Franklin Graham = Captain Renault

Franklin Graham = Captain Renault November 23, 2012

Franklin Graham was shocked — shocked, I tell you — to find out that the website of the Billy Graham Evangelical Association that he now leads said that Mormonism was a cult before they suddenly discovered that just as he and his father were endorsing Mitt Romney.

The evangelist told CNN that he did not write the article and that he was “shocked” to find the article on the BGEA website.

“We have 10,000 pages and I don’t write the 10,000 pages. Other people have written it. There was a discussion as to what a cult was and they (the article) had a definition of a cult and then they gave some examples and when I found out there were examples they took them off. But I was shocked that we even had that on there,” Graham said, as he described the “cult” reference as name-calling.

“If I want to win a person to Christ, how can I call that person a name? That’s what shocked me, that we were calling people names.”

Very sincere of you, Franklin.

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  • So is he against labeling anyone a cult?

  • I don’t know why they bothered editing their characterization of Mormonism as a cult. I dare say they sincerely believed it before Romney won the nomination and continue to sincerely believe it now.

    But the people who would find Romney being a Mormon bad on account of his therefore not being a “good Bible-believing Christian” weren’t going to go vote for Obama, Stein, or Johnson, and they’re not interested in caving to “liberal media” pressure on what the BGEA website does or does not say.

  • rabbitscribe

    Cult (N): A small unpopular religion.

    Religion (N): A large popular cult.


    In every cult, there’s a guy at the top who knows it’s a scam. In a religion, that guy is dead.

  • And now studio audience, it’s time to play, “Who’s the Christian” with Franklin Graham. (From an appearance on Morning Joe):

    (On Romney): “most Christians would not recognize Mormonism as part of the Christian faith.”

    “Newt’s been married several times… but he could make a good candidate.” I think Newt is a Christian. At least he told me he is.”

    “All I know is under Obama, President Obama, the Muslims of the world, he seems to be more concerned about them than the Christians that are being murdered in the Muslim countries.”

    (On a “frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex”): “His values are so clear on moral issues. No question about it… I think he’s a man of faith.”

  • @rabbitscribe #3 – There are non-religious cults: look at the followers of Ayn Rand or Lyndon LaRouche. And there are cults where the leader truly believe what he is teaching: those are far more dangerous than the the scams.

    Mainly, though, what distinguishes a cult from other groups is the amount of control it maintains over members. Few religious groups, large or small, popular or not, maintain a level of control that would qualify them as a cult. A good measure is to use the The Advanced Bonewits’ Cult Danger Evaluation Frame, written by neo-Pagan leader Isaac Bonewits in the late 70s.

  • From the article:

    It defined a cult as “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.”

    Umm … Judaism is a cult?

  • Michael Heath

    There was assertions in this forum during the campaign season that conservative Christians wouldn’t turn-out to vote for a Mormon. I don’t recall the people making that prediction but it was repeated by multiple commenters. I argued the opposite, that their turn-out would not be affected by having to vote for a Mormon; IIRC others also predicted a good turn-out even if Romney won the nomination. Those skeptical of conservative Chrsitian turn-out if a Mormon was nominated, in their defense, predicted such early in the campaign season. I don’t recall people making such predictions after Romney had locked-up the nomination.

    Here are some results according to CNN’s exit polls:

    In 2004 23% of who those who voted self-identified as born-again Christians. Those born-agains voted 78% Bush, 21% Kerry. Cite:

    In 2012 26% of those who voted self-identified as born-again Christians. They voted 78% Romney, 21% Obama. Cite:

    One reservation about these results. I’ve encountered some pollsters claiming conservatives are less prone to answer exit polling answers. I presume conservative Christians would be more reluctant to share with an exit poller in 2004. That’s given how difficult it was even for this group to defend President Bush’s record and partly why the GOP leveraged state-level anti-gay bills to drive turn-out among conservative Christians.

