Petition Calls for National Billy Graham Holiday
If tens of thousands of petition signers get their way, America might just add a Billy Graham holiday to its national calendar sometime in the not-too-distant future.
Would you support a Billy Graham holiday? A petition at change.org — where there’s always a petition about something — calls for one.
And as of this writing, more than 87,000 people have signed it.
The Rev. Billy Graham, nicknamed “America’s Pastor,” died on Feb. 21. He was 99 years old and spent seven decades preaching the Gospel.
He counseled every president from Harry Truman to Barack Obama, which earned him that famous nickname.
A heavy-equipment operator from Trinity, (yes, for real), North Carolina spearheaded the idea. The petition says Graham preached the Gospel to nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories. That means he spread the Word to more live audiences than anyone else.
It’s an amazing accomplishment, to be sure.
Graham, more than any evangelist I can think of, seemed to live what he preached, too.
As hard as he pushed for people to seek God in their lives, there was something about him that made it clear he never forgot his personal need for God.
And while evangelist after evangelist fell to some sort of scandal, Graham’s integrity remained unmarked by scandal. In this day and age, you have to respect that about anyone, no matter what line of work they’re in.
On the other hand, I need hardly mention that just because he was known as “America’s Pastor,” he was obviously not every American’s pastor. Some are quick to point out not only their lack of admiration for Graham but dislike or even hatred.
An essay in Rolling Stone tells the account of a gay teen who accepted Christ at Graham’s urging while attending a crusade then later felt what he described as the “soul-crushing legacy” of Graham when he realized that accepting Christ does not turn a gay person straight.
And a pastor, of all people, claimed Graham wasn’t in Heaven but rather was “burning in hell” for “leading people there for decades with his lying, false teaching, and getting on TV saying that Hindus are going to Heaven and Muslims are going to Heaven.”
The question I ask when it comes to considering a holiday for Graham is whether we’d be as quick to want a holiday for a Catholic priest. Or a Jewish rabbi. Or a Muslim Imam. No matter how revered and respected they might be by a large part of the population — even if they were admired by as large a group we imagine might respect Graham, would it be right to elevate one of these other religious figures to the point of having a national holiday in their honor?
I think we all know how well that would go over.
One could easily argue that there’s always a national holiday named in honor of a pastor. But I think we all can agree that the holiday honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was created because of his work in civil rights, not specifically in preaching the Gospel.
The Charlotte Observer reported such an effort would “likely meet resistance because of concerns over the separation of church and state.”
As much as I admire Graham, I think a holiday isn’t the right step. I think there are plenty of proper ways to pay respects to the man.
A national holiday just doesn’t seem like the right one to me.