By Hemant Mehta
The Claiborne Board of Education in northeastern Tennessee must be itching for a lawsuit because they announced last month that November 7 would now be known as “Billy Graham Day” in the district. Each school “would be free to celebrate the life of the famous evangelist, in any way it so chooses.” (November 7 is his birthday.)
But why would a public school district declare a special day for a man known primarily for spreading Christianity? Unlike, say, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., you can’t seriously make a case that Graham was a widely revered and respected man who just happened to be a preacher. He was, first and foremost, an evangelist. (And one who dabbled in anti-Semitism, no less.)
The board’s lawyer James Estep III must have had the same reaction because he informed the board weeks later about how they would have to rescind the honor. Estep explained how the district had already lost a major church/state battle in 1988 and this latest offense could result in an even steeper fine down the road.
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