Billy Graham

.. des of the fifties, if it were in print, it was infallible truth. As a result, not only was communism a force from overseas to fear, it was a force within our own boundaries threatening to tear apart the post war threads that tenuously held the nation together. Billy Graham was not immune to what was going on. When he spoke about communism, he spoke as a person not completely removed from the attitudes that were prevalent in the nation.

He, too feared communism. In a message delivered as early as 1947 he stated, Communism is creeping inexorably into these destitute lands, into wartorn China, into restless South America, and unless the Christian religion rescues the nation from the clutch of the unbelieving, America will stand alone and isolated in the world. (Frady, 1999) Graham became caught up in fear that he may embrace the nation. He led strong single minded attacks on communism, and he felt he was beginning to make head way when in 1954. Graham boldly announced Either communism must die, or Christianity must die, because it is actually a battle between Christ and anti-Christ. Graham later said, ..men like Senator McCarthy have gone too far; false accusations can be dangerous, but none the less he supported canceling the Fifth Amendment that is the protection for witnesses brought before a committee.

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The way Graham saw it, whatever was necessary to rid American borders of communism was just that; necessary. How else did Graham intend to deal with Communism? Naturally, since he felt No man with Christ in his heart can be a Communist, Graham saw the best way to deal with this menace as being religious revival; a turning back to old fashioned Christian ideals that he saw as part of an old fashioned Americanism. He stated often, The United States needs a spiritual revival, or we’ll be licked before the Communists get here. Did religious revival have anything to do with the passing of this American red scare? Arguably, it did not. McCarthy was condemned by the Senate, a fact that Graham was none too happy about, saying it hurt the dignity of American statesmanship. With McCarthy’s passing went the bulk of the substantial evidence for Communism in this country, and Americans returned to simply fearing other countries as we entered into the Cold War era.

Graham had, however, spoken out against communism on a moral basis and his voice had been heard across the nation.(Craig, 1999) It seemed now that Graham was drawling people from all parts of the world, with people from all different walks of life, and with different denominations. But Graham noticed that while he was reaching many people he was only one man, and that did not seem like enough. He came to the decision to use the media to his advantage and share the lord’s messages to people over the air waves. Graham decided to entered a new realm that was changing the face of the fifties, the radio. The radio in the fifties was a new powerful way to transmit information to normally inaccessible people such as the elderly and sick people.

Graham started with a small Christian show called Songs in the Night in a station in Chicago. He was well received in Chicago and later he started his hour long radio show that still is running to this day The Hour of Decision. At its peak, the show was heard on twelve hundred stations coast to coast by millions of people. Due to the immense reviews for his radio show, Graham decided to venture into a new form of communication, with a television show. The Hour of Decision television show opened a new window of the public, because people could now not only hear him but it seemed like they were in a service with him. The TV show lasted from 1951 until 954.

Throughout all of his public and televison appearances, his popularity grew, and he had a vision for film to be a way to spread the gospel. But in times when films were considered the work of the devil, Graham looked at it by saying ..thousands of unconverted will come to a film that will never hear a preacher. Graham was a man of the media, a man who knew what people watched, listened to, and wanted to read. Graham saw the media as a way of ensuring that many people heard the gospel in order that they might believe. For, according to the verse, how can they believe if they have not heard? By using the media, Graham allowed people to hear, and in the fifties people were definitely listening to the media.

(Bucheimer, 1999) Billy Graham’s faithful wife Ruth knew exactly where her place was in the family because she rarely traveled with him on his crusades, instead she stayed home. She was a hard working housewife who had to give all of her attention to her four children to pick up for Billy’s absence. Ruth Graham was a very wise woman and a very devoted Christian, who Billy consulted often asking for her advice. Being the man of the household, Graham was never told he was making the wrong decision, because after all Ruth thought she was just a housewife, and had no say in the decision making. Finally, allow me to offer as a hypothesis that the Billy Graham’s evangelical movement was welcomed into the fifties because the faith that it offered was a rebellion against the norm, not unlike the Beat movement or the jazz music that was springing up around the country. The beatniks, for example, were rebelling against social stereotypes and complacent normalcy.

Jazz musicians were rebelling more or less against ordered form and melody in music in order to express emotion, quite often the emotion of pain or hurt. The faith that was talked about at Billy Graham crusades was an alternative to society as well. The pain that many people felt was replaced by hope in God. The injustice that many either hated or felt victim to was eased knowing that in God’s eyes all are equal. People left out of the loop of affluence came seeking consolation that their treasures awaited them in heaven.

Crowds gathered at Billy Graham crusades looking for what they felt their lives were lacking. What Graham offered was peace, a peace of soul that was lacking in the fifties.(Blumhofer 1989) If you sit down and look at some of the awards that Billy Graham has achieved, you may wonder how a man as busy as he is could have the time to even except them all. Some of them have included Clergyman of the Year from the National Pilgrim Society, Distinguished Service Medal of the Salvation Army, Religious Broadcasting Hall of Fame award 1981, Congressional Gold Medal, highest honor Congress can bestow on a private citizen, 1996. He feels his most impressive award is Sylvanus Thayer Award from United States Military Academy Association of Graduates at West Point (The most prestigious award the United States Military Academy gives to a U.S. citizen), 1972 because few people have ever received this award.

