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Rev. Billy Graham: A Prince of War Exposed

The Rev. Billy Graham, a darling of the Evangelical Right, has never seen a U.S. war that he couldn't bless. He once advocated that President Richard M. Nixon bomb the "dikes" in the north of Vietnam. He also criticized the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. for speaking out against the war. A new book, "The Prince of War: Billy Graham's Crusade for a Wholly Christian Empire," by Cecil Bothwell exposes the camera-mugging preacher as a serial warmonger.
front cover of Cecil Bothwell's Book
front cover of Cecil Bothwell's Book
"The shepherd always tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and his own are the same." - Stendhal

The propaganda machine of the Evangelical Christian Right will soon be in counter attack mode. One of its darling preachers is about to take it on the proverbial chin. The Rev. Billy Graham, who has created a multimillion dollar media empire, that a Rupert Murdock would envy, is the subject of a shocking expose' due out on Nov. 15, 2007. It's entitled, "The Prince of War: Billy Graham's Crusade for a Wholly Christian Empire." The author is Cecil Bothwell. He hails from Asheville, North Carolina and is an award winning investigative reporter. Bothwell's unflattering portrait of Rev. Graham shows him as a wily warmonger and a lackey for the Establishment. He describes Rev. Graham as a public figure who: "Undermined the Founders' skeptical Deism and sought to rebrand the U.S. as a Christian nation, [and] its armies [as] the rightful instruments of [a] Christian crusade and empire."

Bothwell documents that there wasn't a war the U.S. was involved in that Rev. Graham couldn't bless. In fact, he reveals that during the horrific Vietnam conflict, (1959-75), he had urged the then-President, Richard M. Nixon, to bomb North Vietnam! In a 13-page letter, that Rev. Graham had forwarded to the White House in April, 1969, it was stated: "There are tens of thousands of North Vietnamese defectors to bomb and invade the North. Why should all the fighting be in the South?...Especially let them bomb the dikes which could over night destroy the economy of North Vietnam." Mr. Bothwell underscored that such a military action against the dikes, a huge complex of earthworks, would probably "kill a million people and wipe out an already poor nation's agricultural system" He added that the advice in Graham's transmittal "fell on receptive ears. Not longer after, Nixon moved the air war north and west."

There is more. After the deadly Kent State U. affair, (May 4, 1970), where four students, who were protesting the Nixon-Henry Kissinger-inspired bombing of Cambodia, were killed by Ohio's National Guard troops, Rev. Graham invited the mostly unbalanced Nixon to address his crusade. It was held in Knoxville, TN. While parents of the students were still grieving and burying their dead, Rev. Graham shamelessly shilled: "All Americans may not agree with the decision a president makes--but he is our president..."

Also, every chance Rev. Graham got he ripped into antiwar protesters in this country, while the Vietnam inferno was raging. After a large pro peace demonstration in late 1969, he railed in a letter to then President Lyndon B. Johnson, that the protesters were "radicals and those seeking to overthrow the American way of life." When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke out, in 1967 against the war in a sermon at the Riverside Church in NYC, Rev. Graham, jumped right in and tagged his criticism as "an affront to the thousands of loyal Negro troops who are in Vietnam." When Dr. King marched for Civil Rights in Selma, Alabama, Rev. Graham was no where to be found. And, after Dr. King was gunned down in Memphis, TN, he couldn't be bothered to attend his funeral either.

Rev. Graham made a career out of sucking up to U.S. presidents. Mr. Bothwell wrote how he loved those "endless photo-ops" at the White House, and how he was always, "so eager to shake the hands of...despots, movie stars and industrial kingpins, and to offer grandiose approval of their greatness. Obsequy, more than money, seemed to drive the man--though his pockets were never empty." Fortunately, not all the presidents bought into Rev. Graham's bogus act. One of my favorites, President Harry S. Truman, who was born in Lamar, MO, knew a wide variety of people from political bosses to political hacks. He had a built in b... s... detector. This is what President Truman had to say about the war-loving, camera-mugging preacher: "Graham has gone off the beam. He's...well, I hadn't ought to say this, but he's one of those 'counterfeits' I was telling you about. He claims he's a friend of all the presidents, but he was never a friend of mine when I was president. I just don't go for people like that. All he's interested in is getting his name in the paper."

