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Recent investigative reporting by the Houston Chronicle has revealed long-standing abuses of women belonging to Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) churches.

The Chronicle says that, in 2007, victims of sexual abuse at the hands of SBC church leaders requested that a database be created with names of any current or former church leaders who had been convicted of this type of crime or had been credibly accused of same.

The database was never created. In 2018, advocates for the victims made an appeal for such a registry. Houston Chronicle reporters began their own investigation, combing news archives, websites and databases (emphases mine):

We found complaints made against hundreds of pastors, church officials and volunteers at Southern Baptist churches nationwide.

We focused our search on the 10 years preceding the victims’ first call for a registry and on the 10-plus years since. And we concentrated on individuals who had a documented connection to a church listed in an SBC directory published by a state or national association.

We verified details in hundreds of accounts of abuse by examining federal and state court databases, prison records and official documents from more than 20 states and by searching sex offender registries nationwide. In Texas, we visited more than a dozen county courthouses. We interviewed district attorneys and police in more than 40 Texas counties. We filed dozens of public records requests in Texas and nationwide.

Ultimately, we compiled information on 380 credibly accused officials in Southern Baptist churches, including pastors, deacons, Sunday school teachers and volunteers.

We verified that about 220 had been convicted of sex crimes or received deferred prosecutions in plea deals and sent letters to all of them soliciting their responses to summaries we compiled. We received written responses from more than 30 and interviewed three in Texas prisons. Of the 220, more than 90 remain in prison and another 100 are still registered sex offenders.

Find our records that relate to those convicted or forced to register as sex offenders at HoustonChronicle.com/AbuseofFaith.

Some of the registered sex offenders are still allowed to preach:

Some registered sex offenders returned to the pulpit. Others remain there, including a Houston preacher who sexually assaulted a teenager and now is the principal officer of a Houston nonprofit that works with student organizations, federal records show. Its name: Touching the Future Today Inc.

Most of the abused were teenagers at the time. However, adults seeking pastoral guidance were also victims.

The Chronicle‘s expose is in three parts:

Part 1: Abuse of Faith

Part 2: Southern Baptist churches hired ministers accused of past sex offenses

Part 3: All too often, Southern Baptist youth pastors take advantage of children

A few excerpts follow from the first instalment.

The sections about children were particularly revolting, considering that Southern Baptists in positions of authority portray themselves as being very holy:

Many of the victims were adolescents who were molested, sent explicit photos or texts, exposed to pornography, photographed nude, or repeatedly raped by youth pastors. Some victims as young as 3 were molested or raped inside pastors’ studies and Sunday school classrooms.

Here is one girl’s story:

Heather Schneider was 14 when she was molested in a choir room at Houston’s Second Baptist Church, according to criminal and civil court records. Her mother, Gwen Casados, said church leaders waited months to fire the attacker, who later pleaded no contest. In response to her lawsuit, church leaders also denied responsibility.

Schneider slit her wrists the day after that attack in 1994, Casados said. She survived, but she died 14 years later from a drug overdose that her mother blames on the trauma.

“I never got her back,” Casados said.

Here is one man’s story of his molestation as a boy:

David Pittman was 12, he says, when a youth minister from his Georgia church first molested him in 1981. Two other former members of the man’s churches said in interviews that they also were abused by him. But by the time Pittman spoke out in 2006, it was too late to press criminal charges.

The minister still works at an SBC church.

Pittman won’t soon forgive those who have offered prayers but taken no action. He only recently stopped hating God.

“That is the greatest tragedy of all,” he said. “So many people’s faith is murdered. I mean, their faith is slaughtered by these predators.”

The Chronicle says that the reason for rampant sexual abuse is the fact that SBC churches are largely autonomous:

At the core of Southern Baptist doctrine is local church autonomy, the idea that each church is independent and self-governing. It’s one of the main reasons that [August “Augie”] Boto [interim president of the SBC’s Executive Committee] said most of the proposals a decade ago were viewed as flawed by the executive committee because the committee doesn’t have the authority to force churches to report sexual abuse to a central registry …

SBC churches and organizations share resources and materials, and together they fund missionary trips and seminaries. Most pastors are ordained locally after they’ve convinced a small group of church elders that they’ve been called to service by God. There is no central database that tracks ordinations, or sexual abuse convictions or allegations.

I’m not a Southern Baptist, but if the SBC allows sharing of funding, resources, trips and seminaries, surely, it can allow central records to be kept.

A Catholic priest, the Revd Thomas Doyle, thinks so, too.

Doyle was one of the earliest whistleblowers on similar abuse in the Catholic Church, a hierarchical church. He is also a retired lawyer. He contacted SBC leaders in 2007, urging them to act:

“I saw the same type of behavior going on with the Southern Baptists,” he said.

The responses were predictable, Doyle said. In one, Frank Page, then the SBC president, wrote that they were “taking this issue seriously” but that local church autonomy presented “serious limitations.” In March, Page resigned as president and CEO of the SBC’s Executive Committee for “a morally inappropriate relationship in the recent past,” according to the executive committee.

Details have not been disclosed, but SBC officials said they had “no reason to suspect any legal impropriety.” Page declined to be interviewed.

Wade Burleson, a former president of Oklahoma’s Southern Baptist convention, requested in 2007 and again in 2018, that the SBC take action on this issue, but to no avail:

Leaders pushed back both times, he said. Some cited local church autonomy; others feared lawsuits if the reforms didn’t prevent abuse.

Burleson couldn’t help but wonder if there have been “ulterior motives” at play.

“There’s a known problem, but it’s too messy to deal with,” he said in a recent interview. “It’s not that we can’t do it as much as we don’t want to do it. … To me, that’s a problem. You must want to do it, to do it.”

Doyle, the Catholic priest, agrees:

“I understand the fear, because it’s going to make the leadership look bad,” he said. “Well, they are bad, and they should look bad. Because they have ignored this issue. They have demonized the victims.”

Similar abuses have also taken place in Evangelical churches and institutions, which are also independent.

