Billy Graham, April 1966.
|Born||November 7 1918|
Charlotte, North Carolina, United States
|Died||February 21 2018 (aged 99)|
Montreat, North Carolina, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Ruth Graham (died 2007)|
William Franklin Graham Jr. KBE (November 7, 1918 – February 21, 2018) was an American evangelist, an ordained Southern Baptist minister. He is considered one of the most influential Christian leaders of the twentieth century. Through his crusades, Graham preached the gospel to more people in person than anyone in the history of Christianity.
As a Christian evangelist his mission was to bring people to Christ, but his work reached beyond a narrow understanding of Christianity, embracing people of all denominations, faiths, and cultures. He was a bridge builder, reaching out to the secular world. He was spiritual advisor to 12 consecutive US Presidents, and believed the Gospel transcended political affiliation. However, he stood firm against abuses of human rights such as racial segregation.
William Franklin Graham Jr. was born on November 7, 1918, in the downstairs bedroom of a farmhouse near Charlotte, North Carolina. He was of Scots-Irish descent and was the eldest of four children born to Morrow (née Coffey) and William Franklin Graham Sr., a dairy farmer. Graham was raised on a family dairy farm with his two younger sisters, Catherine Morrow and Jean and a younger brother, Melvin Thomas. In 1927, when he was eight years old, the family moved about 75 yards (69 m) from their white frame house to a newly built red brick home.
He was raised by his parents in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. Graham attended the Sharon Grammar School. He started to read books from an early age and loved to read novels for boys, especially Tarzan. Like Tarzan, he would hang on the trees and gave the popular Tarzan yell, scaring both horses and drivers. According to his father, that yelling helped him to develop his preacher's voice. As a teenager in 1933 Prohibition ended and Graham's father forced him and his sister, Katherine, to drink beer until they got sick. This created such an aversion that Graham and his sister avoided alcohol and drugs for the rest of their lives. 
Graham had been turned down for membership in a local youth group when Albert McMakin, who worked on the Graham farm, persuaded him to go and see the evangelist Mordecai Ham. According to his autobiography, Graham was converted in 1934, at age 16 during a series of revival meetings in Charlotte led by Ham.
After graduating from Sharon High School in May 1936, Graham attended Bob Jones College, then located in Cleveland, Tennessee. After one semester, he found it too legalistic in both coursework and rules. At this time he was influenced and inspired by Pastor Charley Young from Eastport Bible Church. He was almost expelled, but Bob Jones Sr. warned him not to throw his life away: "At best, all you could amount to would be a poor country Baptist preacher somewhere out in the sticks ... You have a voice that pulls. God can use that voice of yours. He can use it mightily."
In 1937 Graham transferred to the Florida Bible Institute in Temple Terrace, Florida, near Tampa. He preached his first sermon that year at Bostwick Baptist Church near Palatka, Florida, while still a student. In his autobiography, Graham wrote of receiving his "calling on the 18th green of the Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club", which was adjacent to the Institute campus. Reverend Billy Graham Memorial Park was later established on the Hillsborough River, directly east of the 18th green and across from where Graham often paddled a canoe to a small island in the river, where he would preach to the birds, alligators, and cypress stumps.
In 1939, Graham was ordained by a group of Southern Baptist clergymen at Peniel Baptist Church in Palatka, Florida. In 1943, Graham graduated from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, with a degree in anthropology. On August 13, 1943, Graham married Wheaton classmate Ruth Bell, whose parents were Presbyterian missionaries in China. Her father, L. Nelson Bell, was a general surgeon. Graham then pastored The Village Church of Western Springs (now Western Springs Baptist Church) in Western Springs, Illinois.
Graham initially intended to become a chaplain in the Armed Forces, but he contracted mumps shortly after applying for a commission. After a period of recuperation in Florida, he was hired as the first full-time evangelist of the new Youth for Christ (YFC), co-founded by Torrey Johnson and the Canadian evangelist Charles Templeton. Graham traveled throughout both the United States and Europe as a YFCI evangelist. Templeton applied to Princeton Theological Seminary for an advanced theological degree and urged Graham to do so as well, but he declined as he was already serving as the president of Northwestern Bible College.
In 1948 at the age of 29, he became president of Northwestern Bible College in Minneapolis and the youngest president of a college or university in the country, from which he resigned in 1952.
However, in 1949 he faced a difficult decision. His academic life caused him to question the infallibility of the Bible and his evangelism began to founder. Henrietta Mears of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood (Hollywood, California) was instrumental in helping Graham wrestle with the issue. She invited him to speak at Forest Home Christian Camp (now called Forest Home Ministries) southeast of the Big Bear Lake area in southern California. Setting his Bible on a tree stump, he prayed desperately to know which path to take. Feeling the power and presence of God in response, he determined to go forward in faith. A memorial there marks the site of Graham's decision.
Graham conducted more than 400 crusades in 185 countries and territories on six continents. According to his staff, more than 3.2 million people responded to the invitation at Billy Graham Crusades to "accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior". Because of his crusades, Graham preached the gospel to more people in person than anyone in the history of Christianity. One special televised broadcast in 1996 alone may have reached a television audience of as many as 2.5 billion people worldwide.
Graham and his wife had five children together: Virginia Leftwich (Gigi) Graham (b. 1945), an inspirational speaker and author; Anne Graham Lotz (b. 1948), runs AnGeL ministries; Ruth Graham (b. 1950), founder and president of Ruth Graham & Friends, leads conferences throughout the US and Canada; Franklin Graham (b. 1952), serves as president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and as president and CEO of international relief organization, Samaritan's Purse; and Nelson Edman Graham (b. 1958), a pastor who runs East Gates Ministries International, which distributes Christian literature in China.
