High overhead a skywriter etched a pair of American flags against the bright blue heavens. Down below, a crowd was filing out of Shea Stadium, where Billy Graham’s five-day crusade had just ended. The aerial artistry provided one of several interesting sidelights during the evangelist’s return engagement in New York and offered an appropriate if unscheduled prelude to “Honor America Day.”

The crusade on the home field of the baseball Mets and football Jets came off without any disruptions. The only “dissent” came in a trickle of applause when Graham spoke of Woodstock and referred to the possibility of a marijuana “smoke-in.” Graham later suggested to newsmen that the reaction merely indicated that there were indeed young people in the audience who needed to be reached with the Gospel.

The crusade apparently attracted an even greater percentage of young people than Graham’s ten-day Madison Square Garden effort last year, when up to 70 per cent of the audience was under twenty-five. He attributes the increasing appeal to young people to their “vast and desperate search.” He says that today they are “more interested in religion, probably, than any generation in history.”

A total of about 137,000 heard Graham at Shea Stadium. Of these, some 6,000 responded at the close of the services to make decisions for Christ. This is about the same ratio as last year, but more of those who responded this time were young people.

More black people also turned out last month than in 1969. Graham said that checks showed about one-fourth of the total audience was black.

As usual, Graham chose simple sermon themes. On the opening night he issued a national call to repentance. “I believe that we Americans have a choice to make,” he said. “I believe ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.