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“The Tramp, Tramp, Tramp of the Little Man”: Graham’s Conversion to the War on Poverty

  • Michael G. Long

Abstract

Billy Graham was a child of the Depression. “Growing up in those years,” he recalled in his autobiography, “taught us the value of nickels and dimes.” Apparently with good reason: During the Depression, his father lost the family savings of $4,000 in the Farmers’ and Merchants’ Bank of Charlotte, and the family dairy farm faced ruin when the price for a quart of milk plummeted to five cents. Far from indigent, however, the Graham family had an established dairy farm, replete with cows, barns, land for gardening and farming, and even laborers. “We all simply believed in hard work,” Graham wrote. And as hardworking laborers, the family recovered in a matter of months from the loss of personal funds. Through it all Graham’s father kept faith in the system of free enterprise, and perhaps more importantly, he had passed on this faith to young Billy long before the onslaught of the Depression. “My father early on,” Graham reflected, “illustrated for me the merits of free enterprise. Once in a while when a calf was born on the farm, he turned it over to my friend Albert McMakin and me to raise. When it got to the veal stage, we marketed ourselves and split the proceeds.”

Keywords

Economic Justice Free Enterprise Great Society Livable Wage Protestant Work Ethic 
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Notes

  1. 3.
    Graham, Organized Labor and the Church (Minneapolis, MN: The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1952), 2.Google Scholar
  2. 8.
    Graham, “Thanksgiving,” tape 358. Sara Diamond, Not By Politics Alone: The Enduring Influence of the Christian Right (New York, NY: The Guilford Press, 1998) understates the point when she argues that “Graham’s message was explicitly anticommunist, and implicitly supportive of capitalism and all its attendant inequalities” (60). Graham was explicitly supportive of capitalism, too. But, as we will see in the text, he also became critical of the inequalities that capitalism generated.Google Scholar
  3. 18.
    Graham, The Economics of the Apocalypse (Minneapolis, MN: The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1975), 9.Google Scholar
  4. 22.
    Stewart Burns, To the Mountaintop: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Sacred Mission to Save America: 1955—1968 (San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 2004), 67.Google Scholar
  5. 35.
    Theodore Weber, Politics in the Order of Salvation: Transforming Wesleyan Political Ethics (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2001).Google Scholar
  6. 61.
    Graham, Three Dimensional Love of God (Minneapolis, MN: The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1959), 1.Google Scholar
  7. 88.
    Graham, “Text of Remarks Prepared for Delivery by the Reverend Billy Graham: Presidential Prayer Breakfast,” Washington, DC, February 17, 1966, BGCA, 6. For a concise and helpful look at Graham’s role in the prayer breakfasts, see Nicole H. Miller, “The Political-Religious Discourse of Billy Graham at the Presidential Prayer Breakfasts of the 1960s” (M.A. thesis, Colorado State University, 1998).Google Scholar
  8. 89.
    Graham, Our God Is Marching On (Minneapolis, MN: The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1966), 7.Google Scholar
  9. 90.
    Graham, Rioting or Righteousness (Minneapolis, MN: The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1967), 3–4.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Michael G. Long 2006

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  • Michael G. Long

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