Well, it looks Aidan Enns of Geez Magazine fame is stirring up some trouble over ol’ Frankie Graham and his impending visit to Winnipeg. I heard about all of this on my drive in to work this morning, on “The Radio” as host Terry McLeod deftly refereed between Aidan Enns and local Pentecostal church Calvary Temple‘s Bruce Martin. I’m probably about to stir up some trouble too with this post, given that a certain local pastor who’s in the same denomination as Bruce Martin is a chap I call a friend. Let me just say that in this case I don’t agree 100% with either side… but mostly, I’m with Aidan on the issue.
Here’s the deal. Aidan is organizing Operation Bless Our Enemies, which is a protest of the Franklin Graham Festival in Winnipeg this weekend. OBOE gathers on The Old Bill’s doorstep to distribute leaflets outside the festival venue. At issue is that Aidan (and others) are suggesting that perhaps Franklin Graham should apologize and retract statements he made following 9/11 in which he called Islam an evil religion and said among other things, “I think weâ€™re going to have to use every — and I hate to say it, hellish weapon in our inventory, if need be, to defeat these people…. letâ€™s use the weapons we have, the weapons of mass destruction if need be and destroy the enemy.” Yeah, he’s actually suggesting that Iraq and Afghanistan should be nuked. Graham, in a move that makes me think he’s not his father’s son (which is to say he’s not Billy Graham: A Generous Modern Evangelist), has refused to retract the statement… I guess he still thinks they should drop the bomb.
He’s coming to Winnipeg to preach the gospel.
So Terry McLeod did a good job with his two interview subjects this morning, though he sounded a little incredulous and had Bruce Martin on the run just a little. (A CBC News story appeared online a few hours later.) For his part, Bruce attempted to avoid defending Graham, choosing instead to emphasize that Franklin Graham was speaking in a different cultural context than ours in Canada (Post-9/11 USA) and that he had been invited here by the churches to preach the gospel and talk about Jesus. And so on, and so forth. He didn’t come out and say he agreed or disagreed with Graham on this issue, just that he seemed to identify with Americans and if anything it sounded like he didn’t like to but almost agreed with Graham in an uneasy way. He’s not a Mennonite anymore, like Aidan Enns. Martin showed bad form in the closing moments when he interrupted Enns, to whom McLeod had given the final word. Martin took that for himself and made his final speech, which had more to do with the Gospel and wasn’t something I disagreed with, except that he shouldn’t have done it. Aidan Enns did a fine job of explaining his unease with the whole thing, pleading for a gospel of peace. He isn’t protesting Graham or his basic message of Christian love… just pleading that it be extended to our enemies, as Jesus said it should be.
So my quibble with Aidan is relatively small… I agree with him on the issues and I agree that it’s good to get it out in the media as it is now, to show that Franklin Graham doesn’t speak for all of us on issues like these — I wish he spoke for none of us on it, but I do know otherwise. My only caveat is that it might be unwise to drag all of the festival attendees into the fray. The christian attendees, yes… all others, I would say the timing is bad even if the message is right. Since you can’t tell the difference between attendees, I’m a bit skeptical about the whole thing… but I do think someone should bring this into the public eye, and I’m glad Aidan’s done it.