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Current Page: U.S. | Thursday, February 22, 2018
Billy Graham Will Be First Religious Leader to Lie in Honor at US Capitol Rotunda

Billy Graham Will Be First Religious Leader to Lie in Honor at US Capitol Rotunda

Billy Graham preaches at a crusade, which are a part of the television broadcasts of the new BGEA ministry, My Hope. | (Photo: BGEA)

World renowned evangelist Billy Graham will become the first private citizen since Rosa Parks and the first pastor to lie in honor at the United States Capitol next week.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan's office announced Thursday that Graham's body will be brought to the Capitol on Feb. 28 and will lie in honor in the Rotunda until March 1.

The honor will give admirers and other members of the public the chance to pay their last respects to a man whom many called "America's pastor."

Graham passed away Wednesday morning at the age of 99. He will become the fourth private individual to lie in honor at the U.S. Capitol and the first since late civil rights hero Rosa Parks received the honor after her death in 2005.

"So members of the public can pay their respects, the late Rev. Billy Graham will lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda from Feb. 28 to March 1," Ryan wrote in a tweet.

Once Graham's casket arrives in the Rotunda, Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will participate in a bicameral ceremony.

The statement from Ryan's office praised Graham for his "devout faith, inherent humility, and inclusive nature." The statement also praised him for spreading the Gospel in over 185 countries and "changing the course of the world's spiritual health."

Graham, who founded the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, served as a spiritual adviser to 12 U.S. presidents on both sides of the political aisle.

Ryan and McConnell sent a letter to Graham's son, Franklin, who now leads BGEA, asking for the family's approval for Graham's body to lie in honor at the Capitol.

"As soaring a figure as he was, Rev. Graham connected with people on an elemental level. His reach was rooted in decency, humility, and love," Ryan said in a statement after Graham's passing. "He set a tone of ecumenical inclusion, advocated civil rights, and refused to accept the segregation of those attending his crusades. Rev. Graham's service is a testament that, with faith in God, one person can do so much good for the world."

According to the House of Representatives, the honor of being "lain in state" is traditionally granted to military officers or elected American officials. The honor has been granted to 11 U.S. presidents. The honor was also granted to two Capitol Police officers who died in the line of duty in 1998.

The honor has never been given to a religious leader.

Prior to coming to the Capitol building, Graham's body will lie in repose in a closed casket next Monday and Tuesday at the Graham Family homeplace at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The visiting hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and public parking will be available at the Operations Christmas Child Processing Center a few miles from the library.

A private funeral will be held on March 2 in Charlotte and will take place in a tent to pay tribute to his 1949 Los Angeles crusades that brought him national recognition.

"Mr. Graham will be buried beside his wife, Ruth, at the foot of the cross-shaped brick walkway in the Prayer Garden, on the northeast side of the Billy Graham Library," the BGEA website explains.

According to The Washington Post, the Graham family has invited President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and all living former presidents to the funeral. 

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmithFollow Samuel Smith on Facebook: SamuelSmithCP

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