Billy Graham speaks at Crusade
Billy Graham speaks during the Albany, NY Crusade in 1990. Photo courtesy of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Religion News Service file photo.

Billy Graham statue to replace that of white supremacist in US Capitol

By Yonat Shimron

A life-sized statue of the Rev. Billy Graham will be installed in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall collection sometime next year, replacing a statue of a white supremacist that both the state of North Carolina and the U.S. House want removed.

The Statuary Hall collection consists of 100 statues of prominent people — two from each state. Graham, a North Carolina native who was born on a dairy farm in Charlotte, will take the place of Charles Aycock (1859-1912), a former governor.

Aycock was one of the masterminds of the 1898 Wilmington, North Carolina, race riot and coup, in which a local government made up of Black Americans was overthrown and replaced by white officials. North Carolina’s other statue is of Zebulon Vance (1830-1894), a former governor and U.S. senator who was also a Confederate military officer.

Last week, a North Carolina legislative committee approved a 2-foot model of the new statue depicting the famous evangelist who died in 2018. The sculptor, Chas Fagan, will now begin working on a life-sized model that will have to be approved by a congressional committee. Fagan has previously created several statues of religious figures, including St. John Paul II for Washington’s Saint John Paul II National Shrine, as well as Mother Teresa for the Washington National Cathedral.

U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall
National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. Photo by Architect of the Capitol/Creative Commons

With statues to white supremacists and Confederate leaders toppling across the nation, North Carolina’s reconsideration might seem timely. But in fact, installing a statue of Graham at the U.S. Capitol had widespread support long before the most recent reckoning on race.

Former North Carolina State Sen. Dan Soucek pushed for the new statue in 2015 while Graham was still living. Soon after Graham’s death, the process kicked into gear.

“From a Christian religious point of view, Billy Graham is an undeniable worldwide icon,” Soucek said. He cited the six decades Graham placed among the top 10 in Gallup Poll’s list of the most admired people.

For years, Graham has been one of North Carolina’s most famous luminaries. There are two state highways named to honor him. One of Charlotte’s biggest tourist attractions is the barn-shaped library documenting his life and ministry that includes his restored childhood home and gravesite.

Graham’s son, Franklin, whose Samaritan’s Purse ministry is also located in North Carolina, said he has seen a rendering of the statue, which features the elder Graham as he looked in the 1960s, preaching and holding a Bible in one hand.

Franklin Graham said the statue is not something his father would have pushed for.

“My father would be very pleased that people thought of him in this way,” he said. “But he would want people to give God the glory and not himself.”

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, in partnership with the state, is raising money for the statue and its installation, which is estimated to cost $650,000. No state funds will be used.

Garrett Dimond, general counsel for the state’s legislative services office, said that once the 10-foot, 10-inch-tall clay statue is completed it must be reviewed by a congressional committee before it can be cast in bronze.

Last month, a bill by the Democratic-led House Appropriations Committee called for the removal of “any individual who served voluntarily at any time as a member of the armed forces of the Confederate States of America.” It specifically cited Aycock. 

“They know we’re replacing the statue,” Dimond said, referring to Congress. “I think we’ll get the approval quicker than you normally would, given what’s going on in the country.”

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8 thoughts on “Billy Graham statue to replace that of white supremacist in US Capitol”

  1. Though a good decision the reality remains that the Democratic Party supported the Confederacy and slavery long before the Civil War.

    Surprised that a Billy Graham statue would be supported or at least unopposed by Liberals and Secularist as well as the likes of Ilhan Omar and Rashid Tlaib.

    1. Dirk, you are absolutely right. The Democratic Party is responsible for expanding slavery, establishing the Southern Confederacy, seceding from the United States, starting the Civil War, perpetuating segregation following the Civil War, and enforcing racist Jim Crow laws, assisted by Southern Democrat appointed judges in the Supreme Court. It’s a shameful legacy. Yet somehow our mainstream media and our woke secular universities love to blame our nation’s race issues on the Republican Party. This, of course, is purely deflection.

