Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Rosebud? Billy Graham Dead at 99; What was the Mystery that Moved William Randolph Hearst to Make Him the World’s Biggest Evangelist?


Billy Graham: The Offense of the Cross: San Francisco, 1958


Evangelist Billy Graham begins a sermon in Atlanta's Georgia Dome on Oct 26, 1994.

Re-posted by Nicholas Stix


Billy Graham, minister to presidents and evangelist to millions worldwide, dies at 99
Associated Press and St. Louis Post-Dispatch
• 2 hrs ago
• (2)

William Franklin "Billy" Graham Jr.

"My one purpose in life is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which, I believe, comes through knowing Christ."

Birth • Nov. 7, 1918, near Charlotte, North Carolina

Education • Bachelor of theology, Florida Bible Institute, 1940; bachelor of arts in anthropology, Wheaton College, Ill., 1943; numerous honorary doctorates.

Career • Baptist pastor in Western Springs, Ill., 1943-45. Field representative with Youth for Christ, 1945-49. From 1947 on ran his own campaigns, sponsored after 1950 by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, becoming history's most-traveled Christian evangelist and speaking in person to more than 210 million people in 185 countries and territories. Multi-media innovator and a key leader in numerous evangelical Protestant organizations and meetings.

Honors • The $1 million Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion (1982), Presidential Medal of Freedom (1983), Congressional Gold Medal (1996), honorary British knighthood (2001).

Writings • Countless sermons and speeches, daily newspaper columns, 32 books including a best-selling 1997 autobiography, "Just As I Am."

Family • Married Ruth McCue Bell in 1943 (she died in 2007). Children: Virginia ("Gigi"), Anne, Ruth, William Franklin Graham III ("Franklin," his father's successor as Billy Graham Evangelistic Association leader), Nelson ("Ned").

For Your Information

Nov. 7, 1918 • William Franklin Graham Jr. born on a farm outside Charlotte, North Carolina.
1934 • Receives Jesus Christ as savior through the preaching of traveling evangelist Mordecai Ham.
1938 • Presbyterian student is baptized and later ordained a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention.
1940 • Graduates from Florida Bible Institute in Tampa.
1943 • Graduates from Wheaton College in Illinois with a B.A. in anthropology. Marries fellow student Ruth McCue Bell.
1945 • Named the first full-time staffer with Youth for Christ, tirelessly crisscrossing the nation and laying groundwork for future success.
1949 • Becomes evangelism's rising star when William Randolph Hearst and others publicize his Los Angeles crusade.
1950 • Starts national radio program, "Hour of Decision" on the ABC network, eventually syndicated worldwide. Organizes the Minneapolis-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
1952 • Begins "My Answer," daily syndicated newspaper column.
1953 • Publishes "Peace With God," selling over 2 million copies. First feature released by his film studio in Burbank, California.
1954 • Defies expectations when 12-week London campaign reaches over 2 million people and catapults him to international celebrity status.
1956 • Founds "Christianity Today," leading evangelical magazine.
1957 • More than 2 million attend 16-week rally at New York's Madison Square Garden, the largest evangelistic venture to that time.
1973 • Addresses more than 3 million in five-day rally at Seoul, South Korea.
1977 • Preaches in Hungary, first of pioneering forays in the Soviet bloc.
1982 • Controversial first Moscow appearance, at peace conference.
1983 • Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom, nation's highest civilian honor, from President Reagan.
1993 • Dedicates "The Cove," a Bible study center near Asheville, North Carolina.
1995 • Sermons in San Juan, Puerto Rico, are translated into 102 languages and beamed by satellite TV to 175 countries. Billy Graham Evangelistic Association announces that son Franklin will succeed Billy as leader.
1997 • Publishes best-selling autobiography, "Just As I Am."
2001 • Three days after the Sept. 11 attacks, preaches at Washington National Cathedral service attended by George W. Bush and four former presidents.
2004 • November gatherings at the Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California; more than 300,000 attend; 12,000 make commitments to Jesus Christ.
2005 • Gathering billed as his last large crusade held in June in the New York City borough of Queens; 90,000 people attend.
2006 • Gives sermon in March at a New Orleans arena as city recovered from Hurricane Katrina.
May 2007 • Billy Graham Library dedicated in Charlotte, North Carolina, attended by three former U.S. presidents.
June 14, 2007 • Ruth Graham dies at age 87.

