Billy Graham absolves Mormonism of being a cult


Evangelist Billy Graham has put out full-page ads in Ohio newspapers including the Plain Dealer basically calling on people to vote for Mitt Romney.

He does not mention him by name but says, “I strongly urge you to vote for candidates who support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman, protect the sanctity of life and defend our religious freedoms.” That does not leave much doubt as to where his sympathies lie.

Shortly after Romney met two weeks ago with Graham and his son Franklin (who is now the head of the Billy Graham Evangelical Association that his father created), they scrubbed their website of all references to Mormonism as a ‘cult’. Formerly the BGEA had lumped Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, the Unification Church, Unitarians, Spiritualists, and Scientologists as all cults.

Some are surprised at the elder Graham, now 93, wading so overtly into electoral politics in the twilight of his life and suspect that it is his politically ambitious son who is behind this.

The Mormon church has been desperate to seek acceptance in the US as being part of Christianity but has been viewed with suspicion by many evangelical Christian groups. But as has been shown time and again, when the leaders of the evangelical churches find someone who they think shares their pro-oligarchic, pro-Israel expansionist policies, they are only too willing to ditch long-held positions to sign them on. Whether the rank-and-file evangelicals can switch beliefs and allegiances that easily remains to be seen.

Romney’s lasting legacy may be the mainstream acceptance that he has brought to Mormonism. Of course, what label is given to crazy beliefs is immaterial. But the crazy beliefs of Mormonism will soon be on a part with the crazy beliefs of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam in the US.

Comments

  1. busterggi says

    Who say that fundies don’t believe in evolution?

    Why look how their opinion on Mormonism has evolved in just a few short months.

  2. davidhart says

    It’s always something of a puzzle to me why there should be such a hoo-ha about calling Mormonism a cult in the first place. Admittedly, the word ‘cult’ is a bit fuzzily-defined, but most of the time when people use it they seem to just mean ‘a relatively small religion that I don’t like’. This actually does describe Mormonism for most Non-Mormon Christians.

    (As an aside, I would love to see a wide take-up of the phrase ‘Non-Mormon Christians’ – if the Mormons and all the (other) denominations of Christianity can’t sit down and decide between themselves whether Mormonism counts as a branch of Christianity or not, why should the non-religious have to side with one lot over the other in that debate?)

  3. raven says

    blogs.ajc.com: edited for length:

    Among them the Rev. Bryant Wright, pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta and president of the 16 million-member Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

    ”It is a cult, in the sense that it does not adhere to what would be traditional or orthodox biblical teaching. It’s really been kind of comical at the outrage of some folks when it’s called a cult….

    “Mormon and Christianity have in common that they’re two of the world’s religions, but the teaching from biblical or traditional Christianity is so different – that’s why it would be classified as a cult.”

    The Southern Baptists have had an official position on Mormonism for a long time. They are Fake Xians and they are all going to hell. They say so often.

    One wonders how much of what they claim to believe they really believe.

    Despite their hatred of the word “evolution”, religions evolve and quite rapidly. Those deeply held core beliefs can be tossed in a heartbeat and no one much cares.

  4. raven says

    Some are surprised at the elder Graham, now 93, wading so overtly into electoral politics in the twilight of his life and suspect that it is his politically ambitious son who is behind this.

    Some people claim that Billy Graham is in end stage Alzheimers and probably doesn’t even know Romney exists. A meat robot operated by the slimy Franklin Graham.

    I haven’t looked into it enough myself to see if this is correct. Vaguely humanoid toads just aren’t that interesting.

  5. raven says

    Just checked wikipedia and Graham has had Parkinsons for 15 years.

    Cognitive decline is common in late stage Parkinson’s.

    It’s quite likely that Graham isn’t cognitively aware of what is going on any more. Which means his son Franklin is literally using him as a meat puppet.

    It’s a fundie xian thing, I guess.

  6. Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says

    I wonder what they’ll say if Mittens loses the election. Back to being a cult?

  7. Kevin K says

    Billy is Depends-senile. Has been for a long time.

    It’s Franklin who holds the keys to all that money.

  8. stonyground says

    The mention of the Biblical definition of marriage is interesting. I’m sure that if you dug deeply enough you could find an endorsement of the modern understanding of marriage in the Bible. In general though, the Biblical definition of marriage is more inclined toward polygamy with a few slave girls thrown in. Interesting that Graham can refer to this definition safe in the knowledge that his target audience never read the Bible and will just assume that it says one man one woman, which is what he is implying. Interesting that justifying discrimination against the gays by refering to an ancient book is wrong but sort of understandable. But what do you make of someone who justifies such discrimination, not on what the ancient book actually says, but on what he thinks that it ought to say but doesn’t say?

