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Infamous evangelical preacher Billy Graham honoured with a highway junction as ugly as his homophobia

Emma Powys Maurice July 16, 2020
Billy Graham

The exit 24 interchange on Interstate 26 in Johnson City is now named after Billy Graham (Will Graham/Facebook)

The late evangelical Billy Graham now has a highway interchange named after him as an ugly reminder of his homophobic legacy.

The infamous preacher and father of Franklin Graham died in 2018 at the age of 99, having dedicated his life to his anti-LGBT+ Christian crusade.

The exit 24 interchange on Interstate 26 in Johnson City, Tennessee, has now been named the “Billy Graham Memorial Interchange”, apparently in his honour.

The busy junction consists of a looping overpass connecting the interstate highway with route 321, a far-from picturesque tribute to the controversial figure.

It was requested by Republican senator Rusty Crowe, who held a naming ceremony on Wednesday (15 July) attended by local leaders and Billy Graham’s grandson, William Franklin Graham IV.

“Reverend Billy Graham has counselled presidents of the United States and received numerous awards including the Congressional Gold Medal, and will be remembered for his tireless efforts to bring the Gospel of Christ to all corners of the world,” Crowe told WCYB.

“Tennesseans from many walks of life have greatly benefited from his teachings.”

Franklin Graham
The interchange now named after Billy Graham (Google Maps)

Among his many teachings were the claim that homosexuality is a “sinister form of perversion” that was contributing to the decay of civilisation.

“Let me say this loud and clear,” Graham told a young woman who wrote to him in 1974 confessing her love for another woman. “We traffic in homosexuality at the peril of our spiritual welfare.”

He added that homosexuality was an “ungodly spirit of self-gratification” and told her: “Your affection for another of your own sex is misdirected and will be judged by God’s holy standards.”

In 1993 he famously spoke about the AIDS crisis, telling a record-breaking crowd of 44,300 in Columbus, Ohio: “Is AIDS a judgment of God? I could not be sure, but I think so.”

He later retracted and apologised for this remark, but advocates argue that the preacher nevertheless left behind an “institutional apparatus” that has done vast structural damage to the LGBT+ community in America.

He certainly inspired the teachings of his son, Franklin Graham, a prolific anti-LGBT+ preacher who continues his legacy as he leads the Billy Graham Evangelical Association in his late father’s name.

Franklin Graham is now known for openly praising Vladimir Putin’s extreme anti-gay laws and blaming gay people for a “moral 9/11”. His eight-day UK tour was recently cancelled by every single venue following an outcry against hate speech.

More: billy graham, Christianity, franklin graham, Homophobia

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