For the first time in many decades, Billy Graham, America's Pastor has not been an advisor to an American president. Some say that it is because our president, Barack H. Obama is an African American. Some say that it is because our president is a democrat. But that simply is not true. Charlotte’s most famous citizen and favorite son has a proven record of demonstrating his love for all of God's children of every race, color and creed.
When I was still wearing ponytails, playing with dolls and believing with childlike faith (minus bouts of doubt), I gave my life to Christ every time Billy Graham was on television. I "got saved" a least a hundred times before I entered the first grade. I didn't know that the first time was good enough, but I guess you could say that "Just as I Am" was my theme song. But that's not why I have such a fondness and respect for Billy Graham. My respect for this man is rooted in the fact that this evangelist of evangelists stuck to his job description as an evangelist and evangelized the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have not always agreed with Billy Graham’s politics, but I have always agreed with his Gospel.
I have not always agreed with Billy Graham’s politics, but I have always agreed with his Gospel.
By some standards Billy Graham did not do enough to help the civil rights movement. But the fact is he did more than any preacher in his position at that time. In 1953, a year before schools were legally desegregated, Billy Graham opposed segregation and refused to speak to segregated audiences. He said, "There is no scriptural basis for segregation. ... The ground at the foot of the cross is level, and it touches my heart when I see whites standing shoulder to shoulder with blacks at the cross." For a white southern preacher of his stature to make that statement when African Americans were still riding in the back of the bus was a stand many would not take even today.
Ridiculed because he never joined civil rights marches, early in the 1960s Billy Graham in a conversation with Dr. King about standing against racism said, "He urged me to keep on doing what I was doing, preaching the Gospel to integrated audiences and supporting his goals by example-and not to join him in the streets." Billy Graham never shied away from letting the world know that he supported Dr. King even if he did not always agree with him.
There is no scriptural basis for segregation. ... The ground at the foot of the cross is level, and it touches my heart when I see whites standing shoulder to shoulder with blacks at the cross.
Out of his own pockets, Billy Graham paid bail money to secure the release of Dr. King from jail during the 1960s civil rights struggle. At the risk of alienating his white southern supporters, many who supported segregation, Billy Graham invited Dr. King to join him in the pulpit at his 16-week revival in New York City in 1957. Ethel Waters, an African American, the first Gospel singing superstar, sang to the world "His Eye Is on the Sparrow". She toured with Billy Graham for over 20 years. When it could have cost him his ministry, Billy Graham put Jesus' words and Dr. King's dream into action.
Upon hearing of Dr. King’s assassination, Billy Graham said, “I was almost in a state of shock...Not only was I losing a friend through a vicious and senseless killing, but America was losing a social leader and a prophet, and I felt his death would be one of the greatest tragedies in our history.”
Fast forward a few decades. Billy Graham met with President Obama not long after this first African American had taken office. And he did what he had done for many years with many presidents – he prayed with him. For those who may disagree with Billy Graham’s politics, no one can disagree that this evangelist has never preached his politics. When Billy Graham has stood to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ– he did just that. He preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Sadly for President Obama and every president after him, Billy Graham’s days as a presidential advisor are over. After 60 plus years of leading millions of people to Christ, Billy Graham has earned the right to rest as he is nearing home. At the end of the day, his deeds speak for him. And to that, I say "Amen"!