      It’s interesting to observe how so many people in our country are supposed to apologize for their own privilege and their own complicity in the historical reality of racism. Yet the Democratic Party, the one political entity that is the most responsible for cultivating and perpetuating Jim Crow and segregation for decades, has not formally apologized for their complicity in this sordid history. I wonder why that is?

      1. I fail to see what this “bash Democrats” narrative has to do with the statue of Billy Graham. Both of you are just going on thread after thread boasting about how superior Republicans are to Democrats. I guess it feels better to call out the deflection of others by….deflecting. No hypocrisy or irony there, huh? “Hey, let’s talk about how Democrats had problems in the past, rather than own our current issues in the Republican party in the present!” If it makes you feel better, I’ll start with telling you what you want to hear: You’re better than Democrats. Republicans have never been racist. It’s just simple coincidence that the platform of TODAY’S Republican party attracts racists and white supremacists. But hey…apparently talking about the past will do a better job of getting them out than confronting them in the present.

        Do you feel better now? Is racism solved now? I don’t see how pulling an “us versus them” solves anything when we are ALL Americans, but hey, please show me how. Because I’d like to talk about what brings us together. Sounds like I’m wrong and bashing Democrats solves racism.

        As for me, I’d like to speak to the ACTUAL topic of this post: I believe the gospel message Bily Graham stood for is much better than that of the Confederacy. Not only is it rooted in truth, it played a role in transforming much of the culture, not only within the evangelical church, but outside of it as well. This is a HUGE step in the right direction.
        I also hope they accompany the statue with an appropriate plaque featuring an influential Graham quote or favorite scripture of his.

        1. M H,

          You seem quite upset by my criticism of the Democratic Party. You have certainly expressed (in many of your comments) some criticism of Republicans, and that is fine by me, as well as fair game. However, in my opinion, we are living in an age where one political party in our culture consistently gets blamed for all the racism problems in our country, and we all know which party that is: the Republican Party.

          Yet, having political power does matter, and it has long-term consequences when that political power was used for decade after decade to oppress Black Americans. I know that is uncomfortable for Democrats to hear, but until the Democratic Party owns up to its shameful, racist past, they shouldn’t continue to lecture and blame everyone else for their own failed leadership.

          Of course racism still exists in our country, just as racism still exists in every country on the planet (which is another fact that never gets brought up). The reason racism still exists in our country is because of human sin, just as lust, pornography, perversion, lying, cheating, and stealing exists because of human sin. Yet somehow, the socialists and progressives believe we can root out racism n the human heart, yet these same people support and encourage all the LGBTQ+ and gender fluidity nonsense that is sweeping our country (all in the name of social justice, of course).

          By the way, I am not making my comments in order to “solve” anything, and I am not making my comments in order to “feel better” about myself. I am simply making comments, and I am not personally attacking you in any way. Admittedly, I am not solving anything here, yet neither are all the crazy people who are tearing down statues and spraying graffiti on public monuments and buildings. Will that solve anything? Perhaps these people, to make their point, should express their views on an online platform instead of destroying or defacing public property. Wouldn’t that be more constructive?

          The rest of what I’m about to say will likely make you even more upset, but that is not my intention. I would write this whether or not you and I were interacting with one another. But I think it needs to be said in light of the irrational and deceptive culture that we are living in.

          For some perspective, it is worth noting that the tragic events that ended the life of George Floyd happened in a state controlled by Democrats, with a governor who is a Democrat, with both federal senators who are Democrats, with an attorney general who is a Democrat, with the mayor of Minneapolis who is a Democrat, with a Minneapolis city council controlled by Democrats, and with a federal congresswoman representing the district of Minneapolis who is a Democrat. Moreover, this is the political reality in almost every urban center in America, certainly in every large city in America.

          Yet we are not supposed to look at their failed leadership in any of the events leading up to and surrounding the death of George Floyd. Instead, it is apparently everyone else’s fault, such as President Trump, or Republicans, or white America in general. In other words, there’s “nothing to see here” regarding the failed Democrat leadership in Minneapolis or in the state of Minnesota in general.

