Feb 22, 2018

Rundle: ‘America’s Pastor’ and the crusade for Australia’s eternal soul

Billy Graham, whose "crusade" first reached Australia in the 1950s, had a profound effect on evangelism in Sydney and beyond.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


The story became famous a while back, when Bob Katter founded his tinpot Katter’s Australia Party. Bob’s first political act, they said, was in 1964, when he and a bunch of Country Party young bloods had protested the arrival of the Beatles. Ha, crazy old/young Bob, they all said, denouncing the decadence of pop. But Bob et al had their reasons: the frenzy surrounding the Fab Four had drawn crowds exceeding those of the previous drawcard, the reverend Billy Graham, "America's Pastor".

Graham, who has died aged 99, had toured Australia in 1959 on one of his 200 "crusades" (after 9/11 he changed the title to "mission") that had started in 1954. He was a devilishly handsome preacher, a dead spit of Jerry Lee Lewis, the besuited rocker. He emerged into a postwar Western world that was heading into the great era of consumerism, and leaving the solidarity and noble purpose of World War II behind. His manner and message -- of a return to Jesus’ word in the Gospels -- caught like wildfire and roared around the world.

Free Trial

You've hit members-only content.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

14 thoughts on “Rundle: ‘America’s Pastor’ and the crusade for Australia’s eternal soul

  1. Temac

    Believing that his hate for queers
    Proclaimed his love for God
    He now (of all queer things, my dears)
    Lies under his first sod
    Paul Dehn

  2. Itsarort

    Hillsong have moved into a nice venue in Newcastle’s CBD. However, they have to cart in their followers from the regional and traditionally more poverty stricken margins of Toronto and Cessnock.

    1. Peter Wileman

      They can afford to ‘cart in’ all of their suckers. And still they pay no tax.

    2. Guy Rundle

      yep but they still have a Castle Hill centre

  3. leon knight

    Good riddance to the old goat, just a pity he lasted so long to be able to spread his crap far and wide.

    1. Bethany Challen

      HEAR HEAR! 🙂

  4. CML

    Billy and his Australian fellow travellers…a pack of drongos the lot of them!
    Time to level some taxation on these and other fantasy story-tellers!!

  5. Reckons

    Zed’s dead baby, Zed’s dead.

  6. AR

    Has not old Billy been ga-ga for a decade or more?
    … and lo the flowers and fruits are everywhere.” and a more bitter and noxious strain it is unnecessary to imagine.
    Evil hypocrisy incarnate and his foul phantasies linger with Veep Pence so besotted with B/S that he fears to be alone with the more important part of the species lest she overwhelms his frail moral bulwarks.

  7. nino

    Unfortunately his putrid son Franklin lives on, spreading his hatred of Islam and gays, and his idolatry of Trump and Putin. A few years ago he pulled his entire $180 million from The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association out of Wells Fargo bank because they ran an ad that featured a lesbian couple. A petition was raised recently in the UK to keep him out.

  8. Niall Davidson

    and a step to the right …. we have Federal Treasurer, Pentecostal Morrison.
    What chance tax reform ?

  9. James McDougall

    This is fascinating stuff for anyone interested in the influence of religion on politics and culture in Australia. It would be great to see an extended examination of the impact of the evangelical movement; to complement David Marr’s work on the Catholic Church.

  10. edumf

    Billy Graham whom I (thank god! ) was never exposed to via his evangelistic rallies (being raised Catholic) it seems was born in the same year as troubadour Pete Seeger.
    Must say I greatly preferred the benign social and musical influence of Seeger to that of the fire and brimstone Graham with his eternal focus on ‘ getting into the next world ‘ with a clean bill of health.

    Thanks Guy Rundle for alerting us to Graham’s lasting influence in this country, particularly his politically-oriented disciples peopling our parliaments.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details