Billy Graham first heard of Jimmy Carter when Carter was a peanut farmer and Georgia state senator in 1966. Carter volunteered to be a chairman for an evangelistic outreach in Americus, Georgia. The two met in person for the first time in 1971, and Carter (then governor of Georgia) later attended the Billy Graham Crusade in Atlanta in 1973 as honorary chair. Billy wrote of this time, “Through these contacts, I grew to like him as a person and to respect both his intelligence and his genuine and unashamed Christian commitment.”
When Carter was elected president, many people felt that Billy would again be a regular at the White House; however, Carter only had infrequent contacts with Billy during his term of office. In his autobiography, Just As I Am, Billy says, “Although we never talked directly about it, I sensed that President Carter agreed with my feeling that such visibility on my part could easily have been misunderstood by the public, leading to the suspicion that I was somehow taking advantage of our shared faith to influence political decisions or secure favors or influence for the evangelical movement.”
The Billy Graham Library is featuring an exhibit Pastor to Presidents highlighting Billy Graham’s friendships with our nation’s Executive Office. The exhibit runs through December 23, 2020. For more information on the exhibit, visit www.billygrahamlibrary.org.