Evangelist Billy Graham, who has preached Christianity to tens of millions around the world, has been named winner of the prestigious Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion--akin in religion to winning the Nobel Peace Prize.
Graham, who was honored for giving the church a wider vision of the meaning of evangelism, is the second American to win the award, worth $200,000. Scientist-theologian Ralph Burhoe of Chicago was given the award in 1980 for promoting reconciliation between his two fields.
The prize, awarded by the Templeton Foundation, will be given to Graham in London on May 11. He said he will donate the money to worthy projects for the advancement of Christianity.
An international panel of judges selects the winner of the award, the largest cash prize given in any field. The prize was established 10 years ago by American investment counselor John M. Templeton, a Presbyterian.
The foundation said, "For many years Dr. Graham's dynamic radio and television messages, books and crusades on every continent have been reaching people in all walks of life and literally millions of them have been influenced by him."
It said Graham's "cooperation with all denominations of the Christian faith and his determination to involve the statesmen of the world in evangelism has left an indelible mark on Christian history."
"His use of modern communication was a breakthrough in communicating the Christian message."
Other previous award winners include Mother Teresa of Calcutta; Dr. Savepalli Radhakrishnam, former president of India; Cardinal Leon Joseph Suenens, Roman Catholic Arbishop of Malines-Brussels; Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement in Italy.