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Billy James Hargis

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Billy James Hargis (born August 3, 1925, in Texarkana, Texas; died November 29, 2004, Tulsa, Oklahoma) was a far-right-wing Protestant Christian minister who, it could be argued, was one of the founding fathers of the Christian Right. At the height of his popularity in the 1950's and 1960's, he had shows on more than 500 radio stations and 250 television stations.



Hargis preached continually on the evils of sex education, Communism and liberalism, and urged the return of prayer and Bible reading to public schools long before the modern Religious Right. He often accused the government, media and pop culture figures (among whom he included the Beatles) of promoting Communism. He publicly alleged that John F. Kennedy was killed by a Communist conspiracy, which brought him a good deal of notoriety in the immediate post-assassination media furor. Hargis was also a member of the John Birch Society, and made his pro-segregation stance clear, once accusing Martin Luther King, Jr. of being a Communist-educated traitor. He often urged his listeners to take action by writing their congressmen and senators, and was one of the first fundamentalist Christian personalities to urge his audiences to become politically involved - a tactic that was not lost on his successors.

Hargis targeted rural audiences with his pulpit-pounding, thunderous messages, and was not averse to engaging in publicity stunts such as his 1953 scheme to release 100,000 balloons, with Biblical quotations attached to them, across the Iron Curtain into Communist countries. He was the author of at least 100 books, including "The Far Left," "Why I Fight for a Christian America," and "Is the School House the Proper Place to Teach Raw Sex?"

Hargis founded Christian Crusade in 1950, an interdenominational movement designed as a "Christian weapon against Communism and its godless allies." As a result, Hargis ran into trouble with the Internal Revenue Service, who removed his tax-exempt status, citing Hargis' involvement in political matters.

He also founded the David Livingstone Missionary Foundation, which operated hospitals, orphanages, leprosy villages, medical vans and mission services in Korea, Hong Kong, India, the Philippines and Africa.

Hargis was also indirectly responsible for the existence of the Fairness Doctrine. In 1964, Hargis, who was a staunch supporter of Barry Goldwater in that year's presidential race, made false statements about a journalist who was critical of Goldwater. The journalist asked for air time in order to give his rebuttal to Hargis' statements, and the broadcaster refused. The journalist took his case to court, and eventually the case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court upheld the equal-time allowance in Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC (1969), codifying what became known as the Fairness Doctrine in American broadcasting.

Hargis formed the American Christian College in 1971 in order to teach fundamentalist Christian right-wing principles. However, a sex scandal involving two of his students (who, on their honeymoon, confessed to each other that they were not virgins, and then found they had lost their virginity to the same person - Billy James Hargis) more or less ended his career. Hargis was forced out of American Christian College's presidency as a result. Further scandals erupted when members of Hargis' youth choir, the "All American Kids," accused Hargis of sexual misconduct as well. The college eventually closed down in the mid-1970's.

Hargis retreated to Neosho, Missouri, where he continued to work, issuing daily and weekly radio broadcasts and a monthly newspaper, The Christian Crusade Newspaper, as well as authoring a number of books. He suffered from Alzheimer's Disease in his final years, and died at age 79 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His son, Billy James Hargis II, continues his ministry.


“When the Beatles thrust their hips forward while holding their guitars and shout, ‘Oh Yeah!!' who cannot know what they really mean?”

“I was guilty of sin, but not the sin I was accused of.” (about the sex scandal that brought down his empire)


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This page was last modified 04:17, 16 May 2006 by CD. Based on work by dKosopedia user(s) Allamakee Democrat and Lestatdelc. Content is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

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