The Preacher and the Presidents, Billy Graham in the White House by Nancy Gibbs ’78 and Michael Duffy
From Truman to George W. Bush, one man has had access to the presidents. Billy Graham, a North Carolinian from inauspicious beginnings, became a major influence on our presidents. This book traces his role as friend, father confessor, shoulder to lean on, spiritual advisor, golf partner, and sometimes political ally to one president after the next and to their families as well. He spent nights in the White House, often got on his knees and prayed with the most powerful man in the free world, led prayer breakfasts, gave invocations at inaugurations all the while proclaiming -- and sometimes living – political neutrality. His faith was simple; he decided early on to stick with the Bible and not to go afield in the complexities of theology. What set him apart was a magnetism and humble confidence that seems to me a unique example of one of Gardner’s multiple intelligences. Strange to say, I thought of Forrest Gump as I read this book, an innocent wandering into all the major events of a very long lifetime. The awesome research that went into this book provides insight into the role of religion in American political life as well as glimpses into the anxieties and insecurities that are hidden behind the public faces of our presidents.