Billy Graham’s Wife in a Coma June 13, 2007

Billy Graham’s Wife in a Coma

Well, this is sad.

There also seems to be an issue over where Billy Graham and his wife will be buried.

The Washington Post reported that Ned Graham opposed burying his parents at the library. He and other members of the family preferred a burial site at The Cove, a Bible training center near the Grahams’ mountain home.

The paper said evangelist Franklin Graham, who has taken over leadership of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, wanted his parents’ graves to be at the Charlotte museum.

Graham, who is 88 and suffers from fluid on the brain, prostate cancer, Parkinson’s disease and age-related macular degeneration, responded by saying the decision would be his and his wife’s alone.

[Graham’s spokesman Larry] Ross said the Grahams decided this spring that they would be buried in the library’s prayer garden, at the foot of a cross-shaped walkway — a symbolic decision to demonstrate both their reverence to God and their “ongoing witness of their faith in Christ.”

The article goes on to quote Ross saying “Mr. Graham and Ruth have always known that their final home is in heaven. That’s the important thing.”

If that’s the case, does it really matter where they’re buried? And why would anyone (especially in the family) oppose their wishes?

(Thanks to Logos for the link.)

[tags]atheist, atheism, Billy Graham, Ruth Graham, The Washington Post, Ned Graham, The Cove, Bible, Franklin Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, prostate cancer, Parkinson’s disease, macular degeneration, Larry Ross, Christ[/tags]

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  • Huw

    This has been a bit of a local drama since last year sometime (at least here, around Asheville, NC, where the Grahams live).

    The issue is if they get buried up here in the mtns, that will be the end of them. The land they own is pretty much vertical on the side of the mountain. No one will disturb them, ever. BUT If they get buried down in the flatlands, near that museum, they can have people show up on pilgrimage – and bilk the pilgrims for money. Franklin has been open and honest about this as the intention. And all despite Dr Graham’s public request not to be buried down there.

    It’s interesting to watch this play out while the elder Graham is still alive. You’d think the commandment about honouring your parents is easily overridden by money…

  • Darryl

    I have nothing but good memories of Billy Graham. He is a part of my life–he has always been there–a nice fella, a man who was articulate, energetic, handsome, a man that was respected by my grandparents’ and parents’ generations because he stood for the ‘truth.’ He was a man of his times, of this there is no question. Did he add or subtract from his world? I can’t say; but he seemed right for his time. Perhaps he was suited for the time in which he lived, or maybe if he hadn’t emerged someone else would have. Certainly, he is the end of an era. How I wish that the Religious Right could act like Billy Graham. I can say this about him: he remained true to his message; he never strayed. Everything that was good in him and his message got through somehow.

  • Maria

    Yeah, everytime I saw him he seemed like a really nice guy. Jerry Falwell called him the “servant of Satan”, so there must have been something good about him. 🙂 I wish they’d just let him pass on in peace………

  • Mriana

    I never cared for Billy Graham. My grandfather gave me a book that Graham wrote on angels. Graham looks like such an angry man on the front cover. Everytime I saw Graham, he looked angry.

    Now I’ll tell you a TV minister that is OK- that one that says “God loves you and so do I”. Schuler, Robert Schuler, I think is his name? Yes, he makes me a bit nausua with all that sugar, but he’s tolerable.

    I really don’t think it matters where the Grahams are buried, personally. I’m not sure why they care even, but my grandparents seemed to have cared. I don’t get it really.

  • That’s interesting that you have that impression of Billy, Mriana. Was it just based on that cover image or had you heard him speak? I went to Graham’s alma mater, Wheaton College and they have a museum here dedicated to him (well, not just to him, but a good portion of it) and he comes across very sincere and kindhearted in the clips they have of him.

    Not to mention that Billy was a champion for racial integration and ecumenical cooperation back before it was accepted and mainstream. He took a lot of heat back in the ’50s and ’60s because he invited people from every denomination and every race to help him with his evangelistic crusades when he came to a town.

    He was also very committed to the separation of church and state. Even though presidents often came to him for advice, he had a strict rule of only ever giving spiritual counsel and never political counsel (though he tells a funny story about a few times his wife had to kick him under the table at dinners w/politicians to remind him not to start getting into politics with them).

    I don’t agree with all of his theology (though I’ve discovered that he’s more progressive than you might expect from an evangelical revivalist) but I’ve always respected his integrity and humility. He was always a moderating voice among evangelicals. And from everything I’ve read of her (both in the museum and in Graham’s autobiography, his wife Ruth seems like a strong and kind woman as well. I hope they both have the privilege of passing peacefully and painlessly when the time comes. They’ll be missed in the Christian world.

