Born in 1918 in Charlotte, North Carolina, William Franklin Graham Jr. was the oldest of the four children of William and Morrow Graham. He was raised on a dairy farm, and little in his childhood suggested he would become a world-renowned preacher.
Then at 16, Graham attended a series of revival meetings run by outspoken evangelist Mordecai Ham. The two months he spent listening to Ham’s sermons on sin sparked a spiritual awakening in Graham and prompted him to enroll at Bob Jones College. When the conservative Christian school’s strict doctrine didn’t align with his personal beliefs, he transferred to the Florida Bible Institute (now Trinity College of Florida) and joined a Southern Baptist Convention church. He was ordained in 1939.
Graham received additional training at Illinois’ Wheaton College, where he met his future wife, Ruth McCue Bell. They were married for 64 years, until her death in 2007, and had five children.
Graham was still in his early 30s when entered the public spotlight by giving a series of well-attended “sin-smashing” revival meetings that were held under a circus tent in a Los Angeles parking lot. The press took interest in the charismatic young preacher and began writing articles about him. To get his message to even more people, Graham founded his own ministry, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Such a strict interpretation of scripture also led him to condemn homosexual relationships.
More recently, detractors blasted Graham’s continued belief that homosexual behavior was a “sinister form of perversion,” and his intolerance against the very presence of gay and lesbian couples within Christianity.
“From Genesis on, the Bible praises the marriage of a man and a woman, but it speaks only negatively of homosexual behavior whenever it is mentioned,” Graham’s website states.
Graham’s sermons also promoted evangelism and railed against “godless communism,” drugs, sex and violence. He was convinced he must use “every modern means of communication available” to spread the Gospel throughout the world, and did so in print, on radio and television, online and in person.
Graham was the first evangelist of note to speak behind the Iron Curtain, and during the Apartheid era he refused to visit South Africa until the government allowed integrated seating at his events. He published dozens of best-selling books, including Angels: God’s Secret Agents and The Jesus Generation, and wrote a weekly column that was syndicated in hundreds of newspapers.
Graham received numerous honors, including the Horatio Alger Award, the George Washington Honor Medal, the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award and the Congressional Gold Medal. A highway in Charlotte bears his name, as does part of Interstate 240 near his home in Asheville, North Carolina. In 1989, he became the first clergyman to be granted a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work as a minister.
Graham also had a major effect on the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s. His early crusades were segregated, but once the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954, which found public school segregation unconstitutional, Graham integrated the seatings at his revival meetings.
King once remarked on their partnership: “Had it not been for the ministry of my good friend Dr. Billy Graham, my work in the Civil Rights Movement would not have been as successful as it has been.”
When Graham was questioned about his views on faith and race, he argued there was no scriptural basis for segregation.
“Jesus was not a white man; He was not a black man. He came from that part of the world that touches Africa and Asia and Europe,” Graham once preached. “Christianity is not a white man’s religion, and don’t let anybody ever tell you that it’s white or black. Christ belongs to all people; He belongs to the whole world.”
Though beloved by millions, Graham was not without his detractors. Some fundamentalist Christians took issue with his ecumenical approach to evangelism, and after his 1957 crusade in New York, opponents of Graham’s more liberal theology began calling him “the Antichrist.” According to the biography Billy: A Personal Look at Bill Graham, the World’s Best-Loved Evangelist by Sherwood Eliot Wirt, one Christian educator even said that Graham was “the worst thing to happen to the Christian church in two thousand years.”
Explosive-laden drones that targeted Saudi Arabia's royal palace in the kingdom's capital last month were launched from inside Iraq, a senior Iran-backed militia official in Baghdad and a U.S. official said. Speaking to The Associated Press this week, the militia official said three drones were launched from Iraqi-Saudi border areas by a relatively unknown Iran-backed faction in Iraq and crashed into the royal complex in Riyadh on Jan. 23, exacerbating regional tensions. Attacks on the Saudi capital have been sporadic amid the kingdom's yearslong war against neighboring Yemen's Houthi rebels.
The first big real-world study of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be independently reviewed shows the shot is highly effective at preventing COVID-19, in a potentially landmark moment for countries desperate to end lockdowns and reopen economies. Up until now, most data on the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines has come under controlled conditions in clinical trials, leaving an element of uncertainty over how results would translate into the real world with its unpredictable variables. The research in Israel - two months into one of the world's fastest rollouts, providing a rich source of data - showed two doses of the Pfizer shot cut symptomatic COVID-19 cases by 94% across all age groups, and severe illnesses by nearly as much.
Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he’s concerned Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plan to establish a commission to probe the assault on the U.S. Capitol would be overly “partisan.”
British finance minister Rishi Sunak will next week promise yet more spending to prop up the economy during what he hopes will be the last phase of lockdown, but he will also probably signal tax rises ahead to plug the huge hole in the public finances. Sunak, who is due to announce a new budget plan on March 3, has already racked up more than 280 billion pounds ($397 billion) in coronavirus spending and tax cuts, pushing Britain's borrowing to a peacetime record. Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to lift England's current lockdown entirely only in late June so Sunak is expected to rely heavily on the debt markets again.
The ruling Communist Party is celebrating the official end of extreme poverty in China with a propaganda campaign that praises President Xi Jinping’s role, part of efforts to cement his image as a history-making leader who is reclaiming his country’s rightful place as a global power. The propaganda apparatus has been linking national successes to Xi, including fighting the coronavirus, China’s rise as a technology creator and December’s successful lunar mission to bring back moon rocks. The party announced in November, with little fanfare, that China no longer had anyone in extreme poverty.
When “WandaVision” wraps its initial run next month on the Disney+ streaming service, Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda will make her next appearance in the big-screen “Doctor Strange” sequel. It’s storytelling that determines how and when characters from the Marvel Comics universe hopscotch between TV and movies, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige said Wednesday. “All of the crossover between series, between films, will always vary based on the story,” Feige said.
A Russian fugitive has been caught in Bali after 13 days on the run. Andrei Kovalenka was on the Interpol wanted list and had been in detention - he was in the process of being moved when he escaped on February 11. Indonesia's authorities released CCTV video showing the 33 year old darting out of a room at a Bali detention center.They also detained his girlfriend, Ekaterina Trubkina, who is suspected of helping him evade authorities.Indonesia is still looking at whether the escape falls under the jurisdiction of the red notice, issued by Russia, or if it will be handled by local police.
Jim Watson./GettyLouis DeJoy had a defiant message on Wednesday for those craving to see him ousted as U.S. Postmaster General: “Get used to me.”The comment came after Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) asked the embattled U.S. Postal Service chief how long he would remain as Postmaster General—“long time,” DeJoy spat back—during a Wednesday hearing in the House Oversight Committee.That exchange was indicative of the entire proceeding, which was frequently chippy, combative, and fueled by Democratic lawmakers’ outrage over DeJoy’s handling of the USPS at a time of worsening mail delays and difficult questions about the service’s long-term viability.DeJoy’s crack to Cooper made Democrats’ blood boil even more. But he may have a point, at least for now: because the postmaster general is installed by the service’s board of governors—and not by the president—it means that President Joe Biden, or Congress, cannot fire DeJoy even if they wanted to.His removal would only be possible when Biden fills Democratic vacancies on the USPS Board of Governors, which has the authority to hire and fire postmasters general. Confirming those spots in the Senate will take time, though the Washington Post reported on Wednesday that Biden has identified three nominees to move forward.In the meantime, though, Democratic lawmakers are working with DeJoy on urgent legislation to reform the agency’s finances and employee pension burden, even while many publicly call for his resignation.To many Democrats, DeJoy’s performance on Wednesday on Capitol Hill may make that balancing act harder: they found much to dislike not only in what the postmaster general said, but how he said it.“I gotta say—I just don’t think the postmaster gets it,” said Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), a member of the Oversight Committee who questioned DeJoy on Wednesday about the agency’s delivery standards. “I think it’s time for him to go.”“I thought he approached a lot of our questions with that exact same attitude, which was one of sneering condescension,” Krishnamoorthi told The Daily Beast after the hearing, invoking DeJoy’s response to Cooper. “That’s not gonna fly, man. Not gonna fly.”Wednesday’s hearing was the second time in DeJoy’s short tenure that he has been subjected to a high-profile grilling in the House Oversight Committee. Shortly after taking the USPS’ top job in June 2020, delays and irregularities quickly began to mount—a particularly alarming development for lawmakers on the eve of an election in which more voters than ever planned to vote by mail.Biden to Nominate 3 New USPS Board Members, Opening Path to Oust DeJoyIn a contentious August 2020 hearing, Democrats interrogated the former logistics executive and GOP mega-donor on everything from cuts in overtime hours to the price of a stamp. Questioning from Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) produced a memorable DeJoy response: “I will submit that I know very little about postage and stamps.”By the time House Democrats called DeJoy back to Capitol Hill this week, their worst fears about the USPS delays’ impact on the voting system had failed to materialize. But they still had plenty of questions about DeJoy’s stewardship of the USPS: in October, the USPS inspector general issued a report finding that the changes DeJoy made to delivery schedules and protocol led to the worsening delays. Already battered by the pandemic, the USPS limped into a busy holiday season, and is now providing the poorest service that many longtime observers of the agency have ever seen.Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), a member of the Oversight panel, was a 29-year veteran of the USPS before she came to Congress. She told The Daily Beast after the hearing that she has never seen the service in such dire straits as it is now: “I don’t think we’ve ever confronted this,” she said.The unprecedented delays are happening around the country. In Washington, D.C., just 40 percent of all first-class mail arrived on time by the end of December 2020—compared to nearly 90 percent the same time the year before. Chicago residents are receiving holiday packages a month-and-a-half late. Lawmakers are inundated with calls and emails from frustrated constituents looking for answers; this week, 33 senators signed a letter to DeJoy asking him to explain the recent delays.DeJoy apologized for those delays at the top of Wednesday’s hearing. “We must acknowledge that during this peak season we fell far short of meeting our service goals,” he said. “I apologize to those customers who felt the impact of our delays"But Lawrence expressed concern about DeJoy’s forthcoming “strategic plan” to get the USPS through this difficult stretch. Though the postmaster general has not revealed specifics, he testified on Wednesday that he will propose cuts to delivery standards, including the standard that local mail be delivered within two days. Democrats believe that would be a disastrous move at a time when the USPS is struggling to compete with private-sector competitors, particularly if it is coupled with consumer cost increases, which DeJoy has suggested.“To say that’s what’s bold and needed… that’s not leadership,” said Lawrence. “He has to prove himself. He heard us loud and clear, that he needs to prove himself.”The Michigan Democrat stopped short of saying that DeJoy deserved removal, and told The Daily Beast that she and other Democrats are working with the USPS on postal reform legislation. On Wednesday, CNN reported that Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) was supportive of working with DeJoy to pass reforms.In the wake of the new political reality in Washington, the postmaster general has begun to attempt outreach to Democratic lawmakers. Lawrence said that during the last administration, DeJoy did not take her calls or respond to her—but after the 2020 election, they had a “cordial” call.Other Democrats see any charm offensive as too little, too late. Krishnamoorthi said he is supportive of working with whatever USPS leadership is in office in order to pass reforms, but argued that DeJoy should go as soon as is possible.Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), a senior member of the Oversight Committee, issued a statement after DeJoy’s hearing hailing Biden’s nomination of three appointees to the USPS Board of Governors—and explicitly stated his hope they would remove DeJoy. “These nominations are an important first step toward reforming the Postal Service,” said Connolly. “My hope is the newly constituted Board will do the right thing and bring in a new, qualified Postmaster General.”A majority of the nine-member board would be required to support DeJoy’s removal. Currently, there are four Republican appointees, and two Democratic appointees. If all Biden’s choices are confirmed, Democrats would hold a majority on the board.The Republicans on the Oversight Committee had questions for DeJoy about mail delays, but largely cast him as a victim in an anti-Trump Democratic crusade. Rep. James Comer (R-KY), the top Republican on the panel, compared the party’s concerns about USPS delays—and Trump’s potential role in those delays—to the Trump impeachment investigation he said was predicated on “baseless conspiracies.”Far-right Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), meanwhile, suggested that the root cause of USPS delays was actually the Black Lives Matter protests that took place over the summer, and read articles from fringe outlets like the Gateway Pundit to prove his point. And Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) raised the unfounded belief in widespread conspiracies about election fraud while saying it was not time to get into “specifics.”At one point, tempers flared when Connolly said that Republicans who voted to object to the Electoral College certification on Jan. 6 had “no right to lecture” anyone on the dangers of partisanship.Democrats left more concerned about the fate of the USPS, however, than the state of things in Congress. “It’s not some theoretical concept,” said Krishnamoorthi. “It’s not some abstract issue, it’s real for every single one of us… I’ve gotta tell you, people are starting to work around the mail, which is a scary concept.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.