The Rt. Rev. Melissa Skelton, Bishop of New Westminster, has joined the Most Rev. J. Michael Miller of the Archdiocese of Vancouver and more than 30 other leaders in speaking against evangelist Franklin Graham’s visit to Vancouver.

Graham is the primary speaker scheduled for the Greater Vancouver Festival of Hope scheduled for March 3-5. The festival is sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada. Franklin Graham is president and CEO of the association, and his father retains his title as chairman of the board.

“We are concerned that Franklin Graham, who is our brother in Christ, will be the keynote speaker at the Festival of Hope conference to be held here in March,” the leaders wrote in an open letter released Feb. 24. “Our concern is that the contentious and confrontational political and social rhetoric that Mr. Graham has used has the potential to overshadow the message of Jesus and incite hostility in our highly charged social climate.”

Bishop Skelton added in a letter to her diocese: “[M]any of us feel the need to speak out, for there are some in our society who have the impression that Franklin Graham’s perspectives on these issues are synonymous with Christian perspectives on these issues. In the face of this, we believe it’s important to voice a different Christian perspective.

“All this is not to say that Christians, or for that matter, Anglican Christians in this diocese, will agree on social, economic and political issues. It’s also not to say that I and those signing onto the letter don’t have respect for Franklin Graham’s father and his accomplishments, or for the organizing committee of the festival and their well-intended aims.”

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