Biography of Famous Preacher and Evangelical Billy Graham Part 4

About the famous American preacher and evangelist Billy Graham, biography and history of the evangelical.

BILLY GRAHAM (1918- )

At the Minneapolis headquarters a bank of computers gobbles up 10 mi. of 18" paper every month. His mail room, working in 3 shifts, sends out 8 million pieces of mail a year. Incoming mail averages 50,000 letters a week, and, like a well-run political campaign office, each is answered with one of 40 form responses, depending upon the spiritual or moral issue raised.

The Graham association figures its man has faced some 50 million people at his rallies over the years. And it calculates that somewhere between 3.5% and 4.5% of that number have made decisions for Christ.

Billy Graham does things in a big way. He had his own pavilion at the New York World's Fair. When the Cunard Lines put the Queen Mary up for sale, Graham offered to buy it, seeing the Queen's potential as a floating conference center. Such a man, with financial resources in 8 figures, is bound to have his critics. But those looking for a latter-day Elmer Gantry have come away disappointed.

Graham takes an annual salary of $24,500 from the Billy Graham Evangelical Association. It is his total income. He has no truck with blessing pacts or freewill offerings or the other time-honored gimmicks of the evangelism trade. Donations go into the association, crusades are carefully audited, and royalties from his movies and books go into a trust fund for the Graham children.

In fact, the Reverend Billy frustrates all kinds of would-be critics. Reporters who meet him invariably describe a warm, engaging man, absolutely sincere and well informed. Whatever one thinks of his world view, or his role as sanctifier of presidential politics, it is nearly impossible not to admire the smoothness with which he runs his vast organization and the gracefulness with which he avoids all controversy.

Graham has succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of other evangelists--past and present. Though his roots are in Southern fundamentalism, he has built upon this foundation and adapted his views as the social and political climate in America has changed. In so doing, he has won access to centers of power and influence never imagined by his predecessors.

Presidents come and go, but Billy Graham, his grip firm upon the subconscious yearnings of the middle-American psyche, goes on and on.

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