Newsline , Society

Billy Graham Set to Receive Place of Honor in U.S. Capitol

Posted on Wednesday, May 15, 2024
by Ben Solis



The late Rev. Billy Graham will receive a permanent place of honor in the United States Capitol this week as his statue will be unveiled in National Statuary Hall during a special ceremony honoring the life and legacy of the famed evangelist.

Graham’s likeness will represent his home state of North Carolina, where he passed away in 2018 at the age of 99. Each state legislature selects two noteworthy figures with local ties to represent the state in Statuary Hall. Graham’s likeness, a seven-foot-tall bronze sculpture, will depict the preacher gesturing toward an open Bible in his hand.

Throughout a career spanning six decades, Graham helped lead a national and indeed worldwide resurgence of Christian faith and witness.

In 1952, Graham conducted the very first religious service on the steps of the Capitol. He also acted as a “pastor to presidents,” becoming a regular visitor in the Eisenhower, Johnson, and Nixon White Houses.

Graham’s “crusades” in dozens of countries around the world also drew tens of thousands of people to Christ. One famous crusade in Madison Square Garden in the heart of New York City ran for 16 weeks, while another in Moscow drew more than 150,000 people.

Upon his death in 2018, Graham became just the fourth private citizen in history to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda. In the words of former President Donald Trump, who eulogized Graham, he “transformed the world.”

“That choice [to accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior], didn’t just change Billy’s life—it changed our lives. It changed our country, and it changed, in fact, the entire world,” Trump said in his remarks at the Capitol. “[He was] an Ambassador for Christ, who reminded the world of the power of prayer and the gift of God’s grace.”

For millions of people around the world, Graham’s message and ministry brought hope and joy during one of the darkest moments in history. As half the globe toiled under the yoke of communism, Graham used the power of the Gospel to lead a spiritual revolution and help break the ideological grip of Soviet totalitarianism.

As the specter of nuclear war and the growing secularism of mainstream society weighed heavy on the American public, Graham preached the hope that is found in Christ. During one crusade at Vanderbilt University, quoting Psalms, he said “I’m like a pelican of the wilderness; I am become an owl of the desert.”

As Graham explained, the Psalm was a reflection of the malaise afflicting contemporary American society, as pelicans do not live in the wilderness nor owls in the desert.

“There’s something deeper in your life that you need that materialism cannot satisfy,” he said. “And one of the things that you need is the forgiveness of sin,” explaining that it can only be found in the power and meaning of the Cross.

As President Trump also mentioned in his eulogy, one of Graham’s most impactful sermons came in Poland in 1978, where he “spoke of the meaning of the Cross to a people suffering under the soulless oppression of communism.”

Graham’s visit coincided with and spurred on the efforts of the Polish people to free themselves from their communist oppressors. Two years before his arrival, the communist regime had launched a brutal crackdown on dissent which included the murder of a courageous priest and the beating and imprisonment of freedom fighters.

“A man has to have something more than bread alone; he must have God,” Graham reminded Poles, saying that he was preaching a message that had been proclaimed in the country for over 1,000 years. He pointed out that few nations have a relationship with the Cross as enduring as Poland’s, shaped by centuries of occupation, wars, and suffering.

“Man and God are separated by sin. There needs to be reconciliation—that is what the Cross does,” he assured the audience, which included officials from the Communist Party office on religion and clergy who came to listen in secret.

After spending hours analyzing Graham’s sermons and conversations recorded by the secret police, one of the officials, who later spoke to me about his experience, converted to Christianity. He told me that it was clear the sermons transformed souls. “The pride, luxury, or prosperity we offered was trivial to [Christians],” he said, indicating that the power of Soviet influence decreased because people had found a new hope.

Graham’s visit to Poland came as a result of the Lausanne Movement, an initiative he established to share the Gospel with all nations. It garnered the interest of Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyla – the future Pope John Paul II – who viewed society’s moral renewal as crucial for achieving political freedom.

Wojtyla saw Graham as a servant of God, which led the Polish Conference of Catholic Bishops to welcome the protestant preacher into their churches. As a result, Graham was able to deliver the simple message he once delivered in Nashville and throughout the world to thousands in Poland.

A former high-ranking official in the Soviet secret police, who converted to Christianity after the fall of the Berlin Wall, shared with me that the Kremlin, in allowing Graham to visit Poland, attempted to paint him as an opponent of U.S. efforts to defeat communism. “They hoped his visit to the Soviet bloc would be seen as supportive of their ‘peace effort,’” he told me.

But the truth was, as Pope John Paul II’s close friend, Cardinal Andrzej M. Deskur, told me, Billy Graham shared a commitment to freeing people from communist oppression and upholding the inherent value of the individual human person.

“These are the truths the American Constitution inscribes,” he said. “Graham and Pope John Paul II kept each other in their daily prayers.” As he also disclosed, two days after Billy Graham left Poland, Cardinal Wojtyla was elected Pope, and a few years later he welcomed Graham at a private audience, saying “We are brothers.”

Together with other Christian groups, Graham assisted in the Vatican’s efforts, leading to major evangelization in countries across Central Europe by the end of the 1980s.

At a time when the political landscape of the Soviet bloc was undergoing a transformative climax, marked by strikes and peaceful protests, it was these spiritual revivals that, just months later, helped lead to the historic fall of the Berlin Wall. As that barrier crumbled, it became evident that the message of the Cross, a profound truth about the human spirit, intertwined with the American values that Billy Graham fervently and selflessly preached, had triumphed.

As Graham’s statue is unveiled at the Capitol, North Carolinians and all Americans have reason to be proud that his legacy lives on, both in the United States and around the world.

Ben Solis is the pen name of an international affairs journalist, historian, and researcher.

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9 days ago

Surprised that the Left did not protest against the statue at the Capital building. It is definitely well-deserved tribute for Rev. Billy Graham for a JOB WELL DONE for the ALMIGHTY.

9 days ago

Excellent! He is an inspiration throughout the world.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
9 days ago

I have no objection but honestly not a fan of evangelicalism.

Dan W.
Dan W.
9 days ago

I wonder what Reverend Graham would think about our two presidential candidates?

9 days ago

Timing of this is to help Biden win votes!

9 days ago

Wait a minute…. don’t the “Democrats” claim that THEY are the superior beings, and that all other figures of faith are propaganda from Breitbart….?

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