I saw this tweet the other day:

Linda Kay Klein grew up in Evangelical churches and wrote the book Pure, about the toxicity surrounding women’s purity culture.

In an article she wrote for NBC News, ‘Southern Baptist Convention report on sex abuse shines a light on evangelical culture’, she says:

As an adult, I went on to spend more than a decade researching sexuality and the evangelical church and heard story after story of minimized and unreported abuse. To be sure, sexual violence extends well beyond the church, yet I have found that religious authoritarianism and purity culture — hallmarks of both Catholicism and evangelicalism, among other groups — can enable it.

Purity culture teaches that there are two types of people: those who are sexually “pure,” and those who are “impure.” Some teach one can lose their purity by having sexual thoughts or feelings or making sexual choices outside of a heterosexual marriage. Some even teach you can lose it by inspiring sexual expression in others.

Include purity in an authoritarian local church structure and a fear of secular reaction to scandal and it makes for one unholy trinity of toxicity:

Many parishioners see their pastor as the conduit to a higher power and will go to great lengths to protect them even if it means ignoring, blaming and ultimately hurting survivors.

In America, a contributing factor is a strong culture of collective victimhood in the evangelical community. My interviewees and I were taught growing up that evangelicals were the real victims — that the world hated us so much they’d do anything to make us look bad. So, it was our job to represent our community in the best light possible for more people to join us and enter into heaven. The underlying message was clear: a good Christian keeps their mouth shut.

She describes how this works in practice:

Women and girls, in particular, can be silenced in hierarchic churches that teach “complementarianism” — the belief that God ordains male authority especially in the church and the home. Having been conditioned not to question men, some women struggle to stand up to male misconduct when they see it, and when they do are often dismissed. For example, when my youth pastor was applying for the position, he was given a kind of audition: lead a youth retreat. Our head pastor asked us to report back on his performance. I did. As did at least one other girl. Each of us told the head pastor that the man applying for the position made us uncomfortable. Soon afterward, it was announced that he was our new youth pastor.

Meanwhile, when women and girls come forward as survivors, purity culture — which focuses largely on them — can be used against them. Many of my interviewees and I were taught that men are weak when faced with the temptation of the female flesh and it was therefore our responsibility to protect men from the threat that our bodies posed to them. We had to walk, talk and dress just right to ensure the alleged purity of our entire community, safeguarding against all sexual expression outside of marriage — the implication being that anything that did happen, even sexual violence, was our fault.

Klein’s opinion piece has a video recently broadcast on NBC’s Today show about women who were sexually abused as children in an Evangelical organisation, New Tribes Mission (now Ethnos360).

There is also another Today show article which summarises the video of the New Tribes Mission survivors: ‘Ungodly abuse: The lasting torment of the New Tribes missionary kids’.

The girls’ parents were missionaries at the time, and each mission had a boarding school for the children of New Tribes employees. These missions were in foreign countries, in the back of the beyond. Each dormitory had a ‘dorm dad’ and a ‘dorm mom’. It was not unknown for dorm dads to molest little girls.

In 2009, Basyle “Boz” Tchividjian — one of Billy Graham’s grandsons, who is a law professor and a former prosecutor on sexual abuse cases — began investigating sexual abuse cases at the behest of New Tribes Mission (as was). He told NBC News:

“I feel that in so many ways justice has failed,” said Boz Tchividjian, a former sex crimes prosecutor who leads Grace (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment), the organization that investigated the New Tribes school in Senegal and that focuses on rooting out abuse in Christian organizations.

“You have individuals who physically and sexually abused children who have gone on to live quote-unquote ‘normal lives.’ You have an organization that had to deal with some press and people talking about it but in large part has moved on and continues to do their work around the world.”

“And then,” added Tchividjian, who is a grandson of the evangelist Billy Graham, “you’ve got the scores and scores of missionary kids. So many of them are struggling to get by in life, struggling to comprehend, why is this man who sexually abused me not in jail, not in prison? Why is this man serving in church, living what appears to be a normal life?

The article recaps the experiences of the victims who appeared on Today. This is one woman’s story. Her dorm dad was David Brooks, the most prolific perpetrator, and an occasional preacher in the Georgia town where he currently lives:

Bonnie Cheshire was just 2 when she arrived in Senegal with her parents, both New Tribes missionaries, in 1981. She grew up in a river village surrounded by forest and miles away from a major city.

“It was an amazing life. It was absolute freedom,” Cheshire said. “Outside all day, in trees all day.”

By age 6, she was living with other children of New Tribes missionaries at the Fanda school where boys and girls were split into separate rooms. There was a “big girls” room and a “little girls” room, each one accommodating about six to eight girls.

Like all of the New Tribe boarding schools, American missionaries who were not sent out in the field were assigned to take care of the children and lead them in Bible study and prayer.

Brooks and his wife held the role of Fanda dorm parents in the mid-1980s, according to the Grace report.

Cheshire said Brooks would sometimes play the “seashell game” when he was alone with the children outside, hiding a shell in his bathing suit and urging the girls to find it.

Soon he was also showing up in her room late at night, Cheshire said. “You need to find a way to relax to go to sleep,” she recalls him telling her.

Brooks would then start touching her, Cheshire said, noting that she was 7 when the abuse started. It seemed innocent at first, she said, but became anything but.

“I knew that it was not right,” Cheshire said.

One woman was abused by her own father when she was a little girl — in the girls’ dorm! He also abused her roommates at the Aritao school in the Philippines:

Escaping the abuse was nearly impossible for Kelly Emory. Les Emory is her father.

Kelly says her dad raped and molested her for three years starting at age 6. She says she was also forced to endure the horror of being in the same room as her father sexually abused her roommates inside the Aritao dorm.

“I had to pretend I was sleeping,” Kelly said. “It was a hell I still live with.”

Kelly said nothing about her father’s attacks until she was 15. In March 1993, with Kelly struggling in school and wrestling with thoughts of suicide, she says she told her dorm mother.

The woman reported the allegations, Kelly said, and days later three New Tribes field leaders showed up at the school to question her.

