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TIME--The Weekly Newsmagazine--1993

Nov. 15, 1993 A Christian In Winter:Billy Graham


Of Angels, Devils and Messages from God


Richard N. Ostling, Billy Graham

Billy Graham expresses beliefs that remain firmly based upon the Bible, yet

often sound moderate in a world of Fundamentalist fire. He spoke about his creed

with 's Richard N. Ostling.

ON GOD. God does not dwell in a body, so we cannot define him in a material

way. God is a spirit. I have had tremendous messages from him, which are from

the Bible; it's not something I've dreamed up or had a vision of. It's important

to study the Bible on a daily basis so he can speak to me.

ON SCRIPTURE. We have to have some rule of law in theology as well as every

other part of our lives, and the rule of our spiritual life is found in the

Bible, which I believe was totally and completely inspired by God. Our good

works come from our belief that the Bible is inspired by God, and the life of

Christ is our pattern.

ON HELL. The only thing I could say for sure is that hell means separation

from God. We are separated from his light, from his fellowship. That is going to

be hell. When it comes to a literal fire, I don't preach it because I'm not sure

about it. When the Scripture uses fire concerning hell, that is possibly an

illustration of how terrible it's going to be--not fire but something worse, a

thirst for God that cannot be quenched.

ON DEVILS AND ANGELS. We have a community of devils, and Satan is their

commander in chief. Jesus is the commander in chief of the angels. They are very

powerful--not all-powerful--and do God's bidding. I believe we have guardian

angels. I expect I would have been dead long ago without a guardian angel.

ON THE VIRGIN BIRTH. That is a very tender and fantastic thing. Because I

believe the Bible, I believe it's important. It is not necessary for one's

salvation, but as we follow Christ it's one of the cardinal points we must


ON CHRIST'S RESURRECTION. Chancellor Konrad Adenauer of West Germany asked

me once if I believed in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. I said, Yes, I do. He

said, So do I, and if Jesus Christ was not raised from the dead, there's no hope

for the human race. I hold the same view. Christianity wouldn't be Christianity

without it.

Copyright (c) TIME Magazine, 1995 TIME Inc. Magazine Company; (c) 1995 Compact Publishing, Inc.

TIME--The Weekly Newsmagazine--1993

Nov. 15, 1993 A Christian In Winter:Billy Graham


Will A Son Also Rise?


"The girls get married and change their names," says Ruth Graham, "but the

boys are stuck with Graham." Franklin (William Franklin III), 41, and Ned

(Nelson Edman), 35, caused their parents anguish in their rebellious search for

what Ruth calls "their own identities." But now that their period of rebellion

is over, the question is whether one might reprise his father's role when Billy

passes from the evangelical scene.

Starting in high school, Ned confesses, he became "infatuated with the drug

subculture," using marijuana, LSD and mescaline. "When you're the child of a

famous person," says Franklin, who had his own bouts with heavy drinking,

"you're measured by a different scale. You can get mad and fight it, or you can

learn to accept it." Their father, biding his time, eventually reminded each son

of his and Ruth's love, warning that "Satan is wanting to control your life, and

there is a battle going on for your soul." Franklin and Ned surrendered to

Billy's God. Both are ordained and have key roles in evangelical organizations.

Ned heads East Gates Ministries International, which aids churches in

China. Franklin runs two international relief agencies, Samaritan's Purse and

World Medical Mission. Both preachers have an enduring passion for

motorcycles--but they differ about the disposition of their father's temporal

kingdom. Ned has distanced himself from the Billy Graham Evangelistic

Association and hopes it will go forward under leadership that has "absolute

integrity and a mandate from God." Says Ned: "I do not see that anybody can step

into my father's place." Franklin knows there's only one Billy but sits on the

association's executive committee and is constantly touted by the media as its

future head. Indeed, since 1989 Franklin has followed his father's vocation,

preaching at small revival meetings. "I'm not going to give my preference one

way or the other," says Billy of the succession, adding that Franklin "doesn't

want it, in my judgment." Says Franklin: "God is going to raise up a person."

