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Where does the Deepest Snow on Earth Accumulate?

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

As the warm and relatively snowless winter of 2011-2012 progresses in the contiguous United States (I write this as a big snowstorm develops in the west-central plains!), some other parts of the world have been experiencing some extraordinary snowfalls, specifically in Alaska and Europe. So, I thought I’d take a look at what the greatest depths of snow on record might be.

Snowiest Places in the World


It is likely that probably the snowiest regions in the world are in the coastal mountains of British Columbia and southern Alaska above the 3,000 foot level. Unfortunately, there are no weather sites to make measurements in these areas. The Thompson Pass location in Alaska (mentioned below) is indicative of how much snow probably falls in such locations. The Thompson Pass site is no longer making observations. What we do have records for in North America are noted below.

The snowiest place we have measurements from (historically-speaking) in North America are the two sites in the mountains of western Washington (both situated around 5,000-6,000 feet) on the slopes of Mt. Rainier and Mt. Baker. At both places world records have been established for greatest annual snowfall:

Greatest seasonal snowfall: 1,140” at Mount Baker Ski Resort 1998-1999

Greatest 12-month snowfall: 1,224.5” at Paradise Rainier Ranger Station between Feb. 19, 1971 and Feb. 18, 1972 

The greatest depth achieved at either location was 367” at Paradise R.S. on March 10, 1956.

However, it is in the Sierra of California that even greater depths of snow have been achieved, specifically at Tamarack, a site located at 7000’ near where the Bear Valley Ski Resort is now in the central Sierra. In March 1911 the snow depth reached an amazing 451” (37.5 feet!), the greatest snow depth ever measured anywhere in North America (but not the world!). A seasonal total of 884” fell at Tamarack during 1906-1907, a Sierra and thus California record.

Other North American sites recording phenomenal seasonal snowfalls and depths include:

974.1” Thompson Pass, Alaska (just north of Valdez) in 1952-1953. Maximum depth unknown, the Alaska state record for such is 345” at White Mountain March 1, 1942.

963” Mt. Copeland (near Revelstoke), British Columbia, Canada in 1971-1972. Maximum depth unknown.

903” Crater Lake, Oregon in 1949-1950. Maximum depth 252” on April 3, 1983.

846.8” Alta, Utah (in the Wasatch Mountains) in 1982-1983. Maximum depth 179” on April 7, 1958.

837.5” Wolf Creek Pass, Colorado (in the San Juan Mountains) in 1978-1979. Maximum depth 251” on March 31, 1979.

Valdez, Alaska is the snowiest sea-level town in the world with an average of 320” falling each season. This winter has been one of its busiest with 104.9” this past January alone (reaching a maximum depth of 84” on January 12th). So far this season 339.1” has already (as of Feb. 3) accumulated at Valdez.

The port of Valdez on Alaska’s south-central coastline is the snowiest sea-level town in the world with an average of 320” of snowfall per season. Photo by Don Pitcher.

Here is a list of the 10 snowiest locations in the U.S. by annual average snowfall (various periods of record):

680” Paradise Rainier Ranger Station, Washington
552” Thompson Pass, Alaska
530” Mt. Baker Lodge, Washington
530” Crater Lake, Oregon
516” Alta, Utah
471” Soda Springs, California
445” Tamarack, California
442” Stampede Pass, Washington
436” Wolf Creek Pass, Colorado
429” Silver Lake Brighton, Utah


Impressive as the depths recorded in North America might seem, the deepest snow on earth accumulates in the Japanese Alps of Honshu Island around the 2,000-6,000’ level. The average annual snowfall is estimated to be in the 1200-1500” range (see The Climate of Japan by E. Fukui p. 171). On Feb. 14, 1927 a snow depth of 465.4” was measured on Mt. Ibuki at 5,000 feet. In fact, these amazing snow depths are a singular tourist attraction since a highway that transects the mountains is kept open all winter. It is known as the Yuki-no-Otani Snow Canyon.

