The unofficial Billy Graham blog, exploring the life of the world's greatest evangelist.
The unofficial Billy Graham blog, exploring the life of the world's greatest evangelist.
"I'm counting totally and completely on the Lord Jesus Christ, and not on Billy Graham. I'm not going to heaven because I've read the Bible, nor because I've preached to a lot of people. I'm going to heaven because of what Christ did."
Gallup Polls named Billy Graham among their Most Admired Men of 2012. Graham landed the fourth spot on the list, behind Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela and Mitt Romney.
This is the 56th time Billy Graham has been named on the list, more than anyone else in history. He’s never taken the top spot, but he landed number two consistently between 1969-1974 and twice more in the 1990s.
In the post-election conversation Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham and head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, was accused of putting too much emphasis on homosexuality and not enough on the poor. Graham responded by pointing to his work with Samaritan’s Purse in the aftermath of Sandy. They’ve already spent several million and will likely spend another $10-15 million by the end of the year.
“You know, there are some people who talk about helping poor and there are those who just do it,” said Franklin Graham. “I don’t talk about it, I just do it.”
“Unless we’re willing to repent for our sins, we will stand in his judgment. … I want to warn America: God is coming around. He will judge sin, and it won’t be pretty.”
If Republican candidate Mitt Romney won—with a controversial near-endorsement from Billy Graham—Franklin Graham admitted that “the secularization of America would not have stopped, but I think it would have slowed down a little bit. Many Christians are very concerned about the country’s moral decline, particularly the president’s position on same-sex marriage.”
Gay marriage initiatives were approved by voters for the first time in three states and a ban on gay marriage was defeated for the first time by voters in Minnesota, a proposal Billy Graham endorsed.
“We have God’s blessing as a nation,” Franklin Graham said. “Scripture is clear. God blesses countries, but God also brings bedlam when countries turn their back on him. If we don’t obey his laws, he will withdraw his hand of protection.”
Franklin Graham congratulated President Barack Obama and urged the president and Congress to work together to solve the country’s problems.
Graham also rejected suggestions that he or his father had been too political this year, saying he’d approach the next campaign the same way: “I think moral standards and biblical standards must be injected into the political system of our country.”
After all but endorsing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Billy Graham calls for people to pray for their elected leaders. He manages to avoid mentioning President Barack Obama or any of the political language that has caused a recent backlash:
“Now with the votes counted, it is important to remember that whether we are personally pleased with the outcome or not, God wants us to pray for those chosen to be our leaders—at the national, state, and local levels.”
Graham faced plenty of controversy over his foray into politics this year, including no longer calling Mormonism a cult and backing the anti-gay marriage amendment in Minnesota that lost. After the election Graham insisted that politics is not the ultimate answer:
“We must also remember that no election will ever solve America’s most basic problems. That is because the trouble, at its root, is in the human heart, and the only path to true restoration—for a person or for a nation—is through repentance.”
He emphasized his plans for the 2013 My Hope with Billy Graham evangelistic project, if “God permits.”
Cissie is the daughter of Franklin Graham and married to NFL player Corey Lynch. The about page of her blog talks about the importance of authenticity. That’s actually what comes through in these photos: the real Billy Graham.
Billy Graham turns 94 years old on Wednesday, November 7. He marks the occasion with a press release (PDF) detailing some of his plans for the coming year, reflecting on his recent meeting with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and reflecting on his age:
“I never expected I would live this long, outliving my beloved wife Ruth as well as many friends and loved ones. I believe God must still have a purpose for keeping me here, and I look forward to seeing what that might be.”
He also discusses plans for a 31st book that will summarize the gospel message he’s preached for his entire life. Graham is currently working on the manuscript and hopes to release it sometime in 2013. He also mentions a Chicken Soup for the Soul: Billy Graham & Me compilation that will come out in February 2013. The book contains stories from 101 influential leaders about the impact of Billy Graham. It’s reminiscent of Pat Boone’s Thank You Billy Graham project.
He also talks about the My Hope evangelism campaign that will be launched in November 2013 to coincide with Graham’s 95th birthday.
In the face of increasing criticism over his recent political involvement, Billy Graham releases a statement (PDF) supporting the marriage amendment in Minnesota that would define marriage as between one man and one woman, banning gay marriage (which is already outlawed in Minnesota):
For more than 50 years, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was based in Minneapolis and we were blessed by the support of thousands of Minnesotans who helped us spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ around the world. As a former resident with strong personal and ministry ties to the North Star State, I pray that the good people of Minnesota will show their support for God’s definition of marriage, between a man and a woman. I wholeheartedly endorse the Marriage Protection Amendment, and urge you to vote Yes to pass Amendment 1.