  • Mriana

    No, I heard him speak on TV too. My grandfather enjoyed listening to the man and reading his books. Grahman also left a bad impression on me after his big crying scene on TV too, all because he slept with a prostitute. I thought it was melodramatic. 🙄 I couldn’t have cared less also. BTW, the book is called “Angels: God’s Secret Agents”. Grahman looked angry everytime I saw him though, not just on the book cover.

  • Ummm, Mriana, I think you’ve got Billy confused with Jimmy Swaggart or Jim Bakker. Billy Graham was never involved in any sex scandals.

  • Mriana

    No, I’m pretty sure it was Graham. I have the book and doubled checked, so I know what the man looks like. Be that as it may, I never really cared much for Graham, even if my grandfather appreciated the man. I always called him Graham cracker.

    Bakker laundered several million dollars and his wife looks like a clown. Swaggart was no better though and screwed up like everyone else.

  • monkeymind

    Mriana, I’m pretty sure it was Swaggart who cried when he got caught doing something naughy. I think Mike C. is right, B. Graham never was in any public sex scandal. I’m sure my mother would have gone into deep mourning if he had.

  • Mriana

    It doesn’t matter, I still never cared for him and his book that my grandfather gave me sits in my bookcase. I read it one time in the 36 years that I’ve had it. I didn’t think much of it when I was 14 and I’m not interested in it now because I’ve never cared much for Graham. I only keep it because my grandfather gave it to me and he is not dead.

  • Mriana

    that is now dead. I can’t type.

  • The book is by Graham. I’ve never read it but I’ve seen it for sale at the Billy Graham museum. But as for the sex scandals, you’re definitely thinking of Jimmy Swaggart.

    BTW, I’m a bit surprised at your spiteful tone towards Graham. It seems a little beneath you to judge someone based on such superficial impressions.

  • Maria

    Billy Graham was never involved in any sex scandals

  • Logos

    yeah, I think you got your lions crossed!

  • Mriana

    Mike, I don’t hate him, I just don’t care for him much. As intelligent as he maybe, he’s just not my bag for a minister. It’s not superficial, I just don’t like his preaching. I can dislike his preaching and not want anything to do with the man. My grandfather tried to push me to like the man and it didn’t work. After he died, I took one of his Zane Grey books. I didn’t want another Graham book in my bookcase.

    Mind you, this is the same man (my grandfather) who accused the drs of playing God and keeping him alive longer than God wanted him to be. So he quit taking his heart and blood pressuremeds. Died of cardiac failure three days later in the shower- he was trying to get out of the shower according to my aunt, but she didn’t walk into the bathroom in time to help him. It was probably too late anyway.

    He was suffering from depression, but refused treatment because therapists were of the devil and he was suffering a depressive psychosis when he chose not to take his meds.

    So, when I think of Graham and all his heaven talk, I think of my grandfather, because my grandfather enjoyed the man so much. I seriously don’t think that helped my grandfather any, but of course his own minister (Fundie) fed into it too.

  • Mriana

    Logos said,

    June 14, 2007 at 8:24 am

    yeah, I think you got your lions crossed!

    Not with the book (which I have right here beside my desk in the bookcase) or my grandfather’s favourite Evangelist. 🙄

  • Darryl

    Mike’s synopsis of Graham is spot on. I think Billy Graham holds and will always hold a special place in the evangelicalism of the 20th c. because of his groundbreaking and, more importantly, because of his character.

    Mriana, I realize your experience conditions your view of the man, but I can say on some authority that among preachers Billy Graham was a pathbreaker and is to this day admired by many as the standard of public hortatory. Anyone who doubts this ought to make a study of his coordinated use of gestures, facial expression, and tone of voice. I saw him do things that I’ve never seen a speaker do before or since. Please forgive me if I sound like a disciple, but the man deserves his due, in all the ways that Mike mentioned.

  • Mriana

    Sorry Darryl, I just can’t give him any dues, except that he started something that was only the beginning of the Religious Reich IMHO. Granted, he was not part of the Religious Reich, but he added fuel to it. Then again, I think all TV evangelist do this and I avoid watching them like the plague. I avoided them more than soap operas- the only time I see a soap is if I go over to a friend’s home and they have one on the TV.

