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Billy Graham and Richard Nixon

Updated on March 1, 2018
harrynielsen profile image

New World history is a rich field that is constantly being analyzed for new material. The complexity of these tales never fails to amaze me.

Nixon Attends a Graham Function In Charlotte, NC

Nixon and Graham Together In Charlotte, NC
Nixon and Graham Together In Charlotte, NC

Many Tributes To Billy Graham

Billy Graham, the renown evangelist, almost made it to a hundred. He fell by short by just 8 ½ months. Since the recent announcement of his passing, the accolades for the North Carolina-born minister have come pouring in from all directions. To many, Bill Graham has always been known, as America's pastor, but since his passing, many other fine laurels have been added to his name. For example, the Washington Post has referred to Mr. Graham as "the last bi-partisan evangelical leader". Not to be left out, Barrack Obama has said that Billy Graham was a “humble servant who prayed for so many”, while our current president stated that “there was nobody like him”. And so the list goes on.

Billy Graham in his Later Years

Portrait of Billy Graham in 2003
Portrait of Billy Graham in 2003 | Source

Early Success of Billy Graham

Beginning in 1950, Billy Graham experienced a phenomenal rise in popularity. Two far-sighted and innovative events may have helped propel Graham into the limelight. The first decision was to attack the evils of Communism, when he was speaking to large groups about religion. Not only did this philosophy endear Billy with many powerful conservative shakers and movers, but also, it allowed Billy Graham to connect with a larger audience.

The other thing that Billy did, which was so important, was to reach out to black Christians and welcome them at his revivals and evangelical lectures. Though worlds apart politically, these two concerns of Graham helped him make inroads with a great number of people, hoping to better understand the Messiah.

A Parade of Presidents

Commencing with the attention of Harry Truman in 1950, Billy Graham was able to communicate with every president up until the current resident of the White House, Donald J. Trump. Such was Graham's influence that all living presidents will likely be present at the Graham funeral on March 3, 2018.

This remarkable record began when a Congressman, acting as an intermediary, called Billy up on the phone and asked if he would like to meet the current president, Harry S. Truman. Billy immediately agreed and the rest is history.

The next occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first to seek advice from Rev. Graham. The subject was whether to send troops into Little Rock, AK to enforce de-segregation and after a heartfelt conversation with the North Carolina preacher, Eisenhower went ahead and detached National Guard units to the Little Rock school system.

Speaking of Little Rock, Bill Clinton at age twelve, was most impressed with Billy Graham, when he refused to segregate a Christian Crusade in the very same town.

The Business Empire Billy Leaves Behind

The Financial Well-being of Billy Graham

No way around it, Billy Graham and his associated non-profits were worth quite a lot at his time of passing. Furthermore, there is no reason that the financial health of all things Billy Graham will continue long into the future. Such is the worldly reality of many evangelical enterprises and those organizations that were associated with Billy Graham were no exception.

To be more specific, at the time of his death, Billy Graham had two high, profile non-profits. They are the Samaritan's Purse, which took in an estimated 680 million in 2016 and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association,(BGEA) that in 2014 pulled in a cool 110 million.

That's a lot of money to spread around and one of the reasons Mr.Graham has been able to do so without scandal or litigation is that he learned at an early age to set up these foundations as business enterprises, complete with a board of directors. If these entities had been run as family businesses, events may have turned out very differently for Mr. Graham and those that were close to him.

Our current president,who also happens to be a great admirer of Billy Graham, might do well to take notice of how Billy Graham ran his extremely large and successful Christian ministry.

The Body of Billy Graham Lying at State in the Capital Rotunda

Billy Graham is one of the few civilians to lie at state in the nation's capital
Billy Graham is one of the few civilians to lie at state in the nation's capital | Source

The Most Perplexing Alliance of All

Of all the major leaders that Billy Graham has associated himself with, perhaps the most intriguing and possibly disturbing is his friendship with Richard Nixon. During the years before Nixon, Graham had befriended every president since Harry Truman. With Nixon, Graham's friendship went much further, creating a situation, where Graham became a moral compass and a close confident to a very, intelligent president, who at times was more than capable of running amuck from common sense and a upright moral compass.

Nixon and One of His Closest Advisors

Nixon, Graham and Israel

As recently released tapes, somberly point out, both Richard Nixon and Billy Graham had a distrust and overall negative view of the major American news organization, as well as certain members of the Jewish elite, who were also a part of the national press. In general terms, both men shared the common belief that certain individuals in the Americans press had too much influence.

Despite these shortcomings, Nixon with some timely advice from Billy Graham, was able to put forth a favorable policy towards Israel that has lasted up to the present. Nixon's strong support of Israel became crucial to the survival of the Middle Eastern nation, when in 1973, Egypt and Syrian, backed by the Russians and many Arab nations, launched a two pronged attack on Israel.

Better known, as the Yom Kippur War, the surprise attack by Arab nations came close to its expressed goal of taking back lands lost in the Six Day War of 1968. Without strong American backing, events may have turned out very differently in the Middle East.


In Conclusion

Overall, Billy Graham was probably a positive influence on Richard Nixon. Graham helped consolidate evangelical support for Israel and then when war came, Nixon acted in a way that was very different from the rhetoric, which on occasion, came flowing out of the White House. In conclusion, it is quite possible that this country might have been a lot worse off, if Billy Graham and Richard Nixon had not crossed paths.

© 2018 Harry Nielsen

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