Just before Bush 1 (George H.W. Bush) launched the Persian Gulf War, he invited Rev. Graham to the White House. On Jan. 16, 1991, they both watched the "air war against Iraq on CNN." Later that same evening, he prayed "three times" with the president before he delivered a "televised address to the nation." In a phone call to Bush 1, prior to that White House invite, Rev. Graham had supposedly referred to Saddam Hussein as the "Antichrist." This conversation reportedly helped Bush 1 to resolve "all the moral issues in my mind. It's black and white, good versus evil." Can anyone imagine Jesus watching a war on TV, without weeping aloud for its innocent victims, and demanding that it be stopped immediately?

As for the ongoing Iraq War, started by Bush 2 (George W. Bush Jr.), and based on a pack of rotten lies, not one word of criticism has been heard from Rev. Graham. Even after the notorious torture scandal at Abu Ghraib was revealed, the preacher maintained his vow of silence on this country's worst president, a man who deserves impeachment and jail time for violating his oath of office. (1) The country has lost 3,801 of its finest sons and daughters in Iraq and wasted $455 billion there. Another 27,000 U.S. troops have been seriously injured. An estimated one million Iraqis are now dead and about 3.7 million have become refugees. Yet, Rev. Graham, a supposed follower of the "Prince of Peace," has remained mute in his criticism of the outrageous conduct of this president and his insane policies. Why have we rarely heard Rev. Graham preach about Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount?" Why have we rarely, if ever, heard him repeat these words that came directly from the mouth of Christ: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God?"

Mr. Bothwell suggests a possible reason why Rev. Graham has failed to speak out about the unjust Iraq War and Bush 2's responsibility for it. At p. 164, he relates how the preacher, in 1985, had supposedly "saved" Bush 2 from perdition. It was at the family compound at Kennebunkport. Bush 2 was drunk and had allegedly "insulted a friend of his mother." It was around the time of Bush 2's 39th birthday. Mr. Bothwell writes: "George senior and Barbara blew up. Words were exchanged along the lines of something having to be done. George senior, then the vice-president, dialed up his friend, Billy Graham, who came to the compound and spent several days with George W. in probing exchanges and walks on the beach. George W. was soon 'born again.' He stopped drinking, attended Bible study and wrestle with issues of fervent faith. A man who was lost was saved."

We now know that Bush 2, although he may have stopped hitting the bottle, never did anything in the realm of therapy about his alcoholism problem. He's known by the experts in the field as a "dry drunk," a potential danger to himself and to others. (2) As for Bush 2 being "born again," the question must be asked: "Born again for what?" To kill Iraqis? Invade Iran? Bankrupt our Republic? "Brother" Elliott Nesch, an Evangelical and Peace advocate, believes that pro-War Christians "should repent." (3) I agree with him. The bottom line is clerics, like Rev. Graham, dominate today much of the Religious Right in America. Bothwell's tome deals, however, with a lot more relevant issues than just the preacher's disgusting war addiction. It's an insightful book that I am highly recommending. It's well documented, too, with 274 footnotes.

Finally, I wrote last year that "Rev. Graham wasn't a Phil Berrigan." The latter, an ex-priest, was a true apostle of peace, who spent 11 of his 79 years behind bars in the cause of justice. Unlike Rev. Graham, who skipped out of WWII, Berrigan was involved in the Normandy invasion and the "Battle of the Bulge" as a member of the U.S. Army. (4) I'm convinced that unless the Christian community in this country, Protestant and Catholic alike, opens its eyes to what Rev. Graham and his Establishment-serving ilk have been doing "in Christ's name," this nation is headed for a fall that will make the collapse of Rome look like a Sunday picnic.


1.  http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/
2.  http://www.counterpunch.org/wormer1011.html
3.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYAdsAiwpBc and
4.  http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=11455

©2007, William Hughes.

William Hughes is an author, video and print journalist. His videos can be found at:  http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=liamh2.
Email Contact:  liamhughes@comcast.net.

homepage: homepage: http://authorwilliamhughes.com/


Lew Church, PSU Progressive Student Union lewchurch@gmail.com

Corporate media tends to 'laud' any deceased or close to deceased public figure, whether Mother Theresa or Billy Graham. While Christopher Hitchens is off in right field re Bush and the two Iraq Wars, Hitchens did produce a useful, small book critiquing Mother Theresa's sucking up to dictators around the world -- not to fight poverty or injustice, but to provding company/solace/ religious comfort to those suffering disease and lack of health care, and from poverty. Billy Graham, however, as this article seems to correctly point out, regarding the upcoming negative book against Billy Graham -- notes that Graham was the religious figure of blessing for the most right wing political decisions made by the U.S. global empire, over the past 40-50 years. This highlights, as noted, the difference between the "Left" of organized religion (whether Dr. King, the Berrigan Brothers -- except on pro-choice issues, notably -- Gandhi, or even Jesus, when overturning the tables of the moneychangers), versus the traditional "Right" in organized religion (priests supporting Franco in Spain, the Nazis in Europe, the U.S. since WWII, Zionism against the world, etc.).

