And today, in the center of this great chamber, lies legendary Billy Graham, an ambassador for Christ who reminded the world of the power of prayer and the gift of God's grace.
All were here to say goodbye to "America's pastor", who died February 21 at 99.
Meanwhile, on social media, a quote attributed to Billy Graham has gone viral: "Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead".
Following the remarks from Trump, McConnell and Ryan; Smith, a popular Christian singer-songwriter, performed the song "Just as I am". And the man for whom it was sung wasn't just any evangelist.More news: Bank of England chief blasts cryptocurrencies
Graham's influence will continue through the millions of lives he helped transform, the thousands of Christian leaders and evangelists he inspired and the work of the BGEA. He became a confidante of presidents and other leaders.
But the number of Americans affiliated with a particular denomination of Christianity has been falling - and the number who say they are not a member of any organized religion is growing. While he adopted many "conservative" opinions, for example, on the equality and rights of women, or full inclusion of LGBTQ persons, he also took risks more typically described as "liberal" for causes like racial integration and limiting the nuclear arms race.
Graham is also the first religious leader to lay in state. He refused to join Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority, saying, "I'm for morality, but morality goes beyond sex to human freedom and social justice".
And most importantly, thank you to the entire Graham family for honoring us with your presence here today. He rarely made an effort to reach out to Christians during his presidency, and actively targeted them with his policies and actions: See his stance on Hobby Lobby, and his never-forgotten feelings on rural Americans being simpletons clinging to guns and religion. Here too we express penitence both for our neglect and for having sometimes regarded evangelism and social concern as mutually exclusive. His body is lying in repose for two days at the Graham Family Homeplace at the Billy Graham Library. There are some clues. "We love them and so does God".More news: Flings, Antwi set for IAAF World Indoor Championships
"Here lies America's pastor", Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said in his short message after Graham's casket was carried in and placed in the center of the Rotunda by members of the US military. He left no one out. Critics complained that his message was overly simplistic, protested that he did not speak out forcefully enough on issues such as racism and poverty and denounced his support of the Vietnam War and opposition to feminism. From the earliest days of his revivals, he ordinarily advocated equality, justice and opportunity for all.
"Such a high government honor for someone exclusively for their 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", the secular group said in a statement. He did not wish to offend nor to diminish the possibilities of outreach across faiths. He appeared on Gallup's list of Most Admired Men in America 60 times since 1955 - that's every year since the research firm began asking the question. When one group or one race claims it is superior to another, pride has taken control - and pride is a sin.
After the announcement of Graham's death, Ryan said in a statement that the evangelist had "spread the gospel in 185 countries during his 99 years on Earth, touching the lives of many and forever changing the course of the world's spiritual health".
Let each of us pray to God for the fulfillment of the resurrection hope for the Rev.More news: Mario Balotelli agent in talks over return to the Premier League
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