Franklin Graham: Mormonism Will Never Be Labeled a ‘Cult’ Again


During a recent interview with CNN, Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham and president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), advised that a page that was removed from the ministry website last month following Graham’s endorsement of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, which classified Mormonism as a cult, is “not going to come back.”

“I was shocked that we even had that on there,” Franklin Graham said. “[W]e’re calling people names. If I want to win people to Christ, how can I call them names?”

“So, we just took it off,” he continued, insinuating that he made the final decision in the matter. “And it’s not going to come back, because I don’t want to be involved in calling a person a name.”

BGEA Media Relations Director Brent Reinhart confirmed to Christian News Network that Franklin Graham was the ultimate decider in the removal of the web page.

As previously reported, following a meeting last month with Mitt Romney, Graham’s ministry removed a page from its website that included Mormonism in a list of religious cults. Although the page no longer exists in general searches, it is accessible via Internet archives, which show that it was first posted in June 2010.

The page, entitled, “What is a Cult?” read, “A cult is any group which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from the Biblical message of the Christian faith. It is very important that we recognize cults and avoid any involvement with them. Cults often teach some Christian truth mixed with error, which may be difficult to detect.”

It then listed among three bullet points on how to identify a cult, “They do not adhere solely to the sixty-six books of the Bible as the inspired Word of God. They add their ‘special revelations’ to the Bible and view them as equally authoritative.”

  • Connect with Christian News

“Some of these groups are Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, the Unification Church, Unitarians, Spiritists, Scientologists and others,” the web page stated.

Following reports of the removal, Billy Graham’s media representative, A. Larry Ross, released a statement explaining the move.

“Mr. Graham’s calling is not to pass judgment, but to proclaim the Biblical truth that Jesus is the only way to heaven, allowing every individual and group to fall along that plumb line,” Ross outlined. “He further stressed that salvation is the work of Almighty God, and that only He knows what is in each human heart.”

“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,” added Ken Barun, chief of staff for BGEA.

Several days after the election, Christian News Network contacted BGEA Media Relations Director Brent Reinhart to inquire if the ministry would now be restoring the web page.

“There are no plans in regards to that,” he said. “Not that I’m aware of.”

Christian News Network also spoke with A. Larry Ross Communications to obtain clarification on where Billy Graham stands on the issue of Mormonism.

“If [Billy Graham] would do something that would alienate an audience, he wouldn’t be able to reach them,” stated representative Melany Ethridge.

When asked if Mr. Graham personally believes that Mormonism is a cult, she said that he has never made a declaration on the matter “one way or the other.”

“Because Mr. Graham has been called to a ministry of proclamation, rather than apologetics, throughout this period he has never proselytized, targeted or labeled specific people groups, faiths or denominations,” added A. Larry Ross in a supplied statement, which was a virtual carbon copy of the statement issued after the Grahams’ removed the cult page from the ministry website.

This is not the first time that Billy Graham has been criticized by evangelicals for his beliefs and actions, however. In 1997, Graham came under fire after appearing on Robert Schuller’s Hour of Power and stating that whether an individual comes from “the Muslim world or the Buddhist world, the Christian world or the non-believing world, they are members of the Body of Christ.”

“I think the Body of Christ, which comes from all the Christian groups around the world, or outside the Christian groups —  I think everybody that loves Christ or knows Christ, whether they’re conscious of it or not, they’re members of the Body of Christ,” he said. “They may not even know the name of Jesus, but they know in their heart that they need something that they don’t have, and they turn to the only light that they have. And I think that they are saved, and that they are going to be with us in heaven.”

When Schuller replied, “This is fantastic! I’m so thrilled to hear you say that. There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,” Graham agreed, “There is.”

In 2005, during an interview with Larry King, Graham repeated that he is welcoming of all religions.

“I love them all, and welcome them all, and love to be with them, and friends with all of them. For example, I just talked to a man in New York City — he was a Mormon,” he said. “And I’ve loved the Mormons for years, and yet there is a big divide between the Mormons and some of the other groups. But, I have great friends among the Mormons, and the same among the Catholics. Of course, I loved Pope John Paul II and watched the whole process of his suffering, his dying and the tremendous — my daughter went to represent me .”

