We are writing to express our concern with the upcoming Festival of Hope event in Vancouver (March 3-5). This event will feature Franklin Graham, son of venerable evangelist Billy Graham, as the key speaker on all three nights. We are part of a growing coalition of Christians in the Lower Mainland who are deeply troubled by the hateful politics that Franklin Graham frequently promotes. We therefore respectfully, but strongly, urge you to reconsider your support for this upcoming event.
It is no secret that Franklin Graham supports US president Donald Trump and is aligned politically with many of his racist, anti-refugee, and misogynist views. Franklin Graham has repeatedly expressed his disdain for a wide variety of people, including characterizing Islam as an evil and wicked religion, advocating for an immigration ban on Muslims to the US, ferociously condemning gay and trans people, and blaming African American victims of racist police violence for their own deaths. Furthermore, Mr. Graham’s incredible wealth and opulent lifestyle contrast sharply with the simple, humble life of Jesus among the poor and marginalized of first century Galilee. Graham stands with the rich and powerful of this world, and his views promote violence and ongoing oppression that serves the interests of the powerful at the expense of the least.
We strongly believe that our duty as Christians is to seek justice (Isaiah 1:17; Micah 6:8) and love one another. We follow the One whose birth signaled good news to the poor but a threat to the powerful (Luke 1:52-53), and whose death was precipitated by his solidarity with oppressed people against the domination of local political and religious leaders and the crushing force of the Roman empire.
Franklin Graham’s upcoming visit comes at a time when community tensions are running high. The US president’s immigration ban on seven Muslim-majority countries and the massacre of six Muslim men while praying in the Islamic Community Centre in Quebec City have sparked protests across the country against Islamophobia, white supremacy, and the immigration ban. Here in the Lower Mainland, thousands of people attended many rallies over the course of a few weeks to condemn the racism, hatred, and intolerance evident in these horrifying acts.
At a time like this, it seems especially inappropriate for followers of Christ in the Lower Mainland to rally behind a Christian leader who espouses hatred against Muslims and supports the Trump regime. We believe Franklin Graham’s presence in Vancouver will be extremely detrimental to the wider Christian witness, and will in fact fuel religious divisions and promote hostilities.
We are asking faith groups across the region to oppose Franklin Graham’s visit. We understand many churches have already invested time, resources, prayers, and preparations into the Festival of Hope process. We encourage you in these efforts at sowing the love of Christ in your local communities, and simply ask that you remove your support from the culminating Festival of Hope event, trusting that God is fully capable of completing the good works you have begun in your communities without the help of Franklin Graham.
As followers of the one who disrupted business-as-usual in the temple, we oppose Mr. Graham’s presence here, and we invite you to join us in this resistance.
Streams of Justice