Darwin Fish, pastor of [a true church] in California, warns the crowd of his belief that Billy Graham is a false teacher and that listening to him will lead to hell. Eight protesters from the church lined up at entrance points to pass out literature. (Larry McCormack / Staff)

The Tennessean

June 2, 2000

By Ray Waddle / Religion Editor

Evangelist Billy Graham preached salvation and judgment to the City of Churches last night, inspiring a tumultuous welcome as the aging patriarch of born-again faith.

A long-awaited Billy Graham Crusade kicked off its four-night stint at Adelphia Coliseum, with local organizers hoping to ignite a Christian revival in Nashville.

His body frail and his voice steady, the 81-year-old evangelist told the crowd that people have trouble believing in anything anymore, even themselves, but that Jesus waits for them if they'll make the choice of faith.

"Something has happened to our moral life -- the bottom has dropped out, and we need a revival," he declared.

"We need Jesus to be lifted up. ... There's a tremendous hunger for something to believe in, especially young people."

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Outside, handfuls of people protested against Graham, some handing out pamphlets, others carrying signs and banners.

At the corner of Woodland Street and Interstate Drive, Brian Young, 32, of Murfreesboro held a sign proclaiming "Graham is a false teacher" and shouting "Graham opposes God."

Most passed without paying attention. Others told him to "go home" or "shut up."

"A lot of Christians laugh," Young said. "I'm sure they think we're Looney Tunes, but that's OK."