Tag Archives: Billy Graham

Billy Graham’s Last Crusade Ever

With the New York Billy Graham Crusade quickly approaching the media buzz is increasing. AP interviewed Graham, asking if NYC would be his last crusade:

“In my mind, it is,” he said during an Associated Press interview at a Long Island hotel where he’s resting up for the event. “I wouldn’t like to say ‘never,'” the amiable evangelist added with a chuckle. “Never is a bad word.”

Every crusade for the last decade has been Billy’s “last,” but I don’t remember Graham himself giving that impression before. It’ll be interesting to see what happens. Not to be morbid, but I think it’d be ideal if the man died in the pulpit. There’s hardly a more fitting place for him to breathe his last.

Billy Graham’s Final New York Crusade

USA Today scored a rare interview with the man himself, Billy Graham, just a month before the New York Crusade. The Greater New York Billy Graham Crusade has been called Graham’s last Crusade in New York, and as always, there’s speculation that it could be his last crusade ever. The interview itself doesn’t give that impression, but it does give a glimpse of Graham’s declining health, comparing him to the late Pope John Paul II.

In another final crusade news, a coalition of Christian leaders in the U.K. have invited Graham to come for a London crusade this fall, and though there has been no offical word, it appears Graham is willing to come if his health permits it.

Billy Graham Fires Lesbian

So tonight I was writing a Church Marketing Sucks entry about my former employer, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (nothing ground-breaking, I just noticed they were preaching to the choir with their online advertising), and I came across this news item from October 2004: Minnesota Upholds Billy Graham Firing of Lesbian Sara Thorson.

Shocking stuff, even in such a brief story. You can get more thorough articles from the Pioneer Press, Gay City News or WorldWide Religious News.

Basically, Sara Thorson was fired from the BGEA in 2002 after coworkers saw her kissing another woman in the parking lot. Thorson worked in bulk mail processing and had nothing to do with the organization’s evangelistic mission. According to court documents, she had worked at the BGEA since 1971. Regardless, she was fired.

Continue reading Billy Graham Fires Lesbian

Mmm… Chocolate Billy

Billy GrahamLast night I had a rather strange dream. The church I grew up in was having a service to honor Billy Graham. The man himself actually showed up, though he was a strange combination between the handsome young go-getter Billy Graham (though without all the fiery rhetoric and finger wagging) and the elderly, grandfatherly, love everybody Billy Graham (without all the frailty). Part of the service involved passing out chocolates in the shape of Billy Graham, in what could only be described as a communion like experience.

After receiving our chocolate Billys, we went up front to the communion rail (not that my church has ever had a communion rail) and took our chocolate Billys with a fortune cookie. Don’t ask.

Upon receiving my chocolate Billy Graham, I said out loud: “Mmm… chocolate Billy,” just as Billy Graham was walking past. He overheard me, laughed, and made some comment which I don’t remember.

I don’t know why my church was honoring Billy Graham or why he showed up or even what the chocolate communion thing was all about.

All I remember is that after the service I spent the rest of the dream scheming about the best way to get my hands on the left over chocolate Billys and sell them on eBay. I mean, c’mon, wouldn’t you pay top dollar for a little chocolate figure of your favorite evangelist?

The Elvis of Christianity

Assuming Jesus doesn’t have the role, Billy Graham is the Elvis of Christianity. Or maybe just 20th century Christianity. Either way, Billy Graham has been the man when it comes to Christianity for more than 50 years.

The guy has preached to more people than anyone in the world, but more than just doing a lot of sermonizing, he’s been able to reach people. When Billy Graham tells you God loves you, for some reason people believe it.

Early on, he was fiery and charismatic. He could thump his Bible with the best of ’em, and ads for his 1949 tent-meeting revival in Los Angeles promised another “sin-smashing” week. He shouted, gesticulated, pointed his finger and was downright more animated than Mickey Mouse.

Over the years his style softened but his message stayed the same. In the past 20 years or so he’s become more of a grandfather than an Elvis. He’s soft-spoken, but filled with love and compassion. You get the impression he hangs out with God and a little something of the supernatural rubs off.

But for all the religious showmanship, the Elvis of modern Christendom truly has a heart for the young. He started preaching with Youth for Christ in the 1940s. In 1958 he published the book Billy Graham Talks to Teen-Agers. It included such classic questions and answers as this exchange about Rock ‘n’ Roll:

“Question: You had other types of music to face when you were young, but how would you regard Rock ‘n’ Roll?

“Answer: I rarely hear any of it, but I do feel that it has gotten out of hand. Anything that whips young people into a frenzy is bad, it seems to me. I often have been disturbed by what has happened to teen-agers [sic] after they listen to it. If I were 17 today I’d stay as far away from it as I could.”

Of course Billy changed his tune over the years. In 1970 he published The Jesus Generation which included the information that on a few occasions Billy Graham himself visited various rock festivals, protests and love-ins in an attempt to understand the masses. Of course he attended “incognito” (meaning he donned a hat, sunglasses, and a big sweater). He also managed to use campy 60s expressions, including trying to “rap” with the younger generation in order to “turn them on” to Jesus.

In the early 1990s he went a step farther and invited Christian hip-hop band dc Talk to perform at Crusades in what has been billed as “The Concert for the NeXt [sic] Generation.” The idea was to bring in current Christian artists that teens actually listen to in an attempt to bring salvation to a younger generation. It worked. Ten years later, almost a million teens have come forward at Billy Graham youth nights.

And now, for the first time in Billy Graham’s 50 plus years of ministry, he’ll be putting on a TV special especially for teens. Unlike other televised Crusades, there will be no choir, no old, gray-haired musicians, and no financial pleas. The 84-year-old Billy Graham will be the oldest thing in sight, but you won’t see the teens glazing over. Billy is surrounded and gladly interrupted with the voices and music of this generation.

“Inside Out” is the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s first TV special for teens. It airs next Friday, December 27 on the WB network in most areas (check your local listings) of the U.S. The half-hour show features the music of gospel star Kirk Franklin, rockers Jars of Clay, and Billy Graham’s faithful standby, dc Talk, interspersed with snippets of Billy Graham’s preaching. The show also includes the voices of real teens, talking about life and God.

The Elvis of Christianity has come along way, and if next Friday is any indication, he’ll continue to leave his mark. It’s been one sin-smashing lifetime.


Words fail me. What are you supposed to say after something like today? I’m finding some comfort in the those who have had an appropriate reaction to this tragedy:

“In times like this we realize how weak and inadequate we are, and our greatest need is to turn in repentance and faith to the God of all mercy and the Father of all comfort. If ever there was a time for us to turn to God and to pray as a nation, it is now, that this evil will spread no further.” – Billy Graham

You’ve all seen the video and heard the reports, so there’s not a lot I can say. I will comment on two things, though:

I’m scared. Not scared of the actual attacks or afraid of my safety. I’m scared of the possible retaliation. A lot of people are very angry right now and completely unfounded accusations are being made. This country already has problems with racism, and I hate to see what happens after something like this. I’ve heard enough early reaction from people condemning other groups and calling for us to nuke certain nations. I’m just afraid of visions of violence in our own country, Americans striking out against Americans simply because of the color of their skin, their religious belief, or whatever other feature may match that of potential suspects.

I’m also scared not only of personal retaliation, but of the retaliation this country as a whole will make. It’s almost without a doubt that there will be a military response. President George W. Bush seems to have no qualms with using military force against terrorists, and “those who harbor terrorists.” Those are the words that start wars. I certainly understand that action is needed, that America must defend herself. But in our bloodthirst, we cannot sacrifice innocent lives in pursuit of justice. Any justice that claims innocent civilians is no justice at all. I pray that this country will move forward with wisdom like we’ve never had before.

The other thing I’m finding curious right now is the line of cars outside my window. They’re all lining up to fill up on gas. Apparently there’s a scare that gas prices will spike, that the supply will dwindle, who knows. They’re all rumors, and the prices haven’t gone up at all. Watching the panic take place around me brings it one step closer to home. While watching the news you see one image of Americans rushing to help one another. Outside my window I see another image as brakes squeal and two cars nearly slam into one another. The drivers begin swearing at each other, all in an attempt to top off their gas tanks. Perhaps not all of us feel that American resolve we speak so highly of.

Bono Thanks Billy

“At a time when religion seems so often to get in the way of God’s work, with its shopping mall sales pitch and its bumper sticker reductionism—I give thanks just for the sanity of Billy Graham, for that clear, empathetic voice of his and that southern accent, and part poet, part preacher, the singer of the human spirit I’d say. Yeah, I give thanks to Billy Graham. Thank you, Billy Graham.” – Bono, lead singer of U2, in a video on the [now defunct] Thank You Billy Graham website.

Billy Graham, Loans & Mr. Rogers

Just a word of warning: It’s random day today.

Have you ever been to a Billy Graham Crusade? Neither have I. But now, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, you can watch an exclusive Billy Graham Webcast. That’s right, for the rest of the month of July, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is offering footage from the recent Louisville Crusade for the online public. Do I sound like a used car salesman yet? I kind of feel like that’s the only way to hype something my employer is doing.

But seriously, if you’d like to check out a Billy Graham Crusade, you can watch one online. It’s kind of a mesmerizing event. I’ve heard so much about this Billy Graham guy, and now you can actually see what he does. And realize how old he is. As added incentive, I’ll throw in a free air-freshener. Okay, I really won’t. But can see performances from a pretty impressive list of bands, including dc Talk, Kirk Franklin, Third Day, Michael W. Smith, Jennifer Knapp, and more. So take advantage of this opportunity, they’re going fast.

On another note, I’m beginning to realize the magnitude of debt that college has brought upon my head. Thankfully my wife and I are both gainfully employed somewhere along the poverty line. You know you’re rolling in it when one of you is a teacher and the other works for a nonprofit. Please laugh along with me, I find that laughter releases endorphines which trick your mind into thinking you’re not dreadfully poor. And if you’d like to contribute to the Kevin & Abby Are Po’, Pee-oh, Po’ Fund, please make all checks payable to cash and stick them under the door.

(Note to Mothers and assorted people who think they are mothers: Abby and I are not really dreadfully poor. We’re just making light of our loan situation so it isn’t so depressing. If we actually find checks made out to cash stuck under the door, we’ll have to discreetly cash them and pretend we don’t know what you’re talking about. Which could be very embarrassing for everyone involved.)

Ah. That’s better. Don’t we all feel much better about the “L” word?

On another completely different topic, I’m beginning to realize that there are some Christians in this world who really impress me. Mr. Rogers is one of them. He was on Nightline tonight and we caught the tale end of the report. The guy shows the love of Jesus to this world in such an amazingly effective way.

There’s very few Christians like him in the world, and whenever I come across one I just want to stand there and scratch my head. It may be borderline hero-worship, but I try to keep some levity to it. Bono would be another one of those Christians. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be another. They seem to me to be people who really understood Jesus, and acted upon it, in a way I never seem to be able to. They have both my awe and respect. They made and are making an impact on society in a way the church doesn’t seem capable of doing. I think every once in a while you need people like these to remind the world of greater things.