Rev. Billy Graham lived his life spreading the Gospel to people around the world. His death in 2018 was an enormous loss felt by people around the world, especially in his home state of North Carolina. Although he may have been called home to heaven, his work on Earth is not yet done.
Rev. Graham’s ministries still reach people around the world by proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel that, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NIV). Rev. Graham’s mission was to tell people that Jesus is the promised savior and son of God who took our place on the Cross and through Jesus’ atonement, we may have eternal fellowship with God.
Billy Graham believed fervently in spreading this Good News through every possible means and in equipping others to do the same. Throughout his extraordinary ministry, Rev. Graham used the radio to preach weekly sermons and he went on weeks-long crusades that drew tens of thousands of people to hear the Gospel and know Christ. He traveled the globe and across America, speaking about God’s grace through Jesus’ everywhere from local churches to the White House, where he prayed with and encouraged Presidents across the political spectrum.
He was an outspoken advocate for equality during the Civil Rights Movement, serving alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his fight for justice and encouraging racial integration at his events. He was also a fervent opponent of the evils of communism, which violate the God-given rights of men and women wherever it exists.
But Billy Graham loved no place more than North Carolina. He made it his home and raised a family there. Nowhere else in the world did he have such a profound impact than the communities of our great state. The career he built and the legacy he left behind earned him the right to be the first private North Carolina citizen to lie in honor at the Capitol.
In 2018, it was my honor to lead the entire North Carolina Congressional delegation to introduce and pass the House Resolution to honor Billy Graham. Showing our state’s support for his venerable legacy is the least we can do to pay respect to his century of life as a servant of God.
Today, I am looking to accelerate the recognition of Rev. Graham’s life in Congress and forever memorialize him with a statue in the Capitol just outside the House Chamber. According to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, donations from individuals in support of this statue were collected in record time, from all 50 states, and all 100 counties in North Carolina.
Unfortunately, the bureaucracy of the government has slowed this process down considerably. According to the Architect of the Capitol, each state is authorized to designate “two statues of notable citizens for display in the United States Capitol.” A state is allowed to replace a statue by requesting the approval of the Joint Committee on the Library. On October 2, 2015, the North Carolina General Assembly approved a request to the Committee to approve the replacement of the statue of Charles Brantley Aycock with one of Reverend Graham. The General Assembly began the replacement process in 2018, and the artist submitted his design for approval in 2020. But the Committee waited over a year to give its approval to this step, and there are still two more steps that require the Committee’s approval.
It is time to break through the bureaucratic logjam of the federal government and see his statue displayed. With the support of the North Carolina Congressional delegation, I hope to see this done without any further delay. That’s why I’ve introduced legislation that would require the Committee to approve or deny the final two steps (the full-sized clay model and final statue) within 30 days of submission by the North Carolina General Assembly.
As a proud North Carolinian and American, it is important to me that we cement Billy Graham’s image and legacy in the Capitol as a reminder of one of the greatest men North Carolina has ever produced.
Passing by the statue of Rev. Graham as lawmakers go in and out of the House Chamber will remind every other member of Congress to remember his ministry and what he taught us about the power of the Gospel. God’s grace is undeserved but freely given, and it’s through his saving grace that we have the power to treat others with respect, and work to make America, and the world, a better place.
U.S. Rep. Ted Budd represents North Carolina’s 13th Congressional district and is a candidate for the U.S. Senate