A roadside and topside view of the famous Yuki-no-Otani Snow Canyon in the Japanese Alps of Honshu Island. The greatest snow depths ever measured on earth are in this region. Photos from, photographer(s) unknown.

Even low-level (in fact sea level) locations on the west coast of Honshu have recorded incredible snowfall and snow depths. Only Valdez, Alaska is snowier in this regard. Tsukayama recorded 68.2” of snow in 24 hours on December 30-31, 1960, a world record for a low elevation site. The snow depths are so extreme in the towns of this region that warm-water sprinklers are imbedded in the streets to melt the snow.

Snowfall in the towns along the Sea of Japan in Niigata Prefecture are so deep that artificial snow-melting systems must be employed. These warm-water sprinklers, which run down the middle of a street in Imokawa, keep the community functioning during the winter. Photo by M. Ishii.


The Alps of Europe above the 6,000-foot level also have recorded exceptional snow depths. Santis, Switzerland (elevation 8,200’) reported a snow depth of 325” in April 1999 following one of Europe’s snowiest winters. A world record point snowfall of 67.8” once fell in just 19 hours at Bessans in the French Alp region of Savoie on April 5-6, 1959. This winter has seen some very impressive snowfall in the Alps and on January 24th (last month) a depth of 226” was reported at the ski resort St. Anton Am Arlberg in Austria at the 2,800-meter (9,240-foot) level. Perhaps the deepest snow on record for the Balkans has fallen just this past week in Serbia where depths of up to 78” have been reported.

Curiously, one of the snowiest places in the world is in the Western Great Caucus Mountains of Russia near Turkey and the Black Sea. This is the region where the winter Olympics will next be held. Achishko (elevation 6,200’) has measured snow depths as high as 315”. Snow depths in the Swedish and Norwegian mountains reach up to 20 feet during particularly snowy winters.

The deepest undrifted snow reliably measured at a low level site in the U.K. was 83" at Forest-in-Teesdale in northeast England on March 14, 1947. The site rests at an elevation of 1305 feet and much deeper snow depths have been seen at mountain top sites like Ben Nevis (4406').


Prodigious snowfalls occur in high mountain areas all over the world, but by and large these places are uninhabited. Particularly snowy mountains include the Alps of the South Island of New Zealand above 3,000 to 4,000 feet. The southern tip of the Andes near Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia, in Chile and Argentina, experiences tremendous snow accumulations above the 3,000- to 4,000-foot level as do the southern flanks of the high Himalayas east of the 80° longitude. 

Surprisingly, the arctic and Antarctic receive very small amounts of snowfall due to lack of atmospheric moisture. It is estimated, in fact, that the South Pole is one of the driest places on earth. It is impossible to actually measure precipitation here because of the high winds, but less than one-tenth of an inch of precipitation (just one or two inches of snow) probably falls on an annual basis.

P.S. For metric conversions please note that 1” is about 2.5 cm and one meter about 3.3 feet.

The Wall Street Journal
February 8, 2013

When Species Extermination Is a Good Thing

It's not a race, exactly, but there's an intriguing uncertainty about whether a former U.S. president or a software magnate will cause the next deliberate extinction of a species in the wild. Will Jimmy Carter eradicate Guinea worm before Bill Gates eradicates polio?

Leo Acadia

Guinea worm will probably beat polio to the finish line of extinction.

It is more than a third of a century since a human disease was extinguished. The last case of smallpox was in 1977, and in those days health experts expected other diseases to follow smallpox quickly into oblivion. Polio has repeatedly disappointed campaigners by hanging on, though it now affects less than 1% as many people as at its peak in the 1950s.

The generosity of Bill Gates has done much to speed the decline of polio, and he and most experts now see its end within six years at most. India, 10 years ago the worst-affected country, has been polio-free since 2011, and only three countries still host the virus: Pakistan, Afghanistan and especially Nigeria. Though the murder of nine polio vaccinators in Pakistan by Islamists in December was a tragic setback, last year there were just 222 new polio cases world-wide.

