I know for you for Yankee readers this may seem par for the course given what we’ve recently learned, but Billy Graham was for multiple decades kind of the “protestant pope.” (Though he would have hated being called that.) That his organization was targeted by the IRS (according to Franklin Graham) is a big deal.
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Franklin Graham: IRS targeted us, too
Graham said the IRS story threatens to engulf all manner of non-profits. | AP Photo
By REID J. EPSTEIN | 5/14/13 5:08 PM EDT
The IRS came after Billy Graham, too, his son charged Tuesday in a letter to President Barack Obama.
Franklin Graham, the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the family’s international humanitarian organization Samaritan’s Purse, said that the IRS notified the organizations in September that it was conducting a “review” of their activities for tax year 2010.
With the IRS admitting it gave extra scrutiny to conservative political organizations, Graham says he now believes that the review was part of an Obama administration effort of “targeting and attempting to intimidate us.”
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association urging of voters to back “candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel” during last year’s presidential race was the reason why IRS agents visited the North Carolina offices of both Graham groups, the letter accuses.
“While these audits not only wasted taxpayer money, they wasted money contributed by donors for ministry purposes as we had to spend precious resources servicing the IRS agents in our offices,” Graham wrote in the letter, which was shared with POLITICO. “I believe that someone in the administration was targeting and attempting to intimidate us. This is morally wrong and unethical – indeed some would call it ‘un-American.”
Graham said that “in light” of the IRS admission that it targeted tea party groups for added scrutiny, “I do not believe that the IRS audit of our two organizations last year is a coincidence – or justifiable.”
(Also on POLITICO: IRS head: ‘Mistakes were made’)
Graham was not available to comment Tuesday because he was traveling, a spokesman said. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. An IRS spokesman said that he had not seen the letter and could not comment.
The Graham organizations kept their federal income tax exemptions after the audit — but were not told they’d be able to until after the November election, he wrote.
Graham, who last week attended a White House meeting for religious leaders to discuss gun control, said the IRS story threatens to engulf all manner of non-profit organizations.
“Mr. President, the IRS has already publicly acknowledged it operated in a less than neutral and non-partisan way,” Graham wrote. “We also now know that the target of their improper actions was much wider than political or Tea Party organizations. Will you take some immediate action to reassure Americans we are not in a new chapter of American history – repressive government rule?”
The IRS review, which Graham wrote involved an IRS agent visiting the two agencies last October, followed the Billy Graham ministry publishing newspaper ads in North Carolina backing a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The amendment passed in May.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Tue May 14, 2013 5:52 pm
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Rev. Billy Graham stands up for Chick-fil-A
Published: 4:24 PM 07/26/2012
Evangelical leader, Rev. Billy Graham has lent his voice to the chorus speaking out in defense and support of Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy’s opposition to same-sex marriage.
“The restaurant chain has been, and continues to be, under a concerted attack from same-sex marriage advocates,” Graham wrote in a statement issued Wednesday. “I applaud the courage of Cathy and Chick-fil-A to take a bold stand for the biblical definition of marriage between a man and woman in a culture that has grown openly hostile to the Christian faith and its followers.”
The company, which was known to donate to pro-marriage efforts, has been under heavy fire from gay-marriage advocates since last week, when Cathy gave his explicit endorsement of traditional marriage.
“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that,” he told Baptist Press. “We operate as a family business … our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that.”
His comments have resulted in boycotts from gay marriage activists, Boston Democratic Mayor Thomas Menino has said he will not allow the chain in the city (Menino backed off from that goal Thursday afternoon, according to The Boston Herald), and The Jim Henson Company ended its relationship with the company.
“The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over 50 years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors,” the company posted on its Facebook page. “Lisa Henson, our CEO, is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to GLAAD.
Graham praised restaurant founder S. Truett Cathy and his son Don Cathy for their adherence to Christian values in the company’s establishment and operation. He further encouraged people to join former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in his call to support the company on August 1 in a National Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.
“I would like to join with him, and ask that, if you live near one of their restaurants please drop by and let them know how much you appreciate them and their stand,” Graham added.
Graham’s words of support for the restaurant chain came a day after he lamented America’s moral downfall, comparing it to Sodom and Gomorrah.