“They asked me to describe what had happened, and I told them,” Kelly said. “And they told me to not say anything. It was my duty to protect my family, to protect my dad, and if I did say anything, if I did tell anybody anything, my dad would be thrown in a Filipino jail.”

Within a week, Kelly said, her family was shipped out of the Philippines and flown to Missouri to attend therapy sessions with a mission counselor.

“After two weeks we were pronounced healed and whole,” Kelly said. “Those were their words.”

Emory was ordered to leave the mission, Kelly said, but the real reason for the family’s sudden relocation was kept secret from all but a few in the organization.

“You try to do the right thing,” Kelly said. “We got shushed and rushed out of the country. They made us all stay quiet. They silenced us.

In 2009, Bonnie Cheshire and Kari Mikitson, another New Tribes abuse survivor launched a website, New Tribes Mission Abuse. (They have an active forum and an inactive blog.)

Before long, the site attracted a lot of views and New Tribes Mission invited Mikitson to speak with them at their Florida headquarters. It was after that when the mission asked “Boz” Tchividjian’s GRACE organisation to launch an investigation.

GRACE’s investigation took a year, and uncovered widespread sexual abuse of youngsters in the missions. New Tribes Mission then hired another independent organisation, IHART, to continue the work. IHART appears to have done very little.

Today tracked down David Brooks, who refused to speak to camera, and Les Emory who gave a telephone interview.

Emory admitted to what he did and said that he should have been ‘decapitated’.

New Tribes changed its name to Ethnos 360 in May 2017.

In closing, imagine that what actually makes the news in terms of church-related sexual abuse is probably just the tip of the iceberg.

I hope that more will be revealed, for the victims’ sakes as well as for the future health of the Church as a whole.

Finally, all churches — Catholic and Protestant — must take resolute action to ensure these abuses are stopped once and for all.

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Last week, I featured two posts on Billy Graham:

Remembering Billy Graham

More on Billy Graham

My last piece on him relates more to his daughter Ruth, who, in 2012, first opened her heart on Beliefnet. Since then, she writes regularly for the site on her page Safe Place with Ruth Graham.

In 2012, Beliefnet recapped her first column in an article called ‘Billy Graham’s daughter Ruth has been through the fire, says it’s time for honesty’. Anyone who has been through a marital breakup or has been dogged by self doubt will want to read it.

The article also has great Graham family photos from the 1950s, which are definitely worth seeing.

Excerpts and a summary of the article follow, emphases mine.

The article begins by introducing her Safe Place page and assuring readers that she will reply to anyone commenting on her posts. Ruth said that she felt it was time to be open and honest, something she could not always do growing up:

She knows what it’s like to have to put on a false smile. The third of Billy and Ruth Bell Graham’s five kids remembers having to pretend nothing is wrong – even when her world was falling apart. All preachers’ kids endure that, but a famous evangelist’s kid has to be especially careful. Stepping out of line can result in a front page headline in the National Enquirer – and bring shame upon a beloved dad.

Fortunately, for her, she was always a devout Christian:

“I really did have a genuine relationship with the Lord,” she recalls. “I gave my heart to Jesus when I was seven, kneeling beside my bed with my mother. At age 11, I made that commitment public by going forward at the altar call at a church revival held by a friend of my father. Daddy went with me.”

Incidentally, she said that she and her siblings met a lot of famous people who were friends of her parents, but they were only introduced and that was the extent of it.

Ruth was not a rebellious teenager and, at the age of 15, was sent to:

an exclusive boarding school in New York. There, “I came down with mononucleosis and I was miserable.” All alone, it was just her and God. “I just had to claim my faith as my own. At that point, it was no longer Mother or Daddy’s faith, it was mine.”

She followed a conventional middle class route of college followed by marriage. In the 1990s, she faced a greater personal crisis than mononucleousis:

her world fell apart when her husband was unfaithful. After 18 years of marriage, Ruth was devastated. They went through months of counseling before admitting defeat. Then just a few months after the divorce, she remarried “on the rebound” but knew within 24 hours that she’d made a terrible mistake. Her life a shambles, she loaded up everything and sought refuge with her parents.

She was worried about their reaction. However, all was well. Her father Billy stood in the driveway, awaiting her arrival:

He wrapped his arms around me and said, ‘Welcome home.’”

Ruth said that, at the age of 40, she was in a deep spiritual crisis. Although she followed her mother’s example of being active in the church, including teaching Bible studies, Ruth did not feel as if God was ‘taking care’ of her — and her children. One daughter had an eating disorder. Another gave birth out of wedlock in her mid-teens. Her son had to go to rehab for drug abuse.

Gradually, Ruth came to understand that these were severe trials God’s people sometimes have to endure:

He had something to teach me about the difficulties of life: to show me that none of us are exempt, that we all have hardships. We all have things that happen to us that we don’t ask for, but we have to endure.

And it’s OK. It’s all part of God’s plan. I didn’t like having to go through that – none of us do.

But it was very important for me to have that experience – and to grow from it. I’m still growing. The story is not over. But that’s OK, God gives me grace. And God is a covenant-keeping God. He is faithful even when I am not. Now I’m living life. I am just living in the grace of God.

During her crisis years, her father told her she was being too harsh on herself:

I remember one day when I was really beating myself up and taking responsibility for my marriage falling apart – just pouring my heart out. Daddy said, ‘Quit beating yourself up. We all live under God’s grace and we just do the best we can.’

Whenever I go home, there’s always a bouquet of flowers in my room with a handwritten note that reads, ‘Welcome home. Daddy.’

Ruth said she had been focussing too much on meeting other people’s expectations rather than on God’s love:

I have realized that I have an audience of One. As long as He’s happy with me, then that’s OK. You can’t please all those other people anyway. There’s always going to be somebody who doesn’t think you measure up.

At each stage as I went through this, I knew I loved the Lord. There was no question of that. At each stage, He has taken me deeper. And I don’t like the fact that the deep things of God are taught in suffering.

As a result, I know God’s grace in a way that I never would have otherwise. I’m learning to tell myself the truth.