As Mr. Gates recounted in his 2013 annual letter from the Gates Foundation, the reason for his optimism is that a new approach is bearing fruit, especially in northern Nigeria. Volunteers on foot (but guided by GPS and satellite imagery) map unrecorded villages and houses to identify gaps in vaccination programs.

The Guinea worm, a disease that the Carter Center has relentlessly pursued, will probably edge out polio to the disease extinction line. In 1986, more than 3.5 million Africans and Asians were afflicted with Guinea worm, or dracunculiasis; in 2012, just 542 caught the parasite.

The larvae of this nematode worm live inside freshwater copepods, or "water fleas." When the copepods are ingested in drinking water, the worms burrow through the stomach wall into the body cavity and mate. The females, which can reach 3 feet in length, then drill their way down the inside of the victim's legs over a year before erupting painfully from a burning blister on the foot. The victim is tempted to immerse the blister in water to cool it, which allows the worm to release its larvae to seek copepods. The only cure is to pull the worm out over many weeks, inch by inch, winding it round a stick as it emerges. There is no vaccine.

Filtering water to prevent the ingestion of water fleas and making sure infected people do not enter water are the best means of prevention. Guinea worm was first targeted for eradication before polio, and it, too, has been disappointingly stubborn. But last year the number of cases halved from the year before, meaning that there are fewer guinea worms left in the world than black rhinos. The handful of cases in Chad (10), Mali (7) and Ethiopia (4) are expected to dwindle to nothing this year, but there were 521 cases in South Sudan (mostly in just one county), where eradication might take one or two more years of hard work, urged on by Mr. Carter and backed by money from the Gates Foundation, the British government and other donors. Guinea worm would be the first animal to be deliberately driven extinct.

Supposing these two welcome eradications do happen this decade, what parasites go next? Don Hopkins of the Carter Center says lymphatic filariasis, another worm carried by mosquitoes, could be gone by 2020. Onchocerciasis, or river blindness, carried by black flies, is almost gone from the Americas but will take longer to eradicate in Africa.

The first bacterium to be driven extinct could be yaws, an infection of children related to the organism that causes syphilis, which disfigures many people, especially in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Easily treated now with a single dose of azithromycin, an antibiotic, yaws should be gone by 2020.

The Mormonizing of America

Stephen Mansfield
New York Times best-selling author
Posted: 11/06/2012 2:19 pm

There are nearly seven million Mormons in America. This is the number the Mormons themselves use. It's not huge. Seven million is barely 2 percent of the country's population. It is the number of people who subscribe to Better Homes and Gardens magazine. London boasts seven million people. So does San Francisco. It's a million more people than live in the state of Washington; a million less than in the state of Virginia. It's so few, it's the same number as were watching the January 24, 2012, Republican debate.

In fact, worldwide, there are only about fourteen million Mormons. That's fourteen million among a global population just reaching seven billion. Fourteen million is the population of Cairo or Mali or Guatemala. It's approximately the number of people who tune in for the latest hit show on network television every week. Fourteen million Americans ate Thanksgiving dinner in a restaurant in 2011. That's how few fourteen million is.

Yet in the first decade or so of the new millennium, some members of the American media discovered the Mormons and began covering them as though the Latter-day Saints had just landed from Mars. It was as though Utah was about to invade the rest of the country. It was all because of politics and pop culture, of course. Mitt Romney and John Huntsman were in pursuit of the White House. Glenn Beck was among the nation's most controversial news commentators. Stephenie Meyer had written the astonishingly popular Twilight series about vampires. Matt Stone and Trey Parker had created the edgy South Park cartoon series--which included a much- discussed episode about Mormons--and then went on to create the blatantly blasphemous and Saint-bashing Broadway play The Book of Mormon. It has become one of the most successful productions in American theater history.

