This article originally appeared in the January 4, 1974 issue of Christianity Today.
During a visit last month to Washington, D.C., where he preached at a White, House Christmas service attended by President and Mrs. Nixon, Vice-President and Mrs. Ford, Senator Edward Kennedy, and other dignitaries, evangelist Billy Graham met with the editorial staff of Christianity Today. The time was spent in a candid discussion of the Watergate affair and Graham's association with President Nixon. The following is an edited distillation of that discussion.
What was your reaction when you received the invitation to speak at the White House?
I was in Switzerland attending an administrative committee meeting of the International Congress on World Evangelization when Mrs. Nixon called. She asked if I would come and hold a Christmas service on December 16. Naturally, I realized the delicacy of such a visit in the present "Watergate" climate. However, I recognized also the responsibility of such a service and the opportunity to present the gospel of Christ within a Christmas context to a distinguished audience. I have said for many years that I will go anywhere to preach the gospel, whether to the Vatican, the Kremlin, or the White House, if there are no strings on what I am to say. I have never had to submit the manuscript to the White House or get anybody's approval. I have never informed any President of what I was going to say ahead of time. They all have known that when I come I intend to preach the gospel. If Senator McGovern had been elected President and had invited me to preach, I would gladly have gone. I am first and foremost a servant of Jesus Christ. My first allegiance is not to America but to "the Kingdom of God."1