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Billy Graham was an evangelist at revival meetings, and on radio and television for over 40 years.
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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Eventually this magazine was published in Spanish, French and German. Additionally, Graham himself authored numerous books including such titles as Angels: God's Secret Agents (1975), How to be Born Again (1979), Death and the Life After (1994) and The Journey: Living by Faith in an Uncertain World (2006).
Graham's detractors have criticized him for being too liberal and refusing to play into partisan politics. Fundamentalists wrote him off when he condemned violence perpetrated by the anti-abortion group "Operation Rescue." Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr has called him "simplistic," while evangelist Bob Jones believes Graham has done "more harm to the cause of Jesus Christ than any other living man." President Truman even went so far as to call Graham a "counterfeit." Some anti-Semitic comments between Graham and President Nixon were also caught on tape in 1972.
However, through his long and extraordinary career, Graham has overwhelmingly been regarded in a positive light, one Time reporter calling him "the Pope of Protestant America." Another reporter from USA Today writes, "He was the evangelist who did not rip off millions (Jim Bakker) or run with prostitutes (Jimmy Swaggart) or build a megachurch (Joel Osteen) or run for president (Pat Robertson) or run a Christian political lobby (Jerry Falwell)."
Graham's integrity has encouraged millions to heed his spiritual guidance, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Bono, Muhammad Ali and United States presidents from Eisenhower to Bush. He has been rated by the Gallop organization as "One of the Ten Most Admired Men in the World" a staggering 51 times. He is regarded by contemporaries as humorous, non-judgmental, sincere, innocent and accepting.
Graham has been awarded the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation Freedom Award, the Congressional Gold Medal, the Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion, the Big Brother Award, the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, and the Speaker of the Year Award. Additionally Graham was recognized by the National Conference of Christians and Jews for promoting understanding between faiths, and bestowed with the Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE).
In 1992, Graham announced that he was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a disease similar to Parkinson's Disease. His son William Franklin Graham III was chosen to take over BGEA upon his father's retirement. Billy and his wife Ruth eventually retired to their home in Montreat, North Carolina, in 2005. In 2007, Ruth Graham passed away from pneumonia and degenerative osteoarthritis. She is remembered by her husband, five children and 19 grandchildren. Graham turned 90 in 2008.
Graham, who rarely leaves his home, went to a celebration for his 95th birthday in Asheville, North Carolina, in November 2013. Roughly 900 people attended the event. Around this time, Graham released what some have called his final sermon. In a video entitled My Hope America, he expressed concern for the spiritual health of the nation. "Our country's in great need of a spiritual awakening," he said, according to a report in USA Today. "There have been times that I've wept as I've gone from city to city and I've seen how far people have wandered from God."
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