TENS of thousands of people are gathering in Winnipeg this weekend to hear the son of Billy Graham preach the word of God and words to live by. But as much as Franklin Graham's words have inspired Christian evangelicals around the world, they've riled others who question his politics and tolerance of other faiths. Graham has been accused of inciting hatred toward Islam, calling it a "wicked and evil religion" in an interview on a U.S. news network after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He's never taken back the remark, and Muslim groups in Canada and the U.S. have challenged Immigration Minister Monte Solberg for allowing Graham to enter Canada when a Muslim cleric accused of spouting hatred toward Jews was banned.
This "Graham fest" drew capacity crowds 3 straight nights (it should be noted that it was FREE admission, I'm sure even the Moose could sell-out everynight if it was free) drawing people from every (supposeably) demographic, young and old. The second night was was dedicated for people under 25, bribing these poor soles with "young hip activities" such as BMXer's and god awful Christian rock bands such as Tree 63 and the Newsboys.
"Going to church is not going to save you," he said. "Your parents cannot make that choice for you... If you come and stand before this platform, God will set you free. If you're here and guilty of abortion... God loves you, will forgive you, set you free and cleanse you of your shame." He said to the roaring cheers of the crowd that those guilty of adultery, sex outside of marriage and homosexuals should answer the call. "God will forgive you, take the guilt and shame out of your life." Close to 500 people answered the call, crowding the floor of the MTS Centre in front of the stage. They were met by "counsellors" -- some of the 1,000 volunteers from more than 200 churches who've helped organize the weekend-long event. Christian counselling volunteers were near to fill out personal information forms with them for future follow-up about joining local congregations.