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Posted at 7:49 AM ET, 01/24/2011

Billy Graham regrets getting into politics

By Emi Kolawole

Billy Graham, perhaps the world's best-known evangelist, says that he regrets having gotten involved in politics.

In an interview with Christianity Today, Graham was asked what he would had done differently in his life:

I ... would have steered clear of politics. I'm grateful for the opportunities God gave me to minister to people in high places; people in power have spiritual and personal needs like everyone else, and often they have no one to talk to. But looking back I know I sometimes crossed the line, and I wouldn't do that now.

Graham, 92, discussed the successes of the evangelical ministry in recent times, but also had a warning for the next generation of ministers saying, "success is always dangerous, and we need to be alert and avoid becoming the victims of our own success."

President Obama visited Graham at his log cabin in North Carolina in April, 2010. The president and Graham prayed on behalf of the 29 miners who lost their lives in the West Virginia coal mine explosion.

A week prior to the president's visit, Graham's son, Franklin Graham, was disinvited by the Army to speak at the Pentagon's day of prayer, over comments he had made regarding Muslims. The younger Graham, like his father an evangelical minister, had said that Muslims offended him and that he wanted Muslims to know that Jesus Christ had died for their sins.

By Emi Kolawole  | January 24, 2011; 7:49 AM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Comments

Billy Graham has been less odious and repugnant when compared to his contemporaries in the televangelism business. The glaring Achilles heel for Graham has been his addiction to the power and prestige of being the spiritual adviser to Presidents and other high-ranking political leaders over the past several decades. He had the platform to speak truth-to-power but consistently failed to do so in order to retain his access to the halls of power in Washington. The Nixon Tapes show that Graham failed to "counsel" Tricky Dick when he went off on rants against Jews and blacks. The shame is that Graham at 92 can now look back and see how he sold his soul for his access to political power. It is too little, too late for Billy. His son Franklin has cast his lot with the far right fringe of the evangelistic movement playing to the very worst aspects of their narrow-minded and bigoted worldview. So whatever respect Americans had for the Graham family name will be squandered by Franklin's naked partisan politicking for the right-wing lunatic fringe. This is the legacy the Graham family will have to live down for generations to come.

Posted by: nolarobert | January 24, 2011 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Billy Graham has been less odious and repugnant when compared to his contemporaries in the televangelism business. The glaring Achilles heel for Graham has been his addiction to the power and prestige of being the spiritual adviser to Presidents and other high-ranking political leaders over the past several decades. He had the platform to speak truth-to-power but consistently failed to do so in order to retain his access to the halls of power in Washington. The Nixon Tapes show that Graham failed to "counsel" Tricky Dick when he went off on rants against Jews and blacks. The shame is that Graham at 92 can now look back and see how he sold his soul for his access to political power. It is too little, too late for Billy. His son Franklin has cast his lot with the far right fringe of the evangelistic movement playing to the very worst aspects of their narrow-minded and bigoted worldview. So whatever respect Americans had for the Graham family name will be squandered by Franklin's naked partisan politicking for the right-wing lunatic fringe. This is the legacy the Graham family will have to live down for generations to come.

Posted by: nolarobert | January 24, 2011 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Billy Graham has been less odious and repugnant when compared to his contemporaries in the televangelism business. The glaring Achilles heel for Graham has been his addiction to the power and prestige of being the spiritual adviser to Presidents and other high-ranking political leaders over the past several decades. He had the platform to speak truth-to-power but consistently failed to do so in order to retain his access to the halls of power in Washington. The Nixon Tapes show that Graham failed to "counsel" Tricky Dick when he went off on rants against Jews and blacks. The shame is that Graham at 92 can now look back and see how he sold his soul for his access to political power. It is too little, too late for Billy. His son Franklin has cast his lot with the far right fringe of the evangelistic movement playing to the very worst aspects of their narrow-minded and bigoted worldview. So whatever respect Americans had for the Graham family name will be squandered by Franklin's naked partisan politicking for the right-wing lunatic fringe. This is the legacy the Graham family will have to live down for generations to come.