    So unless adjustments were made to these results based on the demographic differences in divulging information to exit pollers, the results might be slightly different. I do think it’s safe to conclude Romney’s Mormonism wasn’t a major deterrent to getting out the 2012 vote. In 2004 it was hate the gays, in 2012 it was hate the uppity black man in the White House; both appear at least roughly equal in driving conservative Christian turn-out and a vote for the Republican.

  • matty1

    @5 Great test and while I haven’t gone through it in detail I get the feeling from glancing at the questions that the BGEA would score fairly highly.

  • lippard

    “If I want to win a person to Christ, how can I call that person a name? That’s what shocked me, that we were calling people names.”

    It’s implicit in this statement that Mormons are not Christians and still need to be “won to Christ.” So what he gives with one hand, he takes away with the other. OK, maybe Mormons aren’t a cult, but they certainly aren’t Christians, he says.

  • Didaktylos

    Religion = Cult with army

    Cult = Religion without army

  • danielkim

    “If I want to win a person to Christ, how can I call that person a name? That’s what shocked me, that we were calling people names.”

    Gee. Maybe they’ll tone it down when they talk about homosexuals or Muslims.

  • lancifer


    In every cult, there’s a guy at the top who knows it’s a scam. In a religion, that guy is dead.

    I love that. You win the intertubes today.

    I always say,

    A myth is a religion to which no one still belongs. A cult is a religion to which you don’t belong.

  • Sastra

    “If I want to win a person to Christ, how can I call that person a name? That’s what shocked me, that we were calling people names.”

    The politics of religion: don’t tell the damned what you really think about them, and never say it in public. Keep it internal, because it looks bad to outsiders.

  • Why do I suspect Franklin Graham would still call Mormons ‘cultists’ when the cameras aren’t rolling and the microphones are off?

  • Fegh. In my evangelical days — back when Frankie’s Dad was still in his prime on the sawdust circuit — Mormonism was consistently identified as a cult, along with Jehovah’s Witnesses, Adventism, Christian Science, World Wide Church of God, Unification Church, and a bunch of other sects that derive in some way from historical Christianity and use Christian language. The point being that, like a cheap Chinese Rolex, they could deceive you by their similarity to the Real Thing.

    But according to Frankie, no: we have never been at war with Eastasia.

  • whheydt

    Re: Gregory in Seattle @ #5…

    Odd that you would use Isaac Bonewitz as an authority on anything…except maybe as an example of a scammer.

    But then, you may not be aware that his claimed “degree in Magyk (sic)” from the University of California at Berkeley is actually a degree in “Interdisciplinary Studies”.

    I was acquainted with Isaac in the ’70s. He’s a scammer from way back.

  • Pingback: » Franklin Graham: Islam is “Wicked” and “Evil”, but Mormonism as a “Cult” is “Calling People Names” Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion()

  • matty1


    I’m not sure what you are arguing here, surely the test as given is either useful or not independent of who wrote it. Are you arguing that it is not a useful way of identifying dangerous groups or that it is useful but should be avoided anyway so as not to give credit to a scammer?

  • dingojack

    Matty – I think that whheydt is urging caution because the source is suspect, nothing more. (However I don’t claim to have any kind of knowledge of Mr. Bonewitz, either personally or by reputation).


  • matty1

    Let’s assume the source is suspect. I’ve never heard of Bonewitz before this thread but I’ll go with it for the sake of argument.

    Nothing in the test linked at #5 depends on the identity of the source. It doesn’t contain factual claims where the reliability of the source would be relevant to deciding whether to believe them. It gives a set of criteria and asks you to apply them yourself to whatever group you are evaluating.

    I just don’t see how the utility of rating a group on “Amount of internal political and social power exercised by leader(s) over members; lack of clearly defined organizational rights for members.” depends on how honest Bonewitz is.

  • “In every cult, there’s a guy at the top who knows it’s a scam. In a religion, that guy is dead.”

    I think that Scientology, among others–including the RCC–has plenty of people at the top who know it’s a scam.