MONTREAT, N.C. • The Rev. Billy Graham, who transformed American religious life through his preaching and activism, becoming a counselor to presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, died Wednesday. He was 99.

Graham, who long suffered from cancer, pneumonia and other ailments, died at his home in North Carolina, spokesman Mark DeMoss told The Associated Press.

More than anyone else, Graham built evangelicalism into a force that rivaled liberal Protestantism and Roman Catholicism in the United States. His leadership summits and crusades in more than 185 countries and territories forged powerful global links among conservative Christians, and threw a lifeline to believers in the communist-controlled Eastern bloc. Dubbed "America's pastor," he was a confidant to U.S. presidents from Gen. Dwight Eisenhower to George W. Bush.

In 1983, President Reagan gave Graham the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor. When the Billy Graham Museum and Library was dedicated in 2007 in Charlotte, former Presidents George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton attended.

"When he prays with you in the Oval Office or upstairs in the White House, you feel he's praying for you, not the president," Clinton said at the ceremony.


Former presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, join Franklin Graham (second from right) as they pose with Billy Graham (center) in front of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., in this May 31, 2007, file photo. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Beyond Graham's public appearances, he reached untold millions through his pioneering use of prime-time telecasts, network radio, daily newspaper columns, evangelistic feature films and globe-girdling satellite TV hookups. Graham's message was not complex or unique, yet he preached with a conviction that won over audiences worldwide.

"The Bible says," was his catch phrase. His unquestioning belief in Scripture turned the Gospel into a "rapier" in his hands, he said.

A tall, striking man with thick hair, stark blue eyes and a firm jaw, Graham was a commanding presence at his crusades. He would make the altar call in his powerful baritone, asking the multitudes to stand, come down the aisles and publicly make "decisions for Christ," as a choir crooned the hymn "Just As I Am."

By his final crusade in 2005 in New York City, he had preached in person to more than 210 million people worldwide. No evangelist is expected to have his level of influence again.


The Billy Graham Crusade came to the St. Louis Arena in 1973. Post-Dispatch file photo.

"William Franklin Graham Jr. can safely be regarded as the best who ever lived at what he did," said William Martin, author of the Graham biography "A Prophet With Honor."

Born Nov. 7, 1918, on his family's dairy farm near Charlotte, North Carolina, Graham came from a fundamentalist background that expected true Bible-believers to stay clear of Christians with even the most minor differences over Scripture. But as his crusades drew support from a widening array of Christian churches, he came to reject that view.

He joined in a then-emerging movement called New Evangelicalism, that abandoned the narrowness of fundamentalism to engage broader society. Fundamentalists at the time excoriated the preacher for his new direction, and broke with him when he agreed to work with more liberal Christians in the 1950s.

Graham stood fast. He would not reject people who were sincere and shared at least some of his beliefs, Martin said. He wanted the widest hearing possible for his salvation message.

"The ecumenical movement has broadened my viewpoint and I recognize now that God has his people in all churches," he said in the early 1950s.

In 1957, he said, "I intend to go anywhere, sponsored by anybody, to preach the Gospel of Christ."

His approach helped evangelicals gain the influence they have today. Graham's path to becoming an evangelist began taking shape at age 16, when the Presbyterian-reared farmboy committed himself to Christ at a local tent revival.

Billy Graham and decades of other big moments at the St. Louis Arena


Take a look at years of big names, big games and big shows at the Old Barn.

"I did not feel any special emotion," he wrote in his 1997 autobiography, "Just As I Am." ''I simply felt at peace," and thereafter, "the world looked different."

After high school, he enrolled at the fundamentalist Bob Jones College, but found the school stifling, and transferred to Florida Bible Institute in Tampa. There, he practiced sermonizing in a swamp, preaching to birds and alligators before tryouts with small churches. He still wasn't convinced he should be a preacher until a soul-searching, late-night ramble on a golf course.

"I finally gave in while pacing at midnight on the 18th hole," he said. "'All right, Lord,' I said, 'If you want me, you've got me.'"

