The German press nicknamed him “God’s machine gun” for his aggressive, staccato preaching, but the name also fit for deeper reasons. Mr. Graham described these trips as “crusades” and saw West Germany as ground zero in what he called “Battleground Europe,” a Cold War fight to redeem the “land of Luther” from its Nazi past and secure its future as a stronghold for American-style democracy, capitalism and evangelicalism.
.. Billy Graham’s culture wars are inseparable from his role as an international Cold Warrior. He wasn’t just America’s pastor; he was God’s Cold War machine gun.
.. “Berlin is prayed for in the world more than any other city,” he declared, calling the city “a battleground, a continent for conquest” — not for earthly power, as the world wars had been, but a new battle “for the hearts and minds of the people.”
.. he affirmed that West Germans were his “brothers in arms” literally as well as spiritually. To strengthen a Christian democratic West against a godless Soviet East, he cast his weight behind German rearmament.
.. Mr. Graham portended a similar Americanization of German religion with its emphasis on conversion and its use of modern communication technologies for evangelism.
.. Some Germans deemed Mr. Graham a Hollywood huckster who, as the German news media put it, “advertised the Bible like toothpaste and chewing gum.” Others sensed an unnerving parallel between his mass gatherings and Germany’s fascist past.
.. “Religion for Mass-Consumption,”
.. argued that Mr. Graham’s real goal was to steer souls away from Communism more than toward God
.. German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller and the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr .. protested Mr. Graham’s equation of Christianity with America, anti-Communism and free-market capitalism
.. After the Watergate scandal, Mr. Graham withdrew from political debates and returned to his early focus on simply “preaching the gospel.”