The Grahams were married for almost 64 years. Ruth Graham died on June 14, 2007, at the age of 87. Graham died of natural causes on February 21, 2018, at his home in Montreat, North Carolina, at the age of 99.
There had been controversy over Graham's proposed burial place; he announced in June 2007 that he and his wife would be buried alongside each other at the Billy Graham Library in his hometown of Charlotte. Graham's younger son Ned had argued with older son Franklin about whether burial at a library would be appropriate. Ruth Graham had said that she wanted to be buried not in Charlotte but in the mountains at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove near Asheville, North Carolina, where she had lived for many years; Ned supported his mother's choice. At the time of Ruth Graham's death, it was announced that they would be buried at the library site.
A private funeral service was held on March 2, 2018. Graham was buried beside his wife at the foot of the cross-shaped brick walkway in the Prayer Garden on the northeast side of the Billy Graham Library. Graham's pine plywood casket, handcrafted in 2006 by inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, is topped with a wooden cross nailed to it by the prisoners.
At the time of his death, Graham had 19 grandchildren, including former pastor Tullian Tchividjian, and 41 great-grandchildren.
While attending college, Graham became pastor of the United Gospel Tabernacle and also had other preaching engagements.
From 1943 to 1944, Graham briefly served as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Western Springs, Illinois, which was not far from Wheaton. While there, his friend Torrey Johnson, pastor of the Midwest Bible Church in Chicago, told Graham that his radio program, Songs in the Night, was about to be canceled due to lack of funding. Consulting with the members of his church in Western Springs, Graham decided to take over Johnson's program with financial support from his congregation. Launching the new radio program on January 2, 1944, still called Songs in the Night, Graham recruited the bass-baritone George Beverly Shea as his director of radio ministry.
As a preacher, he held large indoor and outdoor rallies with sermons broadcast on radio and television. In his six decades of television, Graham hosted annual Billy Graham Crusades, which ran from 1947 until his retirement in 2005. He also hosted the radio show Hour of Decision from 1950 to 1954. In addition to his religious aims, he helped shape the worldview of a huge number of people who came from different backgrounds, leading them to find a relationship between the Bible and contemporary secular viewpoints. According to his website, Graham preached to live audiences of nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories through various meetings, including BMS World Mission and Global Mission.
From the time his ministry began in 1947, Graham conducted more than 400 crusades in 185 countries and territories on six continents. He would rent a large venue, such as a stadium, park, or street. The first Billy Graham Crusade, held September 13–21, 1947, in the Civic Auditorium in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was attended by 6,000 people. Graham was 28 years old.
Graham scheduled a series of revival meetings in Los Angeles in 1949, for which he erected circus tents in a parking lot. He attracted national media coverage, especially in the conservative Hearst chain. William Randolph Hearst had issued the directive to "puff Graham" during the Los Angeles Crusade, which quickly led to national media coverage, despite the fact that Heart and Graham never met. The crusade event ran for eight weeks – five weeks longer than planned. Graham became a national figure with heavy coverage from the wire services and national magazines.
As the sessions became larger, he arranged a group of up to 5,000 people to sing in a choir. He would preach the gospel and invite people to come forward (a practice begun by Dwight L. Moody). Such people were called inquirers and were given the chance to speak one-on-one with a counselor, to clarify questions and pray together. The inquirers were often given a copy of the Gospel of John or a Bible study booklet. In Moscow, in 1992, one-quarter of the 155,000 people in Graham's audience went forward at his call. During his crusades, he frequently used the altar call song, "Just As I Am."
Over 58 years, Billy Graham reached more than 210 million people (face to face and by satellite feeds) in over 185 countries and territories on six continents. The longest Graham's evangelistic crusade took place in New York City in Madison Square Garden in 1957, which lasted 16 weeks. The largest audience in the history of Graham's ministry assembled at Yoido Plaza in Seoul in South Korea in 1973 (1.1 million people).
Graham's evangelism was appreciated by mainline Protestant denominations as he encouraged new converts to become members of these churches. He insisted on racial integration for his revivals and crusades, starting in 1953, and invited Martin Luther King Jr. to preach jointly at a revival in New York City in 1957.
Graham spoke at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's Urbana Student Missions Conference at least nine times — in 1948, 1957, 1961, 1964, 1976, 1979, 1981, 1984, and 1987.
At each Urbana conference, he challenged the thousands of attendees to make a commitment to follow Jesus Christ for the rest of their lives. He often quoted a six-word phrase that was reportedly written in the Bible of William Whiting Borden, the son of a wealthy silver magnate: "No reserves, no retreats, no regrets." Borden had died in Egypt on his way to the mission field.
Graham also held evangelistic meetings on a number of college campuses: at the University of Minnesota during InterVarsity's "Year of Evangelism" in 1950–1951, a 4-day mission at Yale University in 1957, and a week-long series of meetings at the University of North Carolina's Carmichael Auditorium in September 1982.