Meanwhile, more than a dozen Mormons sat in the US Congress, among them Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader. Mormons led JetBlue, American Express, Marriott, Novell, Deloitte and Touche, Diebold, and Eastman Kodak. Management guru Stephen Covey made millions telling them how to lead even better. There were Mormons commanding battalions of US troops and Mormons running major US universities. There were so many famous Mormons, in fact, that huge websites were launched just to keep up with it all. Notables ranged from movie stars like Katherine Heigl to professional athletes to country music stars like Gary Allan to reality television contestants and even to serial killers like Glenn Helzer, whose attorney argued that the Saints made him the monster he was. The media graciously reminded the public that Mormon criminals were nothing new, though: Butch Cassidy of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid fame was also a Mormon, they reported.

Most media coverage treated this "Mormon Moment" as though it was just that: the surprising and unrelated appearance of dozens of Mormons on the national stage--for a moment. More than a few commentators predicted it would all pass quickly. This new Mormon visibility would lead to new scrutiny, they said, and once the nation got reacquainted with tales of "holy underwear" and multiple wives and Jewish Indians and demonized African Americans and a book printed on gold plates buried in upstate New York, it would all go quiet again and stay that way for a generation. In the meantime, reruns of HBO's Big Love and The Learning Channel's Sister Wives would make sure Mormon themes didn't die out completely.

What most commentators did not understand was that their "Mormon Moment" was more than a moment, more than an accident, and more than a matter of pop culture and fame alone. The reality was--and is--that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has reached critical mass. It is not simply that a startling number of Mormons have found their way onto America's flat-screen TVs and so brought visibility to their religion. It is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints has reached sufficient numbers--and has so permeated every level of American society on the strength of its religious value--that prominent politicians, authors, athletes, actors, newscasters, and even murderers are the natural result, in some cases even the intended result. Visible, influential Mormons aren't outliers or exceptions. They are fruit of the organic growth of their religion.

In 1950, there were just over a million Mormons in the world. Most of these were located in the Intermountain West of the United States, a region of almost lunar landscape between the Rocky Mountains to the East and the Cascades and Sierra Nevada Mountains to the West. The religion was still thought of as odd by most Americans. There had been famous Mormons like the occasional US Senator or war hero, but these were few and far between. There had even been a 1940 Hollywood movie entitled Brigham Young that told the story of the Saints' mid-1800s trek from Illinois to the region of the Great Salt Lake. Its producers worked hard to strain out nearly every possible religious theme, a nod to the increasingly secular American public. Though it starred heavyweights like Vincent Price and Tyrone Power, the movie failed miserably, even in Utah. Especially in Utah.

Then, in 1951, a man named David O. McKay became the "First President" of the Latter-day Saints and inaugurated a new era. He was the Colonel Harlan Sanders of Mormonism. He often wore white suits, had an infectious laugh, and under- stood the need to appeal to the world outside the Church. It was refreshing. Most LDS presidents had either been polygamist oddballs or stodgy old men in the eyes of the American public. McKay was more savvy, more media aware. He became so popular that film legend Cecil B. DeMille asked him to consult on the now classic movie The Ten Commandments.

Empowered by his personal popularity and by his sense that an opportune moment had come, McKay began refashioning the Church's image. He also began sharpening its focus. His famous challenge to his followers was, "Every Member a Missionary!" And the faithful got busy. It only helped that Ezra Taft Benson, a future Church president, was serving as the nation's secretary of agriculture under President Eisehower. This brought respectability. It also helped that George Romney was the revered CEO of American Motors Corporation and that he would go on to be the governor of Michigan, a candidate for president of the United States, and finally a member of Richard Nixon's cabinet. This hinted at increasing power. The 1950s were good for Mormons.

Then came the 1960s. Like most religions, the LDS took a beating from the counterculture movement, but by the 1970s they were again on the rise. There was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, a symbol of Americana when Americana was under siege. There was Mormon Donny Osmond's smile and Mormon Marie Osmond's everything and the three-year run of network television's Donny and Marie in the late 1970s that made words like family, clean, talented, patriotic, and even cute outshine some of the less-endearing labels laid upon the Saints through the years. New labels joined new symbols. A massive, otherworldly, 160,000-square-foot Temple just north of Washington, DC, was dedicated in the 1970s, a symbol of LDS power and permanence for the nation to behold. Always there was the "Every Member a Missionary!" vision beating in each Saintly heart.