    I never saw much in Graham’s facial expressions and gestures, either. However, if you want to be bored out of your mind, watch him. Of course, what bores one person, is not boring to another. I just don’t like his preaching though. Granted, it’s not frightening like my great uncle’s was, but it is irritating and boring.

    I’d rather listen to Schori or someone like that. Less boring and less whatever the word I’m looking for is.

  • stogoe

    Feh. Think of all the poor schmucks he convinced to waste their lives on religion. Sucks that his son’s a weaselly conniving turd who’s trying to wring every last penny out of his parents’ rotting bones, though.

  • David M

    Think of all the poor schmucks he convinced to waste their lives on religion.

    I really can’t believe you came on this site, “the friendly athiest”, and said something like that when this mans wife, his best friend, his life long companion is about to die. I think you should sit back and reevaluate yourself in regards to your hatred to Christianity. The malicious attack you have made agains the Graham family sounds so familiar to attacks made by those you “hate”.

  • Logos

    Well in all fairness we don’t know quite who he hates

  • Jen

    Am I the only one that remembers a few years ago that Billy Graham heard on the Nixon tapes (which were being relased to the public, I think) talking about how he hates Jewish people? Once I heard that, my opinion of Billy Graham went down.

    I also stopped liking him when I heard about his rule when his ministry first opened up. The idea was, to prevent sex scandels, his men were never allowed to be alone with women. At first blush- a good idea, and it worked, as BG was never involved in sex scandels. However, how is that for a life? How could these men ever relate to women as their equals if they could never be alone in an office with them? If they could never be in a planning session? Hell, if they could never offer a lady a ride home? A local college, Moody, requires this of all their students- a friend of mine couldn’t get a ride home from Bible study because it was taught by a Moody student. Its such a weird way to view the world.

    None of this makes what happens to Mrs. Graham any less sad, though.

  • Karen

    Am I the only one that remembers a few years ago that Billy Graham heard on the Nixon tapes (which were being relased to the public, I think) talking about how he hates Jewish people? Once I heard that, my opinion of Billy Graham went down.

    Yeah, I agree, the anti-Semitism was disappointing and even shocking. Though I believe he apologized for it shortly after it was made public.

    My grandmother, mom and aunt all volunteered for several of the big Graham crusades at the Hollywood Bowl and always talked about them being highlights of their lives. I believe I attended one at Dodger Stadium probably in the late 70s, early 80s. It was quite thrilling.

    It’s sad to hear that the issue regarding burial has to do with having a public gravesite that (I assume) might attract Christo-tourists and their donations. I have far less respect for the son, Franklin, than I did for his dad.

  • Darryl

    I also stopped liking him when I heard about his rule when his ministry first opened up. The idea was, to prevent sex scandels, his men were never allowed to be alone with women. At first blush- a good idea, and it worked, as BG was never involved in sex scandels. However, how is that for a life? How could these men ever relate to women as their equals if they could never be alone in an office with them? If they could never be in a planning session? Hell, if they could never offer a lady a ride home?

    Jen, you’re naive. There is always a sexual component to every relation of whatever kind between men and women. Ask business people their policies in this regard. You won’t have a business very long if you don’t protect yourself. This is just common sense; it’s got nothing to do with the dignity of women.

  • Steelman

    Just attempting to close an open tag…

  • Am I the only one that remembers a few years ago that Billy Graham heard on the Nixon tapes (which were being relased to the public, I think) talking about how he hates Jewish people?

    I don’t think he said he “hates” Jewish people. IIRC, he made a few remarks about the Jewish control of the media. According to Wikipedia:

    When the tapes were released, Graham apologized for his remarks, stating that “although I have no memory of the occasion, I deeply regret comments I apparently made … They do not reflect my views, and I sincerely apologize for any offense caused by the remarks,” and “If it wasn’t on tape, I would not have believed it. I guess I was trying to please… I went to a meeting with Jewish leaders and I told them I would crawl to them to ask their forgiveness.” According to Newsweek magazine, “the shock of the revelation was magnified because of Graham’s longtime support of Israel and his refusal to join in calls for the conversion of the Jews.”

    Also, regarding this:

    I also stopped liking him when I heard about his rule when his ministry first opened up. The idea was, to prevent sex scandels, his men were never allowed to be alone with women.

    As a pastor I’ve had to take this issue into consideration too. With all the clergy sex scandals going on these days I feel I have to be extra careful. And when I was a youth pastor I definitely had a rule about not being alone with the teenage girls. There’s just too much danger for false accusations or inappropriate situations to develop.

