Ah, poor Billy Graham.
Whether you’re a Christian or even an Anti-Christian, it’s very hard not to appreciate Billy and all his work for social causes in addition to the cause of Christ. Even Harlan Ellison once said that Billy seemed to be the only big-name Evangelist who seemed like a good man who actually practiced and believed what he preached, and wasn’t just in it for the money. (Paraphrased, owing to my faulty memory)
He opposed segregation before it was trendy. As early as 1957, he would refuse to preach at revivals that separated Black and White sections. He invited Martin Luther King to co-headline a 16-week revival in NYC. He spoke publicly about the need for nuclear disarmament. He advocated more attention money and time be spent on AIDS back in the ’80s. He was, as far as I’m aware, completely scandal free.
In the 1968 election, Nixon enlisted Graham’s aid in campaigning for him and helping him wrap up the evangelical Christian vote. He made a number of promises of how greatly he could help Christianity once he was in office. Graham did so, but after the election he quickly realized Nixon had been lying to him, and had no interest in making good on any of his promises. He grew disgusted at having been so gullible and so easily used, and remained mostly publicly apolitical for the rest of his life. Even so, he was a guest of 11 presidents, and functioned as an unofficial spiritual adviser to a couple of them.
You don’t have to agree with his stance on everything – heck, *I* differ with him theologically on at least one important point, possibly others – but in the end he was a man who spent his whole life trying to make the world a better place, both spiritually and materially.
He’d been retired for more than 10 years owing to failing health, but just the same: it’s a sadder place without him in it.