The US Capitol is to replace a statue of a white supremacist with one of Rev Billy Graham – who described being gay as ‘a sinister form of perversion’.
The life-size sculpture will stand alongside 100 statues of prominent Americans in the US Capitol’s Statuary Hall in Washington DC.
There’s two statues for every US state and the late preacher Graham will replace one of those from North Carolina. He will take the place of former Governor Charles Aycock that both the state of North Carolina and the US House of Representatives want changed.
Aycock helped mastermind a race riot and coup in 1898 in Wilmington, North Carolina. The even overthrew a local government made up of black Americans and replaced it with white people.
Billy Graham’s anti-LGBT+ record
Graham was a prominent protestant Christian preacher. And he refused to racially segregate crowds attending his ‘crusades’ – large scale preaching rallies.
Indeed, he befriended Martin Luther King Jr and supported black ministers.
However, Graham, who died in 2018 aged 99, was also deeply homophobic.
He believed homosexuality was a ‘sin’ and in 1974 described it as ‘a sinister form of perversion’.
He later called AIDS a ‘judgment from God’. However, he then went on to retract the remark and apologize for it.
Moreover, he took out an advert in 2012 to support North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage. And in October that year he took an ad in the Wall Street Journal calling on people to support candidates opposed to marriage equality in the US elections in November 2012.
At the time, he said: ‘I urge you to vote for those who protect the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman. Vote for biblical values this November 6, and pray with me that America will remain one nation under God.’
Since his death, his son Franklin Graham has become an even more outspoken critic of LGBT+ rights. He’s also become one of President Donald Trump’s favorite preachers.
Indeed, this year Franklin Graham told presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg that he needed to repent for being gay.
Moreover, he even used the coronavirus crisis to advance his anti-LGBT+ agenda. He set up a field hospital in New York to support the city’s struggling health services. But he insisted all his medical staff oppose same-sex marriage.
Popular in North Carolina
Meanwhile, North Carolina’s other statue in the Capitol hall may also be problematic. It is of Zebulon Vance, a former governor and US senator who was also a Confederate military officer.
The move to replace the Aycock statue sped up after a Democratic-led House Appropriations Committee in the US Congress 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.’
The statue of Billy Graham will depict him as he looked in the 1960s, preaching and holding a Bible. And the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is helping to fundraise for the $650,000 cost.
It won’t be the only tribute to the late preacher who remains popular in North Carolina.
The state already has two highways named after him. And the city of Charlotte, where he was born on a dairy farm in 1918, has a barn-shaped library documenting his life.