Hence the reason for her Beliefnet columns. She wants to help others open up, too:

I want to share that and also to dialogue with my readers – so they can unburden themselves – making my column a confessional of sorts. And they will find no condemnation from me. I am not into shaming people.

I believe in passing along God’s grace.

Ruth told Beliefnet that it was difficult watching her father battle pain and illness. It was also hard for him to lose his beloved wife Ruth after so many decades. That said, his daughter thought he was less distracted and a gentler person in his twilight years.

After her father’s funeral earlier this month, Ruth wrote a column, ‘Taking Daddy Home’. She described the funeral and interment — and the bitterly cold weather:

It was freezing in the tent! Daddy started in a tent in Los Angeles and Franklin thought it would be appropriate. Fortunately, my older sister brought an extra coat for which I was grateful.

Each of us had 3 minutes to speak. I asked the Lord to help me and He did. I felt the freedom from the Holy Spirit to talk of my father’s lasting legacy to me. It touched many hearts for which I am grateful. I want to pass on my father’s legacy of grace.

I stayed until he was buried – even though it was so cold – but I didn’t want him to be alone. I went back the next day to see it all finished and landscaped. At long last Mother and Daddy are side by side!

She also had things to take care of at home. Her refrigerator was not working properly and one of her daughters is staying with her. A tree fell on the daughter’s house and they have no heat, so Ruth is hosting her and her family. As such, she says she has had no time to reflect on her father’s death.

Nevertheless:

God has been working wonderful ways and I praise Him that I have seen His hand in a multitude situations that could have been difficult. God just paved the way.

He keeps His promises of Isaiah 40:4-5.

Those verses are as follows:

4 Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.

5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

May God continue to bless Ruth Graham and her family at this difficult time.

Yesterday’s post discussed Billy Graham’s lying in state and his funeral.

Today’s looks at aspects of his life some of us might not know about.

Church upbringing

Billy Graham’s parents, Morrow (née Coffey) and William Franklin Graham Sr., were members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. The ARPC still exists today but is a tiny denomination affiliated with the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council as well as the World Reformed Fellowship. The denomination was founded in 1803 in Winnsboro, South Carolina. It emerged from a Scottish Covenanter/Seceder tradition. Theologically, it is Evangelical Calvinist.

Early life

William Franklin Graham Sr was a dairy farmer. The family farm is just outside of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Billy was the eldest of four children. He had two sisters — Catherine Morrow and Jean — and a brother, Melvin Thomas.

Billy enjoyed reading, especially boys’ adventure books. He liked Tarzan so much that when he climbed trees and gave out the famous Tarzan yell, he scared horses and drivers. His father later said imitating Tarzan led him to the ministry.

When Prohibition ended in December 1933, Billy was 15. Graham Sr made all his children drink beer until they were physically ill. None ever touched a drop of alcohol after that.

Despite church and abstinence from drink, Billy was considered ‘too worldly’ for membership in a local youth group. One of the Graham farmhands, Albert McMakin, encouraged Billy to attend a revival given by Mordecai Ham, a Baptist evangelist. Billy duly attended and was born again in 1934.

Further education

Billy graduated from Sharon High School in 1936. He enrolled at Bob Jones College which, at the time, was located in Cleveland, Tennessee.

After his first semester, he found it too legalistic and rule-driven. Although he was advised by Pastor Charley Young from Eastport Bible Church, he was almost expelled. Bob Jones Sr told him:

At best, all you could amount to would be a poor country Baptist preacher somewhere out in the sticks … You have a voice that pulls. God can use that voice of yours. He can use it mightily. [23]

In 1937, Graham transferred to the Florida Bible Institute in Temple Terrace, Florida, near Tampa. That year, he preached his first sermon at Bostwick Baptist Church in Palatka, Florida. While at the Florida Bible Institute, the Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club played a significant role. He later wrote, he got his call to ministry on the 18th green.

Graham practiced preaching to the birds, alligators and cypress stumps across the Hillsborough River directly across from that 18th green. Later, this area was transformed into the Reverend Billy Graham Memorial Park, which still exists today.

In 1939, he was ordained in Palatka, Florida, at the Peniel Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist congregation.

The Revd Graham then moved to northern Illinois to attend Wheaton College. He graduated with a degree in anthropology in 1943.

During his time at Wheaton College, Graham accepted the Bible as the infallible word of God. However, this decision took place in California. He attended Forest Home Christian Camp (now called Forest Home Ministries) in the southern part of the state. Henrietta Mears, an evangelist and Director of Christian Education at the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood (yes, that Hollywood), helped him arrive at that decision. A memorial at the ministry camp marks the spot.

Love, marriage and family

Wheaton College can take credit for Graham’s love story with a fellow student, Ruth Bell, a surgeon’s daughter.

The two married in 1943. Their devotion for each other lasted until Ruth’s death in 2007. Interestingly, Ruth remained a Presbyterian her entire life. She never became a Baptist, Graham’s denomination after ordination.

Ruth gave birth to five children:

Virginia Leftwich (Gigi) Graham (b. 1945), an inspirational speaker and author; Anne Graham Lotz (b. 1948), runs AnGeL ministries; Ruth Graham (b. 1950), founder and president of Ruth Graham & Friends, leads conferences throughout the US and Canada; Franklin Graham (b. 1952), serves as president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and as president and CEO of international relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse;[34] and Nelson Edman Graham (b. 1958), a pastor who runs East Gates Ministries International,[35] which distributes Christian literature in China.

The Graham children, in turn, had their own families:

At the time of his death, Graham had 19 grandchildren, including former pastor Tullian Tchividjian, and 41 great-grandchildren.[36]

Notable events in early and middle ministry

Before Graham graduated from Wheaton, he became pastor of the United Gospel Tabernacle. He also took on various speaking engagements.

From 1943 to 1944, he was pastor of the First Baptist Church in Western Springs, in the Chicago suburbs. He left to take over a Christian programme on radio, Songs in the Night, which was about to be cancelled because of lack of money. The church in Western Springs financed the programme. Although Graham left the programme in 1945, it continued for many years afterwards.