In 1950, Graham founded the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) with its headquarters in Minneapolis. The association relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1999. BGEA ministries have included:
- Hour of Decision, a weekly radio program broadcast around the world for more than 50 years
- Mission television specials broadcast in almost every market in the US and Canada
- A syndicated newspaper column, My Answer, carried by newspapers across the United States and distributed by Tribune Media Services
- Decision magazine, the official publication of the association
- Christianity Today was started in 1956 with Carl F. H. Henry as its first editor
- Passageway.org, the website for a youth discipleship program created by BGEA
- World Wide Pictures, which has produced and distributed more than 130 films
In April 2013, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association started "My Hope With Billy Graham," the largest outreach in its history, encouraging church members to spread the gospel in small group meetings after showing a video message by Graham. "The idea is for Christians to follow the example of the disciple Matthew in the New Testament and spread the gospel in their own homes." The video, called The Cross, is the main program in the "My Hope America" series and was also broadcast the week of Graham's 95th birthday.
Graham was interested in fostering evangelism around the world. In 1983, 1986 and 2000 he sponsored, organized and paid for massive training conferences for Christian evangelists from around the world; with the largest representations of nations ever held until that time. Over 157 nations were gathered in 2000 at the RAI Convention Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. At one revival in Seoul, South Korea, Graham attracted more than one million people to a single service.
The First International Congress on World Evangelization (ICOWE), also sometimes called the Lausanne Congress, was held in July 1974. Graham was one of the leading organizers. The conference was attended by some 2,700 evangelical Christian leaders from 150 nations to discuss the progress, resources and methods of evangelizing the world.
Graham invited the English Anglican priest John Stott to be chief architect of the Lausanne Covenant, which issued from the Congress and which, according to Graham, "helped challenge and unite evangelical Christians in the great task of world evangelization." The movement remains a significant fruit of Graham's legacy, with a presence in nearly every nation.
On June 24–26, 2005, Billy Graham began what he said would be his last North American crusade, three days at the Flushing Meadows–Corona Park in New York City. Graham said that his planned retirement was because of his failing health; he had suffered from hydrocephalus from 1992 on. But on the weekend of March 11–12, 2006, Billy Graham held the "Festival of Hope" with his son, Franklin Graham. The festival was held in New Orleans, which was recovering from Hurricane Katrina.
In August 2005, Graham appeared at the groundbreaking for his library in Charlotte, North Carolina. Then 86, he used a walker during the ceremony. On July 9, 2006, he spoke at the Metro Maryland Franklin Graham Festival, held in Baltimore, Maryland, at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
In April 2010, Graham, at 91 and with substantial vision and hearing loss, made a rare public appearance at the re-dedication of the renovated Billy Graham Library.
Graham prepared one last sermon, My Hope America, released on DVD and played around America and possibly worldwide between November 7–10, 2013, November 7 being his 95th birthday, hoping to cause a revival.
Graham played multiple roles that reinforced each other: preacher, entrepreneur, architect (or bridge builder), pilgrim, pastor, and finally his widely recognized status as America's Protestant patriarch.
Spiritual advisor to presidents
Graham was a spiritual adviser to U.S. presidents, providing spiritual counsel for every president from the 33rd, Harry S. Truman, to the 44th, Barack Obama - 12 consecutive presidents. He was particularly close to Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson (one of Graham's closest friends), and Richard Nixon.
After meeting with Truman in 1950, Graham told the press he had urged the president to counter communism in North Korea. Truman disliked him and did not speak with him for years after that meeting. Later he always treated his conversations with presidents as confidential.
Graham became a regular visitor during the tenure of Dwight D. Eisenhower. He purportedly urged him to intervene with federal troops in the case of the Little Rock Nine to gain admission of black students to public schools. House Speaker Sam Rayburn convinced Congress to allow Graham to conduct the first religious service on the steps of the Capitol building in 1952.
Graham became a close friend of Vice President Richard Nixon, and supported Nixon, a Quaker, for the 1960 presidential election. He convened an August strategy session of evangelical leaders in Montreaux, Switzerland, to plan how best to oppose Nixon's Roman Catholic opponent, Senator John F. Kennedy. Though a registered Democrat, Graham also maintained firm support of aggression against the foreign threat of Communism and strongly sympathized with Nixon's views regarding American foreign policy.
On December 16, 1963, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, who was impressed by the way Graham had praised the work of his great-grandfather Rev. George Washington Baines, frequently invited Graham to the White House to give him spiritual counseling. In striking contrast with his more limited access with Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy, Graham would not only visit the White House private quarters but would also at times kneel at Johnson's bedside and then pray with him whenever the President requested him to do so. Graham once recalled "I have never had many people do that." Johnson also became the first sitting President to attend one of Graham's crusades, which took place in Houston, Texas, in 1965. At one point, Johnson even considered making Graham a member of his cabinet and grooming him to be his successor, though Graham insisted he had no political ambitions and wished to remain a preacher. Graham's biographer David Aikman acknowledged that the preacher was closer to Johnson than any other President he had ever known.
After Nixon's victorious 1968 presidential campaign, Graham became an adviser, regularly visiting the White House and leading the president's private worship services. In a meeting they had with Golda Meir, Nixon offered Graham the ambassadorship to Israel, but he refused. In 1970, Nixon appeared at a Graham revival in East Tennessee, and was the first president to give a speech from an evangelist's platform. Their friendship became strained in 1973 when Graham rebuked Nixon for his post-Watergate behavior. They eventually reconciled after Nixon's resignation.
On September 14, 2001, only three days after the World Trade Center attacks, Graham was invited to lead a service at Washington National Cathedral, which was attended by President George W. Bush and past and present leaders. He also spoke at the memorial service following the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
Relationship with Queen Elizabeth II
Graham had a friendly relationship with Queen Elizabeth II and was frequently invited by the Royal Family to special events. They first met in 1955 and Graham preached at Windsor Chapel at the Queen's invitation during the following year. Graham continued to be invited to preach by the Queen whenever visited the UK. They shared a traditional approach to the practical aspects of the Christian faith, and there was a mutual appreciation. Queen Elizabeth awarded him an honorary knighthood in 2001. 
