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How Billy Graham Contributed to Social Change, and Reached Across Lines of Demarcation
Rev. Billy Graham has died at the age of 99. He was one of the most well-known Christian evangelists in the United States and in the world.
Margaret Thompson is an associate professor of history and political science in the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. In addition to his impact on the global religious realm, Thompson says in subtle ways, he contributed to social change as well.
“Billy Graham probably preached to more people than anyone in world history. He was not a learned theologian, but he preached from the heart and his message had a tremendous impact around the world.
“In subtle ways, he contributed to social change–refusing to appear before segregated audiences in the American South well before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. His life was not without controversy; to his own acknowledged shame, he can be heard on the Nixon White House tapes concurring in some of the president’s anti-Semitic comments. After Watergate, he carefully refused to take positions that were partisan.
“As an Evangelical who was not a Fundamentalist, he reached across lines of demarcation –traveling to the Soviet Union, engaging in ecumenical dialogue with Catholics, etc. He was a major figure of the second half of the 20th century.”
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