Franklin Graham is speaking in the Portland-area on Sunday night as part of his “Decision America Tour,” and that has many interfaith leaders in Oregon concerned. Over the years, Graham has called Islam “a very wicked and evil religion,” praised the oppressive anti-LGBT policies of Vladimir Putin, and tied himself firmly to Donald Trump.
Graham’s “Decision America Tour,” according to Graham himself, is meant to engage evangelical Christian churches and voters in the conservative political movement. Graham told pastors in California during the first leg of the tour that they should preach about their preference for political candidates.
“Diverse faith leaders in Oregon have been meeting this summer to discuss Graham’s visit and the impact it might have,” said Rev. Dr. Chuck Currie, university chaplain, and director of the Center for Peace and Spirituality at Pacific University. “No one in Oregon needs a sermon from Franklin Graham about faith. Rev. Graham talks about America as red and blue. We want to build up the Beloved Community for all.”
“Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon believes in the value of love and the inherent dignity of every human being. As people of faith, we are called to love justice and to stand with the most vulnerable in our society, as we seek to build bridges of understanding where there is division,” Jan Elfers, executive director of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon (EMO). EMO is statewide association of Christian, ecumenical & interfaith partners working together to improve the lives of Oregonians. “We are committed to transcending the political divides that prevent us from working together to address suffering and brokenness. EMO extends a welcome to Franklin Graham in the hope that his mission will also transcend the political divisions of our day to bring healing to a hurting world.”
Graham was invited to meet with interfaith leaders while in Oregon. The invitation was not accepted.
“We clergy of Portland, Oregon understand the motivation for Franklin Graham’s visit to our area, for we also have a message we are driven to convey in the name of G*d. We hope that Pastor Graham’s visit will be in the spirit of his father’s work: radical love toward all G*d’s creation. Anything less might be misunderstood as supporting social intolerance, an evil which we feel that certainly, a Christian like Pastor Graham would never seek to do,” remarked Rabbi Ariel Stone, convener of Portland Interfaith Clergy Resistance: Bearing Moral Witness In Times of Turmoil.
The Rev. Cecil Charles Prescod, minister of faith formation at Ainsworth United Church of Christ, said he had hoped to meet with Graham: “to share the interfaith cooperation in witness and work for justice and wholeness in Oregon. In our state people of faith join with people of good will to pray and work for a nation where we welcome our refugee and immigrant sisters and brothers into our communities; work to restore our creation; and advocate with our houseless neighbors, the unemployed, communities of color, LGBT communities for economic and social justice. We pray that Rev. Graham will join us in striving for the beloved community."