News Release

Billy Graham: “Prince of War”

Bothwell wrote the biography The Prince of War: Billy Graham’s Crusade for a Wholly Christian Empire. He just wrote the piece “Billy Graham and the Gospel of Fear,” published by CounterPunch, which states: “When Graham succumbed to various ailments this week at the age of 99 he left behind an organization that is said to have touched more people than any other Christian ministry in history, with property, assets and a name-brand worth hundreds of millions. The address lists of contributors alone comprise a mother lode for the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, now headed by his son and namesake, William Franklin Graham, III. …

“Graham first gained national attention in 1949 when the publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, searching for a spiritual icon to spread his anti-communist sentiments, discovered the young preacher holding forth at a Los Angeles tent meeting. Hearst wired his editors across the nation, ‘puff Graham,’ and he was an instant sensation.

“Hearst next contacted his friend and fellow [Time/Life] publisher Henry Luce. Their Wall Street ally, Bernard Baruch, arranged a meeting between Luce and Graham while the preacher was staying with the segregationist Governor Strom Thurmond in the official mansion in Columbia, S.C. Luce concurred with Hearst about Graham’s marketability and Time and Life were enlisted in the job of selling the soap of salvation to the world. Time, alone, has run more than 600 stories about Graham.

“The man who would become known as ‘the minister to presidents’ offered his first military advice in 1950. On June 25, North Korean troops invaded South Korea and Graham sent Truman a telegram. ‘MILLIONS OF CHRISTIANS PRAYING GOD GIVE YOU WISDOM IN THIS CRISIS. STRONGLY URGE SHOWDOWN WITH COMMUNISM NOW. MORE CHRISTIANS IN SOUTHERN KOREA PER CAPITA THAN ANY PART OF WORLD. WE CANNOT LET THEM DOWN.’ …

“Subsequently, Graham gave his blessing to every conflict under every president from Truman to the second Bush, and most of the presidents, pleased to enjoy public assurance of God’s approval, made him welcome in the White House. Graham excoriated Truman for firing General Douglas MacArthur and supported the general’s plan to invade China. He went so far as to urge Nixon to bomb dikes in Vietnam — knowing that it would kill upward of a million civilians — and he claimed to have sat on the sofa next to G.H.W. Bush as the bombs began falling in the first Gulf War.”