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Anglicans Among Leaders Blocking Franklin Graham's Visit to Canada

Anglicans Among Leaders Blocking Franklin Graham's Visit to Canada

By David W. Virtue, DD
February 24, 2017

A growing number of Christians in Metro Vancouver want to stop U.S. evangelist, Franklin Graham, from leading a major crusade next month in the city.

Several church leaders, including the homosexual Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Peter Elliot, are opposing the crusade in Vancouver by Graham because, supposedly, he "regularly denigrates Islam, homosexuals, Democratic party politicians, and atheists". Graham says he is there to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, just as his father did.

The fact that Graham is coming not to talk about Islam, homosexuals, the Democratic party or atheists, but to preach the Gospel with the intent of saving souls is beside the point: he must be stopped because liberal inclusion simply isn't inclusive enough to cope with a different point of view -- diversity be damned, writes David of Samizdat, an orthodox Anglican blogger.

"Other prominent Christian leaders unwelcome in Vancouver churches include a chap with no surname calling himself Jesus, who alienated ecclesiastical panjandrums by calling them snakes and Saul of Tarsus who demonstrated a worrying, dehumanizing insensitivity when he invited his opponents to remove their own testicles.

"Thanks to the vigilance of Vancouver's church leaders, the city will remain a Christian free zone, a safe space for Islam, homosexuals, Democratic party politicians, and atheists.

"If Franklin Graham is not allowed into immigration friendly Canada, he will have the singular honor of being just about the only foreign national prevented from entering our borders."

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson recently met with evangelical, Catholic and mainline Protestant leaders to discuss concerns about the visit of Graham, who, he says, regularly denigrates Islam, homosexuals, Democratic party politicians and atheists.

Provocative statements by Graham have become increasingly worrying to many Metro Vancouver Christians, since the evangelist presided at the January inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump, who criticizes Muslim immigrant, and after a lone gunman was charged last month with murdering six Muslims in Quebec.

"The mayor is concerned about safety. The kind of statements Graham makes about Muslims and gays can really inflame the situation," said Vancouver City councilor Tim Stevenson, who coordinated the meeting and is also the first openly homosexual person ordained by the United Church of Canada.

Among the 14 Christian leaders attending the gathering with Robertson on Feb. 10, were Vancouver Catholic Archbishop Michael Miller; Regent College academic dean, Paul Spilsbury; Richard Topping, president of Vancouver School of Theology; Jonathan Bird, president of the evangelical organization City Gate Leadership Forum, and Peter Elliot, Dean of Christ Church (Anglican) Cathedral.

Others who attended the meeting did not want their names made public at this time. Similar privacy concerns currently surround a petition circulating among clergy, that calls on Festival of Hope organizers to find a replacement for Graham at the March 3 to 5 event, which is expected to draw more than 25,000 people.

"Franklin Graham's recent public comments compromise Jesus's mission of justice and love for all. For instance, he has said that all Muslims should be banned from the United States because Islam is a 'very evil and wicked religion' at war with the Christian West," says the petition.

"He dehumanizes the LGBTQ+ community, urging that gays not be allowed to enter churches or even come as guests into Christian homes."

"Graham's crusade runs the danger of dividing the city's ethnically diverse Christian population of roughly 850,000, since it continues to be actively promoted, including on bus ads, by dozens of prominent evangelical clergy such as Norm Funk, Wayne Lo, Sandro DiSabatino, Daniel Chung, David Koop, Cheryl Koop, Darin Latham and Yani Lim.

After Trump's election, Graham said: "I believe that God's hand intervened Tuesday night to stop the godless, atheistic progressive agenda from taking control of our country."

The petition that is circulating among the city's Christian clergy comes on the heels of a letter of protest signed in 2016 by Marjeta Bobnar of the Catholic archdiocese, City in Focus president Tom Cooper, Tenth Church Pastor Ken Shigematsu, Calvary Baptist pastor Tim Dickau and then-First Baptist pastor Tim Kuepfer.

"Rev. Graham is a polarizing figure. ... His ungracious and bigoted remarks have the potential to generate serious negative impact on the Christian witness in Vancouver," said the 2016 statement.

The son of 97-year-old retired televangelist, Billy Graham, has also said homosexuals are "the enemy" and will "spend eternity in hell" if they don't repent.

Graham's crusades have started running into more resistance from Christians in other regions of the world.

The all-Hispanic Baptist Churches of Puerto Rico, representing 112 congregations, this month withdrew their support for Graham's Feb. 11th rally in San Juan, citing opposition to his views about restricting immigrants and refugees.

The Baptist church media also criticized the way Graham regularly receives annual compensation of more than $880,000 for his two jobs. It reported he is the highest-paid CEO of any international relief agency based in the U.S.

Samizdat noted that The Anglican Journal, bastion of liberal thinkpol, tweeted its smug approval of attempts to block Franklin Graham's visit to Canada: "We live in a country that has free speech, but there's a difference between free speech and hate speech" said Stevenson, who is also an ordained minister of the United Church of Canada.

"And there is the problem in a nutshell: if, when liberal orthodoxy is challenged, what is said is automatically classified as hate speech, then in Canada we do not live in a country that has free speech, do we?"


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