Billy Graham, evangelist to the White House, dies aged 99

United States evangelist Billy Graham has died.

The man who counselled Presidents and preached to millions worldwide via TV passed away at his North Carolina home. He was 99 years old.

Mr Graham became the de facto White House chaplain to several US Presidents, most famously Richard Nixon. He also met with scores of world leaders and was the first noted evangelist to take his message behind the Iron Curtain.

Mr Graham did not consider himself a strict interpreter of the Bible and preached a conservative, but not fundamentalist, Christianity.

In order to avoid rumours of sexual or financial misconduct, Graham and his lieutenants agreed to what was known as the Modesto Manifesto in 1948. Meeting in a hotel in Modesto, California, they pledged to never be alone in a room with a woman other than their wives, and to keep honest financial records.

His breakthrough came in 1949 when a three-week Los Angeles tent campaign, or 'crusade' extended to eight weeks. In 1950 Harry Truman became the first president to pray with Graham in the White House.

In 1957 he preached nightly for 16 weeks in New York's Madison Square Garden.

Hillary Clinton, the former US Secretary of State, said she first saw Mr Graham preach in 1971 at a crusade in California that she attended with then-boyfriend Bill Clinton. She said Mr Graham later counselled her over her husband's sex scandal involving White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

In 2002 Mr Graham apologised after secretly recorded tapes from 1972 revealed he and Mr Nixon agreed liberal Jews dominated the US news media. Mr Graham said Jewish "stranglehold has got to be broken or the country's going down the drain".

Mr Graham was listed on Gallup's annual US poll of most admired people 61 times, including in 2017, more than any other world figure.

Graham was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1989. The chairman of the selection committee said: "I can't think of anybody in the world who has used radio, television and motion pictures in a more positive way."

Reuters / Newshub.