chose Mammon over the Gospel.

    October 20, 2012 at 11:08 am |
  3. Douglas

    I am not crazy about Romney but I'm voting for him. I am also going to join the NRA again.

    October 20, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • sally

      Good for you doogie, be all the idiot you can be...

      October 20, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • NKB

      Oh Yes! "The Sky is falling" Get your guns.......

      October 20, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • kate

      If you think Romney won't put his church first...think again.

      October 20, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I'm an NRA member myself and a competitive shooter. I really can't stand the machinations of the current administration of the NRA who would oppose their God if he seemed to threaten 2nd Amendment rights. I'm voting for Obama because he represents the best available choice to address the needs of the most people.

      October 20, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Decency costs Nothing

      Well said Doug – YOU, Sir are a Patriot. Not like the intellectually challenged Liberals on here!

      October 20, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Dave

      ... you actually believe the President is coming for your guns? (the black man with the islamic middle name, oogah boogah, ... run for them thar' hills!)

      October 20, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  4. Insight

    The best way to prove that God rejected Mitt and Billy Graham is to elect Obama as President.

    October 20, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  5. Sabre Dance

    Big company’s CEO’s (individual) force their employees to vote for Romney, wealthy individuals donate millions and millions to Romney’s campaigning, religious leaders call for voter against Obama.
    What a great democracy country, America. That has been repeated by the same ideological but dumb people – people who believe them become dumber.

    October 20, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  6. cliff

    preacher please stay out of politics and stick to telling your fictious stories

    October 20, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  7. Dan

    Mormonism is further from "regular" Christianity than Islam is. Enjoy doing your mental acrobatics to sort out that cognitive dissonance, Conservatives.

    October 20, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Dave

      72 virgins/golden raisins, ... men become God of their own planet after death, ... both pretty funny, ... Mormonism in a photo finish (their own smash Broadway hit carries the day).

      October 20, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • kate

      Romney was annointed by the church several years ago to become Pres. of USA. Have you read the White Horse Prophecy about Mormonism.. Googe it. I am deeply disappointed in Billy Graham endorsing a candidate. I always had respect for that but the Graham family has deeply disappointed me. I won't ever give to that organization again.

      October 20, 2012 at 11:10 am |
  8. walleye

    Did the money for this ad come from Romney, one of his PACs or from "Poor Billy's" pocket?

    October 20, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  9. tonyl

    Pure and simple religious right and Graham are HYPOCRITES !!!

    October 20, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  10. Soda

    I'm so tired of religious crap, God is not real, drop the bible and pick up a science book, please, save your mind.

    October 20, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  11. Ted in California

    I used to respect Billy Graham but after his support for the charlatan Romney, I can no longer respect him. Talk about selling your soul to the Devil, Graham has sold out big time!

    October 20, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • inthemidl

      EXACTLY what I was thinking!

      October 20, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • Viaaka

      Me too.

      October 20, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • kate

      Amen to that.

      October 20, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • DJ

      May not be him but his son....

      October 20, 2012 at 11:34 am |
  12. CdnJim

    I don't believe in Christianity, but understand its genesis. I also understand the genesis of Mormonism. Let's be honest. Mormonism is an exponentially worse case of BS, propogated by a convicted con-artist. For BIlly Graham to accept any aspect of Mormonism as legitimate, he must be sufffering from demetia. Native Americans are not Jews, coloured skin is not a punishment from God. Christians beieve that God is the creator of the universe, Mormons believe one day they will be gods and get their own planet to run. I can't believe that a guy who believes, who embraces this kind of idiocy is even running for President. That Billy Graham would endorse him, even more bizarre. But then again, look at all the losers in the GOP race, can you picture any of them on the stump right now?

    October 20, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Dave

      At least religious nuts haven't emerged to discriminate against a Mormon candidate – we've got that going for us. That the religious nuts have actually emerged to SUPPORT the Mormon candidate – – wow, ... simply wow.

      October 20, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • kate

      They do believe they will be gods. However, Romney already believes he is GOD. He has that character that says to hell with the rest of us!

      October 20, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Janet

      Hey Romney figures he can buy endorsements from anyone and give them enough to sway them to elect him. If he wins he bought it, and when you pay next to no taxes and your income comes from others dreams and hard work, hey you believe you are a God and can buy this endorsement from a man 94 who probably cant even remember he thought mormons were cultists.

      October 20, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  13. prayfast2

    The Mormon book written bu their founder saya Jesus came to América after resurrección

    October 20, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Ting

      The book 'God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything' by Christopher Hitchens says that “Exceptional claims demand exceptional evidence.”

      October 20, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  14. Alan

    Will someone from either the Romney campaign or the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association please assure me that the delisting of Mormonism as a cult from the BGEA and its tacit support of Mitt Romney in the USA Today Friday edition was not accompanied by a donation from Romney to the BGEA. That's both now or in the future. Please tell me it wasn't.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • midwest rail

      If there was a donation, you can rest assured that it came from a PAC, and that Romney will have plausible deniability as to its timing.

      October 20, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  15. DJ

    @ Oracle – I never said the did not believe in Christ – they don't beleive in the deity.............
    Jesus also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth is the central figure of Christianity, whom a majority of Christian denominations worship as God the Son incarnated.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  16. John

    Last week this man believed Mormonism was a cult along the lines of Scientology. It's amazing how often someone will sell their soul to the devil in order to do god's work.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  17. neutraltenn

    Franklin? Is that you?

    October 20, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  18. Tom J

    CULT: n. 1. Church down the road that I don't believe in, that I want others to fear and hate.
    2. any religious group that's not mine (Linda Fiatoa)

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a cult. The Church fully believes and teaches that Jesus is the Son of God and our Savior and Redeemer. It also accepts the Bible as scripture. Church members participate fully in society in public schools and employment, pursue secular knowledge, and accept and abide by all civil laws. The Church now consists of over 14 million members in 150 countries, is politically neutral, and has many limitations on Church leaders acting in a dictatorial or tyrannical manner.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Richard

      Mormonism is a cult, it was started by a flim flam artist and is carried on today by his ilk. Jesus did not come to America ever, and there is no companion guide to the Bible. As Jesus said, "whatever is added to this book, the plagues of this book will be added to their life. Because someone says they are a Christian does not make them one. There are certain things they must do and mormons do not fit into the Christian religion.

      October 20, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Norm

      I love how you always list the "similarities" to Christianity, but quietly refrain from listing the important issues that make the two religions so different.
      I find that quite telling indeed.

      October 20, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  19. prayfast2

    I am disturbed by thisBG sellin out to the doctrine of the devil. Mormonism us not Christianity

    October 20, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  20. RainCityLady

    Typical. Even in his old age, Graham can't back away from supporting crooks. Tricky Dick was among his past candidates for endorsement. If he were truly a man of faith, he would stay the hell out of politics altogether. He called Mormonism a cult at one point? He needs to keep his mouth shut on that subject too. People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:53 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.