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Billy Graham was an evangelist at revival meetings, and on radio and television for over 40 years. He preached to more individuals than anyone else in history.
Billy Graham - Nixon (2:07)
Billy Graham holds his first crusade in front of a group of Christian businessman and from there his path accelerates once discovered by William Randolph Hearst.
Billy Graham was a significant influence on Richard Nixon and his presidency; however, when Graham learned of the Watergate scandal, he was in disbelief. In his interview Billy claims he became ill once he knew the truth.
Billy Graham dreamed of being a baseball player until he realized he simply didn't have the talent. When Billy was 16 he saw a preacher who changed his life.
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At the urging of newspaper magnate William Hurst, papers around the nation covered Graham's revival meetings closely.
As a consequence, Graham became a Christian superstar. Sociologically it is believed that Graham's success was directly related to the cultural climate of post-WWII America. Graham spoke out against the evils of Communism—one of the biggest fears threatening the American consciousness. In a 1954 interview Graham stated, "Either communism must die, or Christianity must die,
because it is actually a battle between Christ and anti-Christ." With the advent of nuclear weapons and the demonstrated fragility of life, people turned to spirituality for comfort, and Graham illuminated their path.
Thus, Graham helped bind together a vulnerable nation through religious revival. By glazing over the finer details of Christianity and focusing on more moderate doctrines, Graham made evangelism enticing, non-threatening, even easy—and the media made his messages accessible to the masses.
In order to expand and maintain a professional ministry, Graham and his colleagues eventually incorporated the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). Graham began broadcasting his sermons over the radio during a Christian show called Songs in the Night. Once a week he also hosted a program called The Hour of Decision, a program ABC initially transmitted to 150 stations before reaching its peak of 1,200 stations across America. Eventually this program was converted into a television show which ran for three years. The success of Graham's radio and television programs speak to his role as a Christian media visionary. Graham used the media as a means for spreading the gospel of Christ, allowing him to access millions of people around the globe.
With Graham's success, BGEA opened numerous international offices and started publishing periodicals, records, tapes, films, and books. BGEA also accepted invitations from religious figures around the world to hold evangelical "crusades." Scouts would be sent to these cities to reserve a venue, organize volunteer choirs, and arrange speakers. At the end of these events, audience members would be invited to commit to Christ and meet with volunteer counselors. These new recruits would be given workbooks for at-home bible study and referrals to local evangelist pastors. BGEA eventually began to air footage of these crusades on national television with subscriber information. In 1952 the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association created the Billy Graham Evangelistic Film Ministry as a means of distributing personal conversion stories to the public through films. BGEA also acquired several radio stations around America in an effort to broadcast Graham's radio shows to a wider audience.
In terms of print media, BGEA created Christianity Today in 1955. This magazine continues to be the leading journal for evangelical Christians. In 1958 BGEA started Decision magazine, a monthly mailer with bible studies, articles, church histories, and crusade updates.
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