Billy Graham’s last stand

Bill Branyon
Bill Branyon

BY BILL BRANYON

It’s either a horrendous twist of fate or long-deferred justice that some of Billy Graham’s last major acts put him glaringly on the wrong side of history. In 2012, Graham took out full-page ads in 14 North Carolina newspapers calling for passage of a law banning same-sex marriage. That same year, just before the presidential election, he also took out ads in dozens of newspapers in battleground states, as well as USA Today and The Wall Street Journal, counseling readers to “Vote for those who protect the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman.”

Visitors approaching Asheville from the east on Interstate 240 see a quiet green sign displaying the dignified name Billy Graham Freeway. But these days, it might as well be garish red neon blaring Homophobe Highway. Our very LGBTQ-friendly city, whose official motto is “Any way you like it,” now also declares our hostility to LGBTQ rights in the most brazen way. Tourists might wonder if they’ve landed in one of the most bigoted cities of the South instead of the most progressive.

Should you decide to give Graham the benefit of the doubt and conclude that he really wasn’t a homophobe — that he was merely protecting biblically sanctioned marriage — consider his 1973 My Answer column titled “Homosexual Perversion A Sin That’s Never Right,” which ran in over 100 newspapers. In the end, Graham’s usually heartwarming personal kindness and belief in a God of love were overwhelmed by his vision of a homophobic, angry God of judgment. Such incongruities have polarized much of America into those who can’t stand to hear anything negative about Graham — and those who can’t stand to hear anything positive.

The world’s greatest showman

I was raised in a genteel Presbyterian family in a conservative town in Alabama, and our TV was often tuned to Graham’s crusades. I thought the reverend was impressive in his dynamism and speaking ability, if repetitive in his message. But I’d also been taught in church that Jesus was the Prince of Peace, the turner of cheeks, the blesser of peacemakers, and I concluded that Christians should oppose most wars — especially elective ones. So when Graham spent the evening with George H.W. Bush the night before that president began bombing Iraq, I was confused and intrigued by the contradiction. Then there are Graham and Nixon’s now famous anti-Semitic remarks.

But putting aside all questions of Graham’s purity or corruption, there is one indisputable fact: His evangelical ministry was one of the greatest shows on Earth, and perhaps in planetary history. According to a special supplement in the Asheville Citizen Times, Graham personally entertained more than 84 million people during 415 multiday crusades and generated untold millions of dollars, little of which he kept for himself.

Just consider his 1957 New York crusade, where an average of 17,000 people crowded into Madison Square Garden 96 days in a row, with the exception of Mondays. Could the Beatles, Michael Jackson or even Taylor Swift approach that? Then there’s his considerable influence with 13 — 13! — presidents, from Truman to Trump, covering an unbroken span of about 70 years of American history. Only J. Edgar Hoover approached such powerful longevity, and he worked with only eight presidents.

That’s all mind-blowingly true, but I’ve since concluded that Graham’s most important characteristic was his relative disdain for earthly life. This view is dramatized by the Asheville Citizen Times’ Feb. 25 Graham epitaph edition, in which Paramount Kia, Ingles and the newspaper itself took out full-page announcements highlighting Graham’s quote: “My home is in Heaven. I’m just traveling through this world.” Largely unconcerned about the furors that roiled about his elegant blond mane, Graham served what he deemed a higher calling: God and heaven.

The four horsemen highway

This concentration on a possible afterlife, combined with Graham’s apocalyptic vision, should make Asheville even more leery of keeping I-240 named after him. According to respected Graham biographer William Martin in A Prophet With Honor, Graham believed in the doctrine of dispensational premillennialism. It includes the view that the rapture will rocket all true Christians — in Asheville and worldwide — to heaven just before the war of Armageddon that will kill billions. And since a healthy percentage of Ashevilleans subscribe to different religions, spiritualities or nonbelief, these two events would clearly decimate Asheville’s population, central business district and neighborhoods. Graham believed that this might happen today, or maybe hundreds of years from now.

So we might as well nickname the Billy Graham Freeway something like Armageddon Avenue, Damnation Road or the Eternal Torture Turnpike. Do we really want to feel the wrath of a fundamentalist God and the imminence of Armageddon during every morning and evening commute?

Many of Graham’s values and beliefs are being massively challenged these days, and the hope is that Trump represents the last global gasp of Graham’s heterosexual, fundamentalist Christian, American-dominated patriarchy. However, Donald did attend Billy’s 95th birthday party at the Grove Park Inn. Hillary didn’t. That, as much as the Russian tampering, Hillary’s supposed transgressions and a lackluster voter turnout may have determined the 2016 election. Trumpism is far from dead.

Then again, Trump could launch a nuclear war if his massive ego feels too threatened, thereby making Graham’s Armageddon predictions come true in a way. The 2018 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Doomsday Clock now reads two minutes to the midnight of nuclear holocaust. That’s the nearest the terrible timepiece has been since 1953, when both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. exploded hydrogen bombs. Will the rapture occur before Trump pushes the button? Let’s hope we never find out. Or will we survive Trump and Graham to live in a post-patriarchal, post-homophobic, postwar world that will embody fewer of Graham’s basic values, but much more of his basic civility and kindness.

