Republican Mitt Romney’s pilgrimage to evangelist Billy Graham’s mountaintop home in North Carolina apparently is paying dividends.
The Charlotte Observer reports this morning that Graham’s organization has removed the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints — Romney’s church — from its published list of cults.
Graham issued a statement after his visit by Romney: “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.”
He also told Romney this: “I’ll do all I can to help you. And you can quote me on that.”
Graham wasn’t kidding.
“The election-year embrace of Mitt Romney by some evangelical Christians now borders on a bear hug, given a series of moves by Billy Graham and his family that appear to say it’s OK to vote for a Mormon.”
“This week, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association removed Mormonism from its list of religious cults.”
“The reclassification follows Romney’s visit to Graham’s mountain home last Thursday, a meeting that also included Graham’s son Franklin, who now runs the association for his 93-year-old father.”
“Mormons consider themselves Christians and say their faith tracks the teachings of Jesus. But they give equal stature to the Book of Mormon and the Bible. Several of their beliefs – including that God the Father, the Holy Spirit and Jesus are separate deities and not part of the divine Trinity – further separate them from mainstream Christian teachings.”
“An article on the Graham website had classified Mormons, along with Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Unification Church, Unitarians, Spiritists and Scientologists, among others, as cults.”
“Our primary focus at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has always been promoting the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Ken Barun, the evangelical association’s chief of staff, said in a prepared statement.
“We removed the ( cult) information from the website because we do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has become politicized during this campaign.”