The 'laudatory' corporate media practice regarding the famous public figures, of course, isn't just reserved for the organized religious right (often called the center), but for past presidents, as well as past economists: think of the corporate meda, post-death 'eulogies of praise' for Reagan, Gerald Ford, and even, Milton Friedman. Naomi Klein's new book on Milton Friedman seems to be an excellent analysis of the connections between fascism (Pinochet, Nixon, Kissinger) and John D. Rockefeller's Univ. of Chicago, and how public figures, whether religious, political or economic, get 'sanitized' by corporate media into artifacts of consumer idolatry (at least by the wedge voters or Republican voters who are taught, by media and schools, to think of 'politics' as something not practiced by 'everyday' people, but something to be left to the professional politicians, economists and religious 'leaders' of the mainstream).

At Portland State, Progressive Student Union has advocated for labor and human rights, even as our non-religious public university administration has moved to the right, over the past decade, under recently-departed PSU president Dan Bernstine. When possible, we have sought to have religious bodies work with us on organizing projects, with mixed results. Campus ministries at PSU very quickly endorsed the Taco Bell Boycott for a living wage for Florida farm workers, which resulted in PSU kicking Taco Bell off campus (the 9th college in the country to do so, or about 10% of the 100 colleges where Taco Bell had outlets, before the boycott, among 4,000 US colleges, nationally). And, the national Taco Bell Boycott was also successfully won, when Taco Bell agreed to negotiate with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, from Florida, and gave the first pay raise in 20 years to farm workers there.

On the other hand, with the current Coke-Odwalla Boycott for labor rights in Colombia and to protest Coke's $150,000,000 plant in Sudan (a violaion of the sanctions movement against the Sudanese government and the janjaweed militia, over Darfur), PSU campus ministries sells Coke in its basement restaurant, and has refused to endorse that boycott or cancel their contract with Coke. When activist students met with PSU president Bernstine, and two other university officials, to kick Coke off campus, Bernstine, a lawyer who made $350,000 a year as PSU president, said there was no international body that had found Coke guilty of funding paramilitary death squads, and so he would keep PSU doing business with Coke-Odwalla. This was before Chiquita/United Fruit was found guility and fined $25,000,000 for funding death squads in Colombia. We will see if the interim or new permanent PSU university president is more interested in promoting human rights than Bernstine, or PSU campus ministries, has been, so far.

In August, 2007, the University of Illinois kicked Coke off campus,in support of the Coke Boycott, joining NYU, Rutgers, DePaul (despite DePaul's attack on Norman Finkelstein, which was successful), Smith, Swathmore and Bryn Mawr, in kicking Coke off their campuses. Taco Bell decided to negotiate with the Florida farm workers when three west coast schools kicked Taco Bell off campus: Portland State, UCLA and Cal State San Bernardino. So far, no west coast schools have kicked Coke off campus, in support of the Coke-Odwalla Boycott.

PSU Progressive Student Union meets Saturdays at 6pm at Laughing Horse Books, 12 NE 10th, near Doug Fir, off Burnside.


PO Box 40011, Portland, Oregon 97240


Prince of War Props 08.Oct.2007 09:55

Rachel Edidin

I helped research this book, and I want to add my voice (however biased it may be) to those supporting it. Billy Graham--and the Graham Foundation--has managed to maintain a reputation as apolitical, and that's a dangerous lie: the truth is, the man and his protegées seem to very literally equate temporal power with godliness. Considering Graham's weight in federal politics, the fact that he also has a vested interest in accellerating the apocalypse he believes in makes his role as "the moral voice of America"--and that of his even more radical offspring, including heir-apparent Franklin Graham, who doesn't even maintain the illusion of political neutrality and has never seen a violent conflict he didn't like--even more appalling.