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Rev. Billy Graham points to heaven as he preaches at the Greater New York Billy Graham Crusade June 25, 2005 in Flushing, New

MONTREAT, North Carolina, February 22, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Tributes continued to pour in for “America's pastor” Billy Graham after his passing on Wednesday at age 99.

Graham did not shy away from forthrightness on moral issues, in particular the sanctity of human life, the evil of abortion, and marriage being between a man and a woman.

“Life is sacred, and we must seek to protect all human life,” he once said about abortion.  

“My heart aches for America and its deceived people,” he wrote in 2012 about the “millions of babies” aborted in the U.S., lamenting how the nation “seems largely unconcerned.” 

“Self-centered indulgence, pride, and a lack of shame over sin are now emblems of the American lifestyle,” Graham said, cautioning that “the farther we get from God, the more the world spirals out of control.”

He expressed hope that just as when the prophet Jonah traveled to Nineveh and proclaimed God’s warning, people heard and repented, the U.S. will likewise be turned around.

Graham counseled a post-abortive woman via the Answers outreach on his website that it was wrong to say God could never forgive her.

He told her she could have the same experience of forgiveness as King David in the Old Testament who faced his sin, repented of it and sought God’s forgiveness.

“God loves you,” Graham told the woman, “and Christ died to take away every sin you ever committed — every one. Don’t let your emotions or anything else keep you from Christ. Ask Him to come into your life today, because in Him “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14).

Graham had also taken out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal during the 2012 U.S. presidential to ask Americans to “cast their ballots” for candidates “who base their decisions on biblical principles,” mentioning specific candidates who “protect the sanctity of life.”

Regarding assisted suicide, Graham had said, “The main reason is because God gave life to us, and only He has the right to take it away. Life is a sacred gift from God. We are not here by chance or by accident; God put us here. Just as He put us here, He alone has the authority to take us away, and when we take that authority into our own hands, we do violence to His all-wise purposes. Life is not to be destroyed at random.”

Graham was also straightforward about the sinfulness of homosexual activity.

“Today, the appeal to unrestricted sex and unlawful use of sex is felt everywhere. Experimentation in sexual perversions is admired. But let me say this loud and clear! We traffic in homosexuality at the peril of our spiritual welfare,” he wrote in a 1973 column that appeared in The Ledger. 

In 2014, Graham called America “just as wicked as Sodom and Gomorrah ever were, and as deserving of the judgment of God,” adding that God “would spare us if we were earnestly praying, with hearts that had been cleansed and washed by the blood of Christ.”

In 2012, he defended the biblical definition of marriage as “between a man and a woman.”

“At 93, I never thought we would have to debate the definition of marriage,” said the preacher in a 2012 statement in support of a North Carolina amendment that would define marriage between one man and one woman as the only valid domestic legal union in the state. 

“The Bible is clear — God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman. I want to urge my fellow North Carolinians to vote for the marriage amendment,” he added.  

Graham was involved in civil rights for African Americans. His revivals and crusades were racially integrated from 1953, and in 1957 he invited Martin Luther King Jr. to preach with him at a revival in New York City. Graham had also bailed King out of jail during the 1960s. 

The “evangelist to the world” died at the Montreat, North Carolina, home he’d retired to in 2005 after some 60 years of preaching Christian crusades both in person and on television worldwide to millions, at the same time providing spiritual counsel to every U.S. president from Harry Truman to George W. Bush.

“The GREAT Billy Graham is dead,” President Trump tweeted Wednesday morning as word of Graham’s death spread. “There was nobody like him! He will be missed by Christians and all religions. A very special man.”

His evangelical legacy has been carried forth by his family, perhaps most recognizably by the Rev. Franklin Graham, the eldest of his two sons and three daughters with the late Ruth Bell Graham. 

Franklin Graham, the president and CEO of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and president and CEO of the Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, released a statement Wednesday on the passing of his renowned father. 

“My siblings and I would appreciate your prayers in the days ahead as we honor a man who served the Lord with his life, loved his family, and was always grateful for God’s faithful people who supported him in the work of the ministry in Jesus’ name,” he said.

“As we lay to rest this very public ambassador, please pray with us that the testimony he leaves behind will touch many lives and point them to salvation in Jesus Christ,” Franklin Graham said. “My father’s journey of faith on earth has ended. He has been reunited with my mother and has stepped into the eternal joy of Heaven in the presence of his Savior, in whom he placed his hope.”

He directed readers to for details on offering condolences and public visitation.

Trump later shared a statement offering prayers for Graham’s children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and “all who worked closely with Reverend Graham in his lifelong ministry.”

He called Graham “an American hero whose life and leadership truly earned him the title 'God’s Ambassador,' and lauded Graham’s assuring the nation after the attacks on September 11, 2001, that “God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.”

“Billy Graham was truly one of a kind,” Trump said. “Christians and people of all faiths and backgrounds will miss him dearly.”

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput praised Graham’s ability to reach Christians of all denominations.

“Billy Graham navigated a century of turbulent conflict and change with the message of the Gospel and a zeal that made him one of the great Christian presences in American history,” Chaput said. “His witness to Jesus Christ reached across denominational lines and inspired millions. May God grant him eternal joy and peace, and may the example of his life lead others to the freedom of Christian discipleship.”

Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins said of Graham, “Because he yielded himself to God, he was used to accomplish the extraordinary — forever impacting the lives of countless people.”

Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Mat Staver said, “Billy Graham's legacy will echo through eternity.”

“Billy Graham inspired millions, from heads of state to missionaries, from clergy to teenagers,” said Alliance Defending Freedom president and CEO Michael Farris. “He was especially inspirational to those of us engaged in the defense and protection of religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.” 

“His legacy will live on in the hearts, souls, and minds of all those who work tirelessly to proclaim the Good News and the healing power of Jesus Christ,” Farris continued. “May God comfort his family and his countless friends, and may God continue to richly bless the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.”

Students for Life of America president Kristan Hawkins said Graham was an “example of dignity, integrity and tireless courage.”

“At a time in which so many leaders in politics, pulpits and entertainment have proven flawed, the Rev. Billy Graham stands as an example of humble leadership, noteworthy for not only his scandal-free life but for his consistency in calling for a life of faith and service,” said Hawkins. “He is an example for us all of dignity, integrity and tireless courage in communicating timeless truths with love and respect. He will be missed.”

“RIP Billy Graham, a true evangelist and a spiritual icon to millions,” tweeted EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo.

Evangelist and pro-life activist Alveda King recalled in a statement on her Priests for Life blog how her experience with Graham years ago and his admonishing her to “pray without ceasing” changed her life.

King remarked how the lives of her family and those of Billy Graham and his family were intertwined throughout her lifetime, including her uncle ministering with Graham at Madison Square Garden in the 1950s.

“Together, in living color, bridging the racial divide, they debunked the colorblind myth,” she said, “revealing the mystery of Acts 16:26 – One Blood, One Human Race.” 

“Dr. Billy Graham has departed earth to receive A Warrior’s Reward,” King stated. “Today I join America and the world in prayers for the Graham family — not just mourning their loss, as Dr. Graham will be sorely missed — but also celebrating the life of this precious man of God.”

Graham’s Twitter account, managed by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, tweeted an enduring message of Graham’s late Wednesday afternoon: