I have never met Matthew Sutton, the Edward R. Meyer professor of history at Washington State University. I admire his book American Apocalypse: A History of American Modern Evangelicalism. Yesterday he wrote an op-ed at The Guardian: “Billy Graham was on the wrong side of history.”
Here is a taste:
When Billy Graham stands before the judgment seat of God, he may finally realize how badly he failed his country, and perhaps his God. On civil rights and the environmental crisis, the most important issues of his lifetime, he championed the wrong policies.
Graham was on the wrong side of history.
Did Graham, as Sutton suggests, “fail” his country or his God? Sutton believes that he did, but this is not a historical question.
Sutton falls into the trap of claiming that there is a “right side” and a “wrong side” of history. Such claims have nothing to do with history. They have everything to do with politics. They tell us more about Sutton’s politics than Billy Graham’s legacy.
I found this tweet from November 9, 2016, the day after the presidential election:
Please don’t tell me that history always moves in an arc of progress or that there is a “right” or “wrong” side of history. #whystudyhistory
— John Fea (@JohnFea1) November 9, 2016
Read the rest of Sutton’s piece here.