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Billy Graham Crusade

During 1959 Billy Graham, the charismatic American evangelist, conducted a 15-week crusade in Australia and New Zealand. In Melbourne, 719 000 people attended 25 meetings, the largest on 15 March at the Melbourne Cricket Ground attracting 143 750, a record for a single venue and for the ground. All the major Protestant denominations were represented on the platforms. The massive attendances may be explained in part by the Cold War, perceived threats to the family, 'juvenile delinquency' and the sexualised threat of rock music, Americanisation, and extensive non-British, mainly Catholic, migration. Graham preached on most of these matters and his message supported a prevailing conviction about moral decline, reinforced by the filming of On the beach in Melbourne at the same time.

Judith Smart