In a video posted to YouTube on the day of Billy Graham’s death, talk show host Glenn Beck emotionally recollected to Ruth Graham, the daughter of Billy Graham, a time that he said Graham defended him—knowing that he was a Mormon—as being a Christian.
The video was of a 2014 interview in which the two talked about the life and character of Graham, and the memories they had of the crusade preacher.
“I remember five years ago, your father asked me some very pointed questions,” Beck outlined at one point during the discussion. “And somebody in the room said, ‘Just a reminder, he’s Mormon.’ And your father turned to the individual and said, ‘I know.'”
“And he looked back at me and said—we were talking about a certain subject—and he said, ‘Tell me how you know that came from Christ,'” he recalled. “And I told him.”
“And he (Graham) looked back to the other individual and said, ‘He sure sounds Christian to me,'” Beck said.
Ruth Graham nodded her head and smiled.
Beck then fell silent as he became visibly moved in recounting the story.
Moments later, after gathering himself, he turned to Ruth and asked, “How do we get people to play nice with each other?”
“Oh, Glenn,” she replied, taking a deep breath. “I don’t know. We have such division. We have such rancor, not only in our political world, but in our Christian world, our religious world. And I know that breaks Jesus’ heart.”
Ruth said that she characterizes herself as being a person of inclusion.
“I just love people. I don’t want to draw lines. I want to include people,” she stated. “And if in that inclusion, I gather in some black sheep, well and good. But I’d rather err on the side of grace than I would on judgment. I just am not going to stand in judgment of other people.”
When Beck noted that he had spent just one afternoon with Billy, Ruth replied, “He remembers it so well. He remembers it fondly, and he certainly thinks so much of you.”
She later told a story to explain her father’s spirit toward people.
“When we were children, we were making fun of the devil, and Daddy stopped us and said, ‘Don’t make fun of the devil. He’s a good devil,'” Ruth recounted, laughing. “Daddy never said anything ugly about anybody. … It’s quite a legacy for me, to not be so critical.”
View the discussion below, which starts at 27:22 into the video.
As previously reported, in 2012, Graham’s son Franklin advised during an interview with CNN that a page that was removed from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website following his endorsement of presidential candidate Mitt Romney, which classified Mormonism as a cult, was “not going to come back.”
“I was shocked that we even had that on there,” Franklin said. “[W]e’re calling people names. If I want to win people to Christ, how can I call them names?”
“So, we just took it off,” he continued, insinuating that he made the final decision in the matter. “And it’s not going to come back, because I don’t want to be involved in calling a person a name.”
The page, entitled, “What is a Cult?” read, “A cult is any group which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from the Biblical message of the Christian faith. It is very important that we recognize cults and avoid any involvement with them. Cults often teach some Christian truth mixed with error, which may be difficult to detect.”
It then listed among three bullet points on how to identify a cult, “They do not adhere solely to the sixty-six books of the Bible as the inspired Word of God. They add their ‘special revelations’ to the Bible and view them as equally authoritative.”
“Some of these groups are Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, the Unification Church, Unitarians, Spiritists, Scientologists and others,” the web page stated.
Following reports of the removal, Billy Graham’s media representative, A. Larry Ross, released a statement explaining the move.
“Mr. Graham’s calling is not to pass judgment, but to proclaim the Biblical truth that Jesus is the only way to heaven, allowing every individual and group to fall along that plumb line,” Ross outlined. “He further stressed that salvation is the work of Almighty God, and that only He knows what is in each human heart.”
In 2005, during an interview with Larry King, Graham likewise noted that he doesn’t judge those of other religions.
“I love them all, and welcome them all, and love to be with them, and friends with all of them. For example, I just talked to a man in New York City—he was a Mormon,” he said. “And I’ve loved the Mormons for years, and yet there is a big divide between the Mormons and some of the other groups. But, I have great friends among the Mormons, and the same among the Catholics. Of course, I loved Pope John Paul II and watched the whole process of his suffering, his dying and the tremendous—my daughter went to represent me .”
King then asked, “What about those like the Jews, the Muslims, who don’t believe [in Christ]?”
Graham replied, “That’s in God’s hands. I can’t be their judge.”
King echoed, “You don’t judge them?”
Graham answered, “No. I don’t say they’re going to Hell and they’re….”
“How do you feel when you see a lot of these strong Christian leaders go on television and say, ‘You are condemned. You will live in Hell if you do not accept Jesus Christ.’ And they are forceful and judgmental,” King asked.
“Well, they have a right to say that, and they are true to a certain extent. But that’s not my calling,” Graham replied. “My calling is to preach the love of God and the forgiveness of God, and the fact that He does forgive us. That’s what the cross is all about, what the resurrection’s all about. That’s the gospel. And you can get off on all kinds of different side trails. In my earlier ministry, I did the same. But as I got older, I guess became more mellow and more forgiving and more loving.”
In Matthew 10:34-36, Jesus said in outlining that the Truth divides, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth. I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”