          The political reality of a completely Democrat-controlled governance of the state of Minnesota never gets mentioned in any of the mainstream media coverage. Thus, it’s not surprising that the media coverage is so blatantly skewed, resulting in much confusion among the public. Therefore, as a pure deflection, relevant questions don’t get asked, such as: Who in the city of Minneapolis was responsible for keeping Derek Chauvin on the police force if he demonstrated racist tendencies in the past? Who in the city of Minneapolis was responsible for putting Derek Chauvin on the streets if he had a track record of using excessive force? You see, none of these questions get asked (let alone answered), since it’s much easier to blame everyone outside of the immediate situation in order to deflect the blame where it actually belongs: on the political authorities who are in charge of the city, as well as its police superintendent and the police union.

          To be sure, the events leading up to and surrounding the death of George Floyd are not solely the fault of the Democrat Party — that is not my point. My point is that I have noticed how various Minnesota politicians (and many non-Minnesota politicians) have been quick to point the blame elsewhere, rather than on their own failed leadership. This needs to be called out, and new leadership needs to emerge in these cities. Yet as long as the same Democrat politicians keep getting re-elected, don’t look for significant reforms anytime soon, since the “status quo” has enabled these politicians to maintain their political power for decades.

          In addition, a few things that strike me as phony about socialists and progressives (and the media’s acceptance of their narrative), is their supposed compassion for the poor, and especially poor Black communities. Yet there are some common themes, and present realities, that clearly suggest otherwise.

          First: All the major urban centers in America are run by Democrats, and have been for decades (e.g. the mayor, the city council wards, the county boards, the public school boards, etc.). No matter how poor the inner cities are, and no matter how poor their education system is, the Democrat politicians have long accepted the “status quo”.

          Second: In so many inner cities, crime, drugs, and gang violence are rampant. Chicago alone had over 3,500 shootings in 2016, and the carnage has only continued. Where is the outrage? And who is ultimately affected by this travesty? Well, poor Black communities are. And the reason there is no outrage is because the Democrat politicians (and their media backers) have accepted the “status quo”. And why do they accept the status quo? Because they keep getting re-elected, that’s why. The status quo works for the Democrat politicians who are in charge. It’s perversely amoral and pragmatic, but it works. As long as Democrats keep getting voted in, don’t look for any change to occur; only look for the status quo.

          Third: Democrats claim to have the best interests of the Black community in mind. Yet where do we find the most abortion clinics? Again, in poor Black communities. Why don’t enough Black leaders (e.g. pastors, community leaders, business leaders) point this out? Why do White liberal elites want so many Black babies aborted? Do we find abortion clinics in upscale, White neighborhoods? I wonder why not? Could it be that it’s unpleasant to have abortion clinics there? It’s apparently more convenient to have them tucked away in poor Black communities, all in the name of “compassion” and “reproductive health”. An estimated 61.6 million abortions have been performed in the U.S. since Roe v. Wade in 1973, with nearly 20 million abortions of unborn Black babies. Now let us guess which political party has always supported and encouraged (wholeheartedly) the practice of abortion, including even partial-birth abortion. Hmm, that’s a tough one; which leads me to my fourth and final point.

          Fourth: Each election cycle, the far Left group NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League) is widely supported by all of the Democrat Presidential nominees, even those who claim to be Protestant or Catholic Christians. Also, it’s astonishing that former President Obama and Hillary Clinton both support partial-birth abortion, as do many other prominent Democrat politicians. Thus, I guess it’s not surprising that the party of Jim Crow and segregation is also the party of abortion.

          1. Ok I’m going to try my best to answer this concisely:

            Daniel, the answer to the ills in our society is not the Republican party. It’s Jesus Christ. All of the ills in our society are not because of the Democratic party. It’s because of sin. And yes, Republicans commit sins too.