Graham also figured he could reach many people’s hearts through his achievements as an author. So in 1952 he started writing a weekly article that was being published in five hundred thousand newspapers across the United States. He has written eighteen books, and all of them have become best sellers. His most successful book he wrote was Just As I Am which was written in 1997. It got one of the highest award that you can receive for a book, the triple crown.

This book was based on his 60- year career of being a preacher, from his beginning and the struggles he endured, to the triumphant man that exists today. Of his other books, Approaching Hoofbeats: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1983) was listed for several weeks on The New York Times best seller list; How to Be Born Again (1977) had the largest first printing in publishing history with 800,000 copies; Angels: God’s Secret Agents (1975) sold one million copies within ninety days; and The Jesus Generation (1971) sold 200,000 copies in the first two weeks. Billy Graham has had many relationships all over the world with world leaders. His biggest relationships have been with United States presidents. Most of these presidents used Graham’s popularity with the people of America to pass on important ideas and statements to them. Eisenhower and Kennedy were the first of the presidents to consult Graham on major public issues, and they embraced Graham’s opinions as high as they held their own.

Nixon, Ford and Johnson increased the consulting of the evangelist preacher and was proclaimed America’s Pastor. Nixon once told Graham When you went into the ministry, politics lost one of its potentially greatest practitioners. They have said that Billy Graham’s finest moment was when he showed up to the side of President Bush, to fight against Iraq, and put an end to the war in that part of the world. His presence showed that the Gulf Crusade was, if not Christian, than at least biblical. When Graham was asked Which president has most influenced Rev. Graham’s life and which president has most surprised him he took a while to answer.

Very difficult, because I’ve had the privilege of knowing nine or 10 and I’ve known several of them very well including the present president. I couldn’t answer that question because each has influenced me to a certain extent. I suppose I was closer to a few than I was to others. And the first president that I knew was Eisenhower, and before he became president he asked me to come to Paris where he was the head of SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe). I went to Paris and got acquainted with him, and then when he was nominated, he asked me to come to his hotel in Chicago because he thought I could help him write speeches.

I think he was soon disillusioned, but he did accept some suggestions I made on religious matters because he did want a spiritual message in his speeches to the American people. Eisenhower was a very religious man.(Graham 99) On the other hand, not all presidents considered Graham as high as others have in the past. President Harry Truman called Graham a counterfeit. Some people have said that one statement may have lost him his re-election attempt the following year, because the people thought so very highly of Graham.(Harold Bloom, 1999) One anonymous reporter even stated after Truman lost the election You don’t run for office among us by proclaiming your skepticism or by deprecating Billy Graham. Graham has never been accused of intellectualism, profound spirituality or social compassion. He has not been like other religious leaders whose biggest goals are to eliminate taxes, and the right for woman to have an abortion. But why doesn’t he make a stand with the other leaders, even if they are in agreement on a particular issue? Well Billy Graham doesn’t want to be seen by the public to be affiliated with religious leaders, who have different beliefs on other social concerns then him, because they may think him to have the same beliefs as they do. Over his career, Graham is one of the few men never to have been caught up in any kind of scandals, whether they are financial, or sexual. This has kept Graham’s image as a pure wholesome man with nothing but the love of God to share with all the people of the world.

Today at age eighty, Graham has been slowed down because he is stricken with Parkinson disease. Although he has had an amazing life that has led him around the world countless times. It has been said he has been in every country at one time or another, from the smallest African villages to large cities such as New York City spreading the word of God. His popularity has grown with every word spoken from Billy Graham’s silver tongue, and he now feels he has accomplished his goal that he promised himself from the start, that someday he would be heard by every Christian on the green world that God created. Until we meet this way again may God bless you in a real, real good way Bibliography Reference List 20/20.

Interview with Billy Graham. NBC. May 2, 1997. America Online Transcript July 6, 1999 Billy Graham Best Sellers http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/subst/lists/best /author-details/graham-billy.html/002-37359 /002-2055019-4556631.September 26 1999 Billy Graham Evangelistic association. http://www.billygraham.org/billygraham.asp. September 27 1999. Brief Biography of Billy Graham. Billy Graham Center Archives http://www.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/bio.html.

25 September 1999. Bloom. The Preacher Billy Graham. http://www.pathfinder.com/time/time100/heroes/prof ile/graham01.html. September 29, 1999 Frady, Marshall. Billy Graham: A Parable of American Righteousness.

Boston: Little, Brown and Company. 1979. Graham, Billy. Just As I Am. San Francisco: Zondervan. 1997.

O’Donnell, Bro. Cornelius, O.P. A Graham of Faith: Inquiring into the Life and Preaching of Rev. Billy Graham. 2 Nov.

1995. http://digidesk.p52s.hioslo.no/niwg/bgraham.htm. 16 October 1999. Sam Wellman.Heros Of History.http://www.heroesofhistory.com/.September 28 1999 Scharpff, Paulus. History of Evangelism. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1966. The Billy Graham Center Story.

http://www.wheaton.edu/bgc/bgcstory.html (9 October 1999). Time 100: Heros and Icons.http://www.pathfinder.com/time/time100/heroe s/index.html.September 23 1999 What is a Billy Graham Crusade? http://www.asheville.com/crusade1.html. 21 October 1999.