When I covered Billy Graham’s Crusade in Flushing Meadows, Queens, back in 2005, I did not realize that I was reporting on the end of an era for the man dubbed “America’s pastor." Still, given his frail health at that time, I was not surprised when the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) announced that Graham’s health would prevent him from continuing in his public ministry. He remained in his North Carolina mountain home, where he continued his tradition of greeting U.S. political leaders by hosting President Barack Obama in 2010 and lending his support to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in2012.
At the press conference prior to his Flushing Meadows Crusade, Graham alluded to regrets for his earlier involvement in sixties-era politics, though he never delved into the specifics. There were many he might have touched on—for instance, his lifelong friendship with Richard M. Nixon led to a few glaring public mistakes. Most notable, perhaps, was Graham’s role in marshaling evangelical anti-Catholic sentiment against John F. Kennedy during the 1960 presidential campaign (his opponent was Nixon). Also, Graham’s voice can be heard on the infamous Nixon White House tapes of the early seventies, both men making anti-Semitic remarks.