This morning I posted the following question on Twitter:
Yesterday Billy Graham was honored posthumously as the fourth citizen ever to lie in honor at the U.S. Capitol. Graham, of course, is famous for a single reason: proselytization for a particular religion. Is this an appropriate honor in light of the American Establishment Clause?
— Randal Rauser (@RandalRauser) March 1, 2018
Based on the wording of the question, you can probably imagine the direction I lean. While I am a great admirer of Mr. Graham, it seems wholly inappropriate to me that a nominally secular state which disavows the establishment of any religion should offer a unique honor of lying-in-state to an individual whose primary distinction is being a prolific proselytizer for a specific religion.
The Daily Caller posted a revealing article in recognition of the event: “Thousands Find Unity In Honoring The Gospel And Billy Graham’s Legacy As He Lies In State.” I would simply ask Christians who agree with this display to imagine how they would feel if the roles were different such that it was a Muslim evangelist lying in state and it was the Five Pillars of Islam, rather than the Christian gospel, that was facilitating unity.