Revered evangelist Billy Graham has offered his support for US election candidate Gov. Mitt Romney, who is gaining the support of white evangelicals despite belonging to the Mormon religion.
According to the Weekly Standard, a Pew poll conducted before the first presidential debate had Romney with 74 percent of the white evangelical vote versus 19 percent for Obama.
Romney, a former Mormon bishop, opposes abortion in most cases, and is opposed to same sex marriages, while the Obama administration policies favour same-sex marriage, indirect abortion funding through Obamacare, and the HHS mandate compelling religious groups to offer contraceptive/abortifacient (emergency or ‘morning after’ drug) coverage.
Graham met with Gov. Mitt Romney in the evangelist’s home in North Carolina earlier this month.
Although Billy Graham has never endorsed a presidential candidate, the 93 year-old evangelist released a statement in which he said, “What impresses me even more than Gov. Romney’s successful career are his values and strong moral convictions.
“It was a privilege to pray with Gov. Romney—for his family and our country. I will turn 94 the day after the upcoming election, and I believe America is at a crossroads. I hope millions of Americans will join me in praying for our nation and to vote for candidates who will support the biblical definition of marriage, protect the sanctity of life and defend our religious freedoms.”
A week after the visit from Gov. Romney, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) removed the Mormon religion from a list of cults on his website, ABC news reports.
The site described a cult as “any group which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from the biblical message of the Christian faith.”
“Some of these groups are Jehovah’s Witnesess, Mormons, the Unification Church, Unitarians, Spritualists, Scientologists, and others,” the site added.
In a statement to CNN, Ken Barun, chief of staff for the association, said:
“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.”
Yet according to Joe Carter, an editor for The Gospel Coalition, the move is troubling, since it is proving valid the concern of many evangelicals that Christians would be expected to temper their criticism of Mormonism since it could be construed as a condemnation of a Mormon politician.
“When an organization dedicated to evangelism chooses to self-censor for fear of appearing “political,” then we’ve reached the stage when we need to reevaluate our priorities.”
Undaunted by criticism, the BGEA placed a special message from the Graham in a Wall Street Journal ad last week, which was, according the Los Angeles Times “as close to an endorsement of Romney as Graham could get without explicitly saying so”.
In the ad, Graham declares, “The legacy we leave behind for our children, grandchildren and this great nation is crucial. As I approach my 94th birthday I realize this election could be my last. I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and who support the nation of Israel. I urge you to support candidates 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 remains one nation under God.”
Photo Credit: Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, USMore