By Richard N. Ostling. With reporting by David Aikman/Washington and Lisa


Copyright (c) TIME Magazine, 1995 TIME Inc. Magazine Company; (c) 1995 Compact Publishing, Inc.

TIME--The Weekly Newsmagazine--1993

Nov. 15, 1993 A Christian In Winter:Billy Graham

COVER, Page 70

God's Billy Pulpit


After a lifetime of reshaping Protestantism, Billy Graham contemplates his

final years and a legacy that has no sure successor


What is it in this man, in his urgent voice and eager eyes, in the message

and the messenger, that overwhelms even those who are predisposed to distrust

him? Long ago, Billy Graham gave up the shiny suits and technicolor ties of the

brash young evangelist; the silver mane is thinner now, the step may falter a

bit, he no longer prowls the stage like a lynx. In his preaching as well, the

temperatures of hellfire have been reduced, the volume turned down. Graham knows

he needs to save his strength: he is fighting Parkinson's disease, a progressive

nervous disorder that has already made it impossible for him to drive or write

by hand. But while he has learned to number his days, Graham intends to make the

most of them: "The New Testament says nothing of Apostles who retired and took

it easy."

Numbers, poets complain, are soulless things, the anonymous rungs of

infinity. But it is hard to talk about Billy Graham, the great reaper of souls,

without talking about numbers. This is the man who has preached in person to

more people than any human being who has ever lived. What began in country

churches and trailer parks and circus tents moved through cathedrals and

stadiums and the world's vast public squares, where he has called upon more than

100,000,000 people to "accept Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour."

There may have been cleverer preachers and wiser ones, those whose messages

seemed safe, logic sound. But never in history has a preacher moved so many

people to act on the "invitation," that mysterious spiritual transaction that

concludes every revival meeting. Over the years, 2,874,082 men and women have

stepped forward, according to his staff's careful count. In Moscow a year ago, a

fourth of his 155,500 listeners answered the call. "I don't know why God has

allowed me to have this," Graham says. "I'll have to ask him when I get to


Billy Graham turned 75 this week, an occasion for some reckoning of a life

and career full of blessings and contradictions. Everyone has a preferred

description. George Bush called him "America's pastor." Harry Truman called him

a "counterfeit" and publicity seeker. Pat Boone considers him "the greatest

person since Jesus." Fundamentalist leader Bob Jones III says Graham "has done

more harm to the cause of Christ than any other living man." Biographer William

Martin calls him "an icon not just of American Christianity but of America


Weathering both applause and derision, Graham has through the years become

America's perennial deus ex machina, perpetually in motion, sweeping in to lift

up spirits befuddled by modernity. When Presidents need to pray, it is Graham

whom they call; he ministered to Dwight Eisenhower in the White House, spent the

night with the Bushes on the eve of the Gulf War. Richard Nixon offered him the

ambassadorship to Israel at a meeting with Golda Meir. "I said the Mideast would

blow up if I went over there," Graham recalls. "Golda then reached under the

table and squeezed my hand. She was greatly relieved." When Billy arrived for a

crusade in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1989, Hillary Rodham Clinton invited him to

lunch. "I don't eat with beautiful women alone," Billy told her, so they met in

a hotel dining room and talked for a couple of hours.

Moral authorities have come and gone, but Graham has endured, his honour

intact despite his proximity to the shattering temptations of power. From the

start, Graham presented to sceptics and believers alike a raucous, muscular

Christianity, full of fire and free of doubt. Through it all, his message has

been essentially the same. Each person is sinful before God, a predicament that

can turn to redemption through faith in Jesus Christ and his death on the Cross.

And Graham is the master marketer of that faith.

The act of preaching it, however, has always taken its toll, especially

these days. "There have been times...I've come down from the platform absolutely

exhausted," he says. "I feel like I've been wrestling with the devil, who has

been doing everything in his power to keep those people from getting a clear

message of the Gospel." At the moment he gives the invitation, he explains,

"some sort of physical energy goes out of me and I feel terribly weak. I'm

depleted." After a crusade he returns to relax with his wife Ruth in the

rambling log home that she designed years ago as their sanctuary. It sits up in

the Blue Ridge Mountains above Montreat, North Carolina, a retreat from the

demands that press upon him continually.

