By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
September 18, 2015
RALEIGH – North Carolina lawmakers passed two measures this week to honor North Carolina native, the Rev. Billy Graham. Now 96 years old, the Rev. Graham has preached the Gospel to more than 215 million people in more than 185 countries. Even millions more have been reached through his television, video, film, and webcasts. His ministry is known around the globe.
Rev. Graham has written 33 books and counseled presidents in office since Harry Truman. In addition to the numerous honorary doctorates he has received, Graham has been awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and presented with an honorary knighthood by the British Empire. The Gallup organization regularly lists him as one of the “Ten Most Admired Men in the World.” In addition to his appearances on the covers of magazines such as Time, Newsweek, Life, U.S. News and World Report, Parade, he has also been the subject of numerous newspaper and magazine feature articles and books.
“He is one of the most important figures, not only in our time,” said Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, “but in the history of the church.”
Dr. Creech said he thought it was providential the two different measures honoring Graham took place on the same day and in both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly.
The Senate approved a measure which passed the House back in April – a bill that would eventually place a statue of Graham inside the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C…
The legislation, HB 540 – Billy Graham/National Statuary Hall, was proposed in response to controversy surrounding the legacy of former governor Charles B. Aycock. Aycock’s statue along with a statue of Zebulon Vance, a Civil War era governor, currently resides in Statuary Hall representing the Tar Heel state. Aycock has come under fire recently for his white supremacist views, which resulted in the removal of his name from some college dormitories in the state, as well as from an annual state Democratic Party fundraising event. A statue of Graham would replace the one of Aycock first erected in the U.S. Capitol Building in 1932.
When the measure was first taken up on the House side Democrats complained that Republicans had circumvented the normal process for vetting legislation by not giving the bill a hearing in committee, but Republicans said the real issue was that Democrats didn’t like the choice to replace Aycock.
Some of the names put forward by Democrats during debate on the House floor as alternatives to Graham included furniture maker, Thomas Day, U.S. Army General William Lee, UNC basketball coach Dean Smith, civil rights leader, Julius Chambers, and former governors Jim Holshouser, Jim Hunt, and Terry Sanford.
Rep. Bert Jones, (R-Rockingham), however, succinctly rebuffed the Democratic opposition, arguing most of the names put forward by Democrats would largely be unknown to the public. But, “[W]hen we stand up and say, Billy Graham, the vast, vast, vast, majority of people in this state would need no more explanation as to who Billy Graham is,” said Jones. He added that if most North Carolinians were given a vote on the matter he was certain that their choice would be Billy Graham.
The vote in the House on HB 540 was 71-28, and all “no” votes were cast by Democrats, which included:
Representative(s): Alexander; B. Richardson; Baskerville; Brockman; C. Graham; Carney; D. Hall; Earle; Farmer-Butterfield; Fisher; Floyd; G. Graham; G. Martin; Gill; Hamilton; Hanes; Harrison; Holley; L. Hall; Lucas; Luebke; Meyer; Michaux; Pierce; R. Johnson; R. Moore; Willingham; and Wray.
The irony of Democrats voting against the measure is that Graham is a Democrat.
The Senate’s debate of the proposal on Thursday was quite different. It was brief with essentially no debate and a unanimous bipartisan approval of 44-0.
Congressional guidelines require that a person’s statue for Statuary Hall may only be installed posthumously. A seven member panel will be created to pick a sculptor and secure the necessary funds.
The bill that passed on the House side was HR 944 – Rev. Billy Graham for Postage Stamp. The House resolution petitions the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee of the United States Postal Service and the Postmaster General of the United States to issue a commemorative stamp honoring the evangelist.
Rep. Chris Whitmire (R-Transylvania) explained that such resolutions by a legislative body were often “the tipping point” in getting the Stamp Advisory Committee to decide in favor of a commemorative stamp that recognizes a certain American’s achievements.
The House voted 104-0 in favor of the resolution.
After the vote, Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland), recognized Roy Graham in the House Gallery. Roy Graham is the grandson of Rev. Billy Graham, and the son of Franklin Graham.
Roy Graham was present on behalf of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Graham family to show appreciation for passage of the resolution.
Unlike placing a statue in the United States Capital Building, in 2011 postal officials ended the requirement that commemorative stamps cannot feature someone who is still alive.
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said the measures recognizing Graham were critical to the times we live.
“The days are getting darker and it’s important that a statue of Graham be in the U.S. Capital Building. It’s important that a commemorative stamp honoring the great evangelist be circulated. The statue and the stamp, I believe, draw as much attention to Christ as they do to Graham,” said Dr. Creech. “We need that kind of witness in Washington and every city and hamlet in this country to remind us that this great nation was built upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”