By 1984, the dynamics of LDS growth were so fine-tuned that influential sociologist Rodney Stark made the mind- blowing prediction that the Latter-day Saints would have no fewer than 64 million members and perhaps as many as 267 million by 2080.3 It must have seemed possible in those days. In the following ten years, LDS membership exploded from 4.4 million to 11 million. This may be why in 1998 the Southern Baptist Convention held its annual meeting in Salt Lake City. The Mormons--a misguided cult in the view of most traditional Christians, most Baptists in particular--had to be stopped.

They weren't. Four years after the Baptists besieged Temple Square, the Winter Olympic Games came to Salt Lake City. This was in 2002 and it is hard to exaggerate what this meant to the Latter-day Saints. A gifted Mormon leader, Mitt Romney, rescued the games after a disastrous bidding scandal. A sparkling Mormon city hosted the games. Happy, handsome all-American Mormons attended each event, waving constantly to the cameras and appearing to be--in the word repeatedly used by the press at the time--"normal."

The LDS Church capitalized on it all. It sent volunteers, missionaries, and publicists scurrying to every venue. It hosted grand events for the world press. It made sure that every visitor received a brochure offering an LDS guided tour of the city. Visitors from around the world read these words: "No other place in America has a story to tell like that of Salt Lake City--a sanctuary founded by religious refugees from within the United States' own borders. And none can tell that story better than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

Largely unchallenged, the Mormon narrative prevailed.

What followed was the decade of the new millennium we have already surveyed. Mormons seemed to be everywhere, seemed to be exceptional in nearly every arena, seemed to have moved beyond acceptance by American culture to domination of American culture. At least this was what some feared at the time.

But Mormons did not dominate the country. Far from it. Remember that they were not even 2 percent of the nation's population as of 2012. True, they were visible and successful, well educated and well spoken, patriotic and ever willing to serve. Yet what they had achieved was not domination. It was not a conspiracy either, as some alleged. It was not anything approaching a takeover or even the hope for a takeover

Few observers seemed to be able to explain how this new level of LDS prominence in American society came about. They reached for the usual answers trotted out to account for such occurrences: birth rates, Ronald Reagan's deification of traditional values, the economic boom of the late twentieth century, a more liberal and broadminded society, even the dumbing down of America through television and failing schools. Each of these explanations was found wanting.

The Mormon Machine

The truth lay within Mormonism itself. What the Saints had achieved in the United States was what Mormonism, unfettered and well led, will nearly always produce. This was the real story behind the much-touted "Mormon Moment." The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had risen to unexpected heights in American society because the Mormon religion creates what can benevolently be called a Mormon Machine-- a system of individual empowerment, family investment, local church (ward and stake level) leadership, priesthood government, prophetic enduement, Temple sacraments, and sacrificial financial endowment of the holy Mormon cause.

Plant Mormonism in any country on earth and pretty much the same results will occur. If successful, it will produce deeply moral individuals who serve a religious vision centered upon achievement in this life. They will aggressively pursue the most advanced education possible, understand their lives in terms of overcoming obstacles, and eagerly serve the surrounding society. The family will be of supernatural importance to them, as will planning and investing for future generations. They will be devoted to community, store and save as a hedge against future hardship, and they will esteem work as a religious calling. They will submit to civil government and hope to take positions within it. They will have advantages in this. Their beliefs and their lives in all-encompassing community will condition them to thrive in administrative systems and hierarchies--a critical key to success in the modern world. Ever oriented to a corporate life and destiny, they will prize belonging and unity over individuality and conflict every time.

These hallmark values and behaviors--the habits that distinguish Mormons in the minds of millions of Americans-- grow naturally from Mormon doctrine. They are also the values and behaviors of successful people. Observers who think of the religion as a cult--in the Jim Jones sense that a single, dynamic leader controls a larger body of devotees through fear, lies, and manipulation--usually fail to see this. Mormon doctrine is inviting, the community it produces enveloping and elevating, the lifestyle it encourages empowering in nearly every sense. Success, visibility, prosperity, and influence follow. This is the engine of the Mormon ascent. It is what has attracted so many millions, and it is the mechanism of the Latter-day Saints' impact upon American society and the world.

