Christian festival dismisses mayor’s request to replace controversial headliner

Christian festival to host controversial headliner

VANCOUVER — A polarizing American preacher with controversial views on Muslims and the LGBTQ community will headline a Christian festival in Vancouver despite protests from the city’s mayor.

A spokesman for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Foundation says Rev. Franklin Graham, son of celebrity preacher Billy Graham, will speak at the Festival of Hope in early March.

Vancouver City Coun. Tim Stevenson says he and Mayor Gregor Robertson met with festival organizers earlier this week, where they raised concerns around public safety.

Stevenson says he is especially concerned about heightened tensions given the shooting deaths of six Muslims in a Quebec City mosque last month, as well as the official opening of the Trump Tower Hotel in Vancouver, which is scheduled to happen a week before the festival.

Graham, who spoke at Trump’s inauguration, has described Islam as evil and praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for cracking down on people who are gay.

The Festival of Hope is a three-day event expected to bring thousands to Rogers Arena in downtown Vancouver for Christian music and prayer.

The Canadian Press

Canadian Press