Conservative columnist George F. Will recently penned an op-ed: "Billy Graham was neither a prophet nor a theologian."

Will viewed the great evangelist through the lens of an atheist. This no doubt skewed his column.

He wrote Graham was neither a prophet nor a theologian. Billy Graham never considered himself a prophet or theologian. In this vein, Will was too critical.

Will's litmus test for a prophet centers on "Prophets taking adversarial stances toward their time ..." noting Martin Luther King Jr. and Pope John Paul II as examples.

Will fails to mention Graham's and President Lyndon Johnson's shared commitment to civil rights. Will only touches on, but does not share how it was in 1953. Long before the civil rights movement was in full swing in the 1960s, at a crusade in Chattanooga, Tenn., Graham told volunteer ushers blacks were to sit wherever they pleased, as there was no segregation at the foot of Jesus' cross. Segregation seating was never allowed at subsequent Graham crusades, even in apartheid South Africa. This showed Graham was a man ahead of his time.

Nor does Will cite how in the 1980s, Graham distanced himself from the conservative right by speaking out in favor of nuclear disarmament. He also voiced his concerns against human rights violations and religious oppression in the Soviet Union.

Billy Graham fell short at times. He was duped by President Richard Nixon; in a conversation they disparaged Jews, but Graham later publicly apologized. He was, as Will points out, also deeply disturbed over Nixon's vulgar language in the transcripts of Nixon trying to cover up crimes. Graham learned evangelicalism should not be moved into politics, confessing his regret for having been drawn into that specter.

— Mark C. Salvaggio, Bakersfield