Billy Graham

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Barack Obama with Graham in 2010
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They swarm around me and are friendly to me, because they know that I am friendly to Israel and so forth. But they don't know how I really feel about what they're doing to this country, and I have no power and no way to handle them.
—Billy Graham on the Nixon White House tapes[1]

William Franklin "Billy" Graham, Jr. (born November 7, 1918) is an evangelist of the Southern Baptist Convention persuasion. He first became famous in 1949 with an 8-week tent revival which caught the attention of the William Randolph Hearst newspaper chain. He has since attempted to stake out a niche as a moderate, "respectable" evangelist, spiritual counselor to many U.S. presidents, and a media go-to person to contrast with the usually scandalous and heavily politicized world of televangelism. He scored a major coup by hiring ex-pinup girl Bettie Page on his staff full-time.

However, his apolitical reputation may be overrated as he was personally very close friends with Richard Nixon, and the Nixon tapes declassified in 2002 include a meeting between the two during which Graham and Nixon discussed a Jewish "stranglehold" on the media, and Graham gloated that the Jews had no idea how he "really felt" about them.[2] He also showed raging anti-Catholic sentiments during the 1960 Presidential Campaign. His crusades have been well-attended and often turned into local media circus events wherever he appeared. Billy Graham received the Templeton Prize in 1982.[3] Now quite elderly and suffering from Parkinson's disease and prostate cancer, he has all but retired from evangelism during the past few years.

Despite Religious Right leaders' love of him, Billy Graham has committed the ultimate evil: he is a registered Democrat. This will probably doom him in the final days. His son Franklin Graham, however, does not believe Obama is a Christian,[4] so perhaps there is hope for his family's redemption.

Due to recently out-of-character statements such as supporting North Carolina's Amendment 1 banning same sex marriage and civil unions,[5] supporting the Chick-fil-A appreciation day, and scrubbing any references his website had to Mormonism being a cult before campaigning for Mitt Romney, some conclude that Franklin Graham is making all his decisions.[6][7] And when asked whether Billy Graham would speak publicly to confirm statements in his name, Franklin Graham replied, "That ain’t gonna happen. I can promise you that."[8]

Billy Graham might start supporting gay marriage, but that would freak out the evangelical right. He also spoke in favor of Christian Universalism, which caused widespread outrage.[9]

Some Christians don't like him because of his more liberal approach toward Christianity. This has led to some humorous efforts to ruin his reputation.[10]

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