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Slated by the Guardian within hours of his death, RIP Billy Graham - when did I hear you at Villa Park?

Tom Winnifrith
Wednesday 21 February 2018

The man dubbed America's pastor has passed away aged 99. It did not take the Guardian more than a few hours to accuse Billy Graham of the most heinous crimes "In his early years as a preacher, Graham expressed racist and antisemitic views" and also attacking him for his unswerving hostility to communism. In the eyes of the liberal elite, opposing a Godless faith which cased the death of tens of millions of folks is a bad thing, being a spy for the Czech secret police is a minor issue. Whatever

The fact that Billy Graham was an early campaigner against segregation, an active anti- Apartheid campaigner and a friend and strong ally of Martin Luther King is neither here nor there. The Guardian would rather judge a man not by decades of good deeds of hard, brave and principled acts to make the world a better place but by a few quotes from what was another era.

I was taken by some evangelical friends of my family to see Billy Graham as a teenager at, I think, Villa Park. I have long struggled with the issue of faith. as a teen I certainly found him charismatic and what he said had great appeal. Unlike some of the quack preachers one sees, Graham left you in no doubt that he meant every word he said. A few years ago he said that he was looking forward to meeting God face to face. if that meeting is happening right now I doubt that God will be swayed by the opinions of the Godless folk round at the Guardian, and instead will be giving a good man a warm embrace.

I still struggle with the idea that such a meeting will be taking place. And that is not because I am in denial about how the meeting would go for me for I accept all too many of my failings. If there is such a meet on my own day of judgement I would just have to hope that God finds my repentance sincere and is indeed truly merciful. Surely God must be merciful? But if he is, how can he allow all the miseries of the human condition, the iniquities that hand some an early and painful death and others all life's treats?

On balance, I still can't bring myself to believe that ones next meeting after death is not with the worms. Even Billy Graham could not convince me otherwise. But I remain open to persuasion and am trying to keep an open mind. Unlike folks round at the Guardian.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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