By Hunter Hines
Christian Action League
May 4, 2018
RALEIGH – On behalf of the N.C. Senate, Senate President Pro-Tempore, Sen. Phil Berger, named four members to the Statuary Hall Selection Committee last week. These men will work on replacing the current statue of former Charles B. Aycock in the U.S. Capitol Building with a statue of evangelist Billy Graham.
State lawmakers approved the change in September of 2015. Then Governor Pat McCrory signed the bill in October.
Former three-term state Senator, Dan Soucek, who sponsored the legislation recommending Graham’s statue be placed in the Capitol Rotunda, has been asked to chair the committee.
Soucek said the subject came up for replacing Aycock’s statue when he visited Washington more than three years ago for an education conference. During the trip, he had a conversation with North Carolina’s U.S. Rep. Virginia Fox, who showed him Aycock’s statue, and told him she thought the state could do much better. Aycock’s legacy had come under considerable fire for his racist views.
“A little while later,” Soucek told the Christian Post, his wife said to him, “I know who we should do, we should propose Billy Graham.”
Soucek told the Christian Action League (CAL) on Thursday he was excited that when people visit Washington, D. C. and look at the statues in Statuary Hall and ask, “What contribution have the people of North Carolina made to this country and this world?” they’ll see a man whose contributions to the lives of others is unparalleled.
The three other members named by Sen. Berger to serve on the committee will include Clarence Henderson, Dr. David Bruce, and North Carolina U.S. Representative Robert Pittenger.
Henderson is a retired entrepreneur, civil rights leader, past chair of the N.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission, and currently the president of the Frederick Douglas Foundation in North Carolina.
Henderson is also one of the four American college students in 1960 that sat down at the Woolworth lunch counter and helped ignite a movement to change racial discrimination nation-wide.
Henderson, who is a born-again Christian and politically conservative, told CAL he was honored to have been selected as a member of the committee. He said, “The building of this statue shows our government recognizes how important Christian values are.”
Dr. David Bruce has been Rev. Graham’s longtime executive assistant at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, president of Graham’s Blue Ridge Broadcasting ministry, and the chair of the Montreat College Board of Trustees.
Congressman Robert Pittenger met Dr. Graham in 1971 while serving as his caddy at the Byron Nelson Golf Classic. At the time Graham was playing with Bob Hope, Arnold Palmer, and U.S. President Gerald Ford. Pittenger says later Graham presented him with a Bible as a thank you gift, which he still uses today in his Congressional office.
Pittenger also worked during the 70s with Graham and his team while serving as Assistant to Dr. Bill Bright, who was president of Campus Crusade for Christ. As a businessman, he often worked behind the scenes on Graham’s ministry projects, as well supported Franklin Graham’s ministry to persecuted Christians around the world.
“Billy Graham’s faith and ministry inspired not just countless North Carolinians, but millions around the globe, and I can think of no better representative for our state in Statuary Hall,” said Sen. Berger. “Each of these members has a deep, personal appreciation of Rev. Graham’s contributions to our state, and I thank them for their willingness to help realize this tribute to one of North Carolina’s favorite sons.”
Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League said Sen. Berger had chosen great committee members to perform a task that will represent the highest of North Carolina’s virtues.
“When Dr. Graham lay in state in the rotunda a few weeks ago, Speaker Paul Ryan said that every morning Billy Graham awakened to meet the day determined to love the Lord his God with all his heart, soul, and mind. There is nothing higher than this – nothing higher for North Carolinians – nothing higher for our nation’s citizens – and nothing higher for the world,” said Creech.
Federal rules require that those honored with a statue in the Capitol Rotunda must be deceased. Thus, the committee’s formulation follows Graham’s passing on February 21st.
The N.C. House is also required to choose its members to serve on the committee. Their decision should be imminent.