Billy Graham also gave support to an anti-gay marriage amendment in North Carolina earlier this year.
Looking for the ultimate Billy Graham Halloween costume? Look no further:
Former Billy Graham Evangelistic Association employee Steve Knight dressed up as the “Billy Graham TV Special” at a Halloween party circa 2001.
In the 1960 election Billy Graham felt pressure to make a statement about John F. Kennedy’s Catholicism, drawing a striking resemblance—though a completely different outcome—from today’s controversy with Mormon presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Earlier this month Billy Graham met with Romney and offered to “do all I can to help you.” The incident sparked questions about Billy Graham becoming too political, especially with his organization removing references to Mormonism as a cult and Franklin Graham writing an article saying it’s OK for evangelicals to vote for a Mormon.
What About Catholics?
Billy Graham was asked to write just such an article in 1960, telling evangelical Christians it was OK to vote for a Catholic. At the time there was a considerable divide between Catholics and Protestants and many feared a Catholic president would be beholden to the pope. Billy Graham refused.
Though repeatedly asked, Graham continually declined, as he explained in his autobiography, Just As I Am: “I was afraid some might interpret anything I said on the subject as an implied political endorsement.”
He felt conflicted though: “I was still in something of a bind, though. While I did not want to appear to endorse Kennedy, neither did I want to seem prejudiced against him on religious grounds.” To further complicate matters, Graham had a personal friendship with Republican candidate Richard Nixon and would be voting for him: “Had I been foolish enough to declare myself, it would have been for Nixon.”
There was also an incident with Norman Vincent Peale and a group of religious leaders meeting in Washington. The group issued a statement expressing reservations about a Catholic candidate. The group was labeled anti-Catholic, and while Graham didn’t attend the meetings, he had urged Peale to attend and later apologized for any trouble he had caused Peale.
“I Want to Help Nixon”
As conflicted as Graham may have been, he clearly wanted to endorse Nixon. In early October he approached Time magazine publisher Henry Luce: “I want to help Nixon without blatantly endorsing him,” Graham said. “Any ideas?”
Graham agreed to write an article about Nixon as a man without talking about politics. Luce loved the article and planned to run it, but Graham, urged on by his wife Ruth’s disapproval, had second thoughts. Luce pulled the article and Graham wrote a second piece on why every Christian should vote.
On Supporting a Catholic President
After Kennedy won the election, Billy Graham did make a statement (after Kennedy Shanghaied him into a press conference):
“I don’t think that Mr. Kennedy’s being a Catholic should be held against him by any Protestant. They should judge him on his ability and his character. We should trust and support our new President.”
In his autobiography, Just As I Am, he elaborated on the statement, writing: “If I had said that before the election, I am convinced I would have been in trouble. But the statement seemed justified now.”
While pundits question whether Billy Graham is being too political in 2012, it seems the same questions were being asked in 1960. Then, as today, Graham seemed to unofficially endorse a specific candidate. But in 1960 that candidate was Richard Nixon who would go on to win in 1968 and be the source of one of Billy Graham’s greatest regrets.
Franklin Graham spoke out against criticism of his father’s recent forays into politics, insisting that no one is putting words into Billy Graham’s mouth.
“Nobody kidnaps my Daddy. He may not see or hear as well, but his mind remains sharp as a razor,” Franklin is quoted as saying. “He’s been active in politics since the 1940s. People need to remember that.”
Billy Graham recently met with Republican presidential candidate and Mormon Mitt Romney and offered to “do all I can to help you,” then the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website removed mentions of Mormonism as a cult.
The organization has also started an advertising campaign urging Americans to vote for biblical values. Franklin suggests that the political activism is in part in response to President Barack Obama supporting gay marriage.
On marriage, the president supports “a position against God, and my father feels he has an obligation to speak out against that kind of wickedness.”
“The president has made a choice,” he said. “My father has made a choice: At 94, he has chosen not to be quiet anymore.”
Since Billy Graham has repeatedly stated that he regrets being overly involved in politics, his recent comments have come as a surprise to many. Some have suggested that reporters should be allowed to meet with the elder Graham to let him set the record straight.
“That’s not going to happen,” said Franklin Graham. “I’m not going to allow my father to get penned in. If you don’t believe what I say, that’s fine. If you want to think I’m behind all of it, I don’t care.”