Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson expects local evangelical Christian leaders to tell globally-known evangelist Franklin Graham that he is not welcome at the Festival of Hope, an international Christian event scheduled to be for held in the city from March 3-5 that is being sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada.
Robertson is accusing Graham, the son of Billy Graham and the founder of the internationally acclaimed Christian charity “Samaritan’s Purse” of making “extraordinarily derogatory” comments.
The liberal Vancouver mayor met with organizers of the festival on Wednesday at city hall and listed their accusations that Graham has made unacceptable statements about Muslims, gays and lesbians, including an unspecified remark that Graham allegedly made after the Quebec City mosque shooting.
“Why would they have invited this person in the first place, knowing that he’s said these things about Muslims, knowing that he’s said these things about the LGBTQ community?” asked Vancouver Councilor Tim Stevenson, a folk hero in that community because he was the first openly gay person in Canada to be ordained as a minister.
Festival organizers are not caving to the pressure. Rev. Giulio Gabeli, executive leader of the festival, dismissed the mayor’s charges and said Graham’s “sole purpose [in Vancouver] is to clearly present a message of hope.”
Said Gabeli, “We understand some of the concern, and we understand where they are coming from, but we disagree with their concerns and fears about Franklin Graham,” he said. “He is not coming to incite hate; he is coming to proclaim a message of peace.”
Graham has steadfastly stood by his evangelical beliefs that maintain homosexuality is a sin and abortion is murder. He has also been critical of Black Lives Matter and condemned the killing of police offices who are gunned down while doing their jobs.
The Christian leader is a consistent critic of those who refuse to see any correlation between terrorist acts committed by radical Muslims and Islamic extremism. As a Christian he does not accept the tenets of Islam and has pointed-out the danger of improperly vetting Muslim refugees. A current post on his Facebook page applauds a recent decision by President Donald Trump: “Some good news from Washington on the transgender bathroom issue! President Donald J. Trump is doing away with Obama’s transgender bathroom edict.”
In response to the manufactured crisis, Graham issued the following statement on Monday:
“Politics, policies, economics and commerce are significant matters, but for these three days, we will come together in Vancouver to focus on the most important thing of all: God’s love for each and every one of us.”
Canadian media have incorrectly suggested that Graham has made “controversial statements” about “people of color.” In 2011 was a headline speaker at another Festival of Hope event — in Haiti.