Civil rights movement
Graham's early crusades were segregated, but he began adjusting his approach in the 1950s. During a 1953 rally in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Graham tore down the ropes that organizers had erected in order to segregate the audience into racial sections. In his memoirs, he recounted that he told two ushers to leave the barriers down "or you can go on and have the revival without me." He warned a white audience, "we have been proud and thought we were better than any other race, any other people. Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to stumble into hell because of our pride."
In 1957, Graham's stance towards integration became more publicly shown when he allowed black ministers Thomas Kilgore and Gardner C. Taylor to serve as members of his New York Crusade's executive committee. He invited the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whom he first met during the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955, to join him in the pulpit at his 16-week revival in New York City, where 2.3 million gathered at Madison Square Garden, Yankee Stadium, and Times Square to hear them. Graham recalled in his autobiography that during this time, he and King developed a close friendship and that he was eventually one of the few people who referred to King as "Mike," a nickname which King asked only his closest friends to call him.
Despite their friendship, tensions between Graham and King emerged in 1958 when the sponsoring committee of a crusade taking place in San Antonio, Texas on July 25 arranged for Graham to be introduced by that state's segregationist governor, Price Daniel. On July 23, King sent a letter to Graham and informed him that allowing Daniel to speak at a crusade which occurred the night before the state's Democratic Primary "can well be interpreted as your endorsement of racial segregation and discrimination." Graham's advisor, Grady Wilson, replied to King that "even though we do not see eye to eye with him on every issue, we still love him in Christ." Though Graham's appearance with Daniel dashed King's hopes of holding joint crusades with Graham in the Deep South, the two still remained friends and King told a Canadian television audience the following year that Graham had taken a "very strong stance against segregation."
In 1963, Graham posted bail for King to be released from jail during the Birmingham campaign. Graham held integrated crusades in Birmingham, Alabama, on Easter 1964 in the aftermath of the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, and toured Alabama again in the wake of the violence that accompanied the first Selma to Montgomery march in 1965. Following King's assassination in 1968, Graham mourned that the US had lost "a social leader and a prophet".
During the apartheid era, Graham consistently refused to visit South Africa until its government allowed integrated seating for audiences. During his first crusade there in 1973, he openly denounced apartheid. Graham also corresponded with imprisoned South African leader Nelson Mandela during the latter's 27-year imprisonment.
Graham's faith prompted his maturing view of race and segregation; he told a member of the Ku Klux Klan that integration was necessary primarily for religious reasons: "There is no scriptural basis for segregation," Graham argued. "The ground at the foot of the cross is level, and it touches my heart when I see whites standing shoulder to shoulder with blacks at the cross."
Graham as bridge builder deliberately reached into the communist world. During the Cold War, Graham became the first evangelist of note to speak behind the Iron Curtain, addressing large crowds in countries throughout Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union, calling for peace.
He also went to North Korea in 1992 where he had a personal meeting with Kim Il Sung. That was his only visit, although his wife, Ruth Graham, visited without him in 1997, and their son Franklin also visited a number of times. Graham appeared in China in 1988 – for Ruth, this was a homecoming, since she had been born in China to missionary parents.
Graham was a registered member of the Democratic Party. However, in 1960 he was opposed to the candidacy of John F. Kennedy due to Kennedy being a Catholic. After his election, however, Kennedy invited Graham to play golf in Palm Beach, Florida, after which Graham acknowledged Kennedy's election as an opportunity for Catholics and Protestants to come closer together. After they had discussed Jesus Christ at that meeting, the two remained in touch, meeting for the last time at a National Day of Prayer meeting in February 1963.
After his close relationships with Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon, Graham tried to avoid explicit partisanship: "He declined to sign or endorse political statements, and he distanced himself from the Christian right."
According to a 2006 Newsweek interview:
For Graham, politics is a secondary to the Gospel, which transcends party lines and, for believers, transcends earthly reality itself. When Newsweek asked Graham whether ministers—whether they think of themselves as evangelists, pastors or a bit of both—should spend time engaged with politics, he replied: "You know, I think in a way that has to be up to the individual as he feels led of the Lord. A lot of things that I commented on years ago would not have been of the Lord, I'm sure, but I think you have some—like communism, or segregation—on which I think you have a responsibility to speak out." Such proclamations, however, should not be "the main thing," and he admits he has no perfect formula: "I don't know the total answer to that."
In 2007, Graham explained his refusal to join Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority in 1979, saying:
I'm all for morality, but morality goes beyond sex to human freedom and social justice. We as clergy know so very little to speak with authority on the Panama Canal or superiority of armaments. Evangelists cannot be closely identified with any particular party or person. We have to stand in the middle in order to preach to all people, right and left. I haven't been faithful to my own advice in the past. I will be in the future.
Graham expressed inclusivist views, suggesting that even people without explicit faith in Jesus can be saved. In a 1997 interview with Robert Schuller, Graham said:
I think that everybody that loves or knows Christ, whether they are conscious of it or not, they are members of the body of Christ ... [God] is calling people out of the world for his name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world or the non-believing world, they are members of the Body of Christ because they have been called by God. They may not know the name of Jesus but they know in their hearts that they need something they do not have, and they turn to the only light they have, and I think that they are saved and they are going to be with us in heaven.
Views on women
Graham was well known for his practice of not spending time alone with any woman other than his wife. This has become known as the Billy Graham rule.
