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The Religious Affiliation of Evangelist
Billy Graham

Billy Graham was raised as a Presbyterian, but he converted to become a Southern Baptist.

The First Baptist Church of Dallas is Billy Graham's congregational home. Billy Graham is widely regarded as the world's most popular spokesperson for Protestantism in general, not just Baptist churches. He has enjoyed warm ties with Catholic, Jewish and other religious leaders. In response to recent Southern Baptist resolutions calling for evangelistic campaigns targeting Jews for conversion, Rev. Graham said he did not support and would not take part in any such programs. National Jewish leaders have stated that they are not offended by evangelists such as Graham, who call all people to Christ equally. Graham does not agree with statements by Southern Baptist leaders that "God does not hear the prayer of a Jew."

From: Kate Buford, Burt Lancaster: An American Life, Alfred A. Knopf: New York (2000), page 201:

Billy Graham was the other model for Gantry [in the movie Elmer Gantry], a fact carefully denied by the director [Richard Broks] and star [Burt Lancaster]. Several months after Lancaster's anti-HUAC speech at the Commodore Hotel in January 1949, thirty-year-old William Franklin Graham converted six thousand Californians under a huge canvas tent, exhorting them with fiery rhetoric to find the answers to their postwar fear in Jesus (a Gantry press release claimed the movie was shot in Los Angeles because the area had "spawned so many religious cults and sects that it seemed only fair"). In what became his great evangelistic "crusade" of the 1950s, during which sales of bibles reached an all-time high, Graham had a style markedly similar to Sunday and McPherson, only more mainstream and global. Brooks kept a file labeled "Billy Graham" stuffed with newspaper and magazine articles on which he pencil-marked the salient characteristics. Graham's deliery was at "machine-gun speed" with "restless pacing on the platform" often covering a mile and a half in one session, leaving him soaking with sweat. His original style of dress was gaudy--he wore a pistachio-green gabardine suit to his first visit with President Truman. In 1958 the Los Angeles Times reported that his crusade had swelled to "staggering proportions" for a revival at Madison Square Garden. The preacher who reminded the faithful that the word evangelist came from the Greek word euvangelion, meaning "good news," admitted he got his start selling Fuller brushes door-to-door.

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Webpage created 14 July 2005. Last modified 10 November 2005.
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