The FBI has just made public 472 pages of documents on the late Rev. Billy Graham. It is common for the FBI to release files on prominent leaders after those leaders have passed away. The files on Graham document various insults and threats against him, as well as against other high-profile contemporaries of his. These include President Gerald Ford, President Richard Nixon, and various people in the CIA, FBI and Congress. You can download the FBI’s full report here.
“We are sick and tired of supporting dishonest men, deceitful men, lying men,” wrote one woman in 1975. “We are sending a copy of this letter to that phony preacher man Billy Graham. He is as wicked as the CIA. We are fed up with such wickedness in high places and it [sic] time to kill all the CIA men. Old phony Graham don’t preach on CIA from the Bible because he don’t know his Bible that well.”
The woman who penned the letter was from Des Moines, Iowa, and was a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army. A judge determined that she was mentally ill, which was his reason for not prosecuting her at the time. According to the FBI, the woman acknowledged sending the 1975 letter, as well as another one in 1974. In the earlier letter, she threatened to kill the FBI and its director, as well as Richard Nixon, who was president at the time.
When questioned by the FBI, the woman claimed she was only trying to help those in authority, who it was good for to be aware of evil leaders. She also said she didn’t mean any “personal harm” against the people she had threatened, despite the fact that she had written the following words: “We will kill the U.S. lawmakers—Congress and presidents and CIA. You reap what you sow and we’re going to make you reap death. We’ll kill you. We are sending a copy of this letter to Billy Graham.”
When questioned, the woman would alternately cry and quote scripture before suddenly switching to laughing.
Graham received another threatening letter in 1984 from a member of the Aryan Nations, also from someone determined to be mentally ill. The FBI’s report also mentions people who, while less extreme, were still persons of interest because of their suspicious behavior, such as expressing an unusual amount of curiosity about Graham.
A Widespread Impact
Because of Billy Graham’s high profile ministry, it is not surprising that he would have had his critics and detractors. Dubbed “America’s pastor” and known for his ministry to the presidents, Graham was a famous and beloved evangelist who preached the gospel to 215 million people in over 185 countries, not counting those who heard him through TV, radio and his writings. Some believe he has shared the Christian message of salvation with more people than any other preacher.
The Rev. Graham died on Feb. 21st, 2018 at age 99 at his home in Montreat, North Carolina.