I was informed by a blog by Old Zach over at Sic Semper Tyrannis that Billy Graham is scheduled to perform his last crusade tonight in New York City. This prompted me to write a response which I repeat and expand upon here.
As you may know, AOL/Discovery Channel has been running a poll for “The Greatest American”. Billy Graham made the top 25 (They have a biography here). I used my votes in the poll for the Reverend, not because I think he was the absolutely greatest American ever, but because I felt he deserved to be considered in the top 5.
I remember going to a crusade as a young child. As you probably know, each crusade includes an “altar call”. I don't remember if I went forward, although I likely did, as did many others of faith in support of this man, his message, and those who were brought to the same faith through his sound preaching and obvious love for others.
My memory fails me, but I believe my family was involved in this crusade. My parents have always been religious, and my father would have likely been involved with a local crusade. I can picture the stage with the performers, and can hear the Reverend’s voice echoing around the stadium. Of course, having watched many other crusades on TV I am probably imposing those on my memory.
In some ways I am glad he served when he did, and not 20 years later. I get chills of dread even contemplating what liberals would make of him and his preaching today.
No doubt left-wing organizations would be fighting to keep him from preaching in stadiums paid for by public funds (as they have in at least on case with a PromiseKeepers rally. (story here, FreeRepublic discussion here.) The ACLU would have a field day.
No doubt that a wide cross-section of the liberal population would call him divisive, would decry his absolutist message of a single way to heaven, would denounce his lack of tolerance toward other faiths and people of no faith (this despite his overwhelming tolerance and love toward all).
I can hear Senate Democrats making speeches complaining of his close ties with a Republican president. I can see MoveOn.org and the others trying to dig up sins from his past to flog him with.
It seems he is only spared because he is such an Icon now that those opposed to his message (or simply opposed to any public proselytizing) feel it would be to hard to challenge him. I see the attacks on others as a sign they don’t want to make the same mistake.
I see what those who cannot tolerate religion do to the men of the cloth today. And I am glad that the Reverend Billy Graham was spared much of the evil of our modern times. Although, I am also sad because he will not be heard any longer.