Posted by: nolarobert | January 24, 2011 9:19 PM | Report abuse

"I deeply respect Billy Graham. I was raised in a Christian family and as a child heard him speak in the 1960s. I am no longer religious or Christian, but I feel no animosity toward him for his beliefs. I think some who comment here are reacting to stereotypes of evangelicals, without knowing the nature of the man they deride. He was not a Jerry Falwell, or GOP Christianist.

His son, Franklin, however, is doing him no honor."

Posted by: hitpoints

I completely agree with this comment. Billy Graham made mistakes but he was not the typical TV preacher. Even his hardcore religious have softened as he's aged. I respect him, even though his political views were always different than mine.

Posted by: luvdc8 | January 24, 2011 7:47 PM | Report abuse

I agree that politics has a soiling affect on a man and eventually undermines the credibility of a man's religion. It seems Franklin Graham hasn't learned a thing from his father. I distrust Franklin Graham with ever fiber in my body. It won't be long following his father's cross over to glory that he will sink the christian organization that his father spent his life building.

Posted by: SteelWheel25 | January 24, 2011 6:12 PM | Report abuse

We decent Americans also regret that Billy Graham got into religion. He has always been a charlatan and racist bigot. His son Franklin is even worse.

Posted by: dsrobins | January 24, 2011 6:06 PM | Report abuse

It's too bad Billy Graham did not get more involved with politics during the Civil Rights movement in the 1950's and 1960's. Blacks would have won their Civil Rights much sooner if Rev. Graham had taken a stand. Many people died, many people had to wait for freedom, bombs went off, people were hung in trees. Billy Graham did nothing. Good luck with your afterlife Billy, I'll bet Jesus is very mad at you.

Posted by: bobbywertis | January 24, 2011 5:08 PM | Report abuse

It's too bad Billy Graham did not get more involved with politics during the Civil Rights movement in the 1950's and 1960's. Blacks would have won their Civil Rights much sooner if Rev. Graham had taken a stand. Many people died, many people had to wait for freedom, bombs went off, people were hung in trees. Billy Graham did nothing. Good luck with your afterlife Billy, I'll bet Jesus is very mad at you.

Posted by: bobbywertis | January 24, 2011 5:06 PM | Report abuse

There are many mis-conceptions in the responses listed. Billy Graham is an Evangelist, not just on TV. Of all the fundamentalist group who were on the scene, he is the most honorable. His home was a gift from R. J. Tourneau because he could not afford a nice home on his salary. The interesting point in all of this is that his son's mission, The Samaritan's Purse, has the BEST record of use of the funds contributed to it. Bill tried to convert Mickey Cohen after one of Mickey's henchmen converted (Jim Vaus). When people use comments to vent their nastiness, at least have the good sense to tell the truth.

Posted by: LongRanger1 | January 24, 2011 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, Billy Graham did not heed the admonitions of his Master and Guiding Light.

Jesus was specific when he said "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar and unto God that which is God's.

If that wasn't reason enough for Rev'rand Billy to eschew politics, the he should have payed closer attention to the statement also attributed to Christ that "my Kingdom is not of this earth."

I guess those who set themselves up an authority on this nation's morality don't have to pay attention to scriptural passages when they are attention hogs.

Posted by: chamateddy | January 24, 2011 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, Billy Graham did not heed the admonitions of his Master and Guiding Light.

Jesus was specific when he said "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar and unto God that which is God's.

If that wasn't reason enough for Rev'rand Billy to eschew politics, the he should have payed closer attention to the statement also attributed to Christ that "my Kingdom is not of this earth."

I guess those who set themselves up an authority on this nation's morality don't have to pay attention to scriptural passages when they are attention hogs.