The need to rest, of course, falls prey to the call to minister. In a

12-day stretch last June, he visited John Connally in a Texas hospital, escaped

to a quiet hotel in southern France to find the time and space to work on his

memoirs, immediately returned to Texas to preach at Connally's funeral, flew

back to France, then to California to conduct Pat Nixon's funeral, then returned

to France once again, too tired to get much work done. "I found that this

Parkinson's does slow you down," he says, "whether you want to slow down or

not." Mayo Clinic doctors tell him he can stand and preach for, at most, five

more years.

That does not leave him much time. Graham's legacy will be measured not

only in the lives he has changed but in the cause he has championed. If modern

evangelicalism is in many ways Graham's passionate creation, it could suffer

grievously once he is gone. A war over either the social agenda of the religious

right or the theological assertions of the Fundamentalists could rend the

movement that he held together almost against its fractious nature.

There are those who say he will never retire, including Graham himself. Yet

back in 1952, three years after he had arrived as a national spiritual leader at

the age of 30, he was so exhausted that he wasn't sure he could continue much

longer. "I've always thought my life would be a short one," he told a group of

churchmen in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. "I don't think my ministry will be long.

I think God allowed me to come for a moment and it will be over soon."

Four decades later, it's not over yet. William Franklin Graham Jr. grew up

on a North Carolina dairy farm, the son of pious parents who believed in

spankings and Bible readings and persistent instruction in clean living. In

1933, on the day Prohibition was repealed, his father made Billy and his sister

Catherine drink beer until they vomited, an early exercise in aversion therapy

that lasted a lifetime.

Young Billy Frank was a big reader but a mediocre student who dreamed of

becoming a big-league baseball player. But destiny had other plans for him, as

Martin recounts in his exhaustively researched, revelatory biography A Prophet

with Honor (Morrow). One day in 1934, 30 or so of the local farmers, squeezed by

the Depression and despairing of their future, gathered at the Graham farm for a

day of prayer. When Billy arrived home after school and saw the crowd in the

grove, he explained to a friend, "Oh, I guess they are just some fanatics who

talked Dad into letting them use the place." Yet it was only a few months later

that Billy had his own conversion experience. "I didn't have any tears, I didn't

have any emotion, I didn't hear any thunder, there was no lightning," he says.

"But right there, I made my decision for Christ. It was as simple as that, and

as conclusive."

It didn't look exactly simple at first: he was turned down for membership

in a church youth group on the grounds that he was "just too worldly." After

graduation he enrolled at Bob Jones College, a Bible boot camp in Tennessee

where hand holding was forbidden, and dating was limited to chaperoned chats in

a public parlor. Between the rules and the course work, Graham soon found

himself on the brink of expulsion and thought about transferring. The legendary

Jones warned him about throwing his life away: "At best, all you could amount to

would be a poor country Baptist preacher somewhere out in the sticks." Then he

tempted him. "You have a voice that pulls," he told the young man. "God can use

that voice of yours. He can use it mightily."

Such prophecy notwithstanding, Graham fled south to the Florida Bible

Institute, where he could play golf and go canoeing and court a pretty classmate

named Emily Cavanaugh. Her decision to break off their engagement hit Billy

hard. "She wanted to marry a man who was going to amount to something," Graham's

brother Melvin told Martin. The disappointment planted in Graham a determination

to prove her wrong; it ripened alongside his commitment to discerning, and

obeying, God's will. He would practice sermons aloud in old sheds or in a canoe

in the middle of a lake. He ate a quarter-pound of butter a day to try to spread

some bulk across his lanky frame, and he worked on his gestures and facial

expressions as he traveled to tiny churches or declaimed outside saloons

frequented by drunkards and prostitutes, sharing the Gospel.

