Billy Graham, the Mormon Cult & the Politics of Power

“Cult. What cult? Did we say it was a cult? You must be mistaken.” In what the powers-that-be obviously thought would be a move that would go unnoticed, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association quietly removed “Mormonism” from the list of cults on their website. Well, perhaps not as quietly as they thought. After the “Charlotte Observer” first reported the story on Thursday (here), several other mainstream media outlets began reporting on the controversial move by the BGEA (here and here). By the end of the day, several Baptist bloggers (here and here) began to weigh in.

What possible excuse could the BGEA have for dropping Mormonism from its list of cults, which included stalwarts like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Unitarians, Scientologists, and Moonies (Unification Church)? According to Association Chief of Staff Ken Barun:

“Our primary focus at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has always been promoting the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We removed the information from the website because we do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has become politicized during this campaign.”

To borrow a phrase from Joe Biden, that is malarkey! If I believed in coincidences (which I don’t), then I might be able to accept that the politics of power was not involved in the decision to remove Mormonism from the list of cults, where it rightfully belongs. However, I can’t help but wonder whether or not a visit to Rev. Graham last Thursday by a certain Mormon candidate for President could have had any influence on this ill-advised decision. I’m sure it didn’t hurt that one of Mr. Romney’s current advisers, Mark DeMoss, was the longtime spokesman for Franklin Graham, the son of the legendary evangelist, who now runs the BGEA.

Move along, folks. Nothing to see here. What affect the decision to remove Mormonism from the cults’ list will have on the electorate in NC and other states remains to be seen, but it seems clear that the Romney campaign has scored a major political victory at the expense of the truth of the Gospel. That the Gospel’s loss was achieved with an assist from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is both sad and disturbing.

While many Evangelical Christians — including many Southern Baptists — will either minimize or ignore altogether the influence of politics on the church, I believe that this move by Billy Graham’s Association — even if the elder Graham is unaware of the removal of Mormonism from the cults’ list — will have disastrous unintended consequences. The most immediate consequence will be the acceptance and approval of Mormonism as a legitimate Christian “denomination” or faith group. Even before the BGEA’s move, we have already had many Evangelical Christians blur the distinctions between orthodox, Biblical Christianity and the unorthodox, false cult of Mormonism. The blurring will only increase if Mitt Romney is elected President.

While I am fully aware that Americans are not electing a “Pastor-in-Chief” on November 6, I believe that it is both foolish and shortsighted for conservative, Bible-believing Christians to excuse Mr. Romney’s false religion because they either hate strongly dislike President Obama and/or strongly agree with Mr. Romney’s public policy positions. Franklin Graham, responding to his own question, “Can an Evangelical Christian Vote for a Mormon?,” seems to give a pass to Romney’s clearly unBiblical religious views because the former Governor somehow upholds God’s principles on social issues:

“We are at a profound crossroads. Our secularized society has shaken its fist in God’s face and rejected his very name,” Franklin Graham writes. “… We must not silence our voices when government clashes with the worship of God. I pray that all Christians and God-fearing Americans will put aside labels and vote for principles – God’s principles.” (here)

Last I checked, God’s principles, while including the sanctity of life and a Biblical definition of marriage (one man and one woman at one time), also included a belief in the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and not a false gospel. In fact, in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul has the strongest words of condemnation — not for pagans or worshipers of other gods — but for those who had perverted the Gospel of Jesus Christ and were preaching a false gospel while claiming to be followers of Christ. That is exactly what Mormonism (and other cults) do — they preach and teach a false gospel, having abandoned the Truth of the “Evangel,” the Good News that Christians — including those at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association — are called to proclaim. In the end, the decision of churches and evangelists —  implicitly or explicitly — to approve and accept the false cult of Mormonism will lead to unintended consequences that are eternal.

There is no question that America stands at a profound crossroads. Some American Christians will vote for Mr. Romney without thinking twice. Some, like Franklin Graham, believe that our society has “shaken its fist in God’s face and rejected His very name,” thus warranting a vote for Mr. Romney, a member, pastor, and bishop (his words in the debate on Tuesday night) of the Mormon Church. That maybe true and I will probably end up voting for Mr. Romney. However, I will not feel good about it. As other Evangelical Christians follow the lead of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and allow the politics of power to influence the church — instead of the church influencing politics and the culture as the salt and light we are called to be — I can’t help but think that God will give America the leader that she deserves. In the end, that may not turn out the way we had hoped or imagined.





