Posted: February 21, 2018
By Debbie Lord, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
As Americans mourn the death of evangelist Billy Graham, you would be hard-pressed to find a time where “America’s Pastor” was held in anything other than the highest regard.
Graham managed during 60 years of preaching the Gospel to sidestep even a hint of scandal -- sexual, financial or otherwise.
However a revelation in 1994 of a conversation he had with then-President Richard Nixon turned out to be a source of embarrassment for Graham – not at the time it was disclosed by Nixon Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman, but years later when a tape of the conversation was released by the National Archives.
At first, Graham denied comments Haldeman made in his book, "The Haldeman Diaries" that Graham and Nixon had disparaged Jews in a conversation following a prayer breakfast in Washington D.C. on Feb. 1, 1972. Haldeman said Graham had talked about a Jewish “stranglehold” on the country.
''Those are not my words," Graham said in May 1994. ''I have never talked publicly or privately about the Jewish people, including conversations with President Nixon, except in the most positive terms.''
Graham was believed and the matter dropped until 2002 when tapes from Nixon’s White House were released by the National Archives. The 1972 conversation between Nixon and Graham was among those tapes, and Graham had to face the fact that he had been recorded saying the things of which Haldeman accused him.
The tapes proved damning.
''They're the ones putting out the pornographic stuff,'' Graham had said to Nixon. The Jewish ''stranglehold has got to be broken or the country's going down the drain,'' he continued.
Graham told Nixon that Jews did not know his true feelings about them.
''I go and I keep friends with Mr. Rosenthal (A.M. Rosenthal) at The New York Times and people of that sort, you know. And all -- I mean, not all the Jews, but a lot of the Jews are great friends of mine, they swarm around me and are friendly to me because they know that I'm friendly with Israel. But they don't know how I really feel about what they are doing to this country. And I have no power, no way to handle them, but I would stand up if under proper circumstances.''
Rosenthal was the Times' executive editor.
After the release of the tapes, Graham was horrified, according to Grant Wacker, a Duke Divinity School professor who wrote a book about Graham. He publicly apologized and asked for forgiveness from Jewish leaders in the country.
"He did not spin it. He did not try to justify it," Wacker told NPR. "He said repeatedly he had done wrong, and he was sorry."
''I don't ever recall having those feelings about any group, especially the Jews, and I certainly do not have them now,'' Graham said in 2002 when the tape was released. ''My remarks did not reflect my love for the Jewish people. I humbly ask the Jewish community to reflect on my actions on behalf of Jews over the years that contradict my words in the Oval Office that day.''
Billy Graham worked as a spiritual counselor to numerous U.S. presidents. Here are photos of the late reverend with some of them.
Celebrities and politicians are reacting to the news of the death of Rev. Bill Graham.
Known around the world, the evangelist preached to millions of people into his mid-90s. He died at his Montreat, North Carolina, home Wednesday at 99 years old. He had been battling cancer, pneumonia and a number of other health aliments.>> Live coverage at WSOCTV.com
Graham was frequently seen among U.S. presidents -- a dozen of whom he worked with as a spiritual counselor.
Public figures responded to the news of Graham’s death on Twitter.
Evangelical leader Billy Graham, who counseled presidents and preached to millions of people worldwide, died Wednesday at 99.
How Graham got his start
Graham, the son of a North Carolina farmer, started preaching throughout the south and midwest.
He was “born again” after hearing a preacher’s service in 1934 in Charlotte, North Carolina, according to CNN.
He attended Florida Bible Institute and it was there while taking a midnight stroll in 1937 on the 18th green when he received his calling from God, Graham wrote in his biography. He was baptized Dec. 4, 1938, in Silver Lake, Florida, and ordained the following year, according to CNN.
After graduating, Graham moved to Illinois to continue his education at Wheaton College, where he met his wife, according to The New York Times.
Advisor to presidents and welcomed by world leaders
Graham advised 10 presidents starting with Harry Truman. Barack Obama was the last president Graham met with, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Graham was most closely linked to President Richard Nixon whom he endorsed in 1968. Years later, recordings of the two were released in which they made anti-Semitic remarks. Graham apologized, saying he did not recall making the statements.
Not only did Graham counsel American presidents, world leaders of religiously restrictive countries welcomed him.
He was invited to preach in China as well as in Pyongyang by North Korean dictator Kim Il-sung, according to the New York Times. He also visited communist countries in Eastern Europe to promote peace.
Graham’s global reach
Graham was not the first evangelical but he was able to use communication and technology to gain an unprecedented reach.
Through the use of radio, books, magazines, television and the internet Graham’s “crusades” reached more than 200 million people on almost every continent.
Graham wrote 30 books and his sermons were translated into 48 languages and sent to 185 countries by satellite, according to the New York Times.