Even early on, friends sensed in him an ability to move people that owed

less to intellect than to the tug of sincerity. His sermons in those days were

highly colourful and factually creative, to a point that would haunt him in later

years. Heaven, he used to explain, measured 1,600 sq. mi.: "We are going to sit

around the fireplace and have parties, and the angels will wait on us, and we'll

drive down the golden streets in a yellow Cadillac convertible." Decades later,

the vision has matured. "I think heaven is going to be a place beyond anything

we can imagine, or anyone in Hollywood or on Broadway can imagine," he says now.

"There is a passage in Revelation that says we will serve God in heaven. We're

not going to have somebody fan us or sit around on a beach somewhere."

The chance to broaden his education came in 1940, when he won a scholarship

to Wheaton College in Illinois, then as now the leading undergraduate

institution of Evangelicalism. There he met Ruth Bell, the daughter of

missionaries to China who herself wanted to go and evangelize in Tibet. Graham

talked her out of it, arguing that she knew God wanted them to marry, so "I'll

lead and you do the following."

For his part, Billy says Ruth "was the one who had the greatest influence

in urging me to be an evangelist."

Ruth: "I thought God called you."

Billy: "Well, he told me through you too."

After Wheaton and a brief stint in a small church, Graham joined Youth for

Christ International, a "para-church" group of vigorous young evangelists who

would travel the country, and soon the world, working with churches to stage

revival meetings to ever larger crowds. In the immediate postwar years, there

seemed to be a hunger for the virile, vibrant call to faith that Graham and his

friends represented. On and on they came, until as many as a million kids a week

were attending such revival meetings around the country. The YFC rallies

included blaring bands, quiz shows, horse acts, emcees with bow ties that lit

up. As for Graham, so loud and fast was his delivery that journalists called him

"God's Machine Gun." "Christian vaudeville," sniffed sceptics.

As his fame spread, first in evangelical circles and later nationally and

internationally, Graham and his friends understood the importance of avoiding

the hazards that, then and later, would disgrace other freelance preachers. One

day in 1948, Graham gathered his tiny retinue in a Modesto, California, hotel

room to inoculate them against temptation. To prevent sexual rumours, each agreed

never again to be alone with a woman other than his wife. The "Modesto

Manifesto" also pledged honest statistical reports and open finances. The money

setup was further cleansed in 1950 after the Atlanta Constitution ran a photo of

Graham next to a picture of ushers with sackfuls of cash.

"I said never again," recalls Graham, who put everyone on straight salary

and later set up a board dominated by outsiders. (Graham has, however,

ministered to his wayward fellow preachers; after Jim Bakker's fall from grace,

he quietly visited the imprisoned televangelist in Minnesota for a prayer

session.) For years Graham's annual salary was $69,150 plus a $23,050 housing

allowance, but last April his board raised that to $101,250 plus $33,750. He was

given homes in Florida and California but donated them to Christian causes.

Graham always appreciated the importance both of appearances and of

self-promotion. Along the way he won some unlikely backers, among the most

useful William Randolph Hearst. The old reprobate publisher was so taken with

the evangelist's patriotism and call for spiritual renewal that he telegraphed

his editors around the country: "Puff Graham." TIME for its part declared in

1949 that no one since Billy Sunday had wielded "the revival sickle" as

successfully as this "blond, trumpet-lunged North Carolinian."

Even as Graham's preaching grew more confident, his concern about his

intellectual preparation lingered. But when his friend and fellow YFC revivalist

Charles Templeton urged him to come to Princeton Theological Seminary and lay a

deeper academic foundation for his preaching, Graham balked. When they met on

their travels, they fell into deep debates, with Templeton now armed with

philosophy, anthropology and a willingness to read the Bible as metaphor. Graham

found he couldn't muster the logical responses.

As Martin tells it, this led to a spiritual and intellectual turning point.

"Chuck, look, I haven't a good enough mind to settle these questions," Graham

finally declared. "The finest minds in the world have looked and come down on

both sides." Graham concluded that "I don't have the time, the inclination or

the set of mind to pursue them. I found that if I say `The Bible says' and `God

says,' I get results. I have decided I'm not going to wrestle with these

questions any longer."

