Los Angeles Crusade (1949)

Billy Graham in 1954

The Los Angeles Crusade of 1949 was the first great evangelistic campaign of Billy Graham. It was organized by the Christian group Christ for Greater Los Angeles.[1] The campaign was scheduled for three weeks, but it was extended to eight weeks.[2] During the campaign Graham spoke to 350,000 people, by the end,[3] 3,000 of them decided to convert to Christianity.[4] It was subsequently described as the greatest revival since the time of Billy Sunday.[5] After this crusade Graham became a national figure in the United States.


The Christ for Greater Los Angeles' committee scheduled a series of revival meetings in Los Angeles in 1949. The committee had decided to invite Billy Graham as the preacher. The crusade started on September 25, 1949.[6] It was scheduled for three weeks between September 25 and October 17.[7]

It was organized with prayer support provided by more than 1,000 prayer groups that had been formed in and around Los Angeles. These groups regularly prayed for the crusade's success.[8]


A circus tent that held 6,000 people was erected in a parking lot. The tent was enlarged to 9,000 and was still too small.[4] The last meeting took place at 20 November. Graham preached: "I don't believe that any man can solve his problems of life without Jesus Christ" "All across Europe, people know that time is running out," (...) "Now that Russia has the atomic bomb, the world is in an armament race driving us to destruction."[5]

The interest of local and national newspapers was piqued when Stuart Hamblen announced on air that he had been converted.[9][10][11] His conversion was followed by that of former Olympian and prisoner of war Louis Zamperini and Jim Vaus, a friend of Mickey Cohen.[12][2] Harvey Fritz, an actor, was another celebrity conversion.[13]


After Hamblen's conversion, William Randolph Hearst sent a telegram to all his newspaper editors: "Puff Graham."[3] As a result, within five days Graham gained national coverage.[14][15] With such media attention, the crusade event ran for eight weeks—five weeks longer than planned. Graham became a national figure.[16] Henry Luce also promoted Graham with coverage at this time, and by 1954 featured him on the cover of his magazine TIME.[15] According to Bothwell Hearst and Luce supported Graham because of his anticommunist message.[17]

Due to the Los Angeles crusade Evangelicalism was introduced as an influential force in American culture.[1]

According to some scholars such as Ben Bagdikian Hearst liked Graham's patriotism and appeals to youth; he thought the evangelist would help promote Hearst's conservative anti-communist views.[3] The scholar Randall E. King notes that Hearst and Graham never met.[14]

See also


  1. ^ a b Into the Big Tent: Billy Graham and the 1949 Los Angeles Campaign Billy Graham Center Archives
  2. ^ a b Aikman, David (2007). Billy Graham: His Life and Influence. Thomas Nelson Inc. p. 66. ISBN 978-08499-1702-8.
  3. ^ a b c Ben Bagdikian, The Media Monopoly, Boston, Mass: Beacon Press, 2000 6th ed., p. 39 ff.
  4. ^ a b High, Stanley (1956). Billy Graham The Personal Story Of The Man His Message And His Mission. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company. p. 133.
  5. ^ a b Cecilia Rasmussen (September 2, 2007). "Billy Graham's star was born at his 1949 revival in Los Angeles". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-03-23.
  6. ^ Barry M. Horstmann (June 27, 2002). "Billy Graham: A Man With A Mission Impossible.(Special Ssection)". Cincinnati Post. Archived from the original on August 29, 2011. Retrieved August 18, 2007.
  7. ^ "Billy Graham Greater Los Angeles Campaign". Washington at Hill: Christ for Greater Los Angeles. 1949. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ High, Stanley (1956). Billy Graham The Personal Story Of The Man His Message And His Mission. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company. p. 148.
  9. ^ Handbook of Texas Online: "Carl Stuart Hamblen
  10. ^ Third Parties: It's a Free Country, Time, Sept. 1, 1952
  11. ^ Hamblen, J.H.: "A Look Into Life," an Evangelical Methodist Church publication (c. 1970)
  12. ^ Cutler B. Whitwell (December 17, 1949). "The Great Awakening in Los Angeles". The Sunday School Times. (3) 1127. Retrieved 2013-03-23.
  13. ^ Mel Larson (1950). "TASTING REVIVAL — at Los Angeles". Revival In Our Time: The Story of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Campaigns including Six of his Sermons. Van Kampen Press. p. 16.
  14. ^ a b Randall E. King (March 22, 1997). "When worlds collide: politics, religion, and media at the 1970 East Tennessee Billy Graham Crusade". Journal of Church and State. Archived from the original on May 17, 2011. Retrieved August 18, 2007.
  15. ^ a b Bagdikan (2000), Media Monopoly, p. 39
  16. ^ The 2010 TIME 100 Time, Billy Graham, June 14, 1999.
  17. ^ Bothwell, Cecil (2007). The Prince of War: Billy Graham’s Crusade for a Wholly Christian Empire. Asheviile, N.C.: Brave Ulysses Books. ISBN 978-0-6151-6272-0.

Further reading

External links

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