Chapter 1 | Billy Graham
Billy Graham explores the life and career of one of the best-known and most influential religious leaders of the 20th century.
(distant choir singing)
BILLY GRAHAM: A nation never falls
until it starts to decay at the center.
Rome was a striking parallel to America today,
a leader in world affairs,
rich and prosperous,
with an economy that defied collapse.
Her armies were respected by the nations of the world.
But Rome fell.
And that can happen right here today.
There's only one hope for the world.
And that is Jesus Christ dying on a cross.
You'll never have an hour like this
again in your entire life-- this is it.
And if you don't come today, you may never come.
I'm asking you right now to come.
Surrender your heart and your life to Jesus Christ
and say today, "I want my life changed.
I want my sins forgiven."
KENNETH WOODWARD: I'd met Frank Sinatra briefly
and I met Billy Graham many times.
They both had animal magnetism,
almost like an aura around him.
Get up right now...
WILLIAM MARTIN: He spoke to more than 80 million people in person
and hundreds of millions of others on television.
You are an American, and if America is to be spared
and America is to continue to be blessed and honored of God,
you are going to have to become a Christian.
ANTHEA BUTLER: Billy Graham is like the Protestant pope.
MARTIN: There was a war
between ambition and humility.
He wrestled with that throughout his life.
JOHN HUFFMAN: Billy was attracted to political power
like a moth is attracted to flame.
RANDALL BALMER: He was drawn to politicians.
It was almost like a narcotic for him.
UTA BALBIER: The closer he moved
Christianity to politics,
the more he opened up the opportunity for Christianity
He opened Pandora's box the second
he stepped into the Oval Office for the very first time.
Now it's my very great joy and privilege to welcome a friend
who really needs no introduction.
Will you welcome, please,
What is it that you've got that other preachers haven't?
Well, I think, uh, David,
that God gave me the gift of an evangelist.
What is the gift particularly you've got? Well,
that's what I'm saying, I believe it's a gift
of the spirit of God, and when we get to Heaven,
I'm going to reach over and grab David Frost...
Thank you. If you're there!
Thank you, thank you! Thank you. (laughs)
And I'll take you up to the Lord and I'll say,
"Now, David wants an answer to this question,"
I cannot answer that-- I'm as surprised
as anyone else.
LEIGHTON FORD: America is a land of salespeople.
We have products to sell.
(whistle blowing, bicycle bell ringing)
We have markets to exploit.
And Billy Graham started out as a salesman.
He started out selling Fuller brushes.
COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: The sun never sets on the Fuller Brush dealer.
He is America's most famous visitor,
the real friend of the housewife.
GRAHAM: I sold brushes from door to door
in the Depression period.
Many times, you'd go to the door
and the lady would come and just crack the door.
And I knew that the door was soon going to slam,
so I always put my foot in there, you see.
And my technique was to always offer the lady a free brush.
And of course, in those days, that appealed.
GRANT WACKER: He's a kid.
He was six-two.
By 17, he would have been tall and lean, blue-eyed,
almost blond hair, and trying to make money to go to college.
He's beginning to sense at this point
that he has a special gift.
He has an ability to communicate with people that is striking,
and it works.
MARTIN: At the end of the summer, he was the top Fuller Brush salesman
in all of North or South Carolina.
And what he learned, he said, was sincerity:
You have to believe in the product.
JEAN FORD: When we were growing up,
we had Bible reading and prayer
every night about 8:00.
And Mother would read the Scripture,
and Daddy would always pray.
That was a habit, just like brushing our teeth.
I mean, that's what we did.
We never thought about, "Did we enjoy it?"
We just did it.
BALMER: Billy Graham was born in 1918.
His parents had a dairy farm in North Carolina.
And his parents were conservative Presbyterians.
MARTIN: His family life was very much like
that of great many other people in Mecklenburg County,
MARTIN: They believed in God.
And most of them believed that God wanted them to win souls,
to evangelize other people,
to bring them to Christ.
BALMER: Young Billy Frank Graham, as he was known at the time,
was in some ways a normal teenager.
He was rebelling to some degree against the strict piety
of his parents, although not overtly so.
MARTIN: After he got a driver's license,
he had the advantage of being able to borrow his father's car
and spend luxurious nights with girls,
parking, going to movies.
He really liked the girls, and they liked him.
Even though he had a head full of Scriptures and prayers,
Billy wasn't completely convinced
that he was a true Christian yet.
BALMER: One night, he and his friends went to hear
a traveling revivalist coming through the area
named Mordecai Ham.
HAM: If you're not acceptable in Heaven,
do you want to know it, before it's too late?
How many of you do-- I do, lift your hand right now.
BALMER: At some point during that gathering, something Ham said
connected with young Billy Frank Graham.
And he decided at that moment
to embrace the religion of his parents.
MARTIN: Billy wanted to go to college
at the University of North Carolina.
But his mother had come to believe that the road to Hell
went right through the campus of state schools.
So she wanted him to go, as did his father,
to a serious Christian college.
FRANCES FITZGERALD: He was sent off to Bob Jones College,
which was one of the strictest fundamentalist colleges.
JONATHAN LEE WALTON: Prior to the late 19th century, Baptists, Methodists,
and Presbyterians believed in
the authority of Scripture,
they believed that Jesus died for their sins,
and they believed that they needed to convert the masses.
You had cultural transformation and intellectual developments
that began to disrupt
BALBIER: American Protestant
fundamentalism is a religious movement.
It's a religious response to everything
we associate with modernity.
the rise of sciences.
WALTON: All of a sudden, Protestants were broken up
into multiple camps.
And fundamentalists were just those who dug their heels.
They drew a line in the sand.
"The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it."
PREACHER: We maintain
the glorious idea that the Gospel does not change.
It isn't reinterpreted from one generation
to another generation.
MARTIN: In fundamentalist circles,