Mormons make achievement through organizational management a religious virtue. It leads to prosperity, visibility, and power. It should come as no surprise, then, that an American can turn on the evening news after a day of work and find one report about two Mormon presidential candidates, another story about a Mormon finalist on American Idol, an examination of the controversial views of a leading Mormon news commentator, a sports story about what a Mormon lineman does with his "Temple garments" in the NFL, and a celebration of how Mormons respond to crises like Katrina and the BP oil spill, all by a "Where Are They Now?" segment about Gladys Knight, minus the Pips, who has become--of course--a Mormon.

Mormons rise in this life because it is what their religion calls for. Achieving. Progressing. Learning. Forward, upward motion. This is the lifeblood of earthly Mormonism. Management, leadership, and organizing are the essential skills of the faith. It is no wonder that Mormons have grown so rapidly and reached such stellar heights in American culture. And there is much more to come.

THE MORMONIZING OF AMERICA by Stephen Mansfield, © 2012. Published by Worthy Publishing, a division of Worthy Media, Inc., Brentwood, TN.

Billy Graham Faces Backlash Over Mormon 'Cult' Removal

Religion News Service  |  By  Posted: 10/25/2012 7:53 am EDT Updated: 10/25/2012 7:53 am EDT

(RNS) The Rev. Samuel Wynn admired Billy Graham and his evangelistic association for decades, joining its spiritual crusades and urging fellow Christians to do the same. But no more.

"I will never again support anything by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association," said Wynn, the superintendent of a United Methodist Church district in Fayetteville, N.C.

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 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.

"There's a sense that Protestants are beleaguered right now," said Leonard, "and in another four years may be even more so."
Leonard and other experts suspect that Billy Graham's son, Franklin, who is also the BGEA's president and CEO, was behind the move to declassify Mormonism as a cult. The younger Graham is a more eager culture warrior, while Billy Graham has expressed regret for his past partisanship.

Just this week, Franklin Graham published an editorial entitled "Can An Evangelical Christian Vote for a Mormon?" The answer was an enthusiastic yes.

Several conservative Christian bloggers, including Scott, note that the BGEA, Franklin Graham and his Christian aid group, Samaritan's Purse, are all longtime clients of public relations executive Mark DeMoss, a Romney campaign adviser.
DeMoss said he knew nothing about removing the "cult" language until he read media stories last week. In fact, DeMoss said, for the last six years -- since Romney's first White House run -- he has urged evangelicals to forget about candidates' theology and focus on their values.

"I am not advising anyone about how they discuss or treat theological differences in a political context," DeMoss said, "and there is no evidence I have done so with Franklin Graham or his father."

The BGEA did not respond to a request for comment.

In a recent article in Christianity Today, a magazine founded by Billy Graham, several evangelical leaders supported the BGEA's cult declassification.

"One very good thing about the Romney candidacy is that it is causing both evangelicals and Mormons to clarify terminology in civil dialogue -- as among friends," Jerry Root, director of an evangelism institute at Wheaton College in Illinois, told the magazine. Other evangelicals quoted in the article disagreed with the decision.

In the end, the Grahams' endeavors to ease evangelical consciences about voting for a Mormon may backfire.

Bart Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church in Farmersville, Texas, said he had been prepared to vote for Romney -- until last week.

"The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association probably cost Mitt Romney my November ballot when it stopped calling Mormonism a cult explicitly because of this election," Barber wrote on his blog.

"For the sake of my congregation, when Billy Graham is muddying the waters of the gospel, I have an obligation to provide clarity," Barber continued.

"For the sake of Mormons in my community who need to know of their need for the gospel of Jesus Christ and who are being reassured in their damnable heresy by none less than Billy Graham," Barber said, "I have an obligation to provide clarity."