COLUMN: Statue of well-known preacher unveiled in U.S. Capitol

Published 7:30 am Sunday, June 9, 2024

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The walls of the rotunda under the dome of the U.S. Capitol teach visitors history lessons. There are eight murals, each 12’ x 18’, which depict the early history of our country.

The murals feature the Pilgrims embarking on their ship from Holland to America in 1620, The signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4 1776,  Discovery of the Mississippi by Desoto in 1541 and other historical events. The murals were painted during the 1800’s by various artists.

Statues of ten former Presidents stand around the rotunda. National Statuary Hall next to the rotunda, formerly our House of Representatives, features two statues from each state in the union. On May 16, a statue was unveiled to honor a well-known native son of North Carolina. A 7-foot bronze statue in the likeness of Reverend Billy Graham now stands in the U.S. Capitol in Statuary Hall.

Reverend Graham is depicted holding an open Bible with his left hand. His right hand points to Galatians 6:14, which reads, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I in the world.” Carved into the stone base are two additional Bible verses:  John 3:16 “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.” And, John 14:6 “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.’”

House Speaker Mike Johnson, along with the Graham family, North Carolina’s governor and lawmakers, and former Vice President Mike Pence, were present for the unveiling. Speaker Johnson remarked that he was thrilled with the statue’s position, situated near the opening of the Capitol’s Statuary Hall, “millions of people will walk by and read John 3:16 and John 14: 6,” and learn about Graham’s faith…”I think it’s providential that it’s right here,” Johnson said.

Governor Roy Cooper spoke at the unveiling ceremony, “Today North Carolina gives the nation a symbol representing one of our dearest treasures: the Reverend Billy Graham, a man of faith, a man of North Carolina.” Graham preached to hundreds of millions of people during crusades around the world. The governor also said, Billy Graham “believed, as many of us do, that there is redemption. And he gave his life delivering that message.”

Franklin Graham said that his father would be uncomfortable with the ceremony “because he would want the focus to be on the one that he preached. He’d want the focus to be on the Lord Jesus Christ” and he’s the last person to want a statue of his likeness anywhere.

Known for being a pastor to presidents, Graham died in 2018 at the age of 99. Because of his immense influence, Graham became just the fourth private citizen to lie in state inside the U.S. Capitol rotunda.

If Billy Graham could speak to us today, I believe he would say it’s most important for your name to be placed in the Lamb’s Book of Life, with Heaven’s list of believers.