            A lot of what you have said is factually incorrect. No one is saying the only party to blame for racism is the Republican party. What they ARE saying is that there are racists in our society, and here in the US, those racists tend to be Republican. Granted, we only have 2 political parties (it will take me too long to list my issues with that), but it’s worth noting, exploring and rooting out. Why isn’t Steve King a Democrat? Why does the KKK of today encourage white voters to support Republicans? Why was Donald Trump – the same man who has paid fines for denying housing to black people, who refers to us as “the blacks” and “my African Americans” – even welcome on the GOP ticket?
            The answers to these questions are not that Republicans are victims. Just as you claim Democrats need to acknowledge and take responsibility for poor leadership, Republicans need to acknowledge and take responsiblity for what’s going on in their party TODAY. Not in 1865.

            BTW, there are literally anti-racism protests happening around the world right now. And just to cover the BASICS about racism being a global issue, you didn’t grow up learning about apartheid in South Africa? Or how the UK perfected the slave trade, in part by making it more race-based?Or how the aborigines were initially denied citizenship in Australia? Either you know these things and was just making grandiose statements about racism in other countries “never being brought up” to be dramatic (which undermines your point), or you should do some reading, starting with the topics I mentioned.

            Why are the places you name Democratic? That’s a complex answer. Unions (which I’m not necessarily a fan of), local industry, tax structures, education levels, religious affiliation, racial diversity….these are just some components of the answer. BUT it must be acknowledged that Democratic cities and states fund Republican ones. Red states literally hate the blue states that generate the revenue that keeps us afloat. Why is that? I grew up in a Republican state, and let me tell you, we had rampant poverty (relying on aid from those evil blue places), bad schools, inner city crime, and the more. So clearly, the answer isn’t having a Republican in office.

            Who said there’s no outrage about crime in Chicago? I live in Chicago, and that’s just not true. Just because it’s not sensational enough to be on the news doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

            As for abortion clinics – the reason why they are located where they are is MONEY. I grew up in a wealthy, mostly white area, and guess what? When my rich girlfriends got pregnant, their “pro life” families scurried them off to a rich doctor in the suburbs to keep it hush hush. News flash: city clinics aren’t the only ones who perform abortions.
            When I was a broke grad student too old to be on my parents’ insurance, Planned Parenthood treated me for an ovarian cyst for FIVE DOLLARS. That included diagnosis, medication, and treatment. So “reproductive health” may be a tagline for you. It is VERY real to me, and I’ll openly say I am grateful for the treatment I received from PP.
            I need proof that only white liberal elites want black babies aborted. Please provide a statistic to support this narrative. BTW, what is a liberal elite? I’ve been accused of being one for having an Ivy League degree and having lived in a coastal city. Given I know what my beliefs are, this is a false narrative that I don’t understand.

            Again, I point back to how the answer is not in a political party. It’s about rooting out sin through the power of Jesus Christ.

            You claim we should focus on what we have in common and coming together, but continue to go on and on “othering” and blaming Democrats, liberals, progressives, and the like. That’s why I asked how this solves the problems you raise. Because you aren’t even living up to what you claim you want to see.

  2. M H,

    I am not “solving” any problems, as I already mentioned. I am merely making comments based on realities that we don’t hear enough about in the media and elsewhere. I am perfectly fine with criticism of Republicans, since in politics there is much criticism to go around.

    Also, it goes without saying that Jesus is the ultimate solution to our sin problem. But as Christians, we still live in the world for the time being, and as citizens, it is good to stay informed and it is good to read history. Moreover, it is good to read as much of our history as possible, warts and all, including the ugly stuff. Clearly, our nation has some ugly history. Yet all nations have their ugly history. This is due to the universal nature of sin.

