In contrast to the reception he usually receives when conducting an evangelistic crusade, Billy Graham was confronted by a hostile press and garbage-throwing protesters during his recent campaign in Sewden and Norway (Sept. 24 to Oct. 1).
While he drew the usual throngs to the meeting halls where he preached and thousands of other listeners through television, Graham's meetings drew small numbers of people deciding to make what the Graham crusade calls personal commitments to Christ.
His most hostile reception came in Oslo, Norway, where a coalition called "Action Billy Graham '78" was formed to oppose his crusade. The coalition's efforts were headed by Levi Fragell, 40, the son of a prominent Norwegian evangelist and press secretary for the Minister of Justice.
"Young people and children need to be protected from the psychological manipulations of evangelists," Fragell said.
Graham's one rally in Oslo was disrupted by members of the Heathen Society, who shouted, "Billy, go home," unfurled critical banners and planted smoke bombs which were discovered before the rally began.
At the end of the rally, while Graham left the stadium, members of the Heathen Society threw plastic bags of garbage. Some reporters were hit with the contents. None hit the evangelist.
Earlier, Graham had been splattered by a mixture of red paint and chemicals hurled by a young woman member of the Heathen Society during a pastors' meeting. While the protester was taken out, the evangelist said, "I love that young woman because Christ loves her."
Graham's five crusade rallies in Stockholm did not meet with the hostility he encountered in Norway. He reached a combined total of almost 60,000 people in meeting halls through close-circuit hookups and had his crusades broadcast on state television during prime times.
The responses to the rallies in Scandinavia, while not as large as usual for Graham crusades, were considered significant for Scandinavia, where church membership and attendance have been in sharp decline.