“I’m Not a Pacifist”: On Militarists, Pacifists, and Vietnam

  • Michael G. Long


“Strongly urge showdown with communism now. More Christians in South Korea per capita than any part of the world. We cannot let them down.”1 It was 1950 when Billy Graham began offering specific advice to U.S. presidents, whether they wanted it or not, and his first words of telegrammed counsel that year were clear—prepare for war. Lest Truman miss the point, Graham followed up several weeks later with a full letter to the president. “I also urge you to total mobilization to meet the communist threat,” he wrote. “The Bible many times urges us to be prepared for war, and Jesus Himself predicted that there would be wars and rumors of wars until the end of time, and warned about those who talked peace when there is no peace.”2 Despite his active lobbying, America did not come close to mobilizing all its forces for a clear-cut victory in the Korean War, and the hawkish Graham did not hide his discontent. In 1953, when the warring parties signed a truce to halt the war, he took the occasion of his weekly radio program to register his dissatisfaction. “It was the first war in American history,” he complained, “that we have not won.”3 Throughout the past three years of fighting, “we have shown our moral weakness. We have shown that when pressed we could betray our friends and compromise with the enemy.”


Political Realism World Peace World Government Intercessory Prayer True Love 
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  1. 3.
    Graham, America’s Decision (Minneapolis, MN: Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1953), 2.Google Scholar
  2. 7.
    Graham, The Signs of the Times (Minneapolis, MN: The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1957), 1.Google Scholar
  3. 21.
    K. Graham, The Secret of Happiness: Jesus’ Teaching on Happiness as Expressed in the Beattitudes (Garden City, KS: Doubleday & Company, 1955), 72.Google Scholar
  4. 54.
    For a pathetic reaction to Graham’s relationship with Rome, see Ian R.K. Paisley, Billy Graham and the Church of Rome (Belfast: Martyrs Memorial Free Presbyterian Church, 1970).Google Scholar
  5. 85.
    Graham, Prepare for the Storm (Minneapolis, MN: The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1961), 2.Google Scholar
  6. 91.
    Max Goldberg, Transcript of “Billy Graham Gives Frank Views on War in Vietnam, Race Riots,” September 25, 1965, 1, LBJL.Google Scholar
  7. 97.
    Graham, When Silence Is Yellow (Minneapolis, MN: The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1965), 1.Google Scholar
  8. 154.
    In light of Billy Graham’s advocacy for disarmament talks in the 1980s, Donald G. Bloesch, The Future of Evangelical Christianity: A Call for Unity Amid Diversity (Garden City, KS: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1983) argued that “Billy Graham has become one of the leading voices on behalf of peace” (6). (For more on Bloesch’s take on Graham, see his “Billy Graham: A Theological Appraisal,” Theology and Life [May 3, I960]: 136—143.) Richard Pierard responded to Graham’s call for nuclear disarmament in a much more reasonable way—by asking whether the evangelist would “stay the course for peace.” Given Graham’s quick baptism of the wars against Iraq, the answer to that question is a resounding “no.” See Richard V. Pierard, “Billy Graham: Will He Stay the Course for Peace?” Covenant Quarterly (February 1984): 17—29.Google Scholar

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© Michael G. Long 2006

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  • Michael G. Long

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