King then asked, “What about those like the Jews, the Muslims, who don’t believe [in Christ]?” Graham replied, “That’s in God’s hands. I can’t be the judge.” King echoed, “You don’t judge them?” Graham answered, “No. Going to hell and all that.”

“What is going on here?” asked John McArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church of Sun Valley, California, in response to Graham’s comments. “It’s an almost inconceivable contradiction that a man who believes that has raised millions and millions and millions of dollars to gather people from all over the world into large stadiums and tell them they need to believe in Jesus Christ.”

Earlier this year, Franklin Graham also was questioned on MSNBC’s Morning Joe about his beliefs regarding those of other faiths, specifically whether Mormons are of the “Judeo-Christian faith.”

“Most Christians would not recognize Mormons as part of the Christian faith,” he stated, but did not reveal his personal beliefs on the matter. “I’m just saying that most Christians would not recognize Mormonism. Of course they believe in Jesus Christ. They believe in a lot of other things, too, that we don’t accept theologically.”

“We may have some disagreement and that’s fine,” he added last week. “I’m an evangelist. I want to reach as many people as I can. If I’m calling them names, it doesn’t work.”

“[Mormonism] is a damning religious system,” McArthur said. “It is so far from Christianity that it is more like paganism than Christianity.”

“Evangelicalism is in a desperate situation, and that is made manifest by its inability to distinguish who is a true Christian. We have abandoned any clear understanding of what it means to really be saved,” he asserted. “We have no right to redefine [salvation] in our own terms in order to be be popular or in order to be accepted. True and historic Christianity has never been confused about what it means to be a Christian.”

Print Friendly

What do you think? Discuss this article...

9 Responses to Franklin Graham: Mormonism Will Never Be Labeled a ‘Cult’ Again

  1. So hurts to witness the change in Billy and Franklin.

  2. The Grahams are so hypocritical as we all are, these men are dangerous having a platform to spew these heresies. Pray for them.

  3. Mormonism teaches a Lie against Gods 1st commandment as they teach that God was a man on a far away planet that circled the Star Colab. and that the many gods’ saw he was a good man and let him become one of them, gave him his own planet, where he is mating with goddesses and they teach we are their offspring.
    If we are good little boys and girls they saw we will become god’s and goddesses.
    They fell for one of Lucifers 1st Lies to mankind. “You shall not die but you shall become as God’s. God says: “There is no God beside me”

  4. I wonder what Paul would say about cults. Oh wait I can read what he said in the Bible and it was definitely name calling.

  5. Evangelicals are compromising all around us. The Word of God has some choice words for people who deny Christ, raise up false religions in place of the One True God, and deceive people. The Mormons do this, so naturally the gospel, the Bible, the TRUTH would be offensive to them.

    By “not calling them names” you are simply smoothing over the truth which is the only power to save them. It is sad to see the decline of BGEA into such an unloving, unChrist-like position.

  6. I think we are doing the Mormons and other cults a great injustice if we don’t tell them the truth. Jesus is the only way to the Father and if we don’t tell people the clear and not always easy truth, we will have to answer to God. I don’t know if the Grahams have thought about it like that, but they are not helping non-believers with this kind of wishy-washy talk.

  7. Ten Lies I Told as a Mormon Missionary
    by Loren Franck

    The Bible predicts a dreadful fate for liars. For instance, while banished on the island of Patmos, the Apostle John saw that “all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). Similarly, the beloved disciple writes, liars are doomed to an eternity outside of God’s presence (Revelation 22:15). Because Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44), lying is extremely serious sin.

    As a full-time Mormon missionary from 1975 to 1977, I lied for the church countless times. Like my colleagues in the South Dakota-Rapid City Mission, which served the Dakotas and adjacent areas, I spoke truthfully about my background, but touted many Mormon teachings that contradict the Bible. After my mission ended, however, I examined these doctrines more closely. The harder I tried to reconcile the contradictions, the more evident they became. So, after extensive prayer and study, I resigned my church membership in 1984. Cheated and betrayed, I lacked spiritual life for the next 17 years. But God, knowing those who are His (John 10:14; 2 Timothy 2:19), drew me to Christ (John 6:44) and saved me in 2001. My spiritual emptiness was replaced by the abundant life only the Savior can give (John 10:10). And now, like millions of Christians worldwide, I have everlasting life through my faith in Him (John 3:36; 6:47).

