‘Selling Soap and Salvation’
Billy Graham’s Consumer Rhetoric in Germany and the United States in the 1950s
Pages 137 - 152
In the 1950s and 1960, the American evangelist Billy Graham held his first large revival meetings in Germany. This article explores how the German evangelical organizers and German Christians more generally related to Graham’s particular campaign style that blended mission and marketing. It uses Graham’s revival meetings in Germany to explore the multi-layered interplay between religion and consumption in West Germany in the 1950s and 60s and shows how rapidly changing economic circumstances in post-War Germany and emerging new consumption patterns also had an impact on how Germans discussed, experienced, and practiced religion. This article argues that the impact that Billy Graham had on the German religious landscape cannot be assessed solely on the basis of church membership (which only showed marginal if any increase after the revival meetings), but argues that Graham brought a significant cultural change to the German religious landscape which slowly embraced the American concept of selling and consuming faith.