  • Logos
  • Jen

    Logos- thanks for the udate. How sad, but at least she had a long life. It’ll be interesting to see where the burial ends up being.

    Darryl- I might be naive, but you are a little creepy. I have worked for several very different companies, and none of them specificed anything other than- “don’t date off the company pier, and if you do, tell your supervisor, so one of you can be moved if a situation arises.” And I have plenty of non-sexual friendships with males. And non-sexual relationships with bi or lesbian females- or does your whole theory only work if there is a potential for mutual attraction? How do all those men work together if not all men are entirely or at all straight? Also, not all women are going to be attracted to all men. And it still misses the point- how could a woman working for Billy Graham move up in that company if she can’t ever be alone with a guy from the group? Yes, she’ll be at all the official meetings, but so much of business (and granted, I don’t work in ministry, so maybe its different) is private meetings, discussions alone with other employees, getting drinks together, etc.

    Mike C- thanks for the link, I had forgotten the exact nature of his antisemetic remarks. Either way, the fact that he would give in to peer pressure and talk about all his Jewish friends swarming him makes him less moral, in my opinion.

  • Logos

    I doubt it was peer pressure. Those views were not uncommon among men of his cultural background in that place and time, but people do change.

  • Jen

    Ok, you caught me, I was trying to come up with a good reason to say those things and then pretend not to remember 30 years later. If you are right, Logos, and he really did think that at the time, then damn it, I want him to admit to having thought that, but, sorry, Jewish people, I no longer think that way. I would have respected that more than “I was trying to please” and “I don’t remember that.”

  • Mriana

    I think it’s more than that:

    Watergate tapes:

    When staffers told him they were scheduled to appear at functions in support of the arts, he protested, “No, no, that’s Jews and queers.”

    Here is the most admired and influential religious leader in America complaining to the president of the United States about the Jews and their “stranglehold” on the media, and blaming them for “all the pornography.”

    Even when Nixon replies that he agrees but “can’t say that” in public, Graham presses the point: Yes, right, but if you get elected to a second term, then we could do something about the problem.

    Graham adds that while many Jews are friendly to him, “they don’t know how I really feel about what they are doing to this country.”

    What they might have pointed out instead is that Billy Graham, at a time when he was presenting himself as a moral leader and conducting “Crusades for Christ,” was saying things no person with the slightest claim to moral stature could be imagined saying, under any circumstances.

    Crusades for Christ. Lovely title. Brings back history lessons of the Crusades. That was most obnoxious IMO.
    His anti-semitism caught on tape:

    His lie with faux news:

    “I normally defend my denomination. I’m loyal to it. But I have never targeted Muslims. I have never targeted Jews,” he said this week in an interview with Fox News.

    The BBC even has an article about it:

    It’s all over the place so you can’t miss it. So, when does an apology for such remarks become not enough from the Religious Reich?

  • Mriana

    Oh yes. Now that he has Parkinson’s disease or something like that, he doesn’t remember saying those things. :eyeroll: So, we have to let it go now because he’s ill and his followers and alike continue to say such things, but it’s not his fault that they say it. It’s on them now of course.

  • Darryl

    Jen, you’re completely missing the point about taking reasonable precautions in this regard. I know what I’m talking about, and if you were male, and had a bit more experience in the world you might understand this. There’s nothing creepy or intentionally negative about such a policy, and Mike’s case is a typical example. In case you never got this particular memo: men in positions of power, authority, or celebrity are magnets for certain women. If these men are to retain their reputation and their marriages/relationships, they have to be on their guard against groupies and their own libidos. If that sounds strange to you, then just let it go at that.

  • Jen, we did find other ways for women and girls in our ministries to have “access” so they weren’t excluded. As a youth pastor, if I had to meet with a girl I would bring my wife along or meet in groups (most girls didn’t mind bringing a friend along). And now as a pastor if I have to meet with one of the women in the church I will do so in a public place like a restaurant, but not at a home alone. Also, my wife is co-pastor with me so she is able to meet w/women too.

    Darryl unfortunately is correct. Whenever you are in a position of authority, especially in a ministry situation where you deal with very emotional issues, there are some women who will be attracted to that. As a youth pastor I had to deal with more than one “crush” by one of the teen girls and just kindly let them know what was and was not appropriate.

    As for the BGEA, I personally know several women who are on the board of directors, so apparently there was potential for them to have positions of influence in the organization without meeting privately with Billy behind closed doors.

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