Templeton charged him with committing intellectual suicide. But Graham came

to believe doubt was a dangerous distraction from his calling. He decided the

Bible was the one true Word in its entirety and never wavered. Looking back

today, Graham says, "I had one great failure, and that was intellectual. I

should have gone on to school. But I would talk to people about that, and they'd

say, Oh no, go on with what you're doing, and let others do that. I do regret I

didn't do enough reading, enough study, both formal and informal."

That does not mean he makes any apologies for his belief in the Bible as

the literal Word of God, a conviction that confounds his critics. "I would never

seek to solve the ethical problems of the 20th century by quoting a passage of

Holy Scripture, and I read the Bible every day," says liberal Episcopal Bishop

John Spong of Newark, New Jersey, who used to deliver newspapers to the Graham

farm as a boy in North Carolina. "I wouldn't invest a book that was written

between 1000 B.C. and A.D. 150 with that kind of moral authority." Graham, for

his part, wouldn't think of doing otherwise.

His Biblical purity, however, did not protect him from conservative

attacks. Over the years, strict Fundamentalists came to see Graham as a traitor

for his willingness to work with everyone--Catholics, Anglicans, even liberal

modernists--to bring the unchurched into the tent. "Fundamentalist is a grand

and wonderful word," Graham says now, "but it got off track and into so many

extreme positions." Their hostility pained him far more than the sneers of

liberals. "I felt," Graham admits, "like my own brothers had turned against


If Graham's power as a spiritual leader came from authenticity and fervent

conviction, it did not mean he was incapable of change. In the 1950s Graham's

warnings about a diabolically inspired Soviet empire helped inspire his

frightened audience to seek solace and protection in faith. By the 1980s he was

joining the peace movement. Graham was pilloried in 1982 for speaking to a

staged "peace" conference in the Soviet Union and resolutely downplaying

religious repression. His supporters argued that in private he lobbied the

Kremlin on behalf of Jewish and Christian prisoners. Ruth Graham, herself

fervently anticommunist, opposed her husband's strategy, but it succeeded in

gaining him access to preach in Eastern Europe. She now says, "Jesus said go

into all the world and preach the Gospel, not just the capitalist world. I mean,

I was dead wrong."

Back at home Graham was always an interested, although cautious, student of

politics. In public he was careful to keep his role spiritual: it took an act of

Congress in 1952 for Graham to be allowed to hold the first religious service on

the Capitol steps. But in private he pestered Truman about the need to turn back

communism in Korea and encouraged Eisenhower to send troops to Little Rock to

enforce school desegregation. According to Martin, so involved was he in

counseling his friend Richard Nixon that the defeated candidate would write in

1960, "I have often told friends that when you went into the ministry, politics

lost one of its potentially greatest practitioners."

In recent years, there has come a curious reversal. Fundamentalist leaders

who once shunned the political realm began to move forcefully into it, bearing a

moral agenda for family values and school prayer, against abortion and gay

rights. And Graham, in a sense, returned to the pure power of the pulpit,

preaching as forcefully as ever of the need for moral renewal but without

allying himself with the political activism of the religious right. "I can

identify with them on theology, probably, in many areas," he says, "but in the

political emphases they have, I don't, because I don't think Jesus or the

Apostles took sides in the political arenas of their day." He opposes abortion

except in cases involving rape, incest or danger to the mother's life, but he is

critical of Operation Rescue. "I think they have gone much too far, and their

cause has been hurt. The tactics ought to be prayer and discussion."

Critics on the left are just as likely as those on the right to demand that

he take a public stand. "I don't think you can save souls without working for

justice," says Professor James Cone of Union Theological Seminary in New York

City. "I hear Billy Graham as interested in saving souls of the poor but not

interested in changing the conditions that create the poverty."

