The source of Wynn’s ire: The BGEA’s recent removal of language on its website calling Mormonism a “cult.”
The scrubbing followed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s pilgrimage to Billy Graham’s mountaintop home in Montreat, N.C. After the Oct. 11 meeting, Graham pledged to “do all I can to help” Romney, according to a campaign aide.
The BGEA said it cut the “cult” language “because we do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has become politicized during this campaign.”
But Wynn and other conservative Christians accuse Graham of putting partisanship above piety and risking Christian souls to help Romney, a Mormon, win the White House.
‘’My question to Billy Graham is, What’s more important for the kingdom of God: politics or the message of Jesus Christ?” said Wynn.
For evangelicals, berating Billy Graham is like Catholics dissing the pope. Through his globe-trotting crusades and passionate preaching, the nearly 94-year-old evangelist has converted countless Christians and almost single-handedly ushered evangelicalism into the modern age.
But when “the greatest proclaimer of the gospel in the last century,” as one Southern Baptist called Graham, embraced Mormonism last week, he confirmed conservative evangelicals’ worst fears about the 2012 election: That Romney’s rise would lift his Mormon church to cultural prominence and acceptance within mainstream Christianity.
Howell Scott, senior pastor Bethel Baptist Church in Alamogordo, N.M., said the BGEA’s declassification of Mormonism as a cult “will have disastrous unintended consequences.”
‘’The most immediate consequence will be the acceptance and approval of Mormonism as a legitimate Christian’denomination’ or faith group,” Scott wrote on his blog last week. “The blurring will only increase if Mitt Romney is elected president.”
Most evangelicals do not consider Mormons Christian because Latter-day Saints revere Joseph Smith as a prophet, consider the Book of Mormon on par with the Bible and conceive of the Christian Trinity as three separate gods. Mormons acknowledge those differences but insist they are Christians.
Graham has been accused of crossing sectarian lines before, said Bill Leonard, a professor of church history at Wake Forest School of Divinity in North Carolina. The evangelist irked fundamentalists decades ago by inviting mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics to join him on stage during his crusades.
But Graham’s implicit acceptance of Mormonism last week came on the heels of a much-hyped study showing that Protestants are losing ground in the United States and amid a presidential campaign that includes — for the first time in history — a GOP ticket without a Protestant.