Huffpost Religion

Billy Graham's Prayer Letter To America

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Billy Graham wrote a prayer letter to America in which he shares his dismay, offers an invitation and passes the plate.

The letter, which can be seen on Billy Graham Evangelical Association website starts with a memory of Ruth, his deceased wife, who was reading a chapter about the moral decline of America in a book the Rev. Graham wrote several years ago. In his prayer letter Rev. Graham writes:

"When she (Ruth) finished a section describing the terrible downward spiral of our nation’s moral standards and the idolatry of worshiping false gods such as technology and sex, she startled me by exclaiming, “If God doesn’t punish America, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Since that time, according to Rev. Graham, America has only gotten worse:

"Our society strives to avoid any possibility of offending anyone—except God. Yet the farther we get from God, the more the world spirals out of control. My heart aches for America and its deceived people."

While Billy Graham's jeremiad against America has echoes of the controversial post 9/11 sermon preached by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the reasons for America's impending removal from God's favor are different.

For Rev. Wright, American imperialism and social inequality were the cause of God's disfavor. On the other end of the spectrum, Graham explains in his prayer letter that the main culprits are abortion, restrictions on Christian prayer in the pub.ic square, self-centeredness, and sin:

"I wonder what Ruth would think of America if she were alive today. In the years since she made that remark, millions of babies have been aborted and our nation seems largely unconcerned. Self-centered indulgence, pride, and a lack of shame over sin are now emblems of the American lifestyle."

In addition to enjoying time with his family this summer, Graham writes that he is working on a new book that counters some of the "dangerous illusions about eternal salvation that are becoming increasingly accepted in many places." This appears to be a reference to the questions about hell raised by some younger Evangelicals, most notably Rob Bell.

The prayer letter ends with a pitch for the reader to join Billy Grahams son, Franklin Graham, in a campaign for the repentance of America called "My Hope With Billy Graham." and, not totally surprisingly, with a passing of an e-collection plate.