Billy Graham, politician from the South

37830732.JPGFrom a review of Steven Miller’s book, Billy Graham and the Rise of the Republican South published this week in N.C.’s Independent Weekly. Thanks to DF.

Amid the flap over Rick Warren giving the invocation at President Obama’s inauguration was the fact that it marked the end of an era: Billy Graham as an evangelical force in American politics. Now that he’s 90 years old and in frail health, the tendency is to remember Graham as a spiritual leader—a man who since the late 1940s has been so focused on saving souls that he’s risen above the mundane quibbles of politics. Indeed, compared to the more vociferous pillars of the Christian right, like Pat Robertson and the late Jerry Falwell, Graham has seemed almost politically neutral, a model of moderation, humility and Christian charity.

But, as the independent scholar Steven P. Miller reminds us in Billy Graham and the Rise of the Republican South, Graham played a key role in shaping the American political landscape of the second half of the 20th century, as confidante to presidents and adviser on domestic issues (particularly civil rights) and foreign policy (Communism and the Cold War). Much has been written about Graham the evangelist, contends Miller in this edifying but hardly accessible book of academic nuance, but less has been said about Graham the de facto politician, especially his role in paving the way for the South’s seismic shift from a Democratic bloc to the bulwark of the GOP.

Whole review …

July 16, 2009 8:17 AM | | Comments (0)

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