    I can’t remember all of my missionary lies. Some were small, others grandiose, but all were false and misleading. Here are ten I’ll never forget.

    1. We’re Not Trying to Convert You

    Of all my lies, this was the most frequent. I learned it well while in Winnipeg, Manitoba, which was my first assignment. A standard door-to-door proselyting pitch began with, “We represent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Interrupting, many people said they had their own religion. “Oh, we’re not trying to convert you,” I responded. “We’re sharing a message for all faiths.”

    But Mormon missionaries have one overriding goal, and that’s to bring converts into the church. Clearly, this was the purpose of my mission. I didn’t trade the Southern California sunshine for the Dakota snow merely to build interfaith relations. My calling was to teach the church-approved missionary lessons and then baptize the people I taught.

    2. The Bible is Insufficient

    According to their eighth Article of Faith, Mormons accept the Bible as the word of God only when it’s translated correctly. How convenient for a missionary. When a non-Mormon’s interpretation of scripture differed from mine, I frequently blamed faulty Bible translation. And since I believed the Bible was missing “many plain and precious things,” as the Book of Mormon claims in 1 Nephi 13:28-29, I urged prospective converts not to trust it completely.

    And yet, Mormon proof texts had few translation problems. Throughout my mission, I used only those Bible verses that steered prospects away from their church and toward Mormonism. But what kind of Christian believes that an all-knowing, all-powerful and all-loving God gave mankind an inadequate version of His word. Actually, the Bible is more than sufficient. With its 66 books, 1,189 chapters and nearly 740,000 words, it’s the divine road map to eternal life through Jesus Christ.

    3. We’re the Only True Christians

    For decades, the Mormon Church has tried to blend with mainstream Christianity. Accordingly, during my mission a quarter-century ago, I worked hard to convince prospects that Mormons believe in the biblical Jesus. But Paul warned of deceivers who would lure Christians away from “the simplicity that is in Christ.” These false teachers preached “another Jesus” and “another gospel” (2 Corinthians 11: 3-4) and were accursed (see Galatians 1:8-9). How interesting that Paul also cautions against false apostles, such as those in the Mormon Church (2 Corinthians 11:13-14).

    So which Jesus and gospel do Mormons preach? While a missionary, I taught that Christ was the firstborn spirit child of the Father in a premortal life. (The remainder of humanity was born as spirits later in this “pre-existence.”) But I didn’t tell prospects this was a literal birth, the result of literal fathering, as Mormon prophets and apostles have claimed. If asked, I taught that the devil was born as one of God’s noble spirit sons during the pre-existence, but had rebelled and started a war in heaven.

    Consistent with Mormon doctrine, then, Christ and Satan are spirit brothers. But the Bible teaches that Christ is God (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; John 1:1), that He has always been God (Psalm 90:2), and that He always will be God (Hebrews 13:8). Born into mortality some 2,000 years ago, Jesus is “God… manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16). He is far grander and holier than “our Elder Brother,” as Mormons dub Him. Jesus and Satan aren’t spirit brothers, and true Christians don’t believe such blasphemy.

    4. We’re the Only True Church

    I usually told this lie during the first of seven 30-minute missionary lessons, which presented the Joseph Smith story. According to our script, Smith prayed in 1820 about which church to join. He claimed the Father and Son appeared and told him that all Christian churches of the day were wrong. Smith said he was forbidden to join any of them, that their creeds were abominable and their professors all corrupt. “They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me,” the Lord allegedly added. “They teach for doctrines the commandments of men” (Joseph Smith — History, verse 19). In subsequent lessons, I told prospects that Mormonism is the true church God restored through Smith.

    But the Bible says such a restoration was unnecessary. Admittedly, there was partial apostasy after Christ’s resurrection, but never a complete falling away. In fact, shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against His church (Matthew 16:18). During my mission, however, I argued that the gates of hell did prevail against Christ’s church.

    Shortly after renouncing Mormonism, I learned a scriptural death blow to notions of universal apostasy. Addressing Ephesian believers 30 years after the Ascension, the Apostle Paul writes, “Unto [God] be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21). God received glory in the Christian church from the time of Paul’s writing to the present day, and He will receive such glory throughout all succeeding generations. Therefore, the church must exist from Paul’s day throughout eternity. This annihilates Mormon claims of complete apostasy and makes restoration of Christ’s church impossible.

