Billy Graham Passes Away at 99

The religious personality preached the culture of Christianity as it is today


Bekah Redinger, Staff Writer

Billy Graham, popular televangelist and cultural icon of the past few decades, passed away on Wednesday, February 21. Living to the age of 99, Graham influenced thousands of people in America and abroad in their religion and everyday lives.

Billy Graham’s vast legacy spans many different forms of media. In addition to being America’s most famous televangelist, he authored 33 books on different aspects of Christianity, including a final book, “Where I Am: Heaven, Eternity, and Our Life Beyond” before his death on Heaven. Graham also wrote a weekly newspaper article called “My Answer,” helped to found two magazines named “Decision” and “Christianity Today,” and started two nonprofit organizations: Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Over his lifetime, he became wildly popular in many Evangelical Christian circles, touting a message which influenced the way that religion was both taught and revered in the United States and across the globe. He called his tours “crusades,” and his rallies and services were attended by millions. Graham spoke in over 180 countries, and his international impact inspired many churches and organizations to do more international mission work.

During much of his ministry career, Billy Graham was heavily political, following and at times leading the “religious right” movement. His promotion of the idea that Christians should regain the cultural prominence that they had lost in the decades before Graham was born influenced many to think and politically act the same way. Some people argue that Graham’s influence on President Eisenhower gave way to the first National Prayer Breakfast, as well as to the use of the phrase “In God We Trust” on the American money. In 1960, Billy Graham worked hard to help Nixon defeat Kennedy. In 1968, he once again endorsed Nixon for president. His influence in politics hits home in Colorado Springs, which has been a hotspot for religious right movements. In the 1950s, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association helped The Navigators to purchase their land in Glen Eyrie, which used to be home to Colorado Springs’ founder General William J. Palmer. His tactics of evangelism were also employed by Colorado Springs-based foundation Focus on the Family. Most recently, both of the charities founded by Billy Graham assisted with clean up after the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires. Towards the end of his life, Graham focused more on preaching than on politics, saying that his goal throughout his life was never to be a politician, but to “just promot[e] the Gospel.”

Billy Graham was one of America’s most influential leaders, and especially in Colorado Springs, his impact has been deep felt and widespread. His death, while a blow to culture, was never feared by him; he believed that “My home is in Heaven. I’m just traveling through this world.”