Thinking Out Loud

August 18, 2011

Important that the Graham Name not be Tarnished

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:49 am

Try as you might, you can’t say or do much to tarnish the reputation of Billy Graham.  He has lived by the highest ethical standards; his personal integrity is a model for other Christian leaders.  So we have to hope that the Graham The Next Generation doesn’t tarnish the Graham brand.  For that reason it was distressing to read this story at Bene Diction Blogs On yesterday:

It was revealed in 2009 that as CEO of Samaritans Purse and The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Franklin was the top NGO earner in the US in 2008. Not only that, he accepted a hefty increase from the BGEA not long after the organization laid off 10% of it’s employees. The Charlotte Observer:

As president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, he receives two full-time salaries and two retirement packages. Last year his total compensation from the two Christian ministries was $1.2million.

The size of Graham’s total 2008 compensation — $535,000 from Samaritan’s Purse and $669,000 from Charlotte-based BGEA — drew questions from nonprofit experts interviewed by The Charlotte Observer. They doubted that one person — even the energetic, globe-trotting Graham — can do two full-time jobs leading organizations that employ hundreds and spend hundreds of millions around the world.

After news of his personal finances went public, Graham agreed to temporarily forgo increases to his retirement packages.  No word on how long the temporary freeze on his retirement monies were for. If the newspaper had not brought this to the attention of the public, (whose donations keep him in business) would he and the BGEA board carried on with business as usual?

You can read the whole story in context here.  Without over-spiritualizing things, I think we have to remember that the higher the profile and the greater the power; the greater the temptations.  I found this little excerpt so disconcerting to read, and yet I was also reminded of the need to pray for the Graham ‘kids’:  Anne, Ruth, Gigi, Ned and Franklin; and also their children, many of whom are also in pastoral ministry. 


  1. Institutional churchianity and ministry is just that, institutional. Sad so many are starving and ministry heads have retirement funds with multi-million dollar salaries. And Jesus had no place to lay His head!

    Comment by escapefromchurchianity — August 18, 2011 @ 10:19 am

    • You make a good point. I’m just not sure it’s the right point. For every high-profile televangelist, there are dozens if not hundreds of people serving God in various capacities for minimum wage, less than minimum wage, or in my case, no fixed wage at all. I obviously share your concern or I would not have posted this story; but I believe you can build an institution — such as Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity — that doesn’t get corrupted by its own success. Maybe that’s why I am always drawn to supporting smaller organizations or things that are just starting out.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — August 18, 2011 @ 10:57 am

  2. Your reminder to pray is correct. I have a pastor who is so gifted at teaching the Word that I lift him up daily without fail. The greater the gift the greater the temptaion as well.

    Comment by Cynthia — August 18, 2011 @ 12:29 pm

  3. I agree…I have been in ‘ministry’ for 20+ years and have never accepted any $$ for teaching or preaching as I am not a hirling. I realize that there are legit ministries that need funding, etc. and we all should be a part as the Lord leads. I am just against those that get rich off of the needs of others. If we all just followed Jesus and didn’t try to build our own personal kingdoms thing would be different. When christianity becomes a profession or a job instead of just being a faithful obedient servant we discredit ourselves and our message of the Gospel..

    Comment by escapefromchurchianity — August 18, 2011 @ 1:12 pm

  4. Thanks for the link Paul.

    Graham Jr is not Graham Sr.

    We know the Graham kids have had their disagreements, and Franklin got my attention when Lorna Dueck softballed an interview where he complained about the US Army rescinding an invitation to pray.
    He did his thing in Canada and headed back to do a well covered protest in the US.

    Stars and Stripes

    It was a big story in the US, Dueck did the interview through Crossroads because they were running Rock the River on CTS.

    Graham is a big name draw, and he has stuck his foot in political issues previously and will again.

    Samaritans Purse does outstanding work, and could function just fine without him. The BDGA benefits from having a Graham at the helm.

    I have mixed feelings about sons and daughters following in parental ministry footsteps, and I doubt most of us can appreciate the pitfalls and pressure.

    Comment by Bene D — August 18, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

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