In 1947, the first Billy Graham Crusade was held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, at the city’s civic auditorium. Six thousand people attended.

In 1948, at the age of 29, Graham became president of Northwestern Bible College in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was the youngest president of any higher education institution in the United States.  Despite this privileged position, Graham wanted to be a military chaplain. Instead, he came down with the mumps and went to Florida to recuperate.

Whilst in Florida, Graham joined a new ministry, Youth for Christ (YFC), which his friend Torrey Johnson co-founded with a Canadian evangelist, Charles Templeton.

Graham somehow managed to continue as president of Northwestern Bible College and tour the US as well as Europe with YFC.

Graham also held his own revival during this time. In 1949, he held a long-running revival in Los Angeles in a car park equipped with circus tents. The revival was supposed to last three weeks. Instead, it lasted for eight.

In 1950, he founded the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), which will continue to exist. Initially, it was based in Minneapolis, as that was where Graham worked. Later, it moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, his home city.

Graham resigned from in Northwestern Bible College in 1952.

In 1953, he came out openly against segregation at his own rally in Chattanooga, Tennessee:

Graham tore down the ropes that organizers had erected in order to segregate the audience into racial sections. In his memoirs, he recounted that he told two ushers to leave the barriers down “or you can go on and have the revival without me.”[49] He warned a white audience, “we have been proud and thought we were better than any other race, any other people. Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to stumble into hell because of our pride.”[49]

In 1957, he made friends with black clergymen:

Graham’s stance towards integration became more publicly shown when he allowed black ministers Thomas Kilgore and Gardner C. Taylor to serve as members of his New York Crusade’s executive committee[50] and invited the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whom he first met during the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955,[50] to join him in the pulpit at his 16-week revival in New York City, where 2.3 million gathered at Madison Square Garden, Yankee Stadium, and Times Square to hear them.[10] Graham recalled in his autobiography that during this time, he and King developed a close friendship and that he was eventually one of the few people who referred to King as “Mike,” a nickname which King asked only his closest friends to call him.[51] Following King’s assassination in 1968, Graham mourned that the US had lost “a social leader and a prophet”.[50] In private, Graham advised King and other members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).[52]

In 1974, he co-founded the Lausanne Movement with two Britons, Graham and John Stott. The first meeting was held in Lausanne, Switzerland on July 16–25 that year.

Videos

As we know, Billy Graham made countless public appearances, not all of which were in a religious setting.

In 1969, he gave an interview to William F Buckley Jr, who was a devout Roman Catholic. At the time, young people were wondering if God was dead. Buckley’s interview on Firing Line centred on the decline of Christianity.

Here is a short clip, which everyone should watch if only to hear Buckley speak. I’ve never heard better American English, both in vocabulary and tone:

The full interview is here.

Graham told Buckley that 75% of scientists believe in God, a higher percentage, he said, than when he was growing up. He also said that he thinks there is life on other planets (!!), but only on Earth does God face rebellion. He said there has to be a theocracy during Christ’s 1,000 year reign. He said that a theocracy is in the Apostle’s Creed. Buckley, who knew his prayers, said that was a reference to the next life. Yes, indeed!

Graham thought that being born again had to be a deep ‘personal experience’. He thinks that churches intellectualise receiving the Holy Spirit. That was, no doubt, a polite reference to Confirmation classes.

Graham also said that people should go to church as Jesus attended synagogue. He also foresaw that, by 2000, there would be home churches just as there were in the days of the early Church.

People on other websites have found the following Billy Graham videos memorable.

This is his address in the National Cathedral in Washington DC after 9/11. He tells the audience that they mustn’t give up hope or faith:

In the next video, from 2014, Graham discusses death and Heaven:

The last video celebrated his 99th birthday. Those who knew and worked with Graham discuss him and his astounding ministry:

Billy Graham and Steve McQueen

In closing — and saving the most intriguing fact for last — Billy Graham helped the famous actor Steve McQueen to embrace Christianity:

The Charlotte Observer has the story:

Actor Steve McQueen, who personified cool during his nearly two decades as a Hollywood superstar, retreated from the glamor and excesses of the movie scene late in his short life and embraced Christianity.

When he died at age 50, McQueen was clutching a Bible – one given to him by Billy Graham.

In fact, it was Graham’s personal Bible, the one he preached from at crusades. The Charlotte-born evangelist had handed it to the actor, then gravely ill with cancer, during a private meeting Nov. 3, 1980 – just four days before McQueen died after surgery in Mexico …

And though Billy Graham, now 98 and living in his mountain-top Montreat home, doesn’t speak or appear in person in “Steve McQueen: American Icon,” the preacher and his Bible play a major role in its final minutes …

Viewers are told that McQueen took along the Graham Bible – with a prayerful note from the evangelist on an inside page – when he traveled to Juarez, Mexico, for the operation to remove a tumor.

The actor died of a heart attack shortly afterward, on Nov. 7, 1980. And when Grady Ragsdale, the manager of McQueen’s ranch in California, went to retrieve the body, he pulled the sheet back and found that McQueen had died clutching the Bible to his chest.

Laurie puts it this way in the film: “He was holding on to the Bible of Billy Graham as he entered eternity.”

How cool is that?

On Monday, November 28, an Ohio State University (OSU) student drove a car into a group of students before exiting the vehicle and stabbing them, leaving 11 people injured.

Abdul Razak Ali Artan, 18, is a Somali refugee who fled to Pakistan with his family in 2007. They arrived in the United States as legal permanent residents in 2014.

Prior to attending OSU, the attacker attended Columbus State University. In August, he gave an interview to the OSU paper, The Lantern. He was quick to criticise OSU concerning prayer facilities and said he was scared.

It would be interesting to find out why he left Columbus State University.

Frankly, he should have asked about a prayer room before enrolling. I am certain that university officials would have gladly discussed the topic with him.

