October 18th, 2012
11:45 PM ET
Billy Graham buys election ads after Romney meeting
By Eric Marrapodi CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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.
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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.
Real "Biblical values" are these: to care for the poor, sick, hungry and homeless. The Bible says a hundred times more about these issues than it does about any others.
Book of hindu Mithra ism, pagan savior ism, denies any value of truth absolute.
Jo Ann, with your professed concern for the hungry, the sick, and the homeless, I pray that you count our unborn children among them, and vote accordingly.
Rick, actually my vote does reflect concern for the unborn. All the evidence suggests that making birth control affordable and available does more to reduce the number of abortions than does making abortion illegal.
This is an election on principles – come judgement day, I want to be counted along-side Rev. Graham and his son, Franklin for standing for the principles of what God has intended.
Your hind will be in big trouble for bigamy, infidelity like him.
you are an Idiot...just like the grahams. I can't believe this is a will of ANY god. Just goes to show you that religious people fear that time time in controlling people's actions are coming to an end.
Billy Graham left Christianity several years ago when he accepted the 'New Age Religion' theology, i.e. All roads lead to heaven.
If you vote for Mormon than I guess we are a Mormon nation and not a christian nation as so many would like to believe .
Aaahhh! The hypocrisy! Any other beliefs need scrubbing up before the election?
Always the case in hinduism, pagan ism Christianity.
Senility is a sad thing.
Fact is Mormons are not considered Christians !
Don't hate the players............hate the game!
Billy Graham rose to prominence by preaching his understanding of Biblical truth and Christian gospel, and by avoiding overt political endorsements (although his political views were never too far below the surface). He has compromised a lifetime of achievment in his declining years - dare I say in his dotage - by implicitly endorsing Mitt Romney. That's sad.
Bill the old hindu sanatan, ignorant goon.
No, it's courage to stand up for Christ. Thank you, Billy Graham.
he's just trying to stand...nevertheless for anyone. What a buffoon. Religions are full of buffoons that don't know better.
Tax these people.
Vote for Obama.
Franklin got the ad.
Tax that church
Tax that church
Not sure who this will sway. I am pretty sure we eachl vote based on our faith, convictions, and conscience. We don't need these religious zealots telling us how to vote. Not sure why they get away with it anyway. Good grief.
Billy wants some of those binders of women before he hits the BIG house in the sky. Dirty old man.
Religion and politics are like oil and water and should never try to be mixed..shame on both of them for this. Religions are pushing for all of us to believe what they do...well thanks but no thanks and leave me out of that hipocracy.
I am so disappointed in Graham. I have now lost all respect for him.
If you're voting for Obama(nation), then you've lost your respect for this country as well.
Apparently you aren't familiar with how Billy-bob works... like Jesse Jackson, he is always ready to exploit a media opportunity to draw the spotlights on himself. Billy-bob, however, is openly supporting Romney while claiming that he isn't. He is deceitful... which is considered OK by the cult he belongs to... as long as it helps their cult: Hypocrites Incorporated.
As a Christian, this is very sad to hear. Billy Grahams son has been in this vein of self-righteous intolerance for a while, but to compromise on the Morman faith is really unbelievable. After President Obama's next 4 years are over, we need a white person to run.
White Person????? Why is it 2012 and we still have racism in this world...and really puts an explanation on why I stay away from religion if a "christian" would talk like that.
You need to stop acting like a child. Life is too short to hate. No wonder this country is going down the tubes with people thinking they are godly and hating.
The Christian Choice is Obama and Biden, the religious choice is Romney Ryan
What other choices are there for American citizens who are not Christians or who are Atheists or Agnostics.
Yeah, we all believe that Billy said all that stuff and wrote the ad. I think it will be nice to hear it come from his lips... just letting everyone know that he is still capable of speaking for himself and not have his son speaking for him... or pretending to speak for him.
And if it is Billy.. I have something to tell him. I will be voting for the most moral and christian acting man in the race... Obama. Cares for the hungry and homeless and that every man and women be treated equal. A man who doesn't think that when Jesus discple were hungry, he didn't point them towards Wal Mart and tell them to quit bothering him. Nor did Jesus provide these people with fishing poles.. he provided them with food.
Wow! What an amazing post! You are absolutely right.
Amen! Jesus said we are judged on how we treat the hungry, sick and homeless, and those should be the priority issues of Christians.
what about your hinduism, illegality.