But social commentary has never been the core of Graham's mission. His

ministry rests on the notion that if individuals are brought to God and their

lives transformed, they in turn will go out and transform society. That

priority, and even more his zeal for social orderliness, often kept Graham on

the sidelines, particularly during the civil rights movement. Though he insisted

on racially integrated seating at his revival meetings, Graham says Martin

Luther King Jr. himself advised in a lengthy talk that "if you go to the

streets, your people will desert you, and you won't have the opportunity to have

these integrated crusades." But then and ever since, he has been criticized for

his role. "He should have been more deeply involved earlier on," argues Dean

Joseph Hough Jr. of Vanderbilt University's Divinity School. "Had he been, he

could have had quite an impact."

To this day, the spotlight on Graham is so bright that spiritual gestures

are taken as political statements. "I was distraught and offended when he spent

the night in the White House before Bush launched Desert Storm," says Alan

Neely, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary. "I saw that as Graham

giving his sanction for what was about to take place. I don't think that's the

role of the Christian minister."

His congregation of past Presidents sees it rather differently. "Billy came

to the White House to give me the kind of reassurance that was important in

decisions and challenges at home and abroad," says Gerald Ford. "Whenever you

were with Billy, you had a special feeling that he was there to give you help

and guidance in meeting your problems."

Graham is intent on saving time for his family, time he rarely had for them

when he was travelling at least half the year. Each day becomes precious. "It

doesn't make me feel any different, turning 75, than when I turned 45," he

muses. "But when I see pictures of my 19 grandchildren and four

great-grandchildren, I know some time has passed. I let days like that slip by

and try to forget it. I'm not looking backward. I'm looking to the future."

The ceaseless demands leave him with hard decisions to make. He wants to

preach redemption to as many people as possible while he still can: he is

already committed to Atlanta, Cleveland, Ohio and Tokyo for next year. Then

comes a career climax, a 1995 revival meeting that will span the entire globe at

once. In this technological Pentecost, sermons will be translated into dozens of

languages and transmitted by satellite TV to about 130 nations--possibly

including mainland China.

And yet achievements and the numbers, mighty as they are, mean less and

less now. Sitting in Montreat, Graham muses about America's spiritual life. "It

seems we've gotten caught up in numbers. We have so many polls that give

different figures about how many go to church and synagogue, how many are saved

and unsaved. When I ask people to come forward and a thousand people respond, I

know in my heart they're not all converted." He mentions Bibles. Everyone used

to bring them to his revival meetings before. Now only a small percentage do. It

is as if they could not find copies.

Graham is determined to nurture his legacy, not only the people he has

touched but the movement he has led. Evangelical Protestantism has triumphed

over other, sugarcoated brands, not least because his sincerity and his probity

protected his movement from the stain spread by the moral and financial

disasters of other high-wattage clerics. New studies show that Evangelical

church bodies are the largest segment in American religion in active membership,

and the most committed.

While Graham is confident that Evangelicalism is firmly embedded in the

"mainline" churches, he has once again conquered the individuals, not the

institutions. So he is counting on individuals to take up where he will one day

leave off, sharing the good news. He has a list in his computer of 43,000

evangelists around the world, whom he visits when he travels or invites to

training meetings. If he can inspire one preacher, who goes home and converts

his family and neighbours, who in turn breathe new life into a gasping church,

which shines new light on a lost city...who knows how far it may go?

But, Billy is asked, is he not the last of the big-time evangelists? "After

D.L. Moody was finished, they said the same thing," the preacher says, "and

after Billy Sunday they said the same thing, and after I'm finished they'll say

the same thing. But God will raise up different ones who will do it far better

than me." If so, that will truly be a miracle.

Copyright (c) TIME Magazine, 1995 TIME Inc. Magazine Company; (c) 1995 Compact Publishing, Inc.

TIME--The Weekly Newsmagazine--1990

May 28, 1990 Emergency!


Preachers, Politics And Temptation


Billy Graham describes his friendship with a tearful Nixon, the

spirituality of President Bush and how Satan tempts God's people with sex, money

and pride

By David Aikman and Billy Graham

Q. Many Americans have thought of you as something of an unofficial

chaplain to the White House for the past several Presidents. Has that proximity

ever made you uncomfortable?

A. Yes, it has. Each one of them I have known before he ever got into the

White House. Some of them I was very close friends with before they ever got

there, like Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson and George Bush.

