The Billy Graham Evangelical Association’s (BGEA) Festival of Hope is scheduled to start tonight, March 3, 2017 in Vancouver, Canada. On the docket is a gospel message to be given by Franklin Graham. Last week, clergy representing 60 percent of the 1 million Christians in the progressive city asked Graham not to come to his own event.
On Friday, February 24, 2017, the leaders issued a public letter expressing their concerns over Graham headlining the event, which is intended to “draw thousands of people to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.” The reason: Graham’s ties with the unpopular President Trump.
Evangelical, Catholic and mainline Protestant leaders were already compiling their concerns when the mayor of Vancouver, Gregor Robertson, approached them in February to discuss the security threat Graham represented. According to the letter released by the clergy, Robertson and the Vancouver Police Department perceived Graham’s appearance as potentially inciting violence.
In their letter, the clergy articulate the thrust of their concern over Graham’s appearance at the Festival this way:
“Our concern is that the contentious and confrontational political and social rhetoric that Mr. Graham has used has the potential to overshadow the message of Jesus and incite hostility in our highly charged social climate.”
And, more pointedly:
“Regrettably, Franklin Graham’s public comments appear to compromise Jesus’s mission of love and justice for all.”
The letter goes on to detail the specific things Graham has said about Muslims, LBGTQ+ persons and the election of President Trump:
“All Muslims should be banned from the United States because Islam is a “very evil and wicked religion” at war with the Christian West;”