Sunday, February 25, 2018

Billy Graham Built a Movement. Now His Son Is Dismantling It.

From Politico-

As a young boy growing up in an Episcopal household, I watched Billy Graham at least a dozen times as he preached his straightforward gospel of sin and salvation on national television. I was dazzled by what I later learned to describe as his charisma. He was tall and handsome. There was a sweet urgency in his voice. And he didn’t seem to be hiding anything behind his deep-set blue eyes. So I may be unduly forgiving of his faults. But I still view him as a good man who was ultimately chastened by his chumminess with Nixon, who worked hard to transcend the racism and anti-Semitism that swirled around him as a farm boy in North Carolina, and who understood (at his best) that the Christian message (at its best) is about love rather than fear, inclusion rather than exclusion.

When he spoke to the nation at the post-9/11 memorial service at Washington’s National Cathedral, he spoke of evil, but he did not denounce Islam. Throughout his career, Graham was criticized by fundamentalists for working with Catholics and liberal Protestants at his crusades. He prayed with Democratic and Republican presidents. And instead of castigating Christianity’s religious rivals, he focused on preaching Christ. When asked to join in common cause with Jerry Falwell after the foundation of the Moral Majority in 1979, Graham refused to yoke his organization to the cultural wars of the Religious Right and the Republican Party. And almost immediately after saying during a 1993 crusade in Columbus, Ohio, that AIDS might be “a judgment of God,” he retracted those words, telling the Cleveland Plain Dealer a few days later, “I don't believe that and I don't know why I said it. . . . To say God has judged people with AIDS would be very wrong and very cruel. I would like to say that I am very sorry for what I said.”

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