Bill Branyon is a freelance historian living in Asheville. His sci-fi biography, Billy Graham’s Glorious Jam, tells what the reverend is up to now that he’s in heaven. See free chapters of it and other books at www.BranyonsUltimateFreethinking.com

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51 thoughts on “Billy Graham’s last stand

  1. hondo

    I think like everyone he’ entitled to his opinion. I think same-sex marriage is kinda gross and do forgive me for not worshipping at your alter of political correctness. Tolerance cuts both ways.

    • Gregory

      Tolerance NEVER cuts both ways if you are a follower of Jesus Christ. God is liberal when it comes to forgiving those that ask it. He sent Christ into the world not to condemn it but to save it. Now when it comes to principle God is very conservative. The Ten Commandments are very clear. He also has many other commands and ways He suggest we live our lives and for Him. We are to take up the cross and bear it each day as Christ did. Read Proverbs and you will understand that God has given us many cut and dry ways to follow the good life. Also Jesus told many parables (stories) when explaining what God expects and how to live the good life. Sure everyone is entitled to their opinion but not everyone is right. I prefer to stand on the side with Almighty God because I know He is right. Hondo-my statement has nothing to do with political correctness. It has everything to do with what our Holy Bible says. Now the author of this piece does cross into the political correctness area. His comments are evil, mean spirited and not appropriate when Billy Graham has recently passed away. I do not see anything but hatred coming from the Asheville minority gay community. I seriously doubt you can tell me or anyone in Asheville of just 1 gay person that has reached out to so many people in love as Billy Graham did during his lifetime. He did as God commands all Christian’s, go out into the world and spread the good news about salvation. I am pretty fed up with our local minority gay community acting as if they have a foothold on the Asheville area. There are many wonderful churches and some with the largest membership levels never seen before, outreach programs, worldwide ministries, food banks, shelters all in the Asheville area. Billy Graham spread the gospel to more people than anyone in the history of the world. Being a man, he was not perfect as none of us are. He was forgiven and knew it. I know I am too. I have no doubt that when he arrived in Heaven he heard Jesus say “well done my good and faithful servant!” Bill Branyon also mentions Billy Graham said this was not his home and made fun of that. Heaven is the eternal home for all Christian’s that have asked to receive the forgiveness of Christ. The bible also states we are to hate this world and not to be caught up in it’s evil ways. I can think of nothing more selfish than to be involved in homosexuality. A Christian lays down their life for Christ, as He did for us. Our world is full of fairy tales and far out stories of the past and future. The bible however can be proven and the more we learn the more things are being discovered & proved each day. I would prefer to believe with all my heart in what Bill thinks is a fairy tale, than to not believe and find out it was the only so called fairy tale that happened to be 100% true! After all ETERNITY is a very very long time!

  2. Gregory

    Asheville is not a progressive city, it’s a Sodom & Gomorrah with all the weirdo transplants. Contrary to popular belief the Christian community far out numbers those living a life contrary to what God has commanded. Homophobe is a made up word by homosexuals to label Christian’s that believe how God teaches us to behave. Homosexuality goes against human nature and is a selfish act of evil. Because a Christian merely repeats what the God of the universe has said, does not mean we should be labeled anything but those that repeat His truth. Mr. Branyon’s above story is full of hate coming from a depraved mind. God states a depraves or reprobate mind is one that cannot tell the difference any longer between what is right and what is wrong. The only sin He states He allows someone to have this type of mind is homosexuality. Thus the reason so many homosexuals are lost in their sin. Christian’s sin too and Billy Graham admitted he made mistakes. He certainly did not make one by marrying Ruth and being married for so long and procreating a beautiful Christian family. Mr. Branyon is judging Billy Graham on a personal level filled with hate. Christian’s judge sin and yet we a falsely accused of being a homophobe. I am not scared of gay people, I just fear the eternal future they face by living in selfish sin without believing what God has stated in His Holy Word. Those that reject Jesus Christ will go to Hell. Christian’s understand when they sin and feel badly for it. They repent. God forgives. Regardless of all the error’s in this story and the personal attack on Billy Graham and Christian’s, Asheville has a well established community of believer’s that will continue to out number the liberal anything and everything goes minority.

      • Gregory Hugh Leng

        Debbie…to speak truth from the Holy Bible is not a personal judgment I am making. As a Christian, I have the duty to spread God’s love and truth. As a matter of fact the bible states that Christian’s are supposed to challenge those that are not doing what God commands, including other Christian’s. So, I judge no one, that is what God does. However He clearly has given us direction on what He states to be right & wrong. For me not to respond to those that enjoy the “any way you like it,” lifestyle would be something God will judge me for one day as a Christian. I certainly do not see you telling Bill this verse I hear over and over. He started the judgement’s in this story. If I did not care, I would not have written so much in the comments area. We are all free to do anything we wish. The fact is the gay community is and will always be a minority in Asheville. Christian’s will always out number those that live this alternative lifestyle by choice. When you try to use a bible verse for your own benefit it goes against how God said we should use His holy words. When I point out all my personal faults and state they are just as much a sin to God as living the gay lifestyle, that is not judging anyone. The bible states that those whom do not accept Christ will be judged for their sins and cast into the lake of fire. It states that Christian’s will also be judged. However we will not be judged for our sins but what we did or did not do for Christ once we accepted Him. So you see, I too will face judgment and be rewarded based on my commitment to God and all his peoples. A Christian that repeats what God has clearly stated in the bible and in context, is never guilty of judgment. Jesus hung out with the misfits and sinners, not the church pharisees and scribes that had Him crucified. He judged sin, not the person. He loved everyone and even asked for God to forgive those that nailed Him to a cross and cast lots for His clothing. When the bible states something is against the will of God or sinful, a Christian must state the truth. The last thing I want is for anyone to go to hell. Christ died so no one would have too. No one has a right or the supernatural power to judge a person, period. Christian’s can judge sin and should in love. In the end, the ultimate decision of where you spend eternity is up to YOU, not God. If you choose Christ, the bible states you will go to heaven and if you reject Him you will go to hell. The path to hell is wide and the path to heaven is narrow, Christ stated. So eternity is your choice, we are judged only by God and for the choices we made upon this earth.

