Billy Graham, R.I.P.

He’s finally gone.

As much as Billy Graham admired the blissful afterlife he expected to enjoy, he held on to this life just months shy of a century. That seems a bit strange to me. Was he afraid of something?

I wrote rather harshly of Graham back in 2012, when he endorsed Mitt Romney, whose Mormon faith Graham considered a “cult” right up to the moment he authenticated the phony Romney by giving him the white conservative evangelical seal of approval. After the endorsement, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association removed a reference on its website that told the truth about Mormonism’s cultic nature. Thus, Tr-mp wasn’t the first one to be mulliganized by right-wing evangelicals.

In any case, I watched in cable news-induced agony today as CNN quickly invited the dreadful Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody on to discuss Graham’s impact on our culture. The CNN host, John Berman, mentioned that although Tr-mp tweeted about Russia this morning, he hadn’t bothered to tweet about Graham. Brody, who is peddling a pathetic book about Tr-mp’s mythical “spiritual voyage,” assured everyone that we would be hearing from Tr-mp on the matter, which is a damned good reason to avoid both television and Twitter today.

After the election in 2012—you know, the one that Romney and Graham lost to that closet Muslim—I wrote another harsh piece about Billy, which focused on the fear and division that is a feature, not a bug, of conservative evangelicalism. I mentioned a book Graham wrote:

When I was a kid, several of Billy Graham’s books were in the house, including a book that scared me to death, “World Aflame.” If nothing else, it was the cover that frightened me:

I was seven years old when that book came out. The earth engulfed in flames, and the threat of eternal damnation awaiting those who didn’t surrender to Jesus, tends to make a kid a little fearful, the kind of fear that never quite disappears, no matter how old one gets or how far one gets from the source.

Fear and flames. That’s what Graham spread for seven decades. And as The New York Times noted today, he spread it to a lot of folks:

In 2007, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, estimated that he had preached the Gospel to more than 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories since beginning his crusades in Grand Rapids, Mich., in October 1947. He reached hundreds of millions more on television, through video and in film.

“This is not mass evangelism,” Mr. Graham liked to say, “but personal evangelism on a mass scale.”

The truth is that nobody knows how many minds were infected by Billy Graham’s toxic species of Christianity. That he may have spread such an infection out of a sincere conviction that it was the right thing to do doesn’t mitigate the unfortunate fact that millions upon millions of men, women, and children have had the fear of hell and eternal damnation downloaded onto their hard drives, a virus so cleverly engineered that it is almost impossible to delete.

That is Billy Graham’s legacy, and merely out of respect for a fellow human being who himself was infected with malicious software, may he rest in peace.

Leave a comment


  1. Sadly, as disappointing as Billy’s legacy is, the one one left by his son, Franklin, will be worse. Maybe not in numbers affected, but in foulness of message.


  2. Anonymous

     /  February 21, 2018


    Billy lost a lot of his flock supporting Nixon, Franklin is looking to lose even greater numbers supporting Trump. Both were amateurs, the Pope knew Trump for the vile dog that he was, perhaps that’s why He asked Melania what she fed him. His face wasn’t it’s usual smiling, joyous presence when meeting Trump. At least there are some of God’s people that still love immigrants and healthcare. That had to be the longest 30 minutes of the Pope’s life…


    • As you know, I’m not opposed to people holding a non-fundamentalist, non-theocratic religious faith for one reason or another. I can see why many people do. My fierce objection is to the kind of faith I was raised to hold and once defended vigorously, as well as the kind of faith espoused by Religious Right “leaders” today who are no more than extensions of the Republican Party. That kind of faith is corrupt and corrupting.

      And although there are still horrific things the Catholic Church does around the world (its stance on birth control is indefensible), I can see that Pope Francis is a positive force for a better Church. And I can only imagine his prayers for America, as he surveys the newspapers and sees what we are living with, one wretched tweet at a time.


  3. I was never a Graham fan. Too much fire and brimstone for me. The only speech I ever heard him give from start to finish was at a memorial held shortly after the Murrah building bombing in OKC in April, 1995. Billy knew he was talking to an audience with mixed religious beliefs and he adjusted accordingly. He gave an excellent talk, said all the right things, offered comfort to the victims’ families. I was impressed. Unfortunately, he went back to his old style of TV preaching. I don’t like preachers screaming at me. Of course, I’m a little biased since I have spent my entire adult life listening to the echo’s of Oral Roberts asking for money — or else!.


    • I find it appalling they are honoring this man like he’s a national hero. He has literally poisoned the brains of millions with fear of eternal torment unless they join a religious sect. That ought to be called out, not celebrated. I never saw one agnostic or atheist invited on television to at least make that point. Not one, as far as I know.



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