“Our society strives to avoid any possibility of offending anyone—except God,” he wrote Tuesday. “Yet the farther we get from God, the more the world spirals out of control.”
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sun Jul 29, 2012 9:43 pm
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Billy Graham ministry aims to take revivals online
By TRAVIS LOLLER
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The remarkable success of evangelist Billy Graham’s Crusades for Christ did not come from his preaching alone, but also the immense amount of preparation and follow-up that went into planning each revival.
Now, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is taking that experience and harnessing it to save souls through the Internet in a way that perhaps only such a large and established organization can.
The basic premise is simple: Use search engines to find people who are looking for answers to life’s big questions and direct them to a website, http://www.peacewithgod.net . From there, seekers are led through a series of readings and videos loosely tied to John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
At the end of the series, they are offered a chance to pray and to accept Jesus. Those who do become a little point of light on a Google Earth application, showing more than 476,000 souls around the world who have been saved through the site since it went live last year.
But that’s not where it stops.
"People don’t make decisions and then show up in church the next week," Director of Internet Evangelism John Cass said. "These same people who are hurting in this world are still walking by churches on every corner."
Although the site has been running in a beta mode, it is expected to be fully functional within a month. At that point hundreds of volunteers will also be online, doing everything from answering basic questions about God and Christianity to leading interested visitors through a 5-week online discipleship course.
Those new Christians will be encouraged to join local churches that are cooperating with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association on the project.
"It’s taking the model of what we’ve done for so many years, with the crusades, celebrations, festivals and applying that in an online environment," Cass said.
Internet evangelism has become one of the four core ministries the BGEA directs from its Charlotte, N.C., headquarters, along with revivals, The Billy Graham Library and The Billy Graham Training Center. Only time will show whether the model that worked well for Billy Graham’s crusades can be successfully translated to a virtual environment.
David W. Key Sr., the director of Baptist Studies at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, says the Internet creates a tremendous challenge for the church in a variety of ways. Part of problem the BGEA faces is that people on Internet don’t have to look at anything they don’t want to.
"I truly wonder how many non-Christians are going to be attracted by this," he said.
Then there’s the question of whether this website will get lost in a crowd of others trying to do something similar. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s organizational skills and credibility across denominations may mean nothing to a random person surfing the web.
Drew Dickens is president and CEO of Need Him Global, which operates several evangelistic websites and also provides support for the digital initiatives of many other Christian organizations. He said the BGEA is one of many established Christian groups trying to find their way on the Internet.
"Everyone wants to be the Christian Facebook," he said.
But he doesn’t think it is the older, established groups that will actually succeed at that goal.
"I think it’s going to be a couple of 18-year-olds in a dormitory somewhere that have zero seminary experience (but) completely understand how to engage their culture and peers," he said.
Dickens, who said he came to Christ through a Billy Graham crusade, said the peacewithgod.net site was "world class" but he wondered whether the excellent presentation would be enough to draw the attention of younger people who are more attuned to videos on mobile devices than text on a computer.
"I really do think the key to reaching this generation is a focus more on offering live conversation versus creative presentation," he said.
And then there’s the question of how many of the 476,000 visitors to the BGEA’s site who have prayed the prayer of salvation have taken it to hear and truly changed their lives. The ministry doesn’t have a number, but there is no doubt that for some, peacewithgod.net has lived up to its name.
John Preston, 54, of Lenoir City, Tenn., said he stumbled across the website about a month ago after seeing a link that said "Peace with God" on a different website.
"I felt like a heavy burden had been lifted," he said. "I felt more alive inside."
Preston is a retired mechanic who says he has struggled with drugs and alcohol since he left home at 14 to escape an abusive father.
"I lived a rough life, doing things I shouldn’t have been doing," he said. "I didn’t realize it was wrong until I got saved."
Preston said there was no single event that drove him to search for help on the Internet. Instead he feels that God has been tugging at his heart for a long time.
"Finally after that prayer on Peace with God, everything changed," he said. "It’s kind of weird how it happened. … When I said the prayer it hit me what I’d been missing. It was like I could hear God saying, `You’ve done what you need to do. Now you belong to me.’"
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Wed Jun 06, 2012 12:38 pm
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