A statue of white supremacist Charles Aycock in the US Capitol is set to be replaced by a life-sized monument to the late evangelical homophobe Billy Graham.
The spot in the National Statuary Hall was previously held by racist governor Aycock, before a Democratic bill sought to remove all busts and statues of “individuals with unambiguous records of racial intolerance” from the Capitol.
Graham’s homophobic views didn’t preclude him from having a statue, though, and the move to trade one controversial figure for another was approved by a North Carolina legislative committee on Wednesday (July 29).
The infamous preacher and father of Franklin Graham has been described as the most widely-heard Christian evangelist in history. He died in 2018 at the age of 99, having dedicated his life to his anti-LGBT+ Christian crusade.
Billy Graham called homosexuality ‘ungodly’.
Among Billy Graham’s many teachings was that homosexuality is a “sinister form of perversion” contributing to the decay of civilisation.
“Let me say this loud and clear,” Graham told a young woman who wrote to him in 1974 confessing her love for another woman. “We traffic in homosexuality at the peril of our spiritual welfare.”
He warned that homosexuality was an “ungodly spirit of self-gratification” and added: “Your affection for another of your own sex is misdirected and will be judged by God’s holy standards.”
In 1993 he famously spoke about the AIDS crisis, telling a record-breaking crowd of 44,300 in Columbus, Ohio: “Is AIDS a judgment of God? I could not be sure, but I think so.”
He later retracted and apologised for this remark, but advocates argue that the preacher nevertheless left behind an “institutional apparatus” of homophobia that has caused immeasurable harm to the LGBT+ community in America.
Two years after his death he’s still fondly regarded by the Bible belt states, and just last month a highway interchange in Tennessee was named after him.
The statue of Billy Graham will be one of two representing the state of North Carolina in the National Statuary Hall following a final vote by a congressional committee.
Former state representative Dan Soucek, who proposed the switch, said the statue should be of someone who made an impact in the lives of North Carolinians.
“When people from all over the country and all over the world walk through Washington and say, North Carolina has two choices to be in here, what do we want them to be?” The Charlotte Observer reported him saying.
It will be created by Charlotte-based sculptor Chas Fagan, who has previously made statues of religious figures including St. John Paul II for Washington’s John Paul II National Shrine, as well as Mother Teresa for the Washington National Cathedral.
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