My former employer, Billy Graham, graces the cover of Newsweek and is the feature of a story about his declining health and thoughts toward the end of his life. It’s an interesting read.
Having worked for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association before, it’s always fun to read this kind of stuff. At one point recently I was very tempted to start up a Billy Graham blog (a Billy Blog!). I had my eye on urls, I had a logo in the works and I even chatted with my lawyer about how to keep from getting sued. I ended up being too busy to invest the time into a project with no sure revenue model. I guess I’ll have to settle with my Billy Graham Squidoo lens. (Jan. 1, 2009 Update: OK, I went ahead and started the blog about Billy Graham.)
This kind of thing would have been great fodder.
Anyway, one of my jobs at the BGEA was to answer e-mail. This kind of article always prompts a ton of e-mail, and I’m sure they’re getting a fair amount over some of Billy Graham’s comments on who will get into heaven (he refuses to speculate) and how literal we should interpret the Bible (I don’t think he says anything controversial, but one man’s ho-hum comment is another man’s blasphemy).
The article also spends some time talking about Billy Graham’s “downfall,” his anti-semitic remarks captured on the Nixon tapes that were released in 2002 (gee, what other famous person is in the news for such remarks). I find it hard to believe that this is such a huge issue. At the time we certainly got e-mails and outraged responses over the issue, but it never seemed like the calamity the article makes it out to be. We posted a statement on the web site, we generated some standard responses for e-mails, and we moved on.
I especially love the comments in the article about Franklin Graham, Billy’s son and the heir of the BGEA. Anne Graham Lotz points out that Billy made similar hot-headed remarks when he was the same age, though it just seems to get so much more attention now.
But the best line in the whole piece goes to Ruth Graham, in a story attributed to Barbara Bush:
When Ruth was asked by an interviewer whether, as a Christian woman, she had ever considered divorce, Mrs. Graham replied, “Divorce? No. Murder? Yes.”
What the article leaves off is the new Billy Graham Library, currently under construction next to the BGEA headquarters in Charlotte, N.C. It’s basically a tourist attraction being pitched as an on-going Crusade. Nevermind that the most prominent feature is a giant barn with the cutout off a cross, an homage to Billy Graham’s roots on a dairy farm. All that’s missing is the animatronic cow.