25 comments for “Billy Graham, the Mormon Cult & the Politics of Power

  1. October 19, 2012 at 8:35 AM

    I’m fine with whatever God allows come November 6th. I don’t want Obama back in there lying his shiny white teeth off, but if he is reelected, we will get what we deserve and God sees sufficient to meet our needs and bring about His purposes. Babylon happens.

    • October 19, 2012 at 10:04 AM


      I firmly believe that God is in control. Whether it is Obama or Romney, I think there are difficult days ahead for the country in general and Christians in particular. Hope all is well with you. Have a great day and God bless,


  2. October 19, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    Yeah I don’t feel good about voting for Romney either. In fact, I’m debating with myself whether I should stand on principle and vote for a third party candidate (like the Constitution Party or something). But that doesn’t set right either because I feel like that is a vote towards giving Obama the presidency again and I really REALLY want him out of office. Well, I’ve got a little time to decide. Maybe God will give me a burst of wisdom or inspiration before then.

    • October 19, 2012 at 11:35 AM


      I’m not yet debating with myself over who to vote for (it will probably be Romney), but I reserve the right to go into the voting booth and, if convicted by the Holy Spirit, decide not to vote for a candidate not named Obama or Romney. That probably won’t happen because I believe that Mr. Romney’s public policies on social issues and issues of religious liberty will most likely (although no guarantee) be more in line with orthodox Biblical views than not. However, I still will not feel 100% good about casting a vote for Mr. Romney. Thanks and God bless,


  3. Royce
    October 19, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    Could it be that believing God lives on the planet Kolob and that he was once a man before he ascended to godhood and brought spirit-children into existence, is not as weird as you think it is? Perhaps the idea that we can spend eternity on our own planet with our wife(s) and children is an idea whose time has come!

    • October 19, 2012 at 12:14 PM


      Thanks for reading my post. I can’t tell whether or not you are being facetious with your comment. As to your question, it might not be AS weird as I think it is, but then again, you don’t know how weird I thought it was to begin with 🙂 Thanks and God bless,


  4. October 19, 2012 at 1:14 PM


    I appreciate your strong but not unreasonable response to the BGEA’s disappointing decision to cater to public criticism. It is after all, at least from the way I’m beginning to see their decision to remove the reference to a list of cults–a charge of hypocrisy. Now, however, they reaped from evangelicals the charge of selling out the gospel. On all accounts, they’d fared better had they settled for being viewed as politically hypocritical. And, from the way I’m understanding it, while the Charlotte Observer may have got the ball rolling on the issue, apparently it was actually a Gay watchdog group that first published the missing page from Graham’s site. I may put up what I’ve found out about it on my site. We’ll see.

    Grace, brother.

    With that, I am…

    PS Oh, by the way, I may wait till Monday or at least the weekend to put up my friendly critique of your piece on Romney’s biggest lie…Always good to read your pieces, Howell…

    • October 19, 2012 at 1:25 PM


      Thanks for the comment. When I saw your post about CJ Mahaney and the Maryland lawsuit, I figured that I had gotten “bumped” 🙂 I understand how that works as I have been meaning to post a follow-up about Lifeway’s Glorieta decision, but more pressing issues came to the forefront, including the BGEA’s decision to drop Mormonism from its list of cults. I’ll look forward to your friendly critique next week. I’ll try to respond as I am able, but I leave for our BCNM Annual Meeting next Monday afternoon.

      If the move to remove Mormonism had come at another time, it may or may not have been viewed with less skepticism from the Evangelical and Southern Baptist communities (not always the same thing). But, as it came the week after Mr. Romney’s visit to Rev. Graham and, as Franklin Graham’s former longtime spokesman is a Romney adviser, there’s no question in my mind that the formerly non-partisan BGEA has allowed politics to influence theology, which is always wrong. I do think that our theology and our faith should — as salt and light — always seek to influence politics and culture. Hope you have a great weekend. Thanks and God bless,


  5. Dwight McKissic
    October 20, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    Howell Scott,

    Spoken like a true Christian and argued like a great lawyer.

    Forgive me for thinking when I first heard about this, that SBC pastors would not raise a voice against it. What you’ve shared needed to have been spoken. Thanks.


