Unprecedented televsion coverage for a religious figure.

As elsewhere in Eastern Europe, evangelist Billy Graham last month preached to overflow crowds, this time in churches in Czechoslovakia’s three largest cities: Prague, Brno, and Bratislava. But in a sense, he was able to reach the entire nation, and that is what has stirred the country’s Protestant church leaders above all else.

It happened in connection with the extensive coverage of Graham’s visit by the Czech press, described privately by church leaders as “unprecedented” for a preacher from the West. On his next-to-last day in Czechoslovakia, the evangelist was interviewed on camera in Prague by one of the nation’s best-known television news commentators. During the interview, Graham told of his impressions regarding Czechoslovakia’s churches. The church is strong, the gospel is being preached, and lives are being changed, he explained.

The interview was aired in its entirety throughout the nation that night on the prime-time evening TV news show with voice-over translation into Czech. It was also broadcast on Czech radio and carried by newspapers.

It is the first time that the church has ever gained such “official” visibility on national television, declared the church leaders. They said they feel that this kind of “recognition” of Protestant churches and the gospel message may signal better days ahead in the sometimes strained relationships with government authorities.

Just prior to the television interview, Graham conferred for more than an hour with Czech deputy prime minister Matej Lucan. Among other things, the evangelist spoke candidly of the “problems” that have disturbed relationships between the government and the churches. Later, at a Prague press conference, ...

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