Evangelist Billy Graham leaves hospital, returns home, spokesman says

Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - 3:10pm

Evangelist Billy Graham was released from the hospital Tuesday after a two-day stay and returned to his North Carolina home, Mission Hospital said.

Pulmonologist Daniel Fertel said doctors caught his bronchitis early, a vital factor in his quick recovery.

"Despite this illness he remains remarkably healthy for a 93-year-old man," the doctor said in a news release issued by the hospital.

Graham was admitted to the hospital in the western North Carolina city of Asheville early Sunday morning.

Graham said he received "exceptional care" during his stay.

"I am also grateful for the prayers and letters I received from people across the country and around the world during my short stay," Graham said in the news release. "Such an outpouring of love and support is always a blessing but was especially appreciated during my hospitalization."

He was hospitalized with pneumonia last November, six months after being admitted to a hospital for the same condition. Since then, he has remained "in good overall health ... though he continues to remain at home due to age-related conditions," according to the hospital and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Graham, a resident of Montreat, about 18 miles east of Asheville, has provided counsel to generations of U.S. presidents, beginning with Harry S. Truman, and is the founder of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

The Charlotte native has preached to untold millions over six decades, beginning his missionary work in 1944 when he started speaking at rallies for the Youth for Christ/Campus Life ministry. Five years later, Graham was holding a "crusade" in tents in downtown Los Angeles.

Originally scheduled for three weeks, the crusade drew so many followers it was extended to seven. His "last crusade" in June 2005 drew 230,000 people.

Even with his advanced age and health issues, Graham remains "actively involved in ministry and writing projects," his evangelistic association and the hospital said. That includes writing a new book, which is almost done, "summarizing his Gospel message over the past seven decades of public ministry."

He also has weighed in on hot-button issues of late, including supporting North Carolina's constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, which voters passed earlier this year, and last month defending the president of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain for his opposition to same-sex marriage.

Also in July, in a letter released by his organization, Graham leveled deep criticism at the United States. He compared the country to Sodom and Gomorrah, the biblical cities synonymous with sin.

"Self-centered indulgence, pride and a lack of shame over sin are now emblems of the American lifestyle," Graham wrote.

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