    5. We Have a Living Prophet

    Whether in wintry Winnipeg or the balmy Black Hills of Rapid City, I criticized Christians because their church lacked a living prophet. Mormons claim the true church must have one. My favorite Bible proof text to back this claim was Amos 3:7, which reads, “Surely, the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”

    When prospective converts remained skeptical of living prophets, I quoted Ephesians 4:11-14, which apparently requires living apostles and prophets until believers unify in the faith and understand Christ completely. However, writing in the past tense, Paul is actually referring to apostles and prophets of Jesus’ day. Otherwise, verse 11 would read that the Lord “is giving” or “will give” apostles and prophets. Of course, God did reveal His will through Old Testament prophets, as Amos 3:7 affirms. But for the last 2,000 years, He has spoken to believers through Christ (Hebrews 1:1-2).

    The truth about Mormonism’s living prophets is further illuminated in Deuteronomy 18:22. “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord,” the scripture reads, “if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” Isaiah 8:20 contains a similar warning: “To the law and the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”

    False prophets who led ancient Israel astray received the death penalty (Deuteronomy 13:1-5; 18:20), and all who profess to be living prophets should consider the consequences. Mormon prophets might appear grandfatherly and sincere, but they’re not God’s living oracles. Since the Mormon Church was founded in 1830, its prophets have uttered a striking number of false prophecies. (See chapter 14 of Jerald and Sandra Tanner’s “The Changing World of Mormonism.”)

    6. The Book of Mormon is Scripture

    Joseph Smith claimed that the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on earth, adding that man would become closer to God by following its precepts than by obeying any other book (“History of the Church,” Vol. 4, p. 461). Replace “Book of Mormon” with “the Bible” and Smith would have told the truth.

    When teaching missionary lessons, I boldly maintained that the Book of Mormon is scripture. I spent myriad hours convincing prospects that it’s a sacred record of Christ’s activities in the western hemisphere. Yet many Christians I contacted realized the book “borrows” heavily from the Bible and other sources. And in stark contrast to the Old and New Testaments, virtually no archaeological and anthropological evidence supports the Book of Mormon. Why not? Because it’s fiction. When Christians want to read scripture, they turn to the Bible.

    7. You’re Saved By Works

    More than any other Mormon lie, this undermines Christ’s atonement, which is the most sacred doctrine of the Bible. Mormons usually equate salvation with resurrection. Likewise, they refer to eternal life as “exaltation.” I did both while teaching prospective converts. I relished the church’s third Article of Faith, which claims, “through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”

    Trying to bridge the doctrinal divide between Mormons and Christians, I emphasized that salvation is by grace “after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). What classic Mormon double-talk. Unmistakably, the Bible says eternal life is a gift from God (Romans 5:15; 6:23) to those who believe in Christ (John 6:47), call upon Him (Romans 10:13) and receive Him as Lord and Savior (John 1:12). Contrary to Mormon dogma, this gift cannot be awarded meritoriously.

    Equally clear is that salvation results from God’s grace through each believer’s faith, not from obeying a checklist of laws and ordinances (Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5). All who confess Christ and believe in Him from the heart shall be saved (Romans 10:8-13).

    Most Mormons know little about imputed righteousness — and neither did I during my mission. Essentially, as Christians know, the Lord credits believers with His perfect righteousness and charges their transgressions to His sinless spiritual “account.” Paul explains this doctrine masterfully in Romans 4 and 2 Corinthians 5:18-21.

    When teaching the Mormon gospel, though, I emphatically denied imputed righteousness, which is the essence of the atonement. I stressed that eternal life is earned by perfect obedience to all gospel laws and ordinances. Yet the Bible says that “there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). As the Psalmist writes: “They are all gone aside. They are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Psalm 14:3; compare Romans 3:10-18).

    How many Mormons perfectly obey all gospel laws? None. As the Bible asserts, even the church’s current prophet can’t keep God’s laws thoroughly enough to merit heaven (1 John 1:8). And if he can’t, how can anyone else?

    8. People Can Become Gods

    Given its explosive nature, this tenet was rarely shared with prospective converts. Missionaries try to entice people into Mormonism gradually, and presenting the doctrine of plural gods is seldom the best way. Several contacts learned the concept from their pastors or read about it on their own, but it was new to most prospects.

