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50 Years Ago: See the Conquering Hero

Religion is not yet at such a discount in the United States as it is here; and it is from America that Billy Graham has made his sallies across the Atlantic. Dr. Graham commands more real income than two or three English bishops: and members of the British ruling class hurried to give him financial backing in his tours of this country - among them Mr. Alfred Owen, the racing-motor magnate, and Major-General Sir Edward Spears, the Chairman of the Council of the Institute of Directors, and a director of five companies. Lawyers, politicians, army officers, all hurry to Graham’s side, and the Prime Minister receives him at No. 10, Downing Street.
Count me in

The significance of Dr. Graham’s success is not lost on English church leaders. Though his antiquated theological views are so discredited and exploded that anyone holding them would be turned out of any self-respecting theological college, leaders of the Anglican and Nonconformist Churches rush to climb on his bandwagon. Prominent Methodists like the Rev. E. Benson Perkins, and Anglican prelates like the Bishop of Barking, would three years ago have sooner joined the Rationalist Press Association than had any truck with anyone holding Dr. Graham’s fundamentalist views. But nothing succeeds like success, and a man who gets as many thousand dollars a year as Billy Graham does merely for preaching must obviously be on to a good thing. So on to Dr. Graham’s platform troop Benson Perkins and Dr. Gough of Barking: in the fabulous company of the Graham gospel-singers and cheer-leaders the reverend gentlemen find that they can swallow not only Jonah but also his whale.

The church leaders who support Dr. Graham are, from their own point of view, on the right lines. For it is only by filling the churches again that the leaders of organized religion can win back their former high place in society.

(From an article by Alwyn Edgar, Socialist Standard, February 1956)