  3. John Penley

    Right on the money.. thank you for this and praise Jesus and pass the upgraded nuclear weapons. USA USA USA

  4. luther blissett

    “In 2012, Graham took out full-page ads–”

    Well, kinda. It’s an open secret that by 2012 Billy Graham wasn’t doing much of anything. That’s all Franklin, who’s now spending his time telling us that the White House occupant’s affairs with and payoffs to adult performers are none of our business. Hmm.

    • Gregory

      Luther-yes Franklin was the one that had the ads placed, Billy Graham. NO, he did not say and never has that adultery is OK. Conservatives knew that this election was very important for one main reason-to elect new Supreme Court judges that would tilt the court to conservative for a long time. If Republicans had lost, the court would have gone liberal. This is the platform Franklin preached upon and he was 100% correct if you are a Christian. Conservative Christians have had enough of gay rights, abortion and the government trying to control everything rather than allow the people to have freedom. Franklin is not his father and you will see a new direction as we already have with BGEA. I do not know where you get your thoughts but your comments are wacky. In 2012 no one knew the name Stormy Daniels and I truly wish we did not know of the harlot today. Infidelity is always wrong in God’s eyes whether it is Kennedy, Clinton or Trump. God handles our sins. So if for no other reason the campaign to get Trump elected was just as if it had been any other Republican candidate…change the sinful direction of our Supreme Court!

      • luther blissett

        “Franklin is not his father and you will see a new direction as we already have with BGEA.”

        As with Junior Falwell, it’s going be the direction towards the whited sephulchers.

        • Gregory

          Luther, judge not others, for that is the way God will judge you. There has NEVER been a scandal, NOT one with BGEA in all the year’s they have been a ministry. God protects those that truly serve Him. Now as far as many other ministers or ministries, you do not have to judge them either because we have seen God bring them crushing down. What is done in secret will one day be shouted from the rooftops. Our accountability as Christian’s and even the unsaved is in direct relationship with God. If Franklin continues to operate the BGEA like he has Samaritan’s Purse, I would imagine our world will become a better place for it.

          • luther blissett

            Are we allowed to make preliminary judgments on people using the template that Jesus used in Matthew 27?

            “they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments.”

            Because if you’re saying that we’re not allowed to point out pharisees and hypocrites, and just let them go on living their lives of money-grubbing sanctimonious deceit, that sounds very un-Christlike. (By the way, why are Billy and Ruth buried in a theme park in Charlotte and not, as they wished, at the Cove?)

      • NFB

        “Infidelity is always wrong in God’s eyes whether it is Kennedy, Clinton or Trump.”

        In God’s, yes. In the eyes of the “religious” right, eh, it depends.

        When Bill Clinton first ran for president in 1992 we heard nothing from those of the “religious” right but how his infidelity against his one wife disqualified him. “Character matters” they insisted.

        When Donald Trump runs for president his infidelity against all THREE of his wives (as I recall Jesus had something to say about divorce and remarriage being a form of adultery which didn’t both the “religious” right when Reagan was president, but I digress) suddenly all is just fine and dandy because, evidently, political ideology is more important. Suddenly, character doesn’t really matter.

        Having said all of that, the obsession some people have with Billy Graham — which is reflected in this commentary is beyond a little strange.

  5. Stan Hawkins

    Well as my grand pa would have said, “they lo.”

    One could surmise that there is a touch of “heterophobe” detected between the lines of such a ramble of disrespect for the recently departed Rev. Graham. As my grand ma would have said, “I would be ashamed.”

    A different perspective on Asheville, could cause one to wonder how all that high tax, raise parking fee, budget busting, roughing up the citizens, no living wage, unaffordable housing, tangled traffic, ideal of progressivism is working out?

    That Billy Graham Freeway might not be so bad after all?

    • Lulz

      It’s working out because all you need to do is go back in time and look at the pic of Gordon Smith in Greenlife talking about food poverty. All of this is to feel good about themselves. They don’t care about the struggle of others because these people have been given everything on a silver platter. Or if they SHOW that they do, it means they have a hidden agenda behind it.

      If Smith was actually a man of principle, he would’ve been down at Manna helping out without fanfare. Instead he took a picture in Greenlife to showoff in front of the same people who were most likely to support him in the elections.