Posted by: chamateddy | January 24, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Not only got involved with politics... but evil politicos. Lot's of torture and bombing blood on your hands, but clearly, it has kept me away from evangical nut jobs.

Posted by: WmLaney | January 24, 2011 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Some of these "televangelist" I would say for the most part are in it for the money. Some are sincere in doing Jesus a service, but sincerely wrong. Billy Graham has done a great job in times past, but I think it's time for him to come off the scene, meaning pass away now. Most of these televangelists are a reproach to God, I wouldn't even give them the time of Day. Whatever happened to the Humble ministers, men who didn't get involved in politics but had a genuine burden for souls.

It's good that Billy Graham, nearing the end of his life, admits his mistake. Whatever happened to men Like William Marrion Branham, Dwight Moody, Jack Coe's, Brother Bosworth's, true men of God that shook the world with humility.

Posted by: Revelation107 | January 24, 2011 12:31 PM | Report abuse

It always seemed to me that Reverend Graham was just as interested in promoting himself as he was in promoting Jesus. He let every President from Eisenhower to this day use him to promote themselves. His smarmy taped conversation with Nixon, saying not-nice things about Jews was the clincher. It's too late now, Billy.

Posted by: sameolddoc | January 24, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

unfortunately for most of you, you have the incorrect concept of God and His Son Jesus. People continue to call Him a religion and GOD IS NOT A RELIGION! Never was or has been. He is OUR God and Maker of the Universe! Jesus died for all of us and its our choice to get right with Jesus and be saved. He is our ONLY way to Heaven! We all are born into sin and if we don't ask Jesus for forgiveness of our sinful ways and then follow HIM, we won't make it to Heaven with God for Eternity! You are either perishing or saved, what will be your choice?

Posted by: geezuzsaves1 | January 24, 2011 11:31 AM | Report abuse

It's Christianity Today. Please correct.

Posted by: thespudrunner | January 24, 2011 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I deeply respect Billy Graham. I was raised in a Christian family and as a child heard him speak in the 1960s. I am no longer religious or Christian, but I feel no animosity toward him for his beliefs. I think some who comment here are reacting to stereotypes of evangelicals, without knowing the nature of the man they deride. He was not a Jerry Falwell, or GOP Christianist.

His son, Franklin, however, is doing him no honor.

Posted by: hitpoints | January 24, 2011 11:16 AM | Report abuse

“If you could get religion like a Baptist-experience it like a Methodist-be loyal to it like a Catholic-sacrifice for it like a Jew-be proud of it like an Episcopalian-
-pay for it like a Presbyterian-and enjoy it like a Negro – WHAT A GREAT RELIGION you would have."

Posted by: rbsher | January 24, 2011 10:21 AM
===================

that was beautiful.

Posted by: ProfessorWrightBSU | January 24, 2011 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Religion became a 'business' and Graham as a good businessman had to get involved in that 'business.'

Some time ago I read the following, and it
seems so true:

"Conservative Christians: Those who place belief above behavior, and think of this life as preparation for an afterlife.

Liberal Christians: Those who place behavior above belief, and interpret scripture in such a way that obliges
them to advocate for social justice.

Cultural Christians: Those who want to maintain their Christian heritage even though they may not hold any Christian beliefs.

Political Christians: Those who think that an unwritten requirement for public office is to profess deeply held Christian beliefs."

But many years ago, Bishop Fulton Sheen
uttered these wonderful words:

“If you could get religion like a Baptist-experience it like a Methodist-be loyal to it like a Catholic-sacrifice for it like a Jew-be proud of it like an Episcopalian-
-pay for it like a Presbyterian-and enjoy it like a Negro – WHAT A GREAT RELIGION you would have."

Posted by: rbsher | January 24, 2011 10:21 AM | Report abuse

i thought obama was a muslim--how could he pray with billy graham?

Posted by: BeachDrifter | January 24, 2011 10:07 AM | Report abuse

He ought to regret dealing with politics, speaking with the press, going on TV, bilking millions of credulous people, and living a spiritual lie.