    “Our Father in heaven loves us so much,” I often said, parroting our lesson script, “that He provided a plan [Mormonism] for us to become like him.” I didn’t mention that Mormon godhood includes spirit procreation throughout eternity. Neither did I hint that the Mormon God was formerly a mortal man, had lived on an earth like ours, and had earned salvation through good works. However, such polytheism strips God of glory and sovereignty. No wonder the Bible condemns it so strongly. When discussing plural gods on my mission, I sidestepped Isaiah 44:8 whenever possible. “Is there a God beside me?” the passage reads. “Yea, there is no God; I know not any.” Other verses amply testify that only one God exists in the universe (Deuteronomy 4:35, 39; 6:4; Isaiah 43:10-11; 45:21-23).

    When confronted with these scriptures as a missionary, I usually countered with, “Those verses mean we worship only one God, that there’s only one God to us.” And if that failed, I lied further: “The Bible isn’t clear on this subject. Fortunately, the Lord told Joseph Smith that mortals can become gods.” Smith might have had a revelation, but not from God.

    9. You’re Born Again By Becoming a Mormon

    One of my favorite missionary scriptures was John 3:5. “Verily, verily I say unto you,” the Savior explains, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” To Mormon missionaries everywhere, being born of water means baptism into the Mormon Church. Birth of the Spirit refers to the gift of the Holy Ghost, allegedly bestowed after baptism.

    Unfortunately, during my mission, I didn’t know what it means to be born again. I completely misinterpreted Paul’s declaration that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17; compare Galatians 6:15). According to the Bible, believers in Christ are reborn spiritually as sons and daughters of God (John 1:12; 1 John 3:1-2). They experience a complete Christian conversion of mind and heart. Membership in a church organization might foster social activity and fellowship, but it’s not spiritual rebirth.

    10. Temple Marriage is Required for Eternal Life

    I participated in well over 100 Mormon temple ceremonies from 1975 to 1982, including my own marriage in 1977. Based heavily on freemasonry, temple rites are the church’s most carefully guarded secrets. And “celestial marriage,” which supposedly weds men and women eternally, is probably the most important temple ordinance. While a missionary, I frequently told prospects they needed temple marriage to gain eternal life.

    Yet the Lord says marriage between men and women is irrelevant to the hereafter. “The children of this age marry, and are given in marriage,” He declares. “But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage… for they are equal unto the angels….” (Luke 20:34-36.)

    The Bible does teach eternal marriage, but not the Mormon version. The union is between Christ, the Bridegroom, and His collective body of believers, who are the bride (Matthew 25:1-13; John 3:29; Romans 7:4; 2 Corinthians 11:2).

    False Testimony

    I close with a few words about “testimony,” which is a missionary’s emergency cord. When I couldn’t rebut an antagonistic statement scripturally, I fell back on my testimony. For instance, while proselyting in Grand Forks, North Dakota, I was once asked where the Bible mentions the secret undergarments Mormons wear. Caught off guard, I admitted that the Bible says nothing about them. I could merely testify that God revealed the need for these garments through living prophets. But my testimony wasn’t based on scripture or other hard evidence. Rather, it was founded on personal revelation, which is extremely subjective. Essentially, my testimony was nothing more than a good feeling about the church and its teachings. In Mormon parlance, it was a “burning in the bosom.” But burning or not, it wasn’t from God.

    If you’re a Christian, I urge you to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). That faith, the pathway to heaven, is found only in the biblical Jesus (John 14:6). But if you’re a Mormon, it’s time to prayerfully re-examine your beliefs. Do you know you have everlasting life? No. Can you obey all the commandments perfectly and earn a place in heaven? You can’t.

    I regret the many lies I told during my Mormon mission. When I received Christ, though, I confessed them (and my other sins) and received His forgiveness (1 John 1:9; Colossians 1:13-14). “He that heareth my word,” Christ assures us, “and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).

    Loren Franck lives in Los Angeles, California, with his wife, Verlette, and their young son.

  8. I believe that we shouldn’t judge others beliefs I know Jesus can save you from sin and I’ve studied my bible and I’m staying Christian:D

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


9 + six =

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>