The man who did so much to tear down the wall of separation between state and church died at his North Carolina home today, Feb. 21.
Billy Graham was known for his close relationships with American presidents. His intimacy with President Nixon helped expose Graham as an anti-Semite. The secret taping system that recorded Nixon’s conversations and led to his Watergate downfall also captured Graham’s anti-Semitic musings with Tricky Dick.
After the 1972 National Prayer Breakfast, Graham explained his conspiracy theory to Nixon that the Jews had a “stranglehold” on the media. “They’re the ones putting out the pornographic stuff,” said Graham and then added, “This stranglehold has got to be broken or this country's going down the drain.”
On another tape, Graham says “that the bible talks about two kinds of Jews. One is called ‘the synagogue of Satan.’ They’re the ones putting out the pornographic literature, they’re the ones putting out these obscene films.”
In private, Graham revealed his deep-seated prejudice toward Jewish-Americans.
“A lot of the Jews are great friends of mine, they swarm around me and are friendly to me because they know that I'm friendly with Israel,” Graham told Nixon. “But they don't know how I really feel about what they are doing to this country.”
Thanks to the Watergate tapes, we all know now.
Freethinker and intellectual extraordinaire Christopher Hitchens, who sits on FFRF’s Honorary Board in memoriam, was once asked, “Do you think Billy Graham is an evil man?”
“Yes, disgustingly evil man," Hitchens answered. "Anti-Jewish prejudice is an unfailing sign of a sick and disordered person.”
Anti-Semitism was not Graham’s only vice. He also worked to destroy our secular government. Graham helped corrupt America’s secular foundations by riding the wave of religious fervor in the 1950s, which brought with it “under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance, the Capitol prayer room, and “In God We Trust” as a national motto.
The National Day of Prayer is set by federal statute, Public Law 82-324, which was passed in 1952 at the direct suggestion of Graham to help bring “the Lord Jesus Christ” to the nation. “What a thrilling, glorious thing it would be to see the leaders of our country kneeling before almighty God in prayer,” Graham proclaimed. FFRF’s major challenge to the National Day of Prayer uncovered the forgotten history of Graham’s role in this troubling, theocratic act by Congress.
Several years ago, Graham passed the reins of his religio-economic empire to his son, Franklin, who has turned out to be even worse than his father. Graham leaves behind a legacy that has severely damaged our Constitution and the wall of separation between state and church. FFRF will continue to work to undo this legacy.