It is unclear why the attacker harboured such hate of the United States, which so generously took him and his kin in, giving them permanent residency. The Daily Mail reported on his Facebook post, made shortly before the attack:

Authorities are currently investigating the posts, allegedly made by Artan, which mention radical cleric Anwar Awlaki and accuse America of ‘interfering’ with other nations.

‘I am sick and tired of seeing my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters being killed and tortured EVERYWHERE,’ it stated. ‘I can’t take it anymore.

‘America! Stop interfering with other countries, especially Muslim Ummah (communities)… [if] you want us Muslims to stop carrying lone wolf attacks.’

He must have become radicalised. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.

However, ISIS issued videos shortly before the attack encouraging Muslim radicals to employ Nice-style methods (July 14) — using a motor vehicle — and use knives, which was exactly what this guy did.

Gateway Pundit has the ISIS videos in question.

Luckily for all concerned, Officer Alan Horujko arrived very quickly. He fatally shot the attacker. The officer deserves a medal. Unfortunately, he will probably be in for a lot of abuse from social justice warriors and leftist pundits. Here’s documentary film maker Tariq Nasheed with Tucker Carlson on Fox News:

Horujko was checking out a chemical leak on campus at the time. Hmm. That’s curious, too, but the OSU spokesperson who discussed the attack with Tucker Carlson viewed them as unrelated incidents (first interview in the video):

The Conservative Treehouse (CTH) has an excellent post on records from Catholic Charities which indicate that they helped the attacker and his family settle into the United States (emphases in the original):

There are currently estimated to be more than 100,000 Somalian refugees living in the United States. (link)  […]  Between 2013 and 2015 alone, the United States accepted more than 25,000 Somalian refugees.  […]  The suspect, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, lived briefly in a temporary shelter in Dallas before settling in Ohio, according to Catholic Charities records, obtained by NBC

CTH rightly points out that these Christian humanitarian outreach efforts could be putting the United States in danger — and taxpayers are footing the bill for attacks on themselves.

This beggars belief (purple highlight mine):

The potential for Unvetted Islamic Refugees becoming ISIS terrorists was a hot-button issue within the 2016 Presidential race.  Candidate Donald Trump promised to halt the program; candidate Hillary Clinton and President Obama promised to increase the refugee influx.

In addition, various religious “humanitarian” organizations have been at the tip of the spear promoting refugee and illegal immigration status.  The business model for ‘Baptist Child and Family Services’ as well as ‘Catholic Charities’ are dependent on hundreds of millions from the taxpayers via immigration/refugee resettlement programs.

To give you an idea of the scope: so far in 2016 BCFS has been granted over two hundred million.  $201,069,016 to be precise.  The scope of awards given to Catholic Charities is even more jaw dropping (SEE HERE)

This is further evidence that Donald Trump is not scare-mongering or being discriminatory. He is absolutely correct in saying that there must be a ‘temporary’ halt to migration from certain countries until officials figure out what is going on.

He’s been proven right time and time again. San Bernardino in December 2015 was the first attack during the campaign. Then there was Orlando in June. Then the mall incident in Washington state in September. Now this one.

Here’s an idea: why not take in Christians from Muslim countries instead? No Western country is making them a priority. In fact, they’re almost prohibited from entering as refugees. Why is that?

Maybe Trump can stop the trend in 2017. Let’s hope that he does.

In the meantime, I pray the wounded make a full recovery.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon by Alexander Melville.jpgContinuing an occasional series on quotes from the Reformed Baptist preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, today’s post concerns his insights on Matthew 7:6.

Previous entries on Spurgeon’s sayings include ambition, eternity and unity, growing old as well as reconciliation and strained relationships.

Spurgeon would have used the King James Version of Matthew 7:6:

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

The ESV has this version:

Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.

Precept Austin has put together a helpful set of commentary and translation on Matthew 7:6. Spurgeon’s thoughts — as well as Charles Simeon’s — are there. I covered Simeon’s on Tuesday of this week. Both agree that there is a time and a place for a certain manner and depth of preaching.

Spurgeon advised (emphases mine):

There are some holy enjoyments, some gracious experiences, some deep doctrines of the Word of God, which it would be out of place to speak of before certain profane and unclean persons. They would only make a jest of them; perhaps they might persecute you on account of them. No; holy things are for holy men; and as of old the crier in the Grecian temple was wont to say, before the mysteries were performed, “Far hence, ye profane!” so sometimes, before we enter into the innermost circle of Christian converse, it would be well for us to notice who is listening.

——————–

Zeal should always be tempered by prudence. There are times when it would be treason to truth to introduce it as a topic of conversation,-when men are in such a frame of mind that they will be sure rather to cavil at it than to believe it. Not only speak thou well, but speak thou at the right time, for silence is sometimes golden. See that thou hast thy measure of golden silence as well as of silver speech.

——————–

When men are evidently unable to perceive the purity of a great truth, do not set it before them. They are like mere dogs, and if you set holy things before them they will be provoked to “turn again and rend you”: holy things are not for the profane. “Without are dogs”: they must not be allowed to enter the holy place. When you are in the midst of the vicious, who are like “swine,” do not bring forth the precious mysteries of the faith, for they will despise them, and “trample them under their feet” in the mire. You are not needlessly to provoke attack upon yourself, or upon the higher truths of the gospel. You are not to judge, but you are not to act without judgement. Count not men to be dogs or swine; but when they avow themselves to be such, or by their conduct act as if they were such, do not put occasions in their way for displaying their evil character. Saints are not to be simpletons; they are not to be judges, but, also, they are not to be fools.

Great King, how much wisdom thy precepts require! I need thee, not only to open my mouth, but also at times to keep it shut.

——————–

It is a pity to talk about some of the secrets of our holy faith in any and every company. It would be almost, profane to speak of them in the company of profane men. We know that they would not understand us; they would find occasion for jest and ridicule, and therefore our own reverence for holy things must cause us to lay a finger on our lips when we are in the presence of profane persons. Do not let us, however, carry out one precept to the exclusion of others. There are dogs that eat of the crumbs that fall from the master’s table. Drop them a crumb. And there are even swine that may yet be learned; to whom the sight of a pearl might give some inkling of a better condition of heart. Cast not the pearls before them, but you may show them to them sometimes when they are in as good a state of mind as they are likely to be in. It is ours to preach the gospel to every creature; that is a precept of Christ, and yet all creatures are not always in the condition to hear the gospel. We must choose our time. Yet even this I would not push too far. We are to preach the gospel in season and out of season.

