As a born-and-bred Vancouverite, I always assumed rain was God’s curse on the city, a punishment for our paganistic worship of craft brews and real estate.
But Franklin Graham, son of famed evangelical minister Billy Graham, is setting me straight.
“Mr President, in the Bible rain is a sign of god’s blessing,” Graham junior imparted on the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration. “And it started to rain Mr President when you came to the platform.”
That must be why Graham is making a pilgrimage to what is surely the most blessed city in the world.
If you haven’t yet heard, in a few days Graham will be headlining Vancouver’s Festival of Hope, a three-day extravaganza full of prayerfulness, Christian rock, and the wholesome comedic stylings of Leland Klassen, Canada’s self-proclaimed “premier clean comedian.”
But all that gentle Christian merriment will only layer a transparent veneer over Graham’s brand of hateful preaching.
Graham is loud and proud about his repugnant views. Gay people are the enemy who “want to devour our homes; devour our nation.” They don’t adopt children, they “recruit children into [their] cause.” Islam is a “very evil, very wicked religion.”
So Graham is the kind of Christian who wants to love his neighbour as long as they’re not actually, you know, his neighbour.
Samaritan’s Purse, Graham’s international charitable organization, pays Graham $350,000. And on top of that, he receives another $669,000 as the head of the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, bringing his total annual salary to $1.2 million.
In other words, he’s a lot like the American president he so admires: a greedy, loathsome man who owes his success to his father and uses his unearned power to stomp on the marginalized and to enrich himself.
Graham’s views are sure to find a welcome home in the hearts of many Vancouverites. Despite vocal opposition from Mayor Gregor Robertson, city councillors and Christian leaders, I’m not naive enough to believe that there aren’t thousands of people in the city who won’t embrace his hateful screeds.
But then again, the very fact of the backlash is reason to be optimistic. When Graham did the same song-and-dance in Toronto in 2014, it was barely commented upon, let alone resisted.
Vancouver is a city that is still dealing with the legacies of institutionalized racism and homophobia. But it’s also a city where thousands of Muslims and gay people live openly and side-by-side.
So I’d like Graham to know that when the rain comes down, as it inevitably will, during his Vancouver visit, it’s not because God is blessing his hate-filled carnival.
It rains in Vancouver all the time. Maybe God doesn’t have a problem with us after all.