Highly Influential Religious Figure Died at 99
It is difficult to think of any religious figure more influential in the United States and across the globe than Billy Graham. He preached in 185 of the 195 countries in the world. He reached hundreds of millions of people, was credited with converting 3 million people, and once spoke to a half a million parishioners at once. He died at the age of 99 in his North Carolina home.
What was Billy Graham’s Influence?
Starting with massive tent preaching in Los Angeles, Billy Graham combined the traditional preaching with modern appliances like television and radio. This new combination allowed him to innovate preaching in a way that had never been done on the scale that existed.
The GREAT Billy Graham is dead. There was nobody like him! He will be missed by Christians and all religions. A very special man.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 21, 2018
Billy Graham was able to keep a decades-long career as a preacher without much of the usual scandal because of his creation of the Modesto Manifesto. This was a a document designed to avoid the pitfalls of fame including money or sexual scandal. This Manifesto has become a guide for preachers to avoid scandal when it was necessary.
Another one of Billy Graham’s rules that have become more recently famous is the “Billy Graham rule” this rule dictates that a man should not meet a woman by himself, especially if alcohol is being consumed. It is a rule that is used by Vice President Mike Pence.
Billy Graham was a humble servant who prayed for so many – and who, with wisdom and grace, gave hope and guidance to generations of Americans.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) February 21, 2018
The only scandal he has been involved in was when he was heard on Nixon’s Watergate tapes making anti-Semitic comments. He apologized for the comments and later regretted his involvement in politics, using his friendship with Nixon as an example.
He did have a close relationship with practically every American president. This gave him the moniker “America’s Pastor” and the “Protestant Pope.”
He had unique views for a conservative preacher. He fought for civil rights and would not allow segregation at any church meeting he attended. He also held meetings with different Christian denominations, even when openly criticized by other evangelical preachers.
At the same time, he was a social conservative who opposed abortion and same-sex marriage. But he was not like members of the religious right. While opposing certain issues he did tell his parishioners his job was not to pass judgment and to focus on the universal ethic of God’s love.
This lack of scandal and focus on positive messaging could be the reason that Billy Graham was labeled in the top ten “most admired” list a startling 61 times, easily becoming the individual with the highest rank.
There has been an outpouring of support for the Graham family and for the positive influence that Billy Graham had in their lives.