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Billy Sunday For almost a quarter century Billy Sunday was a household name in the United States Between 1902 when he first made the pages of the New York Times and 1935 when the paper covered his death and memorial service in detail people who knew anything about current events had heard of the former major league baseball player who was preaching sin and salvation to large crowds all over America Not everyone who knew of the famous evangelist liked him Plenty of outspoken critics spoke of his flashy style and criticized his conservative doctrines But he had hundreds of thousands perhaps millions of loyal defenders and they were just as loud in their praise as the critics were in their criticism Whether people stood for or against the Reverend William A Sunday they all agreed that it was difficult to be indifferent toward him The religious leader was so extraordinarily popular opinionated and vocal that indifference was the last thing that he would get from people His most loyal admirers were confident that this rural-breed preacher was Gods mouthpiece calling Americans to repentance Sundays critics said that at best he was a well-meaning buffoon whose sermons vulgarized and trivialized the Christian message and at worst he was a disgrace to the name of Christ Dorsett 2 There are elements of truth in both of these views He was often guilty of oversimplifying biblical truths and at times he spoke more out of ignorance than a heavenly viewpoint He was also a man with numerous flaws He spoiled his children giving them everything that they asked for He put enormous responsibility on his wife burdening her with many aspects of his ministry He always noticeably sought the applause of the crowd for his own praise He often confused the will of God with his own social and political agenda He even sometimes compared the gospel of Jesus Christ with special interest and
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