When Hillary Clinton Persuaded Billy Graham to Break the “Billy Graham Rule”
Let’s talk about how Billy Graham himself recalls agreeing with Hillary Clinton to break his “Billy Graham Rule” and to eat lunch with her alone while having a private conversation in which he finds himself admiring her more than ever, an admiration that only grows.
But first, we may have to talk about how Mike Pence himself says glowing things about Hillary Clinton too, although he’s not admitted to coming to his assessments of her as directly as Billy Graham has. Second, we can let Billy Graham himself talk about what’s being called the “Billy Graham Rule.” Third, then, we can let Billy Graham talk about when Hillary Clinton persuaded him to break this rule. Fourth, we may want to talk about how Billy Graham and Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton are friends, how the evangelist endorsed her for President and how he personally talked with her, ostensibly in private again, to support her through her decision to stay with her husband after his private infidelities with a White House intern were made public and how Billy Graham considers her a warm and spiritual person whom he continues to admire and to stay in touch with. Fifth, we may not have to talk about Mike Pence again, although we may want to say something more about the Billy Graham rule.
So first, we recall how a couple of days ago, Ashley Parker writes an article for the Washington Post, the title of which invokes the culture war in America: “Karen Pence is the vice president’s ‘prayer warrior,’ gut check and shield.” In it, Parker summarizes a bit from another article:
In 2002, Mike Pence told the Hill that he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he won’t attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side, either.
Parker may have the wrong date for the Hill article. Although it isn’t extant online, there are direct quotations ostensibly from that earlier article in a 2013 blog post by Craig Fehrman:
- In 2001, the newly-elected Pence talked to The Hill about his marriage: “He never dines alone with a woman who is not his wife. And when his wife is absent, he never attends events where alcohol flows. ‘If there’s alcohol being served and people are being loose, I want to have the best-looking brunette in the room standing next to me,’ Pence said. As it happens, Pence frequently turns down invitations for drinks or dinner from male colleagues. ‘It’s about building a zone around your marriage,’ he observed.”
And there’s lot of social media response, isn’t there? Vice President Pence seems to be committed to the so-called “Billy Graham Rule.” Mike Pence may have admired Hillary Clinton at various points to the point where he would not even want to be at a private lunch with her for all of her charm lest she come between him and “the best-looking brunette” as he refers to Karen Pence; but he’s disparaged Hillary Clinton more recently, and his built “zone around” his marriage to “the best-looking brunette” would seem as solid as ever.
Second, here is how Billy Graham says he came up with what others have been calling “The Billy Graham Rule.” This is from page 128 of his autobiography, Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham:
Third, then, here is how Billy Graham describes when Hillary Clinton persuaded him to break this rule with her. This is also from his autobiography, starting with page 650, where he discusses his admiration for Bill Clinton:
We notice in his own words how he feels about Hillary Clinton during and then after their private lunch conversation.
Fourth, Billy Graham continued to admire Hillary Clinton to the point where he tells Bill Clinton that he should let her run for president. Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy report for Time Magazine:
At the last of his 417 crusades, the one held in New York City in June 2005, evangelist Billy Graham made an unscripted proposal.
Both Bill and Hillary Clinton were sitting with him on stage in Flushing Meadows when Graham greeted them as his “wonderful friends of many years.” “I told him,” Graham said of President Clinton, “when he left the presidency, he should become an evangelist, because he had all the gifts.” Graham paused, and added with a smile, “And he could [let] his wife run the country.”
Gibbs and Duffy continue in their article, noting the following:
Hillary Clinton reports that the evangelist fulfilled a pastoral role during the Monica Lewinsky scandal and helped the First Lady endure the ordeal. At that time, Clinton says, Graham was “incredibly supportive to me personally. And he was very strong in saying, ‘I really understand what you’re doing and I support you.’ He was just very personally there for me.”
She added: “The entire world was judging my decisions and my actions and there weren’t very many people who, frankly, were understanding, and he was. He said, ‘You know, forgiveness is the hardest thing that we’re called upon to do. And we all face it at some point in our lives and I’m just really proud of you for taking it on.”
They allude to other reported-on conversations between Billy Graham and Hillary Clinton of a personal and private nature. And in this same article they point to a source:
Details of the Clinton-Graham conversations are reported for the first time in The Preacher and the Presidents, Billy Graham In the White House, which is being published this week. An excerpt will appear in TIME magazine this Friday….
Of Senator Clinton, Graham said he liked her as a person. “I keep up with her,” Graham said. “I think a lot of Hillary… She is different from the Hillary you see in the media. There is a warm side to her — and a spiritual one.”
Fifth and finally, just a few weeks before Donald Trump named Mike Pence as his choice for Vice President, Tracey Bianchi wrote in Christianity Today an article with this title:
“Ladies Who Lunch—with Men: Do your coworkers follow the Billy Graham Rule?”
Bianchi’s essay was hardly some culture war response to anything Mike Pence had pledged as a Christian evangelical politician building a “zone” for his marriage to “the best-looking brunette.” She does say “Billy Graham’s personal decision for his ministry became a ‘rule'” – and we know that this was personal for him so he wouldn’t become an Elmer Gantry. And we know that Hillary Clinton helped him not hold strictly to this personal decision. Bianchi ends her article by giving this sage advice modeled by Jesus, by Hillary Clinton, and by Billy Graham:
Rather than let fear and mistrust inform our partnerships, let’s choose mutual respect like Jesus modeled when he chose to work alongside and honor women—even if that means going out for lunch.