The famous evangelist Billy Graham may not have been to everyone’s liking but the man certainly tried to expunge politics — and even controversial and divisive issues — from his Christian preaching. He once said, for example, that one of his greatest regrets was being too closely identified with President Richard Nixon.
His son Franklin, however, is cut from a different cloth. Rather than distance himself from politics and sensation, he has positively embraced the divisive and the ultra-conservative. He has said that Muslims should be banned from the United States because Islam is “very evil and wicked.” He’s demanded that LGBTQ people be barred from churches because Satan “wants to devour our homes.” And he claimed that the election of Donald Trump was due to the “hand of God” at work.
These and other comments are why Graham’s appearance in Vancouver this weekend at the so-called Festival of Hope is being vociferously opposed by many local Christians. More than 30 leading Christian leaders have issued a public letter expressing profound concerns about his visit.
The list is an impressive one and includes Catholic Archbishop Michael Miller, Anglican Bishop Melissa Skelton, leaders of the United Church and (this is deeply significant) various evangelical leaders. This is arguably the first time such a broad grouping of Christian leaders has come together to stand against such a prominent co-religionist.
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