    Also, I am perfectly capable of hearing criticism of Republicans, since politics is not where my allegiance lies. You’ll notice that I don’t take the time to defend your criticisms of various Republicans. I have merely pointed out, in some detail, the myriad of abuses of Black Americans by the Democratic Party throughout its history, and obviously you are offended by that. That is your choice. Personally, I think it’s a tough history to defend, and you certainly have not acknowledged any of this sordid history. You reflexively keep bringing up Steve King, who is a nobody within the GOP and whose loss in the election will not be mourned by anyone. But for heaven’s sake, is Steve King the equivalent of John Calhoun, or Bull Connor, or George Wallace, or even Robert Byrd for that matter? Sorry, it’s not even close.

    You can keep avoiding all of this history and continue to point out the few racists who now gravitate toward the Republican Party, but it’s hardly the norm in the GOP, and you know it. Yet the majority of the damage in this country with regard to race was already perpetrated (willingly and systemically) by the Democratic Party for 160 years. You are of course free to defend the Democratic Party until the cows come home, but nothing you have said can change this sordid history. And no amount of false moral equivalence can change it either. You are quite the apologist for the Democratic Party it seems. But that is okay with me. You apparently cannot tolerate any criticism of the Democratic Party or its history.

    Lastly, I also pointed out the travesty of 60 million abortions in this country since 1973, which the Democratic Party has supported and encouraged from the beginning. Yet, you said nothing about that, which seems odd to me. Rather, my pointing this out seemed to offend you, and in turn you defended Planned Parenthood. That is your right of course. If you believe God is okay with 60 million abortions (including 20 million unborn Black babies), then you are free to believe that. I don’t have to agree with you (one iota) regarding Planned Parenthood or its mission.

    1. Daniel –
      I’m not here to defend anyone or anything. I tried to shed light on another perspective. I tried to share why, despite it’s sordid past AND present (let’s not act like they don’t have issues now), the Democratic party has a lock on the black vote. I even shared why that should NOT be the case in another post. I tried to show you how parts of your narrative (there’s no outrage in Chicago over shootings, racism in other countries is ingored, etc) simply ARE NOT TRUE. But it went ignored.

      I really think an issue is that there aren’t enough conversations happening across the aisle among those REALLY willing to listen without applying their own narrative. I thought that was happening here, and I do appreciate taking part in it, because I think it should take place more frequently to heal some divisions. From where I sit, both sides have WAY more in common than they realize, but they are too quick to throw labels at one another to see it. My frustration is that you still landed on your narrative by completely ignoring mine. You don’t have to agree with me – and by no means am I offended when you don’t – but there was no acknowledgment mine even exists. And for a narrative to completely ignore another perspective or experience can call into question its validity. I AM grateful for Planned Parenthood based on MY experience. I would be infertile had my condition gone untreated. Yet your landing on I support PP because “I believe God is ok with 60 million abortions” completely ignores what I said – and adds in things I never said – and makes it untrue.

      I hate how things are so black and white that BOTH can’t be true. Just like many of our country’s founding fathers were great leaders AND held problemmatic beliefs when it comes to race….it can be possible that PP has done both good AND bad. IMO, to cling to only the good (or bad) part of the narrative is to cling to one that is false. (I also think people would not be so defensive if the “grey” were acknowledged.) Same with political party. We don’t have to agree with or like everyone’s narrative. But listening to it gives more understanding (hopefully). Daniel, if anyone were to say you’re a Republican because you’re a racist, I’d jump in and defend. You have clearly stated other reasons you support the party that have NOTHING to do with the “racist” narrative. I don’t agree fully with you, but you don’t deserve a label based on someone else’s narrative that completely ignores your own. Likewise, I’d hope you’d jump in if someone heard I support PP and labeled me as someone who “thinks God is ok with 60 million abortions”. Doesn’t sound like you would, but just know that label is based on YOUR narrative with NO REGARD for the reason I bluntly told you.

      I hate that you think I’m offended – but I realize it could be the medium we are using. If you even considered even one half of one sentence I raised to be valid, I consider this conversation worth it. Building bridges.

      1. M H,

        I do believe the conversation was worth it. We don’t have to agree on everything, and I appreciate your reply. Peace be with you.

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