The untold truth of Billy Graham
The Reverend Billy Graham was one of America's most respected and beloved Christian evangelists for decades. Over the course of 60 years, he preached to a stunning 210 million people around the globe and held an impressive 417 crusades. While many may think they know Graham's story well, there are lesser-known truths about this iconic preacher.
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In the late 1940s, the reverend and his team created a set of rules, known as the "Modesto Manifesto," to safeguard against scandal and controversy while traveling the country to preach. One of the four rules was to never be alone with a woman who is not your wife. That particular guideline became known as the "Billy Graham Rule," and other prominent figures, including U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, have followed it closely.Jazz and pop singer Keely Smith dies at 89
William Graham talked about his grandfather's code of conduct with The Charlotte Observer. "Think about 1948… The image of an evangelist…was kind of synonymous with what you'd think of as a used-car salesman," he said. "When my grandfather would check into a hotel, a man would go inside the room and look under the bed and in the closets. What they were afraid of was that someone had snuck into the room, like a naked lady with a photographer, and she'd jump into his arms and he'd take a picture, and they'd frame my granddaddy."
He held 'crusades' around the world
Over the course of Graham's incredible career, he often held "crusades"–massive evangelistic gatherings of people who wanted to hear him preach. In total, he held a whopping 417 crusades around the globe. According to The Billy Graham Library, his largest event was in in Seoul, South Korea in 1973; some 3.2 million people reportedly attended from May 30 to June 3. More than 1.1 million people reportedly attended the final service, and some 75,000 committed their lives to Christ during that particular crusade.Last Jedi set for $215m opening in US
One of Graham's last major events was held in New York City in 2005. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and former first lady Hillary Clinton attended, along with NYC Mayor MIchael Bloomberg and some 242,000 others, according to Demoss.
"I will be praying for New York every day when I leave here, that God will continue what He has begun," Graham said at the event. "With all my heart I love New York and thank God for it."
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Though Billy Graham is one of the most respected leaders in modern religious history, that doesn't mean he's perfect. Controversy tarnished his name in 2002 when decades-old audio tapes were released that captured the reverend making awful remarks about Jewish people, according to The New York Times.
The recorded conversation between Graham and then President Richard M. Nixon revealed the two men openly discussing their dislike of Jewish people supposedly dominating the media. ”This stranglehold has got to be broken or this country's going down the drain," Graham says in one part of the recording.
The reverend apologized with a grand statement that attempted to distance himself from those remarks. ”Although I have no memory of the occasion, I deeply regret comments I apparently made in an Oval Office conversation with President Nixon,” he said. ”They do not reflect my views, and I sincerely apologize for any offense caused by the remarks… Throughout my ministry, I have sought to build bridges between Jews and Christians. I will continue to strongly support all future efforts to advance understanding and mutual respect between our communities.”Billionaire conservative wins Chile vote
He's battling Parkinson's disease
Graham has withdrawn from public life in recent years, perhaps because of his declining health.
According to People, the reverend has been battling Parkinson's disease for more than 20 years. In 2004 he suffered two nasty falls–one resulted in a broken hip and the other broke his pelvic bone. In 2008, Billy underwent brain surgery to control fluid on the brain, reported CBS News. He was also hospitalized for intestinal bleeding around that time.Camille Grammer opens up about cancer diagnosis
In November 2017, his son, Franklin Graham, told The Charlotte Observer that his father is no longer able to move about freely and doesn't see or hear very well. "His mind is good," Franklin said. "As a family, we are so grateful that he is still with us."
Billy addressed the aging process with Christianity Today in 2011: "We've come to look on old age as something to be dreaded—and it's true that it isn't easy."
The reverend celebrated his 99th birthday with family on Nov. 7, 2017. To mark the occasion, Franklin told The Charlotte Observer that his father snacked on his favorite–lemon cake with lard icing. "He loves those cakes," Franklin quipped. "But it has to have the lard icing."Assault laws in focus amid Weinstein saga
While Billy's family celebrated at his home, which he rarely leaves, the town of Charlotte, N.C., where he lives, also got in on the fun. The Billy Graham Library announced it would offer cake to all those who stopped by (no word if it was of the lard variety,) and to mark his upcoming 100th birthday in November 2018, the library plans to highlight a different moment or event from his career each month leading up to the big day.
In 1995, Billy Graham chose his eldest son to succeed him. Franklin become the face of the evangelical church and was named first vice chairman of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, reported The New York Times. "As a father I am both proud of his capacity for leadership and humbled in gratitude for the Lord's blessing on him," Billy said.
Despite what could have been a peaceful transition, Franklin's preaching has been far more controversial than his father's, and his outspoken opinions have caused some drama within the church. According to Slate, Franklin kicked up controversy when he openly called for a ban on Muslim immigration to the United States, openly slammed the legalization of gay marriage, and infamously wrote a letter to "Blacks, Whites Latinos, and everyone else," suggesting rampant police shootings could be avoided with respect and obedience.Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber take off on private jet together
Those outspoken political views also played a role in the 2016 U.S Presidential election…
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Franklin participated in Donald Trump's 2017 inauguration by reading a Bible passage. According to The Washington Post, his very presence at the event sparked a national conversation on the role religion plays at events that are meant to be inclusive for all Americans.Royal shock: ‘Spacey groped me’
Franklin's participation shouldn't come as a shock. He regularly campaigned for Trump and even joined the newly minted politician on his nationwide "Thank You" tour. Trump called Franklin "so instrumental, we won so big, with evangelical Christians."
After the election, Franklin shared his take on how and why Trump sailed to victory: "I believe it was God," he said, referring to Trump as an answered prayer for many.
Not everyone in the family agrees with Franklin's politics. "To suggest the president-elect is an ambassador to further the kingdom in the world diminishes not only my Jesus but all he stood for and came to earth to fight against," said Billy Graham's granddaughter, Jerushah Armfield.Meghan’s first event: the verdict
He knows his life wasn't perfect
Does a man who has devoted his life to spirituality and the pursuit of a greater good still have some personal and professional regrets?
If he could do it all again, Billy Graham said he'd avoid getting entrenched in politics, reported Christianity Today (via Americans United.) "I'm grateful for the opportunities God gave me to minister to people in high places; people in power have spiritual and personal needs like everyone else, and often they have no one to talk to," he said. "But looking back I know I sometimes crossed the line, and I wouldn't do that now."Pretty Little Liars star sentenced to jail
In a shocking revelation, Graham also implied that he may have fallen short in his own faith. Speaking frankly about his life in his autobiography, Just As I Am, Graham writes, "I would spend more time in prayer, not just for myself but for others. I would spend more time studying the Bible and meditating on its truth, not only for sermon preparation but to apply its message to my life. It is far too easy for someone in my position to read the Bible only with an eye on a future sermon, overlooking the message God has for me through its pages."
He's optimistic about his trip to heaven
In Just As I Am, Graham writes without fear about his own death. "I know that soon my life will be over. I thank God for it, and for all He has given me in this life," he says. "But I look forward to Heaven. I look forward to the reunion with friends and loved ones who have gone on before. I look forward to Heaven's freedom from sorrow and pain. I also look forward to serving God in ways we can't begin to imagine, for the Bible makes it clear that Heaven is not a place of idleness."Renee Zellweger hits back at Harvey Weinstein's recent claims
He also has one big question for God: "Why me, Lord? Why did you choose a farm boy from North Carolina to preach to so many people, to have such a wonderful Team of associates, and to have a part in what you were doing in the latter half of the twentieth century?" Graham writes, '"I have thought about that question a great deal, but I know also that only God knows the answer."