Presidents, Faith Leaders, Public Figures React to Billy Graham’s Passing

FILE - In this May 31, 2007 file photo, former Presidents, George H.W. Bush, left, Bill Clinton, second left, and Jimmy Carter, right, join Franklin Graham, second right, as they pose with Billy Graham, center, in front of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C.

By Liberty McArtor Published on February 21, 2018

Billy Graham died Wednesday morning at age 99. The evangelist had personally preached to more than 200 million people around the world, inspiring and leading many to faith in Jesus Christ. In the wake of his passing, public figures took to social media to remember Graham and the impact he had on their lives. Here are some of their reactions. 

Presidents

Graham spent decades of his ministry counseling and praying for presidents, Democrat and Republican alike. His ministry to the White House earned him the nickname “America’s Pastor.” 

President Donald Trump wrote “there was nobody like” Graham, noting, “he will be missed by Christians and all religions.” Trump later issued a full statement, saying “Billy’s unshakeable belief in the power of God’s word to transform hearts gave hope to all who listened to his simple message: ‘God loves you.'” The statement also noted how the nation turned to Graham for comfort after the terrorist attacks on September 11. “God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest,” the evangelist said at the time.

Vice President Mike Pence sent two tweets, with condolences to Graham’s family and reflections on his ministry. “Billy Graham’s ministry for the gospel of Jesus Christ and his matchless voice changed the lives of millions,” Pence wrote. “I know with absolute certainty that today he heard those words, ‘well done good and faithful servant.'” 

Former president Barack Obama tweeted that Graham “was a humble servant who prayed for so many” and “gave hope and guidance to generations of Americans.” 

Former president George W. Bush called Graham “a great man, a humble servant, and a shepherd to millions” in a statement. “His love for Christ and his gentle soul helped open hearts to the Word, including mine.” 

Former president Bill Clinton issued a statement with wife and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, calling Graham “one of the most important religious leaders in American history.” The former president recalled the first time he saw Graham in Little Rock “during the school integration struggle.” 

“He filled a football stadium with a fully integrated audience, reminding them that we all come before God as equals, both in our imperfection and our absolute claim to amazing grace.”

Former president George H. W. Bush issued a statement, noting his personal friendship with Graham. He recalled Graham visiting Bush and wife Barbara in Maine. “He loved going really fast in my boat.”

“I think Billy touched the hearts of not only Christians, but people of all faiths, because he was such a good man,” Bush said. 

Former president Jimmy Carter also issued a statement after Graham’s death, saying he and wife Rosalynn “are deeply saddened.” 

“Broadminded, forgiving, and humble in his treatment of others, he exemplified the life of Jesus Christ by constantly reaching out for opportunities to serve,” Carter said. He added that Graham “had an enormous influence on my own spiritual life.” 

Faith Leaders

Christian leaders celebrated Graham’s life and ministry Wednesday. 

Graham’s son Franklin Graham, who oversees the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, tweeted that his father had proclaimed faith in Jesus for 80 years.

Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Dallas, noted that Graham was a member of his church for over five decades. He also called him “the most impactful evangelist since the Apostle Paul.”  

Author and speaker Joyce Meyer, president of Joyce Meyer Ministries, tweeted after Graham’s passing that she is “rejoicing that he is now home in heaven.”

Christian apologist Sean McDowell tweeted that Graham lived “a faithful and remarkable life for the Lord.”

Russell Moore, President of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, called Graham “the most important evangelist since the Apostle Paul.” Graham was also a member of the Southern Baptist denomination. Russell continued, “He preached Christ, not himself, not politics, not prosperity.” 

Beth Moore, author and founder of Living Proof Ministries, called Graham “a gift of God to this world.” 

Rev. Jesse Jackson noted Graham’s ministry during years of segregation and systemic racism. As the Associated Press reported Wednesday, Graham ended segregated seating at his crusades in 1953.

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Public Figures

Early Wednesday, it wasn’t just politicians and Christian leaders singing Graham’s praises. Other public figures, including several media personalities, reflected on Graham’s life.

Kay Cole James, political activist and President of the Heritage Foundation, said “God used Billy to reach so many — including me when I was a high school student.” 

Country singer Reba McEntire’s words for Graham were, “thanks for all your guidance and love.” 

Conservative author and radio host Mark Levin called Graham “a wonderful man.” 

Kathie Lee Gifford, co-host of the Kathie Lee and Hoda Show on NBC, said Graham was “the finest man I ever knew.” She added, “I am among the millions that he led to faith in Jesus.” 

Wednesday morning on NBC’s Megyn Today, host Megyn Kelly asked Gifford about her relationship with Graham. During the segment, Gifford recalls her last visit with the evangelist, and how his ministry brought her family to faith.

Jonathan Merritt, a journalist for The Atlantic, tweeted that Graham’s legacy “will live on for generations.” 

Ryan McGee, a writer for ESPN, tweeted that Graham “was willing to admit mistakes and was willing to civilly talk with and learn from those with whom he likely disagreed.” McGee said that made Graham a role model for anyone.

Thom Rainer, president and CEO of Lifeway Christian stores, recalled Graham saying “he missed his wife, Ruth, and he missed heaven. Now he is present for the great reunion.” Ruth Graham died in 2007.

Autria Godfrey, anchor for ABC’s Good Morning Washington, tweeted that Graham made Gallup’s “Most Admired Men and Women” list 60 times, “more than any other individual in the world.” 

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