A Lot Of Straight Men Religiously Follow The 'Billy Graham Rule' - Including Mike Pence

There are some weird religious views about sex. One such rule is the Billy Graham rule, which states a man should not be in the sole company of another woman without his wife present. The Washington Post quoted Vice President Mike Pence admitting he follows the evangelical directive.

This code of behavior became known as the "Mike Pence Rule," but the idea has circulated the Christian community for a while. Evangelical leader Reverend Billy Graham created the guidelines in the late 1940s to protect himself from the scandals and accusations that many pastors faced. Like Mike Pence, Graham refused to spend time alone with any woman.

  • The Billy Graham Rule States No Man Should Be Alone With A Woman

    Graham knew of many evangelical preachers who faced accusations of impropriety. He and his companions attempted to avert such allegations by creating a set of rules to follow called the Modesto Manifesto, which is where the Billy Graham Rule emerged. The manifesto, more than anything else, stressed the danger of sexual immorality.

    Graham wrote, “We pledged among ourselves to avoid any situation that would have even the appearance of compromise or suspicion. From that day on, I did not travel, meet, or eat alone with a woman other than my wife.”

  • The Men Prayed To God To Stay 'Clean'

    The men believed temptation was everywhere. In The Billy Graham Story, author John Pollock described how the ministers resisted the material world:

    They avoided situations that would put them alone with a woman - lunch, a counseling session, even a ride to an auditorium or an airport. On the road, they roomed in close proximity to each other as an added margin of social control. And always, they prayed for supernatural assistance in keeping them "clean."

  • Mike Pence Revealed He Follows The Billy Graham Rule

    Mike Pence Revealed He Follows The Billy Graham Rule
    Photo: Office of the Vice President / Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

    In 2017, the Washington Post resurrected a 2012 piece on Vice President Mike Pence, where he said he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife - he was referring to the Billy Graham Rule. The public met Pence's statement with mockery, and criticized the practice as sexist and demeaning toward women.

    His remark sparked a debate about discrimination, faith, propriety, and the sexualization of women. Social media spread the fire. The public felt his comment portrayed women as temptresses, and men as weak-willed beings unable to resist their sexual urges.

  • There Was Much Corruption In The Evangelical Community

    By the end of World War II, America saw a boom in evangelical gatherings called revival meetings. Billy Graham began a series of these get-togethers in October 1948 in Modesto, CA, about 90 miles east of San Francisco.

    Salvation was the missionaries' goal, but ulterior motives prevailed. Politicians used the revivals to rail against communism, and entertainers for self-promotion. Men used their position to take advantage of susceptible women and misallocate money.

    According to Barrows, it was during a meeting set aside for Bible study and prayer when Graham said, “Let’s talk a little bit about pitfalls that evangelists have been plagued with.” After an hour of reflection in their rooms, the four men came up with a list of 15 items.

    The Modesto Manifesto included provisions that guarded against such corruption; it addressed distributing money raised by offerings, avoiding criticism of local churches, working only with churches that supported cooperative evangelism, and using official estimates of crowd sizes to avoid exaggeration. 

  • The Manifesto Addressed Emotional Appeals And Misuse Of Money

    Sex may have been a major issue with which to contend, but misuse of money was also high on Graham's list. Traveling evangelicals were known for milking gullible people to donate more. As Graham pointed out, “Nearly all evangelists at that time—including us—were supported by love offerings taken at the meetings. The temptation to wring as much money as possible out of an audience, often with strong emotional appeals, was too great for some evangelists.”

    In addition, there was little or no accountability for finances. It was a system that was easy to abuse, and many evangelists were accused of only being in it for the money. 

  • Evangelical Pastors Have Faced Controversy For Their Practices

    Evangelical Pastors Have Faced Controversy For Their Practices
    Photo: Jim Bakker / Thomas Nelson

    Many evangelical preachers were guilty of committing crimes. In 1988, Jim Bakker, founder of Praise the Lord Ministries, was a highly influential evangelist. He was indicted on federal charges of fraud and spent more than $270,000 to silence former employee Jessica Hahn, who accused him of sexual assault.

    In more recent news, Pastor Joel Osteen refused to open his multi-million-dollar church to flood victims after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Osteen excused his actions when he told his congregation that God knew Houston could “handle” the hurricane.

    The multi-millionaire Pat Robertson has also been in the news for his controversial views. Among his many hateful diatribes, he has described feminism as a “socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”