Franklin Graham has criticized a lawmaker who hung a painting portraying cops as pigs at the Capitol, arguing that country leaders should be relieving racial tensions "rather than adding fuel to the fire" and pointing out that without police officers, society "would be as close as you could get to a hell on earth".
In a Facebook post shared on Monday, the 64-year-old leader of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse applauded the decision to remove the painting after a weeks-long spat between Democratic and Republican lawmakers, saying "it's about time".
"Shame on Democratic Congressman Lacy Clay from Missouri who kept hanging it back up when it was taken down," he wrote. "After a year where violence against law enforcement was at a record high, our leaders in Washington should be doing everything they can to relieve tensions rather than adding fuel to the fire. We should show respect and gratitude to the men and women who put their lives on the line everyday to protect us."
Graham quoted the Bible passage that reads, "Blessed are the peacemakers" and said he is thankful for our law enforcement who are working to keep the peace.
"Without them doing their jobs, it would be as close as you could get to a hell on earth," he said.
The artwork, painted by David Pulphus, an 18-year-old high school student, depicts Ferguson, Missouri, with a pig in a police uniform aiming a gun at a protester. The painting was among hundreds completed by high school students that are featured in a tunnel leading to the Capitol, according to NBC.
Pulphus's painting won the right to represent the district of Rep. Clay in the annual Congressional Art Competition last year: "The painting portrays a colorful landscape of symbolic characters representing social injustice, the tragic events in Ferguson and the lingering elements of inequality in modern American society," said Clay upon Pulphus's win last year.
However, Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., complained the painting violated rules for the competition, which state that works depicting subjects of contemporary political controversy or of a sensationalistic or gruesome nature are not allowed. Reichert said in a written statement that the painting was "insulting to police" and a "slap in the face to the countless men and women who put their lives on the line everyday on behalf of our safety and freedom."
Speaker Paul Ryan informed Reichert on Friday that the architect of the Capitol has determined the painting violated the rules and will come down, his office reported.
Earlier, Ryan called the painting "disgusting":"This isn't a question of First Amendment rights. Of course this young person has the right to do something like this wherever they want to," Ryan said on the Mike Gallagher Show. "But we do have rules that govern these paintings, so it's not as if you have a constitutional right to hang whatever you want in the House hallway in the Capitol gallery."
Representative Dana Rohrabacher concurred: "If someone wants to do this in a private gallery, they have every right with their freedom of speech. We support freedom of speech. But you don't put something attacking policemen, treating them like pigs, here in the Capitol."