News & Politics

Franklin Graham Wanted to Honor Seattle Police. They Spat in His Face.

(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) is hosting dinners to express appreciation for the brave men and women in law enforcement. Yet after the BGEA’s president, Franklin Graham, invited police in Seattle, Wash., to attend one of the free dinners at a four-star hotel, the Seattle Police Department (SPD) issued a condemnation of Graham and his organization due to their support for biblical Christianity. Leftists and antifa in Seattle have demonized police, but it seems evangelical Christians are the lowest of the low — even the police want nothing to do with them.

Earlier this month, SPD Chief Adrian Diaz revoked a department-wide email invitation to the BGEA’s Seattle-area law enforcement appreciation dinner on May 11, citing concerns about alienating “our community’s LGBTQ members.”

“An internal email was shared this week informing SPD employees of a free appreciation dinner hosted by the Rev. Franklin Graham. Based on Graham’s history and affiliations, the email has raised concerns that the SPD may not be committed to the equity of our community’s LGBTQ members,” Diaz shared in a message on the police blotter.

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“I want to make clear the Department fully supports the equity and just treatment of all people. The SPD did not sponsor this event and is not connected in any way to its hosts. Today I sent a department-wide email to rescind the invitation because its hosts do not share the inclusive values of the SPD,” the police chief concluded.

Officers went public with complaints about the BGEA, and Sgt. Randy Huserik, an SPD spokesperson, told The Seattle Times that he would have preferred the police had reported their objections internally, instead. Huserik also said he did not know how the invitation was extended to SPD.

“Obviously it was not the department’s intent to offend the LGBTQ members of the department and the LGBTQ community at large,” he said.

The BGEA is no marginal organization. Billy Graham, arguably the most influential evangelical Christian preacher in the Twentieth Century, founded the organization and his son, influential evangelist and philanthropist Franklin Graham, now runs it.

The BGEA events do not even concern LGBT politics or issues of sexuality and gender — they are celebrations for police, who face unjust demonization and accusations of “systemic racism” after the horrific death of George Floyd.

“In appreciation of your devotion to protect and serve others, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team is pleased to support the law enforcement community through annual retreats and dinners,” the website explains. “These events acknowledge the unique challenges officers and their families face. We hope you will take this opportunity to step away from the pressing demands of life and career to focus on the truths found in God’s Word.”

The BGEA has scheduled a Vancouver-Portland area dinner on May 5-6, a Seattle area dinner on May 11-12, and an Asheville, N.C., dinner on October 25-28.

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In a statement to the Times, Franklin Graham expressed appreciation for police, no matter their sexual orientation or background.

“Regardless of their beliefs, sexual orientation, or the color of their skin, it doesn’t change in any way the fact that we are deeply grateful for the jobs they do and the sacrifices they make. They deserve our support and to know how much they are appreciated,” Franklin Graham said in the statement.

“Even though the email from Interim Seattle Police Chief Diaz announcing the event has been rescinded, our invitation and the dates still stand. I hope many officers in the surrounding areas will take advantage of this special night dedicated to them,” Graham added.

Yet local leaders vocally condemned the very idea that Seattle police would dine with those supposedly hateful Christians.

“There is no legitimate reason why the Seattle Police Department should be promoting an anti-LGBTQ, far-right group, and this incident just shows the importance of the next mayor in choosing a police chief who can reform the department’s culture,” Seattle City Council President M. Lorena González, who is running for mayor, said in a statement.

“Actions like these undermine trust between SPD and Seattle’s LGBTQ community, which is tenuous at best,” González added.

Anthony Derrick, a spokesperson for Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, praised Diaz for condemning the BGEA and officially rescinding the invitation.

“As a gay woman and mom of two, Mayor Durkan has fought for LGBTQ rights for decades and continues to work with Chief Diaz to ensure SPD reflects the diversity and inclusivity of our community,” Derrick told the Times.

Franklin Graham and the BGEA follow historic Christian and biblical teaching that sex is reserved for marriage between one man and one woman and that God made human beings unalterably male and female. These historic Christian doctrines are apparently grounds for cancelation, even in the case of Franklin Graham, whose global charity Samaritan’s Purse not only provides emergency aid during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic but also delivers shoeboxes of Christmas presents to needy children around the globe.

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As Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, put it, “You cancel a dinner by one of the most famous Christian organizations in all of American history in the name of diversity and inclusivity. That only works by the way if you take the definition of those words and turn those definitions on their head.”

People in left-leaning cities like Seattle may regard police as the dregs of society, a systemically racist institution. Yet even the police are too good for those horrific evangelical Christians.