Christopher Hitchens notes was a scheming fraud Graham has been in his excellent book God is Not Great, I suggest Graham read it thoroughly a number of times.

Posted by: AIPACiswar | January 24, 2011 9:59 AM | Report abuse

graham isn't ashamed of living as a millionaire with private planes , boats, multiple houses while preaching Jesus Christ's gospel?

His son is worse, but they are both the type of People Christ threw out of the synagogue

Posted by: newagent99 | January 24, 2011 9:59 AM | Report abuse

I also regret Billy Graham's involvement in politics.

Posted by: Rachelva | January 24, 2011 9:54 AM | Report abuse

mac7 & mortified:

Well, at least you guys aren't judgmental. Veeerry informed opinions, both.

Posted by: dbw1 | January 24, 2011 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Emil,

The Graham interview was not published by Christianity Daily, but Christianity Today. Please correct the reference. Thanks.

David Neff
editor in chief
Christianity Today

Posted by: dneff | January 24, 2011 9:35 AM | Report abuse

The book "L.A. Noir," which centered on the conflicts between gangaster Mickey Cohen and former L.A.P.D. chief Bill Parker, had some interesting infroamtion about the relationship between Cohen and Graham (no, Graham wasn't a criminal). I imagine some were insulted that Graham's son was disinvited from speaking at the Pentagon. But I think it was just, just as if a Muslim cleric invited to the Pentagon were to say Mohammed had died for the sins of Christians. What outrage there would be.

Posted by: Sutter | January 24, 2011 9:35 AM | Report abuse

The book "L.A. Noir," which centered on the conflicts between gangaster Mickey Cohen and former L.A.P.D. chief Bill Parker, had some interesting infroamtion about the relationship between Cohen and Graham (no, Graham wasn't a criminal). I imagine some were insulted that Graham's son was disinvited from speaking at the Pentagon. Imagine if a Muslim cleric were to say that Mohammed had died for the sins of Christians. What outrage there would be.

Posted by: Sutter | January 24, 2011 9:34 AM | Report abuse


They are all in it for the money. All people involved in these "ministries" are only in it for the money and those that donate are the fools.


Posted by: mortified469 | January 24, 2011 9:24 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the politics situation.

I don't like his children. Maybe because it appears they are in it for the money. Where I believe their father was called to preach and his children were not and they ride his coattails.

Posted by: mac7 | January 24, 2011 9:15 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the politics situation.

I don't like his children. Maybe because it appears they are in it for the money. Where I believe their father was called to preach and his children were not and they ride his coattails.

Posted by: mac7 | January 24, 2011 9:15 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the politics situation.

I don't like his children. Maybe because it appears they are in it for the money. Where I believe their father was called to preach and his children were not and they ride his coattails.

Posted by: mac7 | January 24, 2011 9:15 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the politics situation.

I don't like his children. Maybe because it appears they are in it for the money. Where I believe their father was called to preach and his children were not and they ride his coattails.

Posted by: mac7 | January 24, 2011 9:15 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the politics situation.

I don't like his children. Maybe because it appears they are in it for the money. Where I believe their father was called to preach and his children were not and they ride his coattails.

Posted by: mac7 | January 24, 2011 9:14 AM | Report abuse

The disinvite received by Franklin Graham proved the new rule in this age of 'tolerance': Intolerance is completely unacceptable...unless you are intolerant of conservative Christians. Then intolerance it not only ok, it is celebrated as some sort of 'progressive' achievement.

Posted by: dbw1 | January 24, 2011 9:12 AM | Report abuse

In the Christian faith, it is only too late if you are dead.

I am glad to head Dr. Graham acknowledge his mistakes. Perhaps his son and others will take note.

Posted by: MdLaw | January 24, 2011 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Too late Billy...You have been dealing with the Devil far too long.

Posted by: willandjansdad1 | January 24, 2011 8:41 AM | Report abuse

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