We all know Christian evangelist Franklin Graham. He is the son of Billy Graham, who, if evangelical Protestants ever wanted or had need of one, could have been their pope. The elder Graham was undoubtedly the most celebrated and successful — and scandal-free — evangelist of the twentieth century. In his prime he was loved and respected not just in America but around the world as he advised presidents and possessed a potential political power that he never attempted to wield and barely even caressed.
Franklin Graham has admirably followed in his father’s footsteps and has distinguished himself even among secular humanists for his work with The Samaritan’s Purse, a global charity that provides care packages to needy children around the world. Tens of thousands of churches support the project as their members fill colorful shoe boxes full of everyday items like socks, toothpaste and soap.
Graham has also lent his voice to contemporary issues ranging from same-sex marriage to radical Islamic terrorism and these views — though warmly embraced by most conservative evangelicals — have engendered criticism from the Left.
The evangelist is slated to be the keynote speaker this weekend at this year’s Festival of Hope, an international Christian event that this year is being held in Vancouver, British Columbia. Vancouver has become a sort of quasi-Marxist Mecca on the Pacific shores. The political complexion of the city has become so red that it makes its sister American cities of Seattle and San Francisco, just down the left coast, appear positively moderate.
Many in Vancouver do not want Graham to visit their city because of his “derogatory” statements about Muslims and the ever-expanding LGBTQ “community.” The mayor is one of them. Gregor Robertson is a former director of Tides Canada, which is one of George Soros’s lefty enterprises that are solely concerned with promoting stridently and — dare I say? — intolerant policies on environmental and social issues. For the Soros community, climate change is not subject to examination, assessment or questioning: it is a secular religion to be received and obeyed unquestionably.
Several of the key figures at Vancouver’s city hall have also been immersed in Tides — to the point that you begin to wonder whether Canada’s third-largest city hasn’t been completely subsumed by the Soros political culture.
In truth, it has.
But the municipal politicians are not alone in their insistence that Graham be disavowed and dis-invited by the Festival of Hope organizers. About half of the city’s churches — from Roman Catholic to moderately evangelical — have signed an exquisitely ecumenical open letter objecting to Graham’s visit.
The Vancouver media has been eating this up, rejoicing in seeing this Bible-thumping American evangelist with the Scopes Money Trial world-view being excoriated by the good, liberal and apostate “Christians” in their fine, progressive city. Reporters are writing not reports but commentaries on how Graham routinely offends everybody on the liberal list of needy special interests and even suggested he is racist — a laughable contention.
But think for a minute. Can you imagine this happening to a Muslim imam? Wouldn’t that be a blatant and completely unacceptable form of “Islamophobia,” which crackpots in Canada and the U.S. now believe is rampant across the continent? Even if our Muslim speaker did not simply object to contemporary policies and opinion on sexuality but advocated a more extremist agenda that was anti-Semitic or terrorist, you can bet there would not be a single negative utterance from the craven city council because they would be more concerned about having their tires slashed or lives threatened than worrying about practicing any degree of consistency in their lives.
Yet Graham is being condemned not because he has ever encouraged violent resistance but because he dares to call Islamic extremism violent and dangerous. He is being eviscerated by the Christian leadership because Graham still believes in Biblical truth while most of his muddled, middle-of-the-road critics practice a smorgasbord Christianity that picks and chooses from the table of faith those items that will clash the least with modern liberal mores and offend the fewest in contemporary society.
The festival organizers have not backed down — despite the city and other religious leaders attempting to deny them their basic right to freedom of religion, which, the last time I checked, was still guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
It may never dawn on the Tides-promoting city politicians, but it should be a revelation to the freedom-hating religious leaders in the Greater Vancouver Area: Graham’s freedom of religion is your freedom of religion. If he can’t speak — either through outright political oppression or more nuanced social control — then you too may lose that freedom.
And Graham’s emphatic repudiation of these forces by speaking this weekend is a victory for all of us who love liberty.
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