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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)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(73)
  • Laura
    03/01/2018
    ···

    I really cannot comprehend what Reverend Graham ever did to deserve this honor. Certainly he was an icon for conservative Christians, but to my way of thinking someone should accomplish far more than appealing to one segment of one religion and gaining a lot of name recognition if they are to lie in honor at the nation’s capital. Could someone please tell me what Mr. Graham actually did for the nation? Graham was a documented anti-Semitic, anti-gay, misogynist racist who supported sending more young Americans to die in Vietnam. He apparently cared more for his ministry than he did his own family to the point that he discouraged his daughter from ending a miserable marriage with a cheating husband because it would look bad for his ministry. So, not exactly father of the year material. Truman accurately labelled him a counterfeit. Sure he “counseled” presidents. But was it good and worthy counsel that led to a stronger, better America? Not too sure about that. He was marketed as non-political, but it certainly doesn’t take a great deal of research to root out that myth as a false one. So, he was famous and probably the first to harness television to spread his message. And he used both to amass great wealth. And yes, there are those who feel they benefited from his message. I understand too well the personal nature of faith to ever presume to question their experiences. I just do not see this and knowing people in power as a high enough bar to qualify for such a national honor, particularly at this time when we as a nation are so divided and conservative religious leaders wielding far too much influence and power is a big reason why. Every one of us is flawed and it is not my intent to make Rev. Graham out to be the devil. I just don’t believe he deserves such an honor. I also believe even in his death politicians are using him to promote their brand, just as they did in life.

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  • I.Got.an.Idea...
    02/28/2018
    ···

    The honor given to this entity, is a great dishonor to American Citizens. He has delivered more dishonorable actions and attacks against Americans. Another grand cost to American taxpayers to use as propaganda to support a Conservative agenda. All that matters to Conservatives, is who writes history, and history will show that this disgrace of a human being was honored by its Country at an extremely high, undeserving level.

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  • Jim
    03/01/2018
    ···

    I think that it should have been in the national cathedral. That would have been more appropriate to his role as as a religious adviser.

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  • Mark
    02/28/2018
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    Opinions differ all the time. But, he was a true man of God. 🙏

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  • James
    03/01/2018
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    Did Billy Graham make the world a better place? Debateable. He opened the door for a vipers pit of snake oil salesmen to enrich themselves and teach hate! He did not prevent that. That is his legacy. He does not belong in the capital. This is red meat for his crazy evangelicals. Keep church and State desperate!

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  • Chickie
    02/28/2018
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    In an interview with Diane Sawyer, when asked what he wanted to be said of him when he died, the Reverend Billy Graham said he didn’t care what others said. To him, what mattered was what the Lord said. “When I face Him, I want Him to say, Well done thou good and faithful servant.” Rest In Peace Reverend Graham.

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  • Jennifer
    03/02/2018
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    Most of the comments here are absolutely shameful against a man who did nothing more than to spread the message “God loves you.” He spread it worldwide. Such a simple message. With great humility he served the poor in 3rd world countries, and shared only love. Racist? During the civil rights movement, he required that his crusades be fully integrated. You only had to look out the Capital Rotunda and at today’s ceremony to see the faces of people of color who understood this. So yes, history will show him to be the global statesman he was. For all you haters and religious bigots, I say, “ Forgive them Lord, they know not what they do.”

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  • Christine
    02/28/2018
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    PLEASE! Someone explain this to me! He is not on par with Rosa Parks or the 2 Capitol Police officers. He was homophobic & racist. Is this what campaign donations buy these days? Is Mike Pence starting his THEOCRACY? Our Constitution says separation of church & state. This is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

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  • John
    02/28/2018
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    Graham was a bigot and a racist and a homophobe. Why honor that?

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  • Gopin2018
    02/28/2018
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    One of the greatest Americans, I don’t feel we will see another man of God like him again. He could speak to our soul in ways few could, he was humble, strong integrity and will be missed by many.

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  • ItsMeSami
    02/28/2018
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    I personally don’t feel he deserved it. I don’t see what he did to earn it. And inclusive? Hardly. Only if you believed as he did. I’ll end there before I begin a long rant.

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  • David
    02/28/2018
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    A great honor for an even greater man! God Bless you Billy Graham!

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  • Joel
    03/01/2018
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    He was a good man. He opposed segregation. He took race out of religion and had dual sermons with MLK. He met every president from Harry Truman onwards. He was an excellent advisor and advocate for equal rights, and equal opportunity. He is a massive symbol of American ideas. Liberal and conservative. Rights and Responsibilities. Worthy of the honor.

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  • IdiotKid
    03/01/2018
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    I think the fact he's lying in honor because of his religious activities is a huge red flag. If he did something constructive to help the country unrelated to his faith, then whatever, it's fine.

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  • JTJ
    03/01/2018
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    God bless you Mr. Graham and your family. Thank you for your incredible life of service.

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  • Lori
    03/01/2018
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    I don’t think Graham should’ve been allowed to lie in the Capital. It just doesn’t seem right. Are you going to allow the leader of another religion to do that? Separation of church and state is a good thing.

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  • Michael
    03/01/2018
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    No matter what anyone wants to say negatively, he changed the world and millions in it teaching love. A well deserved honor. We should love one another and unite not divide and move forward not wallow in the same spot as a nation. Will it take war for us to unite? I hope not. Respect all faiths that are not destructive or demonic.

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  • Invercargillus
    03/01/2018
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    Rev. Graham represented everything that we should all strive to be; rich in exemplary character and spiritual discipline. A man who lived a life set apart for the love and service of others. Extolling the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ passionately. Evangelizing to everyone and anyone that God loves them no matter what. That were all sinners saved by grace and He wants to be in a relationship w/us. Can you imagine what our country would be like today if we were all living our lives like Billy Graham did? I can tell you in one word: extraordinary! Sadly, we are nation in universal decline morally, spiritually, and ethically. So, let us always be mindful that the late Rev. Graham embodied all that America once was and what it could be again. It’s not too late and when we choose God all things are possible.

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  • Azrael
    03/01/2018
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    Division of church and state Should apply to all taxpayer funding not select activities

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  • Marylynn
    03/01/2018
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    I find this rather interesting since we're suppose to have a separation of church and state. I really don't feel that Billy Graham deserved to be laid out in the capital. I'm sure that no Rabbi or Catholic priest will ever be granted the same status.

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