Oh! that we may be able to follow precepts as far as they are meant to go, and no further.

Spurgeon spoke to such a wide variety of people — not only in a church or at outdoor appearances, but also in small, conversational settings — that he would have been able to discern who could and could not receive Gospel truths and in what measure.

As with Simeon, he is advising us to assess our audience carefully, even among friends and family. It is important that we not open the Christian faith to ridicule or violence. Let us leave alone those who might react against our speech and wait for an opportune time, as God wills it to His divine purpose.

Next week I will feature an application of Matthew 7:6 in conversation. It’s a true story and one to keep in mind.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon by Alexander Melville.jpgContinuing an occasional series on quotes from the Reformed Baptist preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, today’s post concerns his views on reconciliation and strained relationships.

Previous entries addressed ambition, eternity and unity and growing old.

Numbers following the quotes refer to the relevant sermon.

Spurgeon, known as the Prince of Preachers, explains why we should seek reconciliation:

Our love ought to follow the love of God in one point, namely, in always seeking to produce reconciliation. It was to this end that God sent his Son. Has anybody offended you? Seek reconciliation. “Oh, but I am the offended party.” So was God, and he went straight away and sought reconciliation. Brother, do the same. “Oh, but I have been insulted.” Just so: so was God: all the wrong was towards him, yet he sent. “Oh, but the party is so unworthy.” So are you; but “God loved you and sent his Son.” 1707.119

That said, even he found certain people trying. These witty insights on strained relationships — the second and the third, in particular — encapsulate the reality of the human condition:

I have known good men with whom I shall never be thoroughly at home until we meet in heaven: at least, we shall agree best on earth when they go their way and I go mine. 1812.653

All good people are not equally good. There are some in the world whom we hope to meet in heaven, with whom fellowship is difficult. If they were on the other side of the Atlantic we might love them better than when we see much of them. I know several Christian people with whom I would sooner sit in heaven throughout all eternity than sit ten minutes with them on a sofa here below; distance, in their case, might lend enchantment to the view. 2154.387

There are people about who seem to be cut on the cross, and the only use they are in this world seems to be to raise irritating questions. They and the mosquitoes were created by infinite wisdom, but I have never been able to discover the particular blessing which either of them confer upon us. 3199.258

Spurgeon Ministries, based at Bath Road Baptist Church in Kingston, Ontario, says that he preached to 10,000,000 people during his lifetime. One of his sermons at London’s Crystal Palace attracted 23,654 people. He had no microphone or similar means of amplification.

Outside of the Bible, Charles Haddon Spurgeon is still the widest read preacher in the world. One woman was converted when she read a sermon of his which had been wrapped around a block of butter.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon by Alexander Melville.jpgContinuing an occasional series on quotes from the Reformed Baptist preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, today’s post concerns his views on growing old.

Previous entries addressed ambition, eternity and unity.

Numbers following the quotes refer to the relevant sermon.

Spurgeon gives hope to those of us who see twentysomethings and think they look like 12-year-olds. That’s my criterion for old age!

Without further ado, here is wisdom from the man known as the Prince of Preachers, with much more at the aforementioned link. Emphases mine below:

It is a crime to permit our fires to burn low while experience yields us more and more abundant fuel. AM191

From the altar of age the flashes of the fire of youth are gone, but the more real flame of earnest feeling remains. ME556

O you of forty, fifty, or sixty, what a world of mischief there is in you that will have to come out. 1248.455

Many of God’s aged servants who have been spared to advanced years, have come to look out for the setting of earth’s sun without a fear of darkness. While they have seemed to have one foot in the grave, they have really had one foot in heaven. 1922.537

Old men sometimes arrive at a second childhood. Do not be afraid, brother, if that is your case; you have gone through one period already that was more infantile than your second one can be, you will not be weaker then than you were at first. 2457.137

In the case of some old people, who have been professors of religion for years, but who have done next to nothing for Christ, I find it very difficult ever to stir them up at all. 2618.183

I always find that the older saints become more Calvinistic as they ripen in age; that is to say, they get to believe more and more that salvation is all of grace; and whereas, at first, they might have had some rather loose ideas concerning free-will, and the power of the creature, the lapse of years and fuller experience gradually blow all that kind of chaff away. 2991.287

When somebody said to a Christian minister, “I suppose you are on the wrong side of fifty?” “No,” he said, “thank God, I am on the right side of fifty, for I am sixty, and am therefore nearer heaven.” Old age should never be looked upon with dismay by us; it should be our joy. 3183.72

What a positive way for us oldies to start the week!

Age aside, may all my readers enjoy a blessed day!

Charles Haddon Spurgeon by Alexander Melville.jpgContinuing an occasional series on quotes from the Reformed Baptist preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, today’s post concerns his views on ambition.

The two previous entries addressed eternity and unity.

Before I move onto quotes from the Prince of Preachers, which are just as relevant today as they were in the 19th century, it is important to keep in mind how much he loved studying and reading. Those Christians who disparage the value of formal education could take a leaf out of his book.

Encyclopedia.com describes his grandfather’s parsonage in Stambourne, Essex (southeastern England). Emphases mine below:

His favorite getaway was in the attic, in a secret little room he stumbled upon one day that had once served as the minister’s den before the windows were covered up. In this dark, little space, Spurgeon discovered countless books and fell in love with Puritan theology.

… Spurgeon particularly loved Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, a Puritan who had been jailed for his beliefs. Over the course of his lifetime, Spurgeon read the book more than 100 times. The attic also contained books on Scriptural theology and Christian martyrs. Reading them provided Spurgeon with a solid theological background.