Graham, who became a Southern Baptist, went on to study at Wheaton College, a prominent Christian liberal arts school in Illinois, where he met fellow student Ruth Bell, who had been raised in China where her father had been a Presbyterian medical missionary.

The two married in 1943, and he planned to become an Army chaplain. But he fell seriously ill, and by the time he recovered and could start the chaplain training program, World War II was nearly over.

Instead, he took a job organizing meetings in the U.S. and Europe with Youth for Christ, a group he helped found. He stood out then for his loud ties and suits, and a rapid delivery and swinging arms that won him the nickname "the Preaching Windmill."

A 1949 Los Angeles revival turned Graham into evangelism's rising star. Held in a tent dubbed the "Canvas Cathedral," Graham had been drawing adequate, but not spectacular crowds until one night when reporters and photographers descended. When Graham asked them why, a reporter said that legendary publisher William Randolph Hearst had ordered his papers to hype Graham. Graham said he never found out why.

The publicity gave him a national profile. Over the next decade, his massive crusades in England and New York catapulted him to international celebrity. His 12-week London campaign in 1954 defied expectations, drawing more than 2 million people and the respect of the British, many of whom had derided him before his arrival as little more than a slick salesman. Three years later, he held a crusade in New York's Madison Square Garden that was so popular it was extended from six to 16 weeks, capped off with a rally in Times Square that packed Broadway with more than 100,000 people.

The strain of so much preaching caused the already trim Graham to lose 30 pounds by the time the event ended. It remains his longest revival meeting ever.

As his public influence grew, the preacher's stands on the social issues of his day were watched closely by supporters and critics alike. One of the most pressing was the civil rights movement. Graham was no social activist and never joined marches, which led prominent Christians such as theologian Reinhold Niebuhr to publicly condemn Graham as too moderate. Still, Graham ended racially segregated seating at his Southern crusades in 1953, a year before the Supreme Court's school integration ruling, and long refused to visit South Africa while its white regime insisted on racially segregated meetings.


Evangelist Billy Graham talks with President John F. Kennedy during a visit at the the White House in Washington on Dec. 12, 1961. (AP Photo)

In a 2005 interview with The Associated Press, before his final crusade which was held in New York, Graham said he regretted that he didn't battle for civil rights more forcefully.

"I think I made a mistake when I didn't go to Selma" with many clergy who joined the historic Alabama march led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. "I would like to have done more." Graham more robustly took on the cause of anti-Communism, making preaching against the atheist regime part of his sermons for years.


President Lyndon Johnson presents the Man of the Year award of the Big Brothers organization to evangelist Billy Graham at the White House in Washington on May 10, 1966. (AP Photo)

As America's most famous religious leader, he golfed with statesmen and entertainers and dined with royalty. Graham's relationships with U.S. presidents also boosted his ministry and became a source of pride for conservative Christians who were so often caricatured as backward. But those ties proved problematic when his close friend Richard Nixon resigned in the Watergate scandal, leaving Graham devastated and baffled. He resolved to take a lower profile in the political world, going as far as discouraging the Rev. Jerry Falwell, a founder of the Moral Majority, from mixing religion and politics.

"Evangelicals can't be closely identified with any particular party or person. We have to stand in the middle, to preach to all the people, right and left," Graham said in 1981, according to Time magazine. "I haven't been faithful to my own advice in the past. I will in the future."


Evangelist Billy Graham and President Nixon wave to a crowd of 12,500 at ceremonies honoring Graham in Charlotte, N.C., on Oct. 16, 1971. (AP Photo)

Yet, in the 2012 election, with Graham mostly confined to his North Carolina home, he all but endorsed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. And the evangelist's ministry took out full-page ads in newspapers support a ballot referendum that would ban same-sex marriage.

His son, the Rev. Franklin Graham, who runs the ministry, said his father viewed the gay marriage question as a moral, not a political, issue. Graham's integrity was credited with salvaging the reputation of broadcast evangelism in the dark days of the late 1980s, after scandals befell TV preachers Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker.

He resolved early on never to be alone with a woman other than his wife. Instead of taking a share of the "love offerings" at his crusades, as was the custom, he earned a modest salary from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

His ministry was governed by an independent board that included successful Christian businessmen and other professionals — a stark departure from the widespread evangelical practice of packing boards with relatives and yes-men.

