A STATEMENT BY EVANGELIST
ON INTOLERANCE AND PREJUDICE
FOLLOWING RELEASE OF NIXON WHITE HOUSE TAPES
By Michael Ireland
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA (ANS) -- The Rev. Billy Graham has released a statement regarding anti-Semitic comments he is reported to have made more than 30 years ago.
In the statement, released by the Dallas, Texas, public relations firm that handles publicity for Dr. Graham, the 83-year-old evangelist said: "The National Archives recently released several hundred hours of tapes from Oval Office conversations during the Nixon Administration. One of those recordings included a conversation that I had with President Nixon and his Chief of Staff, H. R. Haldeman, more than 30 years ago.
"I had scores of conversations with Mr. Nixon in which we discussed every conceivable subject. However, I cannot imagine what caused me to make those comments, which I totally repudiate. Whatever the reason, I was wrong for not disagreeing with the President, and I sincerely apologize to anyone I have offended.
"I don't ever recall having those feelings about any group, especially the Jews, and I certainly do not have them now. My remarks did not reflect my love for the Jewish people. I humbly ask the Jewish community to reflect on my actions on behalf of Jews over the years that contradict my words in the Oval Office that day.
Dr. Graham continued: "In the Bible we read, 'Above all else, guard your heart; for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk from your lips' (Proverbs 4:22, 23). That is true for me as much as anyone else. Every day I have to renew my heart before God, and ask for His grace and strength.
"I am now an old man of eighty-three suffering from several ailments. As I reflect back, I realize that much of my life has been a pilgrimage -- constantly learning, changing, growing and maturing. I have come to see in deeper ways some of the implications of my faith and message, not the least of which is in the area of human rights and racial and ethnic understanding.
Dr. Graham stated: "Racial prejudice, anti-Semitism, or hatred of anyone with different beliefs has no place in the human mind or heart. I urge everyone to examine themselves and renew their own hearts before God. Only the supernatural love of God through changed lives can solve the problems that we face in our world.
"Of greater import or concern than any tapes made in the White House, each of us must face the fact that God has 'tapes' that record not only our actions but also our thoughts and our intent. Every moral choice we have ever made is on His 'computer.' On the appointed day of God's judgment there will be nothing in any of our hearts that will not be disclosed. That is why we all need God's forgiveness.
He added: "I take daily comfort in the Psalmist's words in the Old Testament: 'The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy' (Psalm 103:8). Every year during their High Holy Days, the Jewish community reminds us all of our need for repentance and forgiveness. God's mercy and grace give me hope -- for myself, and for our world."
(c) 2002 Billy Graham Evangelistic Association - P.O. Box 779, Minneapolis, MN 55440, U.S.A.
FOR INFORMATION CONTACT:
A. Larry Ross, Dallas +1-214-762-0744 - Melany Enthridge, Dallas +1-214-912-8934
Kristel Bosshardt, Minneapolis +1-612-810-2493
** Michael Ireland is a British freelance journalist in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A former reporter with a London newspaper, Michael is the Chief Correspondent for ASSIST News Service of Garden Grove, CA. Michael immigrated to the United States in 1982 and became a US citizen in Sept., 1995. He is married with two children. Michael is a frequent contributor to United Christian Broadcasters, Europe Radio, a British Christian radio station.
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