Reverend Billy Graham Was A Bigot. Do Not Mourn His Death.

A Charlotte resident writes about the North Carolina reverend’s long history fighting equality.

As you drive to the seventh-busiest airport in the world, you’ll pass billboards telling you the Billy Graham Library is Charlotte, North Carolina’s No. 1 tourist attraction on Trip Advisor.

You’ll see these billboards, no less, as you drive on the Billy Graham Parkway.

You’d be forgiven for thinking the Rev. Billy Graham was a good, compassionate man. He was, of course, to some.

But he hated the LGBT community. This is no secret. I’m not uncovering press files from years past for this one. This should not be a surprise to anyone.

Yet, at the news of his death today, media outlets across the country, especially in Charlotte, have wallpapered his image across their websites, lauding him as a national icon, a hero, a treasure.

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This is fool’s gold. Graham was no hero, and we should instead shine light on the vile and consistent attacks both he and his organization, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, have waged against LGBT people everywhere. His son, Franklin, now runs the company, and he’s equally, if not more, despicable.

But this is about Billy and how we should remember him, which is to say, not well.

Every time I drive to Charlotte’s airport to see my family in Florida, or, for that matter, any time anybody in Charlotte drives along the Billy Graham Parkway to the airport, we could all be remiss in forgetting that in 2012, Billy Graham felt so strongly LGBT people shouldn’t be allowed to marry and to attain legal visiting rights for spouses in the hospital among other benefits, that he paid for 14 full-page ads in newspapers across North Carolina. That May, Tar Heel voters approved Amendment 1, which prohibited marriage equality; it was later overturned because, and I can’t say this strongly enough, hatred has no place in law.

In those newspaper ads, Graham wrote, “At 93, I never thought we would have to debate the definition of marriage. The Bible is clear—God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman.”

And while the Bible is wholly irrelevant to any legal discussion, Graham’s more repugnant words come not hidden in a news story from half a dozen years ago, but rather on his organization’s website. This particular bout of hatred is easy to find: It’s listed right under the Topics section, subsection: Lifestyle, category: homosexuality.

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“What to do when a loved one is gay?” one horrified Christian wonders. “Where can I find help?”

The organization’s answer is so mind-numbingly odious.

The realization that someone you love is gay can be a shattering experience. We want to assure you that any willing person can be liberated from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ; see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, especially verse 11. If your loved one is not yet willing to seek freedom from homosexuality, or seems unable to find it, then you should pray earnestly for his or her release.

He preached that “detestable” homosexuality contributes to the decline of civilization, and that it is “a sinister form of perversion.” Homosexual perverts, he counseled a young queer woman, with their “ungodly spirit of self-gratification,” will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. The Billy Graham Evangelical Association website still pushes for the deadly and discredited conversion therapy.

This is not a figure Charlotte nor the nation should revere. Graham was a twisted man with disgusting views of the LGBT community. We should not name highways after him or note his death with warm wishes. To camouflage one’s hatred under the guise of religion is both cowardly and nonsensical.

On the day of his death, let us all remember Billy Graham was not a hero, a national icon, or a treasure.

He was a poison to our cultural evolution. Charlotte, the nation, and, indeed, the world are better off with him silenced for good.

Jared Misner is a writer in Charlotte.