      • luther blissett

        “Or if they SHOW that they do, it means they have a hidden agenda behind it.”

        Ah, the “heads I win, tails you lose” gambit. No.

    • Gregory

      Stan, you are exactly correct. Heterophobe is a serious issue with the liberal homosexuals and it is far worst than homophobe ever could be. It is a disgrace that a few want to talk so hateful about anyone that just died. Much of his family is still in our area. What can you expect coming from one of the most liberal free papers in Asheville though. The problems you referred to are real and a concern to the Christian community but at this time my question is why can people not show respect and also concentrate on the good things Asheville has to offer and the good people. If some gay died I would never being bashing them right now or any other time. As far as the message below concerning Billy Graham preaching fairy tales, to not believe allows one self to do anything & everything without guilt. One day the guilt will turn into tremendous pain and suffering. I honestly feel sorry for those with a depraved mind because nothing any Christian can say will bring them back into truth.

  6. Don

    Billy Graham was a white, right-wing, J. Edgar Hoover law and order man. And if you weren’t any of those things -see the previous sentence- you were going to straight to hell…. which was actually living in his awfully narrow world back then. Just listen to his lovely son Franklin to hear the/his unvarnished view of it all…… ugh. Good riddance to them!

    • NFB

      He also was good friends with Martin Luther King and refused to preach to segregated audiences, including during apartheid in South Africa. He was a complicated figure, especially to those on both the left and the right who insist on seeing everything in black and white and as either/or.

      • cecil bothwell

        Not actually a “friend” of MLK. And he only refused to preach to segregated audiences a long time after Brown vs Bd of Education. He was the specific target of King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” which condemned the middle ground preachers for their advocacy of “wait a while.” And Graham somehow missed MLK’s funeral, the biggest funeral in American history. Graham was golfing. Nice putt, Billy.

    • Gregory

      Don, sure hope this is not said about you after you die one day! I pity you.

    • Gregory

      Actually he was a registered Democrat. I have seen his NC voter records. This does not mean much considering the democratic party of old is not the same as today’s liberal party. He never stated whom he voted for other than Nixon. Even to the end he said Nixon was brilliant on foreign policy and most historians agree.

  7. boatrocker

    Quite an outpouring of opinions concerning an article about a recently passed away guy who peddled
    stories from a book of Bronze Age fairy tales, but do continue-
    I love mythology!

    • Gregory

      One day every knee shall bow and tongue confess that I am God. So much prophecy has turned into reality in our holy bible that something is happening and with a track record for thousands of years! You can not state the same about mythology or fairy tales. Also the author of those stories was NOT God! :)

  8. cecil bothwell

    Not actually a “friend” of MLK. And he only refused to preach to segregated audiences a long time after Brown vs Bd of Education. He was the specific target of King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” which condemned the middle ground preachers for their advocacy of “wait a while.” And Graham somehow missed MLK’s funeral, the biggest funeral in American history. Graham was golfing. Nice putt, Billy.

    • Gregory

      WOW…I have missed funerals of family and friends although not for playing golf. I suppose that must be a real problem for you Cecil. Hope everyone you have known turns up at your funeral one day. MLK’s funeral the largest in history, not true. You liberal’s must understand that both MLK and Billy Graham were just men. They were not God’s and both made mistake’s as every man since Adam has done. Only Christ lived a perfect life so we can be forgiven and live eternal in Heaven, if you accept Him. Billy Graham and MLK were too friends. I believe Billy once paid the bond to have MLK released from jail out of his own pocket. The things he did out of love for black people during those times were very dangerous to his ministry and his family. Death threats poured in from the ignorant’s. He had to pay a fortune to fortify his home in Montreat. I have been there and it looks like a prison fence around the entire property. It was so sad seeing that this family lived behind giant fences, barbed wire and also topped with razor wire and guard dogs because of those threats. I assure you right now, he is not living restricted in Heaven with Christ!

  9. Gregory

    I DARE any liberal or homosexual to say just one good thing about Billy Graham which is out of pure love and honors the memory of a man who recently passed away. Remember too when you try, God IS love! ;)

    • boatrocker

      Dare accepted- for my left of alt right wingnut/hatriot beliefs I suppose that would qualify me as a liberal.

      Nixon and Graham spoke often and Nixon once mentioned Graham’s wisdom helped him to do the right
      thing and abdicate the presidency.

      • Gregory

        Samuel 17:1-10 has nothing to do with dares, it does not even mention the word. What it does illustrate is that the wicked are destroyed. Faith is not stiff-necked pride Peter. A dare is merely a challenge and the bible does state we should challenge many things. One is false prophets. Anyway you failed to not only respond to my dare but have added another blistering attack on Billy Graham. Pure evil to say the least! When men of God state or repeat what the bible & God commands, you turn this around as if it is a personal opinion of the Christian. It is God that commands and states hell is a real punishment for sinners that die in their sins. Rolling Stone is far from being an authority on anything Christian. Many homosexuals have heard the truth and turned from their sins. I also think that Billy Graham said the same about heterosexuals living in sin by fornicating and adultery. He stated that they would be judged as well if they did not accept Christ. So you can argue your illogical points all day long with me and since you do not quote the scriptures correctly or answer one simple question, there is no debate on this issue any further from myself with you.