In the attic, Spurgeon fell in love with reading. In his autobiography, posted on the Spurgeon Archive website, Spurgeon described the impact reading had on him: “Out of that darkened room I fetched those old authors when I was yet a youth, and never was I happier than when in their company.” This fondness for books lasted a lifetime. By the time he was an adult, Spurgeon read an average of six books a week and was well–read in Puritan theology, natural history, and Latin and Victorian literature. At his death, Spurgeon had 12,000 books in his personal library.

The numbers following the quotes below relate to his sermons.

Spurgeon clearly had a good knowledge — and understanding — of history as well as classical mythology, which, sadly, some churchgoers disdain today:

Ambition is like the sea which swallows all the rivers and is none the fuller; or like the grave whose insatiable maw for ever craves for the bodies of men. It is not like an amphora, which being full receives no more, but its fulness swells it till a still greater vacuum is formed. In all probability, Napoleon never longed for a sceptre till he gained the bâton, nor dreamed of being conqueror of Europe till he had gained the crown of France. Caligula, with the world at his feet, was mad with a longing for the moon, and could he have gained it the imperial lunatic would have coveted the sun. It is in vain to feed a fire which grows the more voracious the more it is supplied with fuel; he who lives to satisfy his ambition has before him the labour of Sisyphus, who rolled up hill an ever-rebounding stone, and the task of the daughters of Danaus, who are condemned for ever to attempt to fill a bottomless vessel with buckets full of holes. FA10

There are times in life when ambition can cause us to attempt or covet too much:

He who undertakes too much succeeds but little. PT140

You may burst a bag by trying to fill it too full, and ruin yourself by grasping at too much. PT140

Our endeavours to go up lead us to push others down. 2153.379

A man is never perfectly at peace if he is ambitious, and craving for this or that which as yet is beyond his reach. 2626.280

Men do not quarrel when their ambitions have come to an end. 2281.529

Are we accomplishing things for God’s glory or man’s?

And it is much the same also with ambition,—not the desire to use one’s capacities to the full, especially for God’s glory, and the good of our fellow-creatures; but that craving for so-called “glory” which makes a man court the homage of his fellow-men, and which will not let him be content unless he is set up on a high pedestal for fools to stare at. 2886.268

He had this advice for churchgoers:

Aspire to be something more than the mass of church members. Lift up your cry to God and beseech him to fire you with a nobler ambition than that which possesses the common Christian—that you may be found faithful unto God at the last, and may win many crowns for your Lord and Master, Christ. 867.232

In closing, this is worthwhile for seminarians who hope to rise to the top in their vocation:

Do you not know that the higher you rise, even in the Church of Christ, the more responsibility you have, and the heavier burdens you have to carry? 2871.91

Every time I read Spurgeon quotations I spend a period of time pondering each one. I hope you find them equally valuable.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon by Alexander Melville.jpgOne of last week’s posts featured Charles Haddon Spurgeon‘s insights on eternity.

Today’s entry throws the spotlight on his assessment of the Church of the 19th century and how she — and we today — can achieve unity. There are several quotes at the link. This is one of them:

It is not likely we should all see eye to eye. You cannot make a dozen watches all tick to the same time, much less make a dozen men all think the same thoughts. But, still, if we should all bow our thoughts to that one written Word, and would own no authority but the Bible, the Church could not be divided, could not be cut in pieces as she now is. 307.167

The Bible — divinely inspired — is read and heeded by too few Christians. Some of us prefer delving into religious self-help books, others poetry or modern church music.

Making a silent, personal commitment to reading and studying the truths of the Bible is the best way we can improve our relationship with Jesus, God and our fellow man.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon by Alexander Melville.jpgCharles Haddon Spurgeon was a Victorian preacher and founder of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.

He was a Particular Baptist, meaning that he allied himself with the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith which is essentially Calvinist, outside of adult baptism.

He is still widely quoted today and is known as the Prince of Preachers.

(Image credit: Wikipedia)

Spurgeon admirers may already be acquainted with Spurgeon.US, which is a repository of over 4,000 quotes from this great man. The topics are categorised alphabetically. This is truly a treasure trove of Protestant Christianity.

I enjoyed reading what Spurgeon had to say on eternity. A few gems follow. The numbers at the end of the quotes are the sermon numbers. Emphases mine below.

When the wheel turns, those who are lowest rise, and the highest sink. Patience, then, believer, eternity will right the wrongs of time. ME280

Time tries most things, but eternity tries all. 1736.465

Certain men in these days declare that “everlasting” does not mean everlasting, but indicates a period to which an end will come sooner or later; I have no sympathy with them, and feel no inclination to renounce the everlastingness of heaven and other divine blessings in order to gratify the tastes of wicked men by denying the eternity of future punishments. 1186.438

A new way of reading the Bible has been invented in these highly enlightened days. I used to get on exceedingly well with the book years ago, for it seemed clear and plain enough, but modern interpreters would puzzle us out of our wits and out of our souls, if they could, by their vile habit of giving new meanings to plain words. Thank God, I keep to the old simple way; but I am informed that the inventors of the new minimizing glasses manage to read the big words small, and they have even read down the word “everlasting” into a little space of time. Everlasting may be six weeks or six months according to them. I use no such glasses; my eyes remain the same, and “everlasting” is “everlasting” to me whether I read of everlasting life or everlasting punishment. If I clip the word in one place I must do so in another, and it will never do to have a terminable heaven. I cannot afford to give it up here when its meaning is joyous to the saint, and therefore not there when its sound is terrible to the sinner. 1413.271

What saith the Scripture? “Eternal destruction from the presence of the Lord”—not, a moment, and then it is all over; but eternal destruction. The Scripture has put the two side by side, “These shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.” The same word applies to both. As long as heaven shall shine so long hell shall burn. As long as the saints are happy, so long shall those whose impenitence has made them castaways be wretched. 3324.497

We could do with thousands of Charles Spurgeons today.

Sadly, our seminaries aren’t quite up to creating great evangelists.

Still, let us be thankful we have plenty of Spurgeon material at our disposal.

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