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November 2016: "Don't Look As If Your Religion Hurt You"
Billy Sunday in McClure's Magazine

(above) Page 13 fom the May 1915 issue of McClure's Magazine, featuring original drawings of Billy Sunday's famous preaching antics

One of the most influential revivalists of the twentieth century, Billy Sunday (1862-1935) began his career as a professional baseball player with the Chicago White Stockings in 1883. Through the ministry of the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago, Sunday converted to Christianity three years later and soon discovered that his skills on the baseball diamond transferred to the pulpit with electrifying results. From his first sermon in 1896 until his death in 1935, Billy Sunday became the most successful evangelists in American history until he was eclipsed by Billy Graham in the post-war era. Sunday's success as an evangelist was partially due to his unconventional preaching style, combining onstage theatrics with fiery denunciations of sin. Evangelistic messages concluded with a call to repentance and an invitation to "walk the sawdust" trail to make a decision for Christ and receive salvation.

A popular illustrated periodical of the early twentieth century, McClure's Magazine was known for its investigative "muckraking" reporting and for the shaping moral views in turn-of-the century America. The May 1915 issue of McClure's depicts the Billy Sunday of popular imagination—animated, bombastic, jocular, and impassioned—pairing Sunday's notorious preaching antics with pithy quotations. As portrayed in the sketches above, Sunday's most famous sermons targeted what he believed was the root of growing moral laxity in twentieth-century America—the social evils of gambling, dancing, and especially the consumption of alcohol. Sunday's influence waned after World War I, though he continued to lead evangelistic meetings and to be an outspoken advocate of Prohibition.

This poster was recently transferred to the Billy Graham Center Archives from the BGC Museum, and is now housed in Collection 29 Ephemera of Billy and Helen Sunday as Accession 93-21.

More information and materials relating to the Billy Sunday's life and ministry are located in the following Collections at the Billy Graham Center Archives:

CN 29 Ephemera of Billy and Helen Sunday. This collection contains magazine clippings of George Bellows' famous sketches of Billy Sunday in Box 1-3.

CN 61 Papers of Billy and Helen Sunday


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Last Revised: 11/01/16
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