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Elon experts offer insights into impact of the Rev. Billy Graham

Assistant Professor of Political Science Jason Husser and Associate Professor of Communications Anthony Hatcher offered their thoughts on the career of the Rev. Billy Graham, who died Feb. 21 at the age of 99. 

A WFMY News 2 report on the career of the Rev. Billy Graham, who died Wednesday at the age of 99, included the insights of two Elon professors who have studied the impact of the prominent pastor and evangelist. 

A screenshot of the WFMY report on the late Rev. Billy Graham that featured Elon faculty members Anthony Hatcher and Jason Husser.

Graham, a North Carolina native, began to rise to prominence as an evangelist in the late 1940s and would go on to fill stadiums during his crusades and to become a counselor to presidents. Jason Husser, assistant professor of political science and director of the Elon University Poll, noted that Graham repeatedly topped the list of the most admired people in North Carolina and in the country. 

"If you look at North Carolina figures and you think, who had the biggest cultural impact outside of the state, you'd point to Billy Graham, you'd point to Andy Griffith, you'd point to Maya Angelou," Husser told WFMY News 2. "He's one of these figures that really shaped not just North Carolina, not just the country, but the entire world."

Anthony Hatcher, associate professor of communications, notes that Graham's influence and reach extended beyond those that attended his crusades, which would fill stadiums and arenas like Shea Stadium and Madison Square Garden. "Billy Graham really was well-known outside of religion," Hatcher said. "He was known for religion, but he was an interesting guy in that he was willing to engage almost anyone."

Among the venues that Graham visiting during his long career was Elon's Whitley Auditorium, where he led a service for the campus community in November 1951 during a break in his six-week crusade in nearby Greensboro. 

Watch the entire segment on Graham featuring Husser and Hatcher here

Owen Covington,
2/22/2018 9:05 AM