I kept a very full diary of my relationship with Nixon, for some strange

reason, until he became President. I remember he had wanted me to come and see

the lights at the White House at Christmas. It was the year that Watergate was

just beginning. I put my arm around him, and I said, "Mr. President, let us have

a prayer." He said, "Billy, I would like to say something first. We have been

here now four years. I thought by this time some of my enemies would have had me

by now." He added, "You know, I am a hated man, going back to the Alger Hiss

case, and Helen Gahagan Douglas and all that."

We had a prayer. And when I finished praying, I looked up at him and tears

were coming down both sides of his cheeks. I will never forget that night.

I see him now maybe two or three times a year. The last six months of his

presidency, we could not get to him. I went through every angle I knew. And he

knew I was trying to get to him. But as Bill Safire says in his book, he gave

orders not to allow me near him because he did not want me tarred with


Then he went to San Clemente [Calif.], and he was so terribly sick, he

nearly died. He came close to death. My wife Ruth hired a one-motor plane to

pull a sign back and forth in front of the hospital, saying GOD LOVES YOU AND SO

DO WE. And nobody knew it was Ruth.

At San Clemente he took me upstairs really just to talk in depth about his

feelings and all the things that had happened, about Watergate. He was a very

emotional man. People do not realize how easily he was touched by things. And he

is, I think, a true believer.

Q. Did he express any regret about Watergate?

A. Oh, he apologized to me about the language. He said, "There are many

words that I used that I never knew before."

Q. Is there a privately spiritual President Bush whom we do not know about

in public?

A. Bush is easy to talk to about spiritual things, easier than other

Presidents I have met. He says straight out that he has received Christ as his

Saviour, that he is a born-again believer and that he reads the Bible daily. He

has the highest moral standards of almost anybody whom I have known. He and his

wife have such a relationship, it is just unbelievable. If you are with them in

private, you know, they are just like lovers. When I would go and spend the

night, as I did many times when he was Vice President, the room that I stayed in

was right across the hall from theirs, and they always kept the door open. And

there they were, you know, in bed, holding hands or reading a newspaper or

reading a book.

Q. Is it true that many Presidents have offered you jobs?

A. Nixon offered me any job I wanted. I said, "Dick, I do not want any job.

God called me to preach." Johnson offered me the ambassadorship to Israel. Later

on, sitting beside Golda Meir at a dinner at the White House, I said, "I am not

the man. God called me to preach." And Golda Meir reached and grabbed my hand.

She was so thrilled. I told Johnson, "The Middle East would blow up if I went

over there."

Q. What kept you from throwing in your hat with the Christian right, the

Moral Majority?

A. I knew the great dangers that being a political partisan has for an

evangelist or a preacher of the gospel. People say, "Well, you have been friends

with all these Republican Presidents." But I have been friends with Democrats

too. I am a registered Democrat. So I was determined to be just as neutral as I

could be in those things. I also remember Jerry Falwell flew down here to

Montreat to see me about the Moral Majority. He said, "Billy, I want to tell

you, you stay out of Moral Majority. You have too big a ministry to get bogged

down in politics."

Q. You have met the Pope twice. Do you share his views of spiritual revival

in Eastern Europe and elsewhere?

A. I would say that there are a great many parallels. I remember the first

time I was with him in 1981. He reached his hand out, and he grabbed my thumb,

like this [grabs his left thumb with his right hand]. And he said, "We are


Now I have spent considerable time with the people around him. I could

sense they recognize that they have an affinity with Evangelicals. They have

suddenly realized that these are the people who are closest to them


Q. Some of your brethren in the Southern Baptist Convention have expressed

outrage at your meeting with prominent Roman Catholics.

A. There used to be big problems. But now I have reconciled in my mind that

God has his people in all kinds of places and all kinds of churches and groups.

I have found many people in the Roman Catholic Church, both clergy and laity,

who I believe are born-again Christians. They may hold different theological

views than I hold, but I believe they are in the body of Christ. So I consider

them brothers and sisters in Christ. And, as my wife has often said, we have

never received an ugly letter from a Roman Catholic.

