Billy Graham has apologized in full for telling President Richard Nixon in a taped 1972 conversation that Jews have a "stranglehold" on the American media. The National Archives released the tape on February 28.
"This stranglehold has got to be broken or the country's going down the drain," Graham told the President in the Oval Office after a prayer breakfast. Graham also said that "they're the ones putting out the pornographic stuff."
In a brief initial statement, the ailing evangelist—who has given no media interviews about the recording—said he could not remember the exchange from 30 years ago.
Later, in a longer statement, Graham, 83, apologized fully for his comments. "They do not reflect my views and I sincerely apologize for any offense caused by the remarks," he said. "I cannot imagine what caused me to make those comments . …I was wrong for not disagreeing with the President. 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."
Yechiel Eckstein, founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, says many Jews have a long-standing respect for Graham. Nevertheless, Eckstein says, "Statements like that don't help my saying to the Jewish community that we can trust evangelical Christians."
Trust between evangelicals and Jews will undergo another test in a few weeks. In Cincinnati, where Graham will hold his next evangelistic outreach June 27-30, there are about 25,000 Jews. Some of their leaders have asked to meet with Graham when he is in town.
Michael Rapp, director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Cincinnati, has asked Graham to meet with Jewish ...