        • Peter Robbins

          You dared a critic of Billy Graham to say something good about him. The article to which I linked said that he was a talented showman and a successful entrepreneur. That’s two good things.

          • Stan Hawkins

            The Rolling Stone publication as a forum for truth and objectivity is highly questionable, given their recent legal entanglements with the truth in Virginia. For Moser to choose this forum for his obvious take down of a fellow citizen should give us reason to be highly skeptical of his motives. Additionally, it appears Moser is still not at peace with himself which is sad indeed.

            We could all have a circular firing squad and fire shots of “homophobe” and “heterophobe” to point away the finger of blame for our lack of peace. This would prove nothing other than we are all imperfect.

            What would our lives have been like without the lives of Billy Graham, Martin Luther King Jr., C. S. Lewis, Reinhold Niebuhr? If you have never read Niebuhr’s sermon on the parable of the “The Wheat and the Tares”, I highly recommend it. Niebuhr spent time in Detroit witnessing the struggles of issues of housing, job security, benefits, and worker protections. He even studied the teachings of Marxism before rejecting same. His life was spent seeing issues from all perspectives.

            There is peace to be found in the patience of Mathew 13:24-36. Billy Graham, while ungodly as are we all, understood this.

          • Peter Robbins

            Geez, Stan, you fellers don’t play fair. Our friend “Gregory” wanted to hear one good thing about Billy Graham, not from a neutral observer but from a “liberal” or a “homosexual.” I’m pretty sure the author of the article to which I linked was both. He certainly had at least a few complimentary things to say about Graham’s talents, and he expressed himself with some affection. Now if even harsh critics can find good things to say about him, why can’t his supporters on this thread identify a single flaw in his public record? Like you, they merely repeat platitudes about shared human faults — observations so vague and banal as to convey no information at all. You say the man was “ungodly.” That’s strong stuff. How about some examples?

            BTW, as far as I can tell, our lives would have been better if Graham had been content to sell used cars or snake oil or miracle skin cream or some other useful commodity, if only because he inspired so many sorry imitators.

  10. Gregory

    My challenge was for someone in liberal/gay Asheville to say something with respect and love. Stan and I agree Billy Graham was not perfect. What the article by Bill Branyon and liberal/gay follow-up comments do is pure hate. I consider it to be the same comparison for me to tell someone gay that their partner whom has just died is now burning in hell and they will too one day. When someone dies you do not state evil things about them or smear them openly for your benefit. You want something Billy Graham did that was ungodly? Specifically? He spent too much time away from his family traveling the world to spread the good news that Christ died for us all. He did not read his bible as much as he probably could have. If Billy Graham had not heard God’s calling to become an evangelist (which he never wanted to do BTW) many people would never have heard the gospel and therefore not been saved. I seriously doubt he inspired imitators of himself. He did however inspire men, women and children to be imitators of Jesus Christ. I have now written more than the liberal misinformed and very ignorant Bill Branyon. I am sure it pleases him to sit back and read the discord he sows in his trashy columns. We all choose our fate here and in the afterlife. Billy Graham will have many, many people walking up to him in heaven and telling him thank you because he lead them to Christ. When you lead people into hell you will never hear the same because you will be cut off from all those lost souls. Besides they will be too busy crying out in the darkness alone and in pain. It is then that they will be reminded of the gay motto for Asheville…”anyway you like it.” Because you chose the anyway you like it life on earth, God will not be forgiving for those people. Our life belongs to Him now and unless we live for Him, we will die without Him. So here ends my debate…the bible states not to argue with fools.

  11. Stan Hawkins

    Most Christians believe that since we are separated from God and currently spiraling on this fallen globe, that we are in effect un-Godly (not like God – not with God).

    This should explain the restless spirit in all believers and un-believers alike. Billy Graham shared this restless spirit and was thus, un-Godly. This explanation should not be interpreted as casting aspersions on anyone (no vagueness or platitudes intended). This restlessness should also explain why we are seeking answers to our everyday concerns in any number of ways, including this forum.

    If you say you would have preferred Billy Graham to not have passed through our lives, then your message simply creates more questions and a greater void in many lives. Who then do we see about this restlessness? Where do we find that model of perfect progress on this Globe? The author of this initial piece nor the piece from Rolling Stone seem to offer a better roadmap. If anything, with respect, these editorials appear to portray a void of peace. That does not seem like a road worth traveling.

    A takedown of a man of faith is to be expected in a fallen world. That should not be surprising. It is also not surprising that an accuser would not have much to offer as a roadmap for a better way.

    For more on some basic principles and restlessness of the human condition, see William Barclay and his writings on the book of Romans. Some of the best explanations you can find anywhere:

    https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/romans-1.html

    • Peter Robbins

      The better way would be to rename that stretch of I-240 after P.T. Barnum, another great showman whose void-filling contributions were never properly appreciated in this fallen world.

      • boatrocker

        AMEN Peter Robbins!
        At least the circus is real, factually (and showmanship) based,
        and has never murdered anyone who chooses not to accept P.T. Barnum
        unlike the Christians throughout history.

        Religion/spirituality in any and all forms is a cult
        and the opiate of the masses.
        One can do good deeds with this one life without
        brainwashing.