Q. Jim and Tammy Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart are nationally known Christian

leaders who have fallen from their pedestals. I know you have no desire to judge

them, but what accounts for their fall?

A. I do not think there is a single element. If you would name one word,

you would say sin and the temptations of the evil one, Satan. Because we are all

tempted. I think if they had realized what was happening and turned to the Lord

in the deepest part of their lives, they would not have fallen. Of course, when

a person becomes what they were on television and becomes a celebrity, he faces

a special kind of temptation, a special time of vulnerability because you become

a target for anybody who is jealous or anybody who is disloyal in the


That is the reason I wrote a book, about four years before all this

happened, warning of this. I went into all these things we read in the press

about the sex, money and pride. Those are the three areas I think Satan attacks

God's servants on. I was told that many years ago by an old clergyman, and I

never forgot it. And I learned from that moment on that I would be tempted in

those areas. So I never rode in a car with a woman alone. I never have eaten a

meal with my secretary alone or ridden in a car with her alone. If we sit in

here and I dictate something to her, the door is open. And just little things

like that, that people would think are so silly, but it was ingrained in me in

those early years.

Q. Did you foresee the scandals in the television ministries or ever try to

warn the people involved against them?

A. I did that at the National Religious Broadcasters [convention in

Washington] about four or five years ago, in a major address I gave them. I do

not know whether Jimmy Swaggart was there, but Jim Bakker was there.

Q. You have spent half a century preaching in America and around the world

against sin. Do you think there is more sin around than when you started, or


A. More, but only because there are more people. As far as an outward act

that we call sin is concerned, like murder or adultery, and all these things, it

is certainly more apparent in the sense that it is in the media. I think

television has had a vast, unbelievable impact on us. And we have too much

violence, too much open sex on television. What it is going to do to the next

generation I do not know.

But there is also a new word coming back, the need for moral values,

because we cannot build a strong society without them.

Q. Like all Evangelicals, you believe in the Second Coming of Christ, to be

preceded by unprecedented worldwide warfare, famine and cruelty. But doesn't the

waning of the cold war make such an apocalypse more remote today than, say, ten

years ago?

A. I could not answer that because I think the Lord taught us not to

speculate on the time of his return. Even in the Middle Ages they expected

Christ to come at any time after the great plague in Europe, where 1 out of 3

people died. I personally think things are now converging for the first time in

history, fulfilling the prophecies that he himself made about his coming. I had

a German scientist say to me the other day that from a scientific point of view,

man is almost at the end now. He was not talking about religion. I would say

that people seem to sense that we cannot go on forever.

Q. A recent editorial in the Door, a Christian satirical magazine,

suggested that you should "retire gracefully" and hand over the assets of your

organization to the poor. What do you think of that idea?

A. We do not have any assets, but I would say that they have a strong point

because I am faced with the thought that the Billy Graham Evangelistic

Association should shut down. I do not have the authority to shut it down. I

have let that authority go into a board of directors for some years now. And I

do not think they would hear of it.

But I will never retire from preaching. I do not see anybody in the Bible

who retires from preaching.

Copyright (c) TIME Magazine, 1995 TIME Inc. Magazine Company; (c) 1995 Compact Publishing, Inc.

TIME--The Weekly Newsmagazine--1989

Oct. 23, 1989 Is Government Dead?

PEOPLE, Page 65

Risen Star


By J.D. Reed

Some 30 years ago, Billy Graham, 70, turned down the offer of a star on

Hollywood Boulevard because he thought it would be too self-aggrandizing. But

last week the evangelist, who has ministered to 100 million people around the

world, reconsidered. "I hope it will identify me with the Gospel that I preach,"

he said. His will be the 1,900th star on the famed sidewalk, near those of Julie

Andrews and Wayne Newton. As a good minister should, Graham, who went to

Hollywood for the unveiling, drew a moral from the hoopla. Said he: "We should

put our eyes on the star, which is the Lord."

Copyright (c) TIME Magazine, 1995 TIME Inc. Magazine Company; (c) 1995 Compact Publishing, Inc.