In 1970, Graham stated that feminism was "an echo of our overall philosophy of permissiveness" and that women did not want to be "competitive juggernauts pitted against male chauvinists". He further stated that the role of wife, mother, and homemaker was the destiny of "real womanhood" according to the Judeo-Christian ethic. Graham's assertions, published in the Ladies' Home Journal, elicited letters of protest, and were offered as rebuttal to the establishment of "The New Feminism" section of the publication added following sit-in protest at the Journal offices demanding female representation on the staff of the publication.
In his own family Graham put into practice his belief that women were to be wives, mothers, and homemakers. He talked his future wife, Ruth, into abandoning her ambition to evangelize in Tibet in favor of following him – and that to do otherwise would be 'to thwart God's obvious will.' After Ruth agreed to marry Billy, he cited the Bible for claiming authority over her, saying "then I'll do the leading and you do the following." She soon learned that nothing came before preaching on Graham's list of priorities, and this was apparent to his children also. His daughter commented that there was no question her father loved them, but his ministry was all-consuming:
“My father’s relation with the family has been awkward,” she said in a 2005 interview, “because he has two families: BGEA [the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association] and us. I always resented that. We were footnotes in books — literally. Well, we’re not footnotes. We are real, living, breathing people.”
His daughter remembers her father denying her and her sisters higher education:
"There was never an idea of a career for us," she said. "I wanted to go to nursing school – Wheaton had a five-year program – but Daddy said no. No reason, no explanation, just 'No.' It wasn't confrontational and he wasn't angry, but when he decided, that was the end of it." She added, "He has forgotten that. Mother has not."
Views on homosexuality
He regarded it as a moral issue, not a political one. However, in 2012 he urged North Carolina voters to support an amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage:
"At 93, I never thought we would have to debate the definition of marriage," Billy Graham’s statement said. "The Bible is clear — God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman. I want to urge my fellow North Carolinians to vote for the marriage amendment."
Graham's presence "conferred status on presidents, acceptability on wars, shame on racial prejudice, desirability on decency, dishonor on indecency, and prestige on civic events."
On February 28 and March 1, 2018, Billy Graham became the fourth private citizen in United States history to lie in honor at the United States Capitol rotunda in Washington, D.C.  Graham is the first religious leader to be honored. At the ceremony, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan called Graham "America's pastor". President Donald Trump said Graham was "an ambassador for Christ." In addition, Televangelist Jim Bakker paid respect to Graham, stating he was the greatest preacher since Jesus. Graham had visited Bakker in prison, giving him comfort.
Graham's alma mater Wheaton College has an archive of his papers at the Billy Graham Center. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry.
Awards and honors
Graham consistently ranked among the most admired persons in the United States and the world. He appeared most frequently on Gallup's list of most admired people. On the day of his death, Graham had been on Gallup's Top 10 "Most Admired Man" list 61 times, and held the highest rank of any person since the list began in 1948.
Graham received numerous awards and honors throughout his life. In 1964 he received the Speaker of the Year Award, and was cited by the George Washington Carver Memorial Institute for his contributions to race relations. He received the Big Brother of the Year Award in 1966 for his work on behalf of children. He received the Sylvanus Thayer Award from the United States Military Academy Association of Graduates at West Point for his commitment to "Duty, Honor, Country" in 1972. Graham was awarded the Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion in 1982.
In 1967, he was the first Protestant to receive an honorary degree from Belmont Abbey College, a Roman Catholic school. Graham received a total of 20 honorary degrees and refused at least that many more.
In 1999, the Gospel Music Association inducted Graham into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame to recognize his contributions to Christian music artists such as Michael W. Smith, dc Talk, Amy Grant, Jars of Clay and others who performed at the Billy Graham Crusades.
In 2001, Queen Elizabeth II awarded him an honorary knighthood. The honor was presented to him by Sir Christopher Meyer, British Ambassador to the US at the British Embassy in Washington DC on December 6, 2001.
As Graham's final Crusade approached in 2005, his friend Pat Boone chose to create a song in honor of Graham, which he co-wrote and produced with David Pack and Billy Dean. Named "Thank You Billy Graham", the song's video was introduced by Bono, and included Faith Hill, MxPx, John Ford Coley, John Elefante, Mike Herrera, Michael McDonald, Jeffrey Osborne, LeAnn Rimes, Kenny Rogers, Connie Smith, Michael Tait, and other singers.
In 2013, the album My Hope: Songs Inspired by the Message and Mission of Billy Graham was recorded by Amy Grant, Kari Jobe, Newsboys, Matthew West, tobyMac and other music artists with new songs to honor Graham during his My Hope America with Billy Graham outreach and the publication of his book The Reason for My Hope: Salvation.
Other honors include:
- The Salvation Army's Distinguished Service Medal
- Who's Who in America listing annually since 1954
- Gold Medal Award, National Institute of Social Science, New York, 1957
- The American Academy of Achievement's Golden Plate Award, 1965
- Wisdom Award of Honor, 1965
- The Torch of Liberty Plaque by the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, 1969
- George Washington Honor Medal from Freedoms Foundation of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, for his sermon "The Violent Society," 1969 (also in 1974)
- Honored by Morality in Media for "fostering the principles of truth, taste, inspiration and love in media," 1969
- Philip Award from the Association of United Methodist Evangelists, 1976
- American Jewish Committee's First National Interreligious Award, 1977
- Southern Baptist Radio and Television Commission's Distinguished Communications Medal, 1977
- Religious Broadcasting Hall of Fame award, 1981
- National Religious Broadcasters Award of Merit, 1986
- North Carolina Award in Public Service, 1986
- Good Housekeeping Most Admired Men Poll, 1997
- Congressional Gold Medal (along with wife Ruth), highest honor Congress can bestow on a private citizen, 1996
Graham authored numerous books, many of which have become bestsellers. In the 1970s, for instance, The Jesus Generation sold 200,000 copies in the first two weeks after its publication; Angels: God's Secret Agents had sales of a million copies within 90 days after release; How to Be Born Again was said to have made publishing history with its first printing of 800,000 copies.