        Cue the hate…

      • Gregory Hugh Leng

        Why don’t you touch the hearts of millions of lost souls and see if you can get a road named after you Peter Robbins. If you contributed just a fingernail of truth to a lost and hurting world, I think you would deserve the honor. The road will always remain named after Billy Graham just as part of Mission Hospital and other things are. NO ONE from the Asheville area has ever reached out and done so much good for humanity as Billy Graham. No one! If you wish to see how many Christian’s really are in the Asheville area, just try to take down the sign in his honor. It will be a battle that those with a liberal agenda never imagined! One reason why we have Trump in office is because Christian’s are sick and tired of the liberal agenda being shoved down our throats. Abortion, homosexuality, gun control and big government (more control) are the reasons Hillary was sent packing. Franklin Graham campaigned in all 50 states based on the four principles I mentioned. Conservative’s had more than enough when Obama light the White House in rainbow colors. When Christian’s stand together much is accomplished. Minorities can have their own rights but not over the majority that rules. Minorities never rule.

        • Peter Robbins

          As I’ve said before, there already is a Robbinsville in North Carolina, and I’m not fishing for any more honors. People think my head is too big already.

  12. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Billy Graham quite simply outlived his own era, but his cult lives on, increasingly divergent and anachronistic.

    • Gregory Hugh Leng

      It was not the era of Billy Graham, never was. It was and is about Jesus Christ. Betty you need to read the definition of cult before you apply this word to the children of God. There are many cults in America and the world but Christianity by definition is NOT considered a cult. We worship Christ, not a man called Billy Graham. The era is still going on and will until Christ returns. It started about 2,000 year’s ago when he died for the sins of all people. Who in history has the world changed the calendar for other than Christ? Who of all the great prophets claimed they were God, except Jesus Christ? Who of all the prophets is the only one that walked alive out of the tomb he was buried in? Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. A cult does not live on, but the era of our Lord Jesus Christ will certainly outlast any attempt to rid the earth of peace, love and truth.

  13. Bill Branyon

    Gregory, I envy your certainty, but I don’t believe it’s possible to be certain in areas such as that of God’s existence or Biblical inerrancy. That is part of the glory of the Christian stance, belief when there’s not enough proof to be certain.

    Nor do I appreciate your pronouncements that liberals are going to Hell, or just not to Heaven. I’m sure you take great pleasure in saying so, though you may maintain you don’t. Self-righteousness, the climbing on one’s high horse in order to pronounce numerous what-fors, is one of the great pleasure of humanities though it’s disguised as burdensome duty. I am constantly guilty of that great pleasure myself.

    And Gregory to say that homosexuality is selfish is just ludicrous. Would you choose to be something that people like you will discriminate against in a multitude of horrible ways, and ultimately contend they will be tortured forever? Such discrimination is much more appropriate for people like you who claim they hate this world. Why would be want a lot of misanthropes having power? But, being a freethinker, I have to admit that you may be right about the afterlife. No one knows for sure of course. But I can be appalled that you subscribe to such a belief that requires eternal torture for those who believe differently.

    Luther Blissett. I do hope you’re right about Franklin’s control of his father during Billy’s last years. But I’ve found no proof of that, and Graham’s 1973 column calling homosexuality a “perversion and sin that is never right” suggests otherwise. America’s increasing compassion and understanding for the LBGQT community and many other formerly discriminated against groups including women, minorities of various kinds, etc. simply outran the Biblical or traditional views leaving Graham’s views somewhat antiquated. Had he been more interested in the overall message of the Bible of loving your fellow human instead of various specific passages he might have been able to transcend that.

    Cecil Bothwell, my reading found that Graham and MLK were pretty good friends, though MLK was very disappointed that Graham wasn’t willing to go further to promote the Civil Rights revolution. Yet MLK was pleased that Graham didn’t allow segregation in his crusades after a while, and had MLK speak at his Madison Square Garden Crusade in 1957. I even read they partied together in a world Baptist Conference in Rio. And yes, certainly Graham was one of the many liberal targets of MLK’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.”

    Stan Hawkins, from my research Reinhold Niebuhr was Billy Graham’s most persistent Christian critic calling Graham an “incantation of the superficial” in an exchange they had during Graham’s amazing 1957 Madison Square Garden Crusade. I do think Niebuhr was a bit jealous of Graham’s success.

    Yes Peter Robbins, the Rolling Stone article is where I got some of my info, though I verified the 1973 column by Graham. He was a homophobe, as much of America was/is. He apparently didn’t grow out of that, unless his full page adds against gay marriage were the result of his son. I’d like to believe they were because I respected Graham in many ways, but I can’t prove it. I agree that PT Barnum would be a good substitute for the Billy Graham Freeway. But I’d prefer it was named after Julian Price who loved Asheville and this life, and plowed his millions and time into making both a better place.

    Yes I agree with you Betty Cloer Wallace, that Billy Graham was a good, loving and brilliant man who’s values made it so he could not understand the changes brought on by the 1960’s and beyond. That revolution after all was/is the greatest revolution in history with about 9/10ths of humanity suddenly clamoring for, and getting to some extent, basic human rights. Leaving the white, Western Christian patriarchy forced to relinquish its position of power, and accept it’s new role of just one more human in a sea of seven billion humans. Trump’s election is in great part an effort to reverse this tide.

