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Archive for Tuesday, January 16, 2001

Ailing Billy Graham to be succeeded by son

January 16, 2001

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— Franklin Graham, a motorcycle-riding evangelist who calls himself a "rebel with a cause," has been chosen to give the invocation at President-elect Bush's swearing-in ceremony Saturday.

Graham, 48, will fill in for his father, 82-year-old evangelist Billy Graham, whom Bush had asked to give the opening prayer, inaugural officials said. The elder Graham, sometimes called "the nation's pastor" because of a 50-year ministry and close association with nearly a dozen presidents, is ill and unable to attend.

"It's a great honor," Franklin Graham said Monday. "Not only is it a chance to focus our nation on almighty God, but in a sense much of the world is watching, too."

Joining Graham on the platform will be the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston. Caldwell, one of several black religious leaders supportive of Bush's faith-based initiatives program, will give the benediction.

Franklin Graham said one thing he appreciates about the president-elect is his willingness to speak openly about his relationship to God.

"That will be evident and foremost in his administration," Graham said. "He has moral courage and a strong family that he is accountable to and a mother who, if he misstepped to the left or right, would jerk a knot in him."

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