- Calling Youth to Christ (1947)
- America's Hour of Decision (1951)
- I Saw Your Sons at War (1953)
- Peace with God (1953, 1984)
- Freedom from the Seven Deadly Sins (1955)
- The Secret of Happiness (1955, 1985)
- Billy Graham Talks to Teenagers (1958)
- My Answer (1960)
- Billy Graham Answers Your Questions (1960)
- World Aflame (1965)
- The Challenge (1969)
- The Jesus Generation (1971)
- Angels: God's Secret Agents (1975, 1985)
- How to Be Born Again (1977)
- The Holy Spirit (1978)
- Evangelist to the World (1979)
- Till Armageddon (1981)
- Approaching Hoofbeats (1983)
- A Biblical Standard for Evangelists (1984)
- Unto the Hills (1986)
- Facing Death and the Life After (1987)
- Answers to Life's Problems (1988)
- Hope for the Troubled Heart (1991)
- Storm Warning (1992)
- Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham (1997, 2007)
- Hope for Each Day (2002)
- The Key to Personal Peace (2003)
- Living in God's Love: The New York Crusade (2005)
- The Journey: How to Live by Faith in an Uncertain World (2006)
- Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well (2011)
- The Heaven Answer Book (2012)
- The Reason for My Hope: Salvation (2013)
- Where I Am: Heaven, Eternity, and Our Life Beyond the Now (2015)
- Roger Bruns, Billy Graham: A Biography (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004, ISBN 978-0313327186).
- Morrow Coffey Graham, They Call Me Mother Graham (Fleming H. Revel Company, 1977, ISBN 978-0800783419).
- Billy Graham's Childhood Home The Billy Graham Library. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- James E. Kilgore, Billy Graham, The Preacher (Exposition Press, 1968).
- David George Mullan, Narratives of the Religious Self in Early-Modern Scotland (Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2010), 27.
- Billy Graham Trivia What Did Billy Graham Read as a Child Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, August 10, 2015. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Seth Dunn, Billy Graham, America’s Pastor – Dead at age 99 Pulpit & Pen, February 21, 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Nancy Gibbs and Richard N. Ostling, God's Billy Pulpit Time (magazine), November 15, 1993. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Barry M. Horstman, Man with a mission Cincinnati Post, 2012. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- The Institute is now Trinity College of Florida in New Port Richey, Florida.
- Gary Kirkland, Graham's first-ever sermon? Near Palatka Gainesville Sun, June 25, 2005. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Profile: William (Billy) F. Graham, Jr. Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Wheaton College Alumnus Billy Graham: 1918-2018 Wheaton College, February 21, 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Charles Templeton, Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith (McClelland & Stewart, 1999, ISBN 978-0771085086).
- Curtis Gilbert, Rev. Billy Graham's rise began in Minnesota NPR, February 21, 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Will Graham, The Tree Stump Prayer: When Billy Graham Overcame Doubt Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, July 9, 2014. Retrieved March 25, 20218.
- Larry B. Stammer, Billy Graham Program Takes Cue From MTV Los Angeles Times, April 20, 1996. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Franklin Graham Samaritan's Purse. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- East Gates International. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Obituary - Ruth Bell Graham Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- The Rev. Billy Graham, prominent Christian evangelist, dead at 99 Fox News, February 21, 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Laura Sessions Stepp, A Family at Cross-Purposes The Washington Post, December 13, 2006. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Tim Funk, Graham's wife in coma, close to death; both will be buried at library The Herald, June 14, 2007. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Memorial Events Billy Graham Memorial. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Lisa Gutierrez, Billy Graham's coffin was built by a prison inmate named 'Grasshopper.' Here's why Kansas City Star, March 2, 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Dana Tyler, World-Renowned TV Evangelist The Rev. Billy Graham Dead At 99 CBS, February 21, 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- John Dart, Billy Graham Recalls Help From Hearst Los Angeles Times, June 7, 1997. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Michael G. Long (ed.), The Legacy of Billy Graham: Critical Reflections on America's Greatest Evangelist (Westminster John Knox Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0664231385).
- Sherwood Eliot Wirt, Billy: A Personal Look at the World's Best-Loved Evangelist (Crossway Books, 1997, ISBN 978-0891079347).
- Patricia O'Connell Killen and Mark Silk (eds.), Religion and Public Life in the Pacific Northwest: The None Zone (AltaMira Press, 2004, ISBN 978-0759106253).
- Grant Wacker, The Billy Pulpit: Graham's career in the mainline The Christian Century, November 15, 2003. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Billy Graham, InterVarsity & New York City InterVarsity, June 21, 2005. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Howard Culbertson, William Borden: No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets SNU, January 26, 2015. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Keith Hunt and Gladys Hunt, For Christ and the University: The Story of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship of the USA - 1940-1990 (IVP Books, 1992, ISBN 978-0830849963).
- Carol McPhail, New Billy Graham outreach: Hosting 'Matthew parties' to share the gospel Alabama Media Group, April 16, 2013. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- John Stott (ed.), Making Christ Known: Historic Mission Documents from the Lausanne Movement, 1974-1989 (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997, ISBN 978-0802843159).