    • Peter Robbins

      Well, okay. Although P.T. Barnum is any tourist town’s only true spiritual father, I guess I can live with the Julian Price proposal. Life’s too short to get bogged down in dogmatic quibbles.

  14. Gregory Hugh Leng

    I appreciate your envy Bill. What I have is faith. Faith is belief in something not yet seen. We all use it in our life whether it is to believe in our own abilities, our children or God. I never said all liberals are going to hell. I agree that would be rather inaccurate for any Christian to state. Christ said the only way to the Father is through the Son, being Himself. If you believe in Jesus Christ, I believe you will go to heaven because he covered our past, present and future sins all at one time on the cross. I have worked with gay people all my life being a well known commercial photographer, artist and author. I have nothing against gay people. I just state what the bible says. So if you wish to attack someone, God is your target not myself. He can handle it! I respect all people and I work very professional. I have had many gay men attempt to get close to me without success. They know my own desires yet feel that it is a personal challenge to attempt to change me. I stated that fornication and adultery were sins too that heterosexuals often commit. I am just as guilty of this as I am of committing many sins. As Paul stated, I find myself doing the very things I know I should not be doing. It is because we live in a world that the devil controls for now. God can help anyone break away from what He states is a sin. I know several homosexuals that preach today and are living a heterosexual lifestyle. Also the bible states that no sin is greater than another. Sin is sin. To convey my deep faith is not being on any high horse, I am just repeating what I believe God has commanded. Eternal torture is what Christ preached about for those that do not follow Him. I certainly hate the thought of it. I know many awesome people that are not believers and it hurts to think anyone would suffer hell. I knew Billy Graham and I can state once and for all, Franklin ran the full page ads in 2012. Billy had already turned the ministry over to Franklin. Billy Graham was very ill before Ruth passed and up to his death. I also knew the Price family because I lived in Greensboro where they all worked and lived. The desire to change the Billy Graham Highway to his name is because he was very liberal. I understand why you say this. Julian never affected anywhere close to the number of people that Billy Graham did. Bill, you mention that our beliefs are antiquated or Billy Graham’s were. Not at all. Billy Graham preached about the love and forgiveness of God more and more as he grew older. He realized that the old hard line approach turned people off about Christ. In love, he spoke about all sin and how that prevents you from being able to even communicate with a Holy God. If you realize you have sinned through the Holy Spirit bringing this forth and repent, than you can stand before God in prayer and He will not only forgive you but honor you. Christian’s in Asheville far out number the gay population. We always will. It offends me when the minority makes out like they are the majority and God is no more. I am a free thinker just as you are. I just have studied all my life and I am convicted of a faith in Almighty God. No one needs Christ more than I do. I am far from perfect but I know God hears my cries and forgives me. God is not after anyone or ready to take their heads off. God is love. He wants to have a personal relationship with everyone know matter what or where they are in life at this very minute. God cares about the smallest details in our lives and the largest. He is always near me and I know it. Jesus died for the liberal just as much as he did for the conservative. As a matter of fact these are not the focus of how God looks at the individual person/spirit. Bill, your response was well received and I appreciate it. I believe you are a good man. The bible states that not all bad people are going to hell and not all good people to heaven. It is very clear though that their is only one way and that is by believing Christ is the Son of God or God and he died for you. You do research and I pray that you will study the books of John, Psalms and Proverbs in the bible. Do it as a free thinker and ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand the truth and what God wants you to see most. Read all the words in red, which is Jesus speaking & meditate on what he says. Not all conservatives are Christians by far and not all liberals are non-believers. It’s OK to have a change of mind. It’s OK for a liberal to believe in Christ. My favorite saying being involved in creative arts is that , God paints something new each day on His canvas called our world for us to enjoy. I see Him in our beautiful mountains everyday. My message is simple and the same as Billy preached all his life. God loves you, He died for your sins, He wants a personal relationship with everyone and wishes for no to perish. Ask God into your heart, repent and try to live your life for Him. Christians are commanded to serve God, not ourselves or this world. This is why I care so much. My prayer is that everyone will come to know our Father in heaven and feel the love that is most genuine from Him. I am going to pray for you as well. Sincerely, I pray you will come to know Christ. Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament killed Christian’s and mocked them before he realized the truth. He then went on to become one of the greatest prophets ever to live. I must admit that it does take great faith to believe in today’s messed up world. This is exactly what God wants, great faith. As a professed free thinker open your heart with your mind reading the word of God and He will speak to you. I am honored to be a child of God and I would love to spend eternity with you in heaven. May the peace, love, grace and forgiveness of Almighty god touch you in ways you never imagined. We all have free choice on what we believe, God gave us this for a reason. He loves you and can change your life as He has so many others. Blessings, Gregory

    • Bill Branyon

      Gregory I believe Jesus is one of the two most important philosophers in Western Civilization due to the values that he espoused. I see them principally as compassion, sharing, forgiveness, self-sacrifice and nonviolence. I’m not interested in the possible supernatural aspects. If you need the supernatural to admire the above values or to get through life, then fair enough. But if you use the supernatural to discriminate against others who aren’t bothering you, or threaten eternal torture to them, then then I find that very sad. And defaming of Jesus. The other most important philosopher? Nietzsche. IMHO.

