Billy Graham on communism: “Satan’s religion” (1954)

Billy Graham (1918-2018) was an American Baptist minister and probably the best-known evangelist preacher of the 20th century. Born and raised in rural North Carolina, Graham converted at age 16 before studying in Florida and Illinois. Ordained in 1939, he served as a pastor in several locations, earning a reputation for forceful and fiery oratory. Graham started his own ministry in 1947 and embarked on a series of ‘crusades’, essentially sermons, preaching and consultations conducted before a mass audience. He held these ‘crusades’ in more than 180 countries, including Poland (1978), the Soviet Union (1982-84), Romania (1985) and China (1988). Graham was a vociferous and often provocative critic of communism who aligned himself with politicians of similar views, such as Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson. In the following extract from the August 1954 edition of The American Mercury, Graham describes communism as “Satan’s religion” and a “doctrine of death and destruction”:

“The Communist revolution that was born in the hearts of Marx and Engels in the middle of the 19th century is not going to give up or retreat. No amount of words at the United Nations, or peace conferences in the Far East, is going to change the mind of Communism. It is here to stay. It is a battle to the death: either Communism must die, or Christianity must die…

Has it ever occurred to you that the Devil is a religious leader and millions are worshipping at his shrine today? … The name of this present-day religion is Communism… The Devil is their god, Marx their prophet, Lenin their saint and Malenkov their high priest. Denying their faith in all ideologies, except their religion of revolution, these diabolically-inspired men seek in devious and various ways to convert a peaceful world to their doctrine of death and destruction.

So fanatical and ruthless are these disciples of Lucifer that in thirty years they have slaughtered millions of innocent persons and stand prepared with poised weapons to kill millions more in an all-out effort to spread their doctrines to the ends of the earth…

What is the subtle creed of Communism? What sort of ideology is it that has captured the loyalty of countless millions of the world’s people? [Christian writer] Dr Roy Laurin has suggested the following appraisal:

Politically, a Communist is one who believes the state is supreme and the individual exists only for the welfare of the state, thus destroying the God-given status of the dignity of the individual.

Economically, a Communist believes in the replacement of private property in land and capital by common ownership and the replacement of private management by collective management.

Socially, a Communist does not believe in marriage as an institution of God but only as a biological arrangement suited to the reproduction of heirs to the Communist state.

Internationally, a Communist is a revolutionist who is behind much of the unrest in the world today, whether in Korea, East Germany or Morocco.

Ethically, a Communist is a believer of and a devotee to the ‘big lie.’

Theologically, a Communist is an atheist, a despoiler of churches, a murderer of Christians…

A war of ideologies is being waged throughout the world, a war of the secular against the spiritual. The actual battles in the areas of combat are only material manifestations of the larger battle that rages in the hearts of men throughout the earth. Will it be truth or a lie? Will we be motivated by materialistic philosophy or spiritual power? Will we be led by Jehovah God – or duped by Satan? The battle lines are clearly drawn…”

billy graham communism
Billy Graham addressing one of his Crusades in Germany, 1954