    I have to say that if a party with the policies of the US Republican party stood in any country in Europe, their votes would be counted in the hundreds. There are specifically Christian parties in the UK who tend to poll fewer votes than the ‘Monster Raving Loony Party’ which is a spoof party that used to be led by a guy called Screaming Lord Such. I believe that they attract a lot of protest votes.

  9. Jared A says

    I have seen historians usually group mormonism as an evangelical protestant christian religion. Mythology aside, in actual practice the religion is more similar to other 2nd great awakening era protestant religions than any of them are to the more distant relatives such as eastern orthodox christianity.

  10. raven says

    There is no way to tell who is a True Xian. It’s all opinion.

    Except fight wars which they used to do. The dead guys were the Fake Xians.

    1/2 of all xians and 3/4 of all priests and ministers say Mormons aren’t xians.

    The Catholic church recognizes Protestant baptisms but not Mormon. The Mormon church doesn’t recognize any baptisms but their own.

  11. Jared A says

    Be that as it may, what I’m talking about is categories from an anthropological perspective, which has only an incidental relationship with how people define themselves. I don’t care who claims to be the True Christian (TM) group, I just care about how their beliefs and practices fit together to make a coherent historical story.

    Recognizing or not recognizing baptisms doesn’t really have much to do with it. Lots of reformation religions stopped recognizing each others’ baptismal rites; creating the One True Religion was a big part of the Great Awakening. But that detail has little effect on taxonomy. In fact, from my perspective the details of mormonism baptismal rites is a rather strong argument for lumping them in as christians. It’s precisely this type of sectarian obsession with “proper” ritual that characterizes huge swathes of christianity.

    Saying that taxonomy is all opinion is a little bit missing the point. Sure, it’s only a matter of opinion whether or not bears are mammals; they’ll shit in the woods regardless. But having a way to categorize things objectively makes it a lot easier to talk about them.

  12. raven says

    I don’t see that taxonomy has much to do with religion.

    Taxonomy is how they are phylogenically related and that is it.

    Religion is about various supernatural beliefs.

    If you look at it that way, xianity is just a sect of Judaism. And Moonie-ism is just a sect of xianity. Islam is a hybrid of Judaism, xianity, pagan religions, and stuff made up in Mecca.

    The Moonies, Moslems, and Jews would deny that all that.

    I just care about how their beliefs and practices fit together to make a coherent historical story.

    You might not care about their beliefs and how they differ but believe it, the religious sure do. The Mormons and the xians killed each other over them and not that long ago. They even fought a war, the Utah war. The Catholic Protestant wars flickered on and off for 450 years and killed tens of millions.

    Religions aren’t about making historical, coherent stories. They are about the supernatural. Supposedly. Most of the time they just seem a cover for the human drives for power, money, and sex. Franklin Graham is a good example of that.

  13. Jared A says

    I think that maybe you are confusing an academic interest with a value judgement. I just don’t see how most of your issues are related to my original comment at all..

    Except for this one:

    Taxonomy is how they are phylogenically related and that is it.

    This is absolutely not true. Taxonomy is a general term:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxonomy_%28general%29

    Categories are important for understanding the natural world, including human culture. So if you want to talk about whether or not christianity is a sub-sect of judaism, you can go do that. You discuss similarities and differences. Not just in supernatural beliefs, but all matters of mythology, doctrine, scripture, and culture. Looking at what historians have already written is a very good place to start for us amateurs.

    Please reread my original comment with this in mind. I said that historians tend to categorize mormonism as protestant christians–regardless of what the mormons or baptists themselves claim. I think that they have good reason to do this. If you think this is not true, please point me to specific historians that claim otherwise.

  14. smrnda says

    I am neither a Mormon nor a Christian, but I’d say that the Mormons hold beliefs that are significantly different (to me) that I would think of them as a separate religion with a distinct vision of God.

    However, if I think about them culturally, they fit into ordinary conservative Evangelical and Protestant culture quite nicely, and I tend to think that this matters more, especially politically.

  15. David myers says

    There is one lord, one faith one baptism saith the bible which is GOD’S word. Need I say more.

  16. Mano Singham says

    Actually, you may need to say more since it is not clear if you agree with the proposition that Mormonism is a cult.

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