He held a crusade in Madison Square Garden in 1957. It was so popular, it was extended from six to 16 weeks and ended with a rally with 100,000 people in Times Square. It was Graham’s longest revival meeting ever.
His final crusade was in 2005 in New York City. However, the Billy Graham Evangelical Association continues to organize them.
Graham formed the Billy Graham Evangelical Association in 1950. The group continues to organize crusades, radio and television programs and publishes the Decision magazine. The association trains thousands of evangelicals and missionaries and sends a rapid response team to help in disaster areas.
His son, Franklin Graham, who developed his own following, was tapped to lead the association in 1995, according to the New York Times.
Daughter Anne Graham Lotz and grandsons Will Graham and William Graham Tullian Tchividjian are part of the ministry.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, posted a statement about her father's death Wednesday morning.
The famed American Christian evangelist died at his home in Montreat, North Carolina. He was 99 years old.
Lotz is one of Graham’s five children with his wife Ruth Bell Graham, who died June 14, 2007.
“For years, over his head as he preached was the banner that quoted the words of Jesus: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus completed that sentence by saying that no one comes to the Father but by Me. Based on what Jesus said, Daddy is safely with the Father. In Heaven,” Lotz said in a statement posted on her Facebook page.
Read Lotz’s full statement below:“My Father’s legacy is one that encompasses the world…and engulfs my own life. When I think of him, I don’t think of Billy Graham, the public figure. I think of my Daddy. The one who was always a farmer at heart. Who loved his dogs and his cat. Who followed the weather patterns almost as closely as he did world events. Who wore old blue jeans, comfortable sweaters, and a baseball cap. Who loved lukewarm coffee, sweet ice tea, one scoop of ice cream, and a plain hamburger from McDonald’s. Who was interested in everything and everyone, from the small to the great. Whose mind remembered details that even a computer would have trouble recalling. “But when I think of him I also think of his message because he was immersed in it. Saturated in it. He was his message…a simple man who had responded to God’s love by placing his faith in Jesus, receiving the assurance that his sins were forgiven, that he would not perish, but would have everlasting life. Simple faith. Faith that now matters more than anything else. “For years, over his head as he preached was the banner that quoted the words of Jesus: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus completed that sentence by saying that no one comes to the Father but by Me. Based on what Jesus said, Daddy is safely with the Father. In Heaven. Daddy not only claimed Jesus as the only Way to God, he lived by the Truth publicly on platforms and privately behind closed doors, and is now enjoying real Life. “I have often stated that I was raised by a single parent because ministry took my father away from our family—for weeks and months at a time. Daddy estimated that he was gone from home approximately 60 percent of his children’s growing-up years. Now, he has left again. This time, he will not be coming back. At least, not until Jesus does, too. “While he may be physically absent and his voice silent, I am confident that his message will continue to reverberate throughout the generations to come. My prayer on this day of his move to Our Father’s House is that his death will be a rallying cry. That tens of thousands of pastors, teachers, evangelists, and ordinary men and women will rise up to take his place. That they will take up his message like a baton being passed in a relay race and faithfully pass it on to those with whom they come in contact. Because Daddy’s message is God’s message. And it’s a message of genuine hope for the future, of love for the present, of forgiveness for the past. “It’s a message, when received, that brings a fresh beginning, unshakable joy, unexplainable peace, eternal significance, meaning and purpose to life, and opens Heaven’s door. “It was this message, which Daddy carried to the world, that penetrated my own heart as a young girl and has created in me a personal, passionate resolve to communicate it myself to as many people as possible. And so, even as my tears seem to be unending, I silently rededicate my life to picking up and passing on the baton. Would you do the same?”
Funeral arrangements have been announced following the death of famed evangelist the Rev. Billy Graham. The well-known religious figure, who counseled several presidents and preached to millions of people worldwide, died Wednesday, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He was 99.
READ MORE: Photos: Billy Graham through the years | Photos: Notable deaths 2018 | Billy Graham quotes: He made Christian principles accessible to millions | Billy Graham named among 10 most admired men for 59th time | MORE
The Rev. Billy Graham, the Christian evangelist known as “America’s pastor,” died Wednesday after battling various health ailments.
He was 99.
Billy Graham’s son, Franklin Graham, posted a tribute to him on Facebook following the news of his father’s death.
“Where is Heaven?” Franklin Graham recalled his father being asked, to which he then replied, “Heaven is where Jesus is, and I am going to Him soon!”
“He will be missed by our family, his colleagues, faithful ministry partners, and, yes, many around the world,” Franklin Graham wrote. “But what joy he has to be welcomed by God the Father, and be reunited with my mother in the presence of Jesus who speaks peace to eternal souls.”
Franklin Graham’s mother, Ruth Graham, died in 2007.
Read Franklin Graham’s Facebook post below:
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