Life

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.

Would you support a Billy Graham holiday? Why or why not?

1 Comment

  1. I saw this post and recalled seeing some other post regarding Billy Graham and became confused – usually I equate evangelist with the money-grubbing trolls using television to bilk people out of their hard earned savings and paycheques. So I looked up “evangelism” in Wikipedia, then “televangelism”. Under televangelism was this quote:

    Someone needs to say this plainly: The faith healers and health-and-wealth preachers who dominate religious television are shameless frauds. Their message is not the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is nothing spiritual or miraculous about their on-stage chicanery. It is all a devious ruse designed to take advantage of desperate people. They are not Godly ministers but greedy impostors who corrupt the Word of God for money’s sake. They are not real pastors who shepherd the flock of God but hirelings whose only design is to fleece the sheep. Their love of money is glaringly obvious in what they say as well as how they live. They claim to possess great spiritual power, but in reality they are rank materialists and enemies of everything holy.

    — John MacArthur

    Now, that says it all. But that isn’t what Billy Graham did, so I’m relieved that you were respectful of him, and that I understand the difference.

    But, to answer your question, my immediate response to not supporting such a holiday is that it doesn’t speak to our country’s foundation. If we added Jewish holidays as required (not just days off from school); Eid-Al Fitr, the major Islamic holiday at the end of Ramadan; a day to celebrate Hinduism’s Ganesh Chaturthi or maybe Holi, the Festival of Colours. For a start. Shinto and Buddhism as well as one of the holidays I celebrate, such as Samhain or Lughnasadh should be in there as well.

    When that happens, well, even so, the Christian holidays are still the main listed holidays, but at least they apply to most, if not all, Christians. I don’t know if that could be said for Billy Graham. There is no holiday for Martin Luther, and he did a lot to try to fix the problems of the Church obvious in *his* time.

    For me, the vote would be “nay”.

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Patrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.