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Rev. Billy Graham First Cleric To Lie In Honor In U.S. Capitol

by Countable | 2.28.18

What’s the story?

For seven hours on Wednesday Rev. Billy Graham will lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Building before his remains are taken to North Carolina for a private burial. Graham is one of only 33 individuals that have lain in state (government officials and military officers) or in honor (private citizens) in the Capitol Rotunda, and the first cleric.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) featured a statement on his website about Rev. Graham:

"Rev. Billy Graham was an American evangelist and minister, internationally known for his devout faith, inherent humility, and inclusive nature."

Barbara Perry, director of presidential studies at the Miller Center for presidential and political history at the University of Virginia, according to the Washington Post, is among critics who maintain to honor Graham in this particular way is unconstitutional.

The Establishment Clause of the Constitution separated church and state:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Here’s a list of all the people who have lain in state or in honor in the Capitol:

  • Henry Clay (state) 1852
  • Abraham Lincoln (state) 1865
  • Thadeus Stevens (state) 1868
  • Charles Sumner (state) 1874
  • Henry Wilson (state) 1875
  • James A. Garfield (state) 1881
  • John A. Logan (state) 1886
  • William McKinley Jr. (state) 1901
  • Pierre Charles L’enfant (honor) 1909
  • George Dewey (state) 1917
  • Unknown Solider of WWI (state) 1921
  • Warren G. Harding (state) 1923
  • William Howard Taft (state) 1930
  • John Joseph Pershing (state) 1948
  • Robert A. Taft (state) 1953
  • Unknown Soldiers of WWI & Korean War (state) 1958
  • John F. Kennedy (state) 1963
  • Douglas MacArthur (state) 1964
  • Herbert Clark Hoover (state) 1964
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower (state) 1969
  • Everett McKinley Dirksen (state) 1969
  • J. Edgar Hoover (state) 1972
  • Lyndon Baines Johnson (state) 1973
  • Hubert H. Humphrey (state) 1978
  • Unknown Soldier of the Vietnam Conflict (state) 1984
  • Claude Denson Pepper (state) 1989
  • Jacob Joseph Chestnut & John Michael Gibson (honor) 1998
  • Ronald Wilson Reagan (state) 2004
  • Rosa Parks (honor) 2005
  • Gerald R. Ford, Jr. (state) 2007
  • Daniel K. Inouye (state) 2012
  • Rev. Billy Graham (honor) 2018

What do you think?

Should Rev. Billy Graham be honored in this way for his contributions to the United States, or is it unconstitutional in your view?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

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