- John W. Kennedy, The Most Diverse Gathering Ever Christianity Today, September 29, 2010. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- David Usborne, Billy Graham And The Last Crusade The Independent, June 24, 2005. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Billy Graham has brain shunt adjusted Winston-Salem Journal, February 14, 2008. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Tim Funk, Lion in Winter: Billy Graham, Hearing and Sight Failing, Pays a Visit, Charlotte Observer, April 21, 2010. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- About My Hope.
- Grant Wacker, America's Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation (Belknap Press, 2014, ISBN 978-0674052185).
- Billy Graham: Pastor to Presidents Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- David Aikman, Billy Graham: His Life and Influence (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2010, ISBN 978-1595551047).
- Randall E. King, When worlds collide: politics, religion, and media at the 1970 East Tennessee Billy Graham Crusade Journal of Church and State, March 22, 1997. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Grant Wacker, Charles Atlas with a Halo: America’s Billy Graham The Christian Century, April 1, 1992. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- H. Larry Ingle, Nixon's First Cover-up: The Religious Life of a Quaker President (University of Missouri Press, 2015, ISBN 978-0826220424).
- Peter Baker, Obama Visits the Rev. Billy Graham The New York Times, April 25, 2010. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Billy Graham Reflects on His Friendship with Queen Elizabeth II Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, December 11, 2017. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Clarisse Loughrey, Billy Graham dead: Truth behind Queen Elizabeth II's friendship with the US evangelical preacher The Independent, February 21, 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- H. Edward Schrier, The Battle of the Three Wills: As it Relates to Good & Evil (AuthorHouse, 2013, ISBN 978-1481758772).
- Steven P. Miller, Billy Graham and the Rise of the Republican South (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0812241518).
- Graham, William Franklin The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Trevor Freeze, Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Gun Fire 45 Years Ago Kills Man that Billy Graham Considered a Friend Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, January 15, 2017. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- To Billy Graham, July 23, 1958 The Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- From Grady Wilson, July 28, 1958 The Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Trevor Freeze, Billy Graham, Nelson Mandela United by Apartheid Opposition Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, March 17, 2017. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, The Preacher and the Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House (Center Street, 2007, ISBN 978-1599957340).
- Adam Taylor, How Billy Graham took his crusade to North Korea The Washington Post, February 21, 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Tim Funk, The Presidents' preacher: From Truman to Trump Charlotte Observer, February 22, 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Douglas W. Mize, John F. Kennedy, Billy Graham: irrecoverable moments in 1963 Baptist Press, November 2, 2013. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Jon Meacham, Billy Graham in Twilight: The Christian Evangelist Reflects on Politics, Scripture and Mortality in a 2006 Newsweek Profile Newsweek, February 21, 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Jonathan Merritt, Billy Graham, the Last Nonpartisan Evangelical? The New York Times, February 21, 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Iain H. Murray, Evangelicalism Divided (Banner of Truth, 2000, ISBN 978-0851517834), 73–74.
- Justin Taylor, Where Did the 'Billy Graham Rule' Come From? The Gospel Coalition, March 30, 2017. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Bonnie J. Dow, Watching Women's Liberation, 1970: Feminism's Pivotal Year on the Network News (University of Illinois Press, 2014, ISBN 978-0252080166).
- William Martin, Divorce, drugs, drinking: Billy Graham's children and their absent father The Washington Post, February 21, 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Michael G. Long, Martin Luther King Jr., Homosexuality, and the Early Gay Rights Movement: Keeping the Dream Straight? (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, ISBN 978-1137275516).
- Billy Graham urges anti-gay vote in N.C. Wisconsin Gazette, May 12, 2012. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Special Event – Honoring Rev. Billy Graham, U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, February 28, 2018.
- Emily Cochrane, Billy Graham to Lie in Honor at the U.S. Capitol The New York Times, February 22, 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Samuel Smith, Billy Graham Honored at US Capitol Memorial Service; Trump Recalls Dad's Love for 'America's Pastor' Christian Post, February 28, 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Joe Marusak and Tim Funk, Fallen evangelist Jim Bakker and wife pay their respects to Billy Graham in Charlotte The Charlotte Observer, February 27, 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Chris Dyches, Fallen PTL pastor Jim Bakker recalls prison visit from Rev. Billy Graham WBTV, February 27, 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Frank Newport, In the News: Billy Graham on 'Most Admired' List 61 Times Gallup, February 21, 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- David Hains, Billy Graham's visit to Belmont Abbey was historic Catholic News Service, February 23, 2018.
- Remarks at the Presentation Ceremony for the Presidential Medal of Freedom Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum, February 23, 1983. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Cheryl Stolberg, Billy Graham Now a Hollywood Star Los Angeles Times, October 16, 1989. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Inductees Archive: Billy Graham GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- The Ronald Reagan Freedom Award Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Caroline Davies, Honorary knighthood for Billy Graham The Daily Telegraph, December 7, 2001. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Mark Moring, The ultimate Billy Graham playlist Christianity Today, February 22, 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Nikki Cameron, Musicians Thank Billy Graham In A Song Of Gratitude GodUpdates, February 22, 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Kim Jones, 'My Hope: Songs Inspired By the Message and Mission of Billy Graham' Music Review Jubilee Cast, October 17, 2013. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Thomas P. Johnston, "Appendix 4: Other Awards and Honors". Examining Billy Graham's Theology of Evangelism (Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2003, ISBN 978-1592441624), 445-451.
