Metro Weekly

Anti-Gay Pastor Billy Graham Gets a Statue in the U.S. Capitol

The anti-LGBTQ televangelist's U.S. Capitol statue replaces that of a segregationist North Carolina governor.

Billy Graham – Photo: Public Domain; Statuary Hall – Photo: Architect of the Capitol, Creative Commons

Anti-LGBTQ televangelist Reverend Billy Graham is getting a statue in the U.S. Capitol. 

Several North Carolina lawmakers have spent the better part of the last decade seeking to have a statue of Graham installed in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall collection.

Typically, each of the 50 states receives two statues honoring notable, deceased people from that state, which are dispersed throughout five different areas of the Capitol building.

North Carolina’s two statues were former Gov. Zebulon Vance and former Gov. Charles Aycock.

But Aycock, who served from 1901 to 1905, was a White Supremacist who sought to suppress Black votes. He was blamed, in part, for causing the Wilmington Massacre, a bloody revolt that saw dozens of Black people killed.

Members of the state’s congressional delegation urged replacing the avowed segregationist Aycock with a statue of North Carolina-based Baptist minister Graham instead.

Over the course of his career, Graham, who died in 2018 at the age of 99, served as a spiritual adviser to foreign leaders and various politicians, including 12 sitting presidents.

Like his anti-LGBTQ son, Franklin, the elder Graham was known for his staunch religiously conservative beliefs. While he was less vitriolic than his evangelical contemporaries, he still perpetually advocated that homosexuality was a horrible sin that only could be “cured” by re-dedicating oneself to following Christ.

In 1993, he appallingly suggested that AIDS was a punishment from God for homosexuality. After a public outcry, he backtracked from that statement.

In 2012, Graham endorsed North Carolina’s voter-approved constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

Although the amendment has since been nullified by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, it remains on the books and could be enforced if a more conservative high court reverses its own precedent.

Graham’s statue, sculpted by Charlotte-based artist Chas Fagan, stands 7 feet tall, and shows him gesturing toward an open Bible. The pedestal will be inscribed with two Bible verses — John 3:16 and John 14:6 — considered the basis for evangelical beliefs that one can only be saved through faith in God and Jesus Christ.

The statue of Graham will be unveiled on Thursday, May 16, at a private ceremony in the U.S. Capitol’s crypt.

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