April 2018 Church & State Magazine - April 2018

AU Opposes Billy Graham’s Lying In Honor At U.S. Capitol

  Rokia Hassanein

When famous evangelist Billy Graham passed away on Feb. 21, he became only the fourth private citizen to lie in honor at the U.S. Capitol building.

Congress’s decision to extend this honor to an evange­list sparked some criticism.

“We respect the fact that many people revere Billy Graham because he brought them deep spiritual meaning and inspiration,” Americans United stated in a Feb. 28 press release. “However, Graham also did things that are greatly troubling. For example, he made derogatory statements about Jews, African Americans and LGBTQ Americans. The hurt and harm caused by those statements cannot be forgotten even though he may have later offered apologies.”

Americans United noted that unlike the three private citizens such as civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks, who was granted the same honor, Graham’s work only reached a group of people with a specific interpretation of Chris­tianity. The government, AU said, should not honor some­one whose main achievement was evangelizing.

“Our position is that Graham should not lie in honor. We don’t say this to criticize a man who has died, but because the question of who should receive this rare honor warrants public discussion,” the statement read. “Such a high government honor for someone solely for his work spreading an interpretation of one faith offends the spirit of our First Amendment’s guarantee that government will not take actions that endorse or promote religion.”


Americans United & the National Women’s Law Center file suit to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans.

Abortion bans violate the separation of church and state. Americans United and the National Women’s Law Center—the leading experts in religious freedom and gender justice—have joined forces with thirteen clergy from six faith traditions to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans as unconstitutionally imposing one narrow religious doctrine on everyone.

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