The Separation of Church and State

Americans United denounces plan to install statue of divisive Rev. Billy Graham in U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall

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Americans United for Separation of Church and State President and CEO Rachel Laser issued the following statement about the plan to install a statue of the Rev. Billy Graham in the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, May 16, during a ceremony that Speaker of the House Mike Johnson will preside over:

“Recognition in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall is a unique honor that should be reserved for those who most purely embody our American ideals of freedom and equality for all. The late Rev. Billy Graham – with his history of advancing Christian Nationalism, making antisemitic statements, crusading against LGBTQ+ equality and a less-than-stellar record on civil rights for Black Americans – does not deserve this honor.

“North Carolina officials were right to remove the statue of a white supremacist from the U.S. Capitol. But we should not swap one divisive, exclusionary figure for another; two wrongs don’t make a right.

“Speaker Mike Johnson should remember that the U.S. Capitol is the People’s House – a potent symbol of American democracy and its constitutional promise of church-state separation. The Capitol is not Johnson’s personal church, but he’s blurring the line by relocating the National Prayer Breakfast to Statuary Hall and now presiding over the installation of a statue to honor a controversial Christian pastor.

“We need a national recommitment to the separation of church and state to protect our democracy and ensure freedom without favor and equality without exception under the law.”

Americans United is a religious freedom advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, AU educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

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