Billy Graham national holiday petition rakes over 100k signatures

Over a hundred thousand individuals have signed a petition asking President Donald Trump, the Senate and Congress to declare a Billy Graham national holiday.

(REUTERS/Chris Keane)Pallbearers carry the casket of the late U.S. evangelist Billy Graham during Graham's funeral service at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S. March 2, 2018.

Kyle Siler opened the call on Change.Org just days after the American evangelist, who died at 99 years old, was buried in his home in Charlotte, North Carolina. Siler cited Graham's contributions to Christians all over the world and to several U.S. presidents who sought his advice and guidance over the decades.

"Mr. Graham preached the Gospel to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history — nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories—through various meetings, including Mission World and Global Mission," the petition stated. "Mr. Graham's counsel was sought by presidents, and his appeal in both the secular and religious arenas is evidenced by the wide range of groups that have honored him."

The petition has received over 107,000 signatures as of press time.

Ahead of Siler's call, Charlotte mayor Vi Lyles has declared that March 2 will be commemorated in the city as Billy Graham Day. The council read the proclamation during a regular meeting as devotees paid their last respects to the pastor at a four-day public mourning.

Graham's body laid in a closed casket at the property his father built and the pastor's childhood home. Later that week, the family moved him to his library at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Then on Friday, March 2, mourners, including President Donald Trump, gathered together at Graham's final resting place.

The reverend, who was dubbed "America's Pastor," passed away because of natural causes last Feb. 21 at his home in Montreat. His remains was also brought to the U.S. Capitol for public viewing among politicians and dignitaries. Only one other private citizen, civil rights icon Rosa Parks, received the rare national honor of lying in state at the U.S. Capitol following her death in 2005.

It is unclear if the government leaders will grant the petition. Trump has been one of Graham's advocates but Congress has the sole mandate to declare national holidays.