"Why, I could make a quarter of a million dollars a year in this field or in Hollywood if I wanted to," Graham said. "The offers I've had from Hollywood studios are amazing. But I just laughed. I told them I was staying with God."

While he succeeded in preserving his reputation, he could not completely shield his family from the impact of his work. He was on the road for months at a time, leaving Ruth at their mountainside home in Montreat, North Carolina, to raise their five children: Franklin, Virginia ("Gigi"), Anne, Ruth and Nelson ("Ned").

Anne Graham Lotz has said that her mother was effectively "a single parent." Ruth sometimes grew so lonely when Billy was traveling that she slept with his tweed jacket for comfort. But she said, "I'd rather have a little of Bill than a lot of any other man." She died in June 2007 at age 87.

"I will miss her terribly," Billy Graham said, "and look forward even more to the day I can join her in heaven."


In this May 31, 2007, file photo, Billy Graham speaks as his son Franklin Graham (right) listens during a dedication ceremony for the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C. Graham, who transformed American religious life through his preaching and activism, becoming a counselor to presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, has died. Spokesman Mark DeMoss says Graham, who long suffered from cancer, pneumonia and other ailments, died at his home in North Carolina on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. He was 99.(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

In his later years, Graham visited communist Eastern Europe and increasingly appealed for world peace. He opened a 1983 convention of evangelists from 140 nations by urging the elimination of nuclear and biological weapons.

He told audiences in Czechoslovakia that "we must do all we can to preserve life and avoid war," although he opposed unilateral disarmament. In 1982, he went to Moscow to preach and attend a conference on world peace. During that visit, he said he saw no signs of Soviet religious persecution, a misguided attempt at diplomacy that brought scathing criticism from author Alexander Solzhenitsyn, among others.

"It's worth taking a risk for peace," Graham contended, although he was clearly stung by the controversy.

Graham's relationship with Nixon became an issue once again when tapes newly released in 2002 caught the preacher telling the president that Jews "don't know how I really feel about what they're doing to this country."

Graham apologized, saying he didn't recall ever having such feelings and asking the Jewish community to consider his actions above his words on that tape. Health problems gradually slowed Graham, but he did not cease preaching.

In 1995, his son, Franklin, was named the ministry's leader. Along with the many honors he received from the evangelical community and the Presidential Medal of
Freedom, Graham received the $1 million Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion in 1982 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1996.

Graham will be buried by his wife, Ruth, at the Billy Graham Museum and Library.

"I have been asked, 'What is the secret?'" Graham had said of his preaching. "Is it showmanship, organization or what? The secret of my work is God. I would be nothing without him."


Anonymous said...

Praying with LBJ,Clinton,the Bushes?A total waste of time.
--GR Anonymous

Anonymous said...

A couple observations...
1)Graham as it turned out,lived in the prime period of America's greatness--and luckily for him,whites were overwhelmingly,the most populous group during the majority of his lifetime.He would NEVER had the same impact if he was just starting out today.
2) NBC just hit a new low in "Hate Trump"political coverage.I actually hate Peter "the Prick" Alexander,for what he inserted in his report of the Florida school kids meeting with Trump.
In the middle of the report,Alexander showed an extreme closeup of a piece of paper in Trump's hand and snarkily remarked,"President Trump had talking points written down,including one,which said,'I hear you',among others."The closeup showed the words written down.You could tell he was pleased to tell this "important" information--the inference being either Trump had to write stuff down that he didn't believe (and was therefore a phony)or his brain couldn't handle this meeting in some way.It pissed me off.
If covering up John F Kennedy's "pecadillos" and numerous affairs could be deemed a "too secretive press" back in the days of Camelot,today's media has swung so far in the opposite direction,that I expect microscopic microphones and cameras to be planted on Trump by the press,to up this game of "Gotcha" to its
most demented level yet.
As much as Negro Nightly News,NBC and Alexander hate Trump,I hate them for the classless reporting style they have decided to sink into,on an everyday basis.I almost expect an assassination attempt on Trump by one of these loonies.
It wouldn't surprise me at all anymore.
--GR Anonymous

Anonymous said...

Yes, they are traitors Anonymous at 2:04 pm