- David Aikman, Great Souls: Six Who Changed a Century (Lexington Books, 2002, ISBN 978-0739104385).
- Golden Plate Awardees listed by year Academy of Achievement. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Philip Award The National Association of United Methodist Evangelists. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Alan Mittleman, Byron R. Johnson, and Nancy Isserman (eds.), Uneasy Allies? Evangelical and Jewish Relations (Lexington Books, 2007, ISBN 978-0739119662).
- Ernest Kay (ed.), Men of Achievement (Melrose Press, 1993, ISBN 978-0948875755).
- Billy Graham (1918 – 2018) Biblio.com. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
ReferencesISBN links support NWE through referral fees
- Aikman, David. Great Souls: Six Who Changed a Century. Lexington Books, 2002. ISBN 978-0739104385
- Aikman, David. Billy Graham: His Life and Influence. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2010. ISBN 978-1595551047
- Bruns, Roger. Billy Graham: A Biography. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004. ISBN 978-0313327186
- Dow, Bonnie J. Watching Women's Liberation, 1970: Feminism's Pivotal Year on the Network News. University of Illinois Press, 2014. ISBN 978-0252080166
- Finstuen, Andrew, Grant Wacker, and Anne Blue Wills (eds.). Billy Graham: American Pilgrim Oxford University Press, 2017. ISBN 978-0190683528
- Gibbs, Nancy, and Michael Duffy. The Preacher and the Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House. Center Street, 2007. ISBN 978-1599957340
- Graham, Morrow Coffey. They Call Me Mother Graham. Fleming H. Revel Company, 1977. ISBN 978-0800783419
- Himes, Andrew. Sword of the Lord: The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family. Seattle, WA: Chiara Press, 2011. ISBN 978-1453843758
- Hirsch, Foster. Love, Sex, Death, And The Meaning Of Life: The Films Of Woody Allen. Da Capo Press, 2001. ISBN 978-0306810176
- Hunt, Keith, and Gladys Hunt. For Christ and the University: The Story of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship of the USA - 1940-1990. IVP Books, 1992. ISBN 978-0830849963
- Ingle, H. Larry. Nixon's First Cover-up: The Religious Life of a Quaker President. University of Missouri, 2015. ISBN 978-0826220424
- Johnston, Thomas P. Examining Billy Graham's Theology of Evangelism. Wipf & Stock Pub., 2003. ISBN 978-1592441624
- Kay, Ernest (ed.). Men of Achievement. Melrose Press, 1993. ISBN 978-0948875755
- Kilgour, James E. Billy Graham, The Preacher. Exposition Press, 1968.
- Killen, Patricia O'Connell, and Mark Silk (eds.). Religion and Public Life in the Pacific Northwest: The None Zone. AltaMira Press, 2004. ISBN 978-0759106253
- Long, Michael G. (ed.). The Legacy of Billy Graham: Critical Reflections on America's Greatest Evangelist. Westminster John Knox Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0664231385
- Long, Michael G. Martin Luther King Jr., Homosexuality, and the Early Gay Rights Movement: Keeping the Dream Straight? Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. ASIN B00B72HZN0
- Martin, William C. A Prophet with Honor: The Billy Graham Story. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008. ISBN 978-0310241980
- Miller, Steven P. Billy Graham and the Rise of the Republican South. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0812241518
- Mittleman, Alan, Byron R. Johnson, and Nancy Isserman (eds.). Uneasy Allies? Evangelical and Jewish Relations. Lexington Books, 2007. ISBN 978-0739119662
- Mullan, David George. Narratives of the Religious Self in Early-Modern Scotland. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2010.
- Murray, Iain H. Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 to 2000. Banner of Truth, 2000. ISBN 978-0851517834
- Pollock, John. Billy Graham: Evangelist to the World. Joanna Cotler Books, 1979. ISBN 978-0060666910
- Schrier, H. Edward. The Battle of the Three Wills: As it Relates to Good & Evil. AuthorHouse, 2013. ISBN 978-1481758772
- Sherwood, Timothy H. The Rhetorical Leadership of Fulton J. Sheen, Norman Vincent Peale, and Billy Graham in the Age of Extremes. Lexington Books, 2015. ISBN 978-1498515863
- Stott, John (ed.). Making Christ Known: Historic Mission Documents from the Lausanne Movement, 1974-1989. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997. ISBN 978-0802843159
- Strober, Deborah Hart, and Gerald S. Strober. Billy Graham: A Narrative and Oral Biography. Jossey-Bass, 2006. ISBN 978-0787984014
- Templeton, Charles. Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith. McClelland & Stewart, 1999. ISBN 978-0771085086
- Wacker, Grant. America's Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation. Belknap Press, 2014. ISBN 978-0674052185
- Wirt, Sherwood Eliot. Billy: A Personal Look at the World's Best-Loved Evangelist. Crossway Books, 1997. ISBN 978-0891079347
All links retrieved October 31, 2023.
- Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Official website
- Billy Graham at Ted.
- Billy Graham on C-SPAN.
- Obituary The New York Times
- Obituary Reuters
- Billy Graham at GoodReads.
- My Answer by Billy Graham
- Billy Graham Obituary The Times, February 28, 2018.
- 'America's Pastor' Billy Graham Dies At 99 Tom Gjelten, NPR, February 21, 2018.
William Bell Riley
|President of Northwestern Bible College
|Succeeded by: Richard Elvee|
|Succeeded by: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn|
|Persons who have lain in state or honor
in the United States Capitol rotunda
February 28 – March 1, 2018
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