    • October 20, 2012 at 8:18 PM

      Bro. Dwight,

      Thanks for the kind words. I appreciate the mention of this post in your post. I left a comment on your post as well. Very powerful words. Regardless of what Christians might think about the upcoming election, we cannot compromise the Gospel or allow political influences to lead us to water down our theology like what appears to be happening with the BGEA. God is in control, but we best be careful who or what we are serving. We cannot serve God and money — or politics. Politics and political parties will never be the answer to what ails America. Thanks again for your encouragement. God bless,


  6. Kenneth Palmer
    October 22, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    You might hate his polices but if u support graham u going against God its a cult plain an simple.

    • October 22, 2012 at 6:03 PM


      Thanks for reading and commenting. I think that this election poses serious questions for Christians as to who they will vote for. Regardless of what Rev. Graham’s Evangelistic Association does, Mormonism will continue to be non-orthodox Christian cult. Thanks and God bless,


  7. Kenneth Palmer
    October 22, 2012 at 7:55 PM

    Howell think about if a Christian like Obama makes a bad judgemet call he can adk for forgivness.Romney does not believe in the Son of God so there will be no concious.

  8. lydiasellerofpurple
    October 23, 2012 at 9:39 PM

    I agree with Peter that they would have been more honest to have seemed hypocritical. Oh the irony!

  9. October 24, 2012 at 5:32 AM


    You said:”I’m fine with whatever God allows come November 6th. I don’t want Obama back in there lying his shiny white teeth off, but if he is reelected, we will get what we deserve and God sees sufficient to meet our needs and bring about His purposes. Babylon happens..”

    If Romney is elected will it bother you to watch Romney lie his white teeth off?

    He has lied and switched positions so many times he appears to me to be a compulsive liar.

    • Tom Parker
      October 24, 2012 at 8:48 AM


      I’m 100% sure you did not mean it that way- but your comment about President Obama’s teeth could be viewed as racially offensive to some IMO.

  10. Ramona
    October 25, 2012 at 9:12 PM

    I must say all this sparked my interest in learning more about this group. Amazing the belief about pre-earth and salvation for the dead. It is interesting and a little scary at the same time that so many people believe in something way off the truth. Thanks for the inspiration and supporting the True God and His plan for salvation.

    • October 25, 2012 at 9:37 PM


      Thanks for reading. I’m glad that I was able to spark your interest in Mormonism and the differences with Biblical Christianity. I don’t think that many Christians are aware that Mormonism is so far off from Biblical Christianity. That’s why I think that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s removal of Mormonism from their cults’ list is problematic. I think it will just help to blur the lines even more between Mormonism and Christianity. Hope you are having a good week. Thanks for stopping by tonight. God bless,


  11. Jessica
    October 27, 2012 at 8:13 PM

    I’m truly astonished! Romney doesn’t believe in the true gospel of Jesus Christ and is clearly a liar. Yet he’ll receive the votes of those who say they are Christians and believe in the true gospel? That’s what I’ve garnished from your blog.

    • October 27, 2012 at 8:50 PM


      Thanks for stopping by. I think that this election poses some interesting challenges for Christians. While I do not believe that President Obama is a viable choice for Bible-believing Christians, I have argued that Christians should at least think twice before voting for Mr. Romney. That does not mean that Christians should not vote for Mr. Romney. What is does mean is that Bible-believing Christians should understand that Mr. Romney’s Mormon beliefs are not compatible with the true Gospel. Although we are not electing a “Pastor-in-Chief,” I nevertheless do not believe that Mr. Romney would check his Mormon beliefs at the White House door nor would I expect him to. I believe that Christians will have to vote their consciences when they enter the voting booth. Some will vote for Mr. Romney, some will end up voting for President Obama and some will vote for neither man. Regardless of the outcome, I believe that God is firmly in control. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. God bless,


      • Jessica
        October 27, 2012 at 9:17 PM

        I too believe God is completely in control and pray that His people will continue to be watchful as well as prayerful. Those of us who know the true gospel must be steadfast in having an affect on the world and not the world affecting us. We can only do this by living according to God’s word. We must ALWAYS pray that our true God be magnified in the White House for He is the only one who can break down the walls of division, immorality and all manner of evil. Thanks for your response.

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