According to a North Korean newspaper, famous Evangelist Billy Graham referred to the former North Korean leader Kim Il Sung as “God.”
Christian Today reports that when representatives of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) heard about the newspaper’s claim, they immediately refuted it.
"While Billy Graham made two trips to North Korea and knew the elder president Kim Il Sung, Mr. Graham has not said anything like this," Jeremy Blume, a spokesman for Graham, told The Washington Post. "These words do not even remotely resemble Mr. Graham's theology or his language."
The North Korean state-run newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, claimed that Graham said, "Having observed the Supreme Leader Kim Il Sung's unique political leadership, I can only think that he is God. If God is the leader of another world, saviour and ruler of the past and future life that exists in our imagination, I acknowledge the Supreme Leader Kim Il Sung is the God who rules today's human world."
The newspaper also asserted that Graham understood why North Korea forbade him from preaching the gospel when he visited the country in 1992 and 1994:
"Kim is this world's God. Why would a country like this need the Holy Bible?" Graham allegedly said.
These claims by the newspaper were made as part of the one hundred and fourth birth anniversary commemoration of the country’s late leader.
Although the BGEA denied that Graham had made any such claims, after visiting North Korea, Graham did say, "In person, I found President Kim to be a forceful and charismatic leader, and I could understand why he was held in such high esteem by his fellow citizens," Graham said after Kim passed away in 1994. "Although he met few Americans, he always expressed the hope for better relations with the United States."
Publication date: April 19, 2016