Evangelist Billy Graham has frequently been honored by surveys, including “Greatest Living American” and has consistently ranked among the most admired persons in the United States and the world. He has appeared most frequently on Gallup’s list of most admired people. Since 1955, Graham was recognized by Gallup a record 55 times (49 times consecutively)—more than any other individual in history.
In 1967, he was the first Protestant to receive an honorary degree from Belmont Abbey College, a Roman Catholic school.
Graham received the Big Brother of the Year Award for his work on behalf of children. He has been cited by the George Washington Carver Memorial Institute for his contributions to race relations. He has received the Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion and the Sylvanus Thayer Award for his commitment to “Duty, Honor, Country”. The “Billy Graham Children’s Health Center” in Asheville is named after and funded by Graham.
For hosting many Christian musical artists, Graham was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1999 by the Gospel Music Association. Singer Michael W. Smith is active in Billy Graham Crusades as well as Samaritan’s Purse.
In 1983 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
In 2000, former First Lady Nancy Reagan presented the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award to Graham. Graham has been a friend of the Reagans for years.
In 2001 Queen Elizabeth II awarded him an honorary knighthood.
A professorial chair is named after him at the Alabama Baptist-affiliated Samford University, the Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth. His alma materWheaton College has an archive of his papers at the Billy Graham Center. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry. Graham has received 20 honorary degrees and refused at least that many more. In San Francisco, California, the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium is sometimes erroneously called the “Billy Graham Civic Auditorium” and falsely considered to be named in his honor, but it is actually named after the rock and roll promoter Bill Graham.
On May 31, 2007, the $27 million Billy Graham Library was officially dedicated in Charlotte. Former presidents Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton appeared to celebrate with Graham. A highway in Charlotte bears Graham’s name as does I-240 near Graham’s home in Asheville.
The movie Billy: The Early Years premiered in theaters officially on October 10, 2008, less than one month before Graham’s 90th birthday. Graham has yet to comment on the film, but his son, Franklin released a critical statement on August 18, 2008, noting that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association “has not collaborated with nor does it endorse the movie.” Graham’s eldest daughter Gigi, however, has praised the movie and has also been hired as a consultant to help promote the film.
- The Salvation Army’s Distinguished Service Medal
- Who’s Who in America annually since 1954
- Freedoms Foundation Distinguished Persons Award (numerous years)
- Gold Medal Award, National Institute of Social Science, New York, 1957
- Annual Gutenberg Award of the Chicago Bible Society, 1962
- Gold Award of the George Washington Carver Memorial Institute, 1964, for contribution to race relations, presented by Senator Javits (NY)
- Speaker of the Year Award, 1964
- American Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate Award, 1965
- Horatio Alger Award, 1965
- National Citizenship Award by the Military Chaplains Association of the U.S.A., 1965
- Wisdom Award of Honor, 1965
- The Torch of Liberty Plaque by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, 1969
- George Washington Honor Medal from Freedoms Foundation of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, for his sermon “The Violent Society,” 1969 (also in 1974)
- Honored by Morality in Media for “fostering the principles of truth, taste, inspiration and love in media,” 1969
- International Brotherhood Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews, 1971
- Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Broadcasters, 1972
- Franciscan International Award, 1972
- Sylvanus Thayer Award from United States Military Academy Association of Graduates at West Point (The most prestigious award the United States Military Academy gives to a U.S. citizen), 1972
- Direct Selling Association’s Salesman of the Decade award, 1975
- Philip Award from the Association of United Methodist Evangelists, 1976
- American Jewish Committee’s First National Interreligious Award, 1977
- Southern Baptist Radio and Television Commission’s Distinguished Communications Medal, 1977
- Jabotinsky Centennial Medal presented by The Jabotinsky Foundation, 1980
- Religious Broadcasting Hall of Fame award, 1981
- Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion award, 1982
- Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award,1983
- National Religious Broadcasters Award of Merit, 1986
- North Carolina Award in Public Service, 1986
- Good Housekeeping Most Admired Men Poll, 1997, No. 1 for five years in a row and 16th time in top 10
- Congressional Gold Medal (along with wife Ruth), highest honor Congress can bestow on a private citizen, 1996
- Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation Freedom Award, for monumental and lasting contributions to the cause of freedom, 2000
- Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) for his international contribution to civic and religious life over 60 years, 2001
- Many honorary degrees including University of Northwestern – St. Paul, Minnesota, where Graham was once president, named its newest campus building the Billy Graham Community Life Commons.