      • Gregory Hugh Leng

        Stating what Jesus said and what God says in the bible is never discrimination to anyone and does not defame Jesus Christ whatsoever. Jesus liberally forgave those that lived in sin but He was strictly conservative on the way all of us should behave. Trying to twist my words and what you represent is very sad. I have not attacked anyone Bill. You attacked Billy Graham and I just responded to your attack. What you call attacks are words from God, not Gregory. It sounds like you are mad and being defensive no matter how much I tried to compliment you & diffuse what you printed. Jesus lived a supernatural life because He is God. You cannot separate this fact by just saying he was a great philosopher. If you knew the real Jesus, he was not a mere philosopher. Also you stated that there may indeed be an afterlife. I would say that is supernatural. To die on this earth, yet be transported to an afterlife where you continue living is nothing except supernatural. As an evangelist I gave you advice I would anyone seeking the truth. God allow us all to be “free thinkers,” as you refer to yourself and we have a choice to believe or not to believe. I choose to believe. Friedrich Nietzsche died and from his noted lifestyle and personal beliefs is in hell now. Jesus Christ died for the world that follows after Him in faith and He is sitting at the right hand of God in heaven.

  15. Peter Robbins

    With respect, Bill, I think even your qualified admiration for Billy Graham is misplaced. He moved people, sure, but only in the formulaic way that the latest Wonder Woman movie did — angst in the audience is induced, raised to a cosmic pitch, and then relieved when the Chosen One throws off her guise of ordinariness (which we knew all along was fake) and saves the day for all us wretched mortals. Who wouldn’t be eager for the sequel? Split the difference and call it Stan Lee/Billy Graham Parkway. But for those who prefer something a bit more down-to-earth in their inspirational entertainments, I suggest a humbler story line: https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/thermopylae/.

    • Bill Branyon

      Great description of the Billy Graham crusade Peter!! In addition Graham played with the gaping whole of meaning, and the horrible fact of meaningless suffering, and provided a cure. And that cure is very possibly false, but it obviously, adequately serves for the majority of Americans and a good chunk of the world. To see how effective it is witness Gregory. He is absolutely sure that Nietzsche is in Hell and he himself is feeling fabulous because of Graham’s cure. And the cure may be true. I don’t believe it, nor do you, but certainly billions do. In what may be a meaningless universe any cure that gives you a feeling of meaning, of passion and joie de vivre is fair game. Be it religion, football, New Age speculation, art, exercise, etc. Of course when it starts hurting others as Graham’s and Gregory’s hatred of LBGTQ people does, it becomes suspect and something for those not agreeing, but who are passionate about human rights, to work against. And therefore, again Gregory, I envy your certainty and passion, but I’m appalled that you’re using it to condemn people to Hell in your mind, to discrimination in real life, and to eternal torture. Maybe you could let the repeated commands of Jesus to love and sacrifice for one another to trump his (admittedly) repeated, though far less, commands to hate certain types of people.

      • Stan Hawkins

        Thank goodness we can all reflect on the power and patience of the parable of “The Wheat and the Tares.”

        It is not for us to “pluck up” the Tares or the Wheat ahead of the harvest. We have witnessed that all too well down through the ages. The hope is that none should perish.

        The question remains; “what if your wrong?”

        • Peter Robbins

          If I were wrong, I’d request partial credit for independent study.

  16. Bill Branyon

    Given some time for reflection, what I wished I’d added to my “Graham’s being the greatest showman in history” observation is that I believe he caused many (thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions?) to better follow the what I see as the beneficial teachings of Jesus. These I perceive to include (other than devotion to God and the supernatural and judgment): sharing, nonviolence, compassion, forgiveness, self-sacrifice, empathy, better parents, sobriety, caring about your local, national and international community.

    I also believe that these people could have become these traits without converting to Christianity, but given the historical power of Christianity in most Americans’ and Westerners’ perception, Christianity and for many, Billy Graham, appeared to be the route to these behaviors. And many of these traits were highly compromised by American militant patriotism and machismo and so-called tough love and other countervailing moralities that Graham represented as well, and sometimes in complete contradiction to what I perceive as the messages of Jesus.

    Of course there are many other virtues that Christianity mostly ignores. The greatest one probably is individuality and all the qualities necessary to attain individuality. Also tolerance of other philosophies. But Graham wasn’t talking about that.

    Also I’d like to add what Betty Cloer Wallace observed: That the times outgrew Billy Graham in several massive ways. In the 1950s Graham’s morality was mostly in conformity to the nations. Then the white Christian Western heterosexual patriarchy was challenged in the 1960s and though Graham was able to adjust to some of these changes, he was not able to adjust to most of them. Nor were many Americans, which is a big reason Trump is President now.

    So I don’t blame Graham for not being able to hop aboard what I see as the greatest revolution in history, involving about 9/10’s of humanity attaining, or aspiring to attain all the human rights and benefits of Christian white heterosexual Western patriarchy. Especially since the Bible is vehemently heterosexual and patriarchal. It’s also about love and respect of all people of course, and that appears to be the main Earth-directed message of Jesus IMHO.

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