An open letter to The Bishop of Blackburn and his Senior Staff.
From The Rev. Canon Andrew Sage and The Rev. Tracy Charnock.
Franklin Graham Mission, 2018
Dear Bishop Julian, Dear members of Bishop’s Senior Staff,
You will no doubt have seen the recent ‘row’ between Donald Trump and our Prime Minister. This has of course been precipitated by Mr Trump re-tweeting the hateful (and inaccurate) posts of the extreme Right Wing and Islamophobic ‘Britain First’ organisation. Perhaps you may also have noted two other associated and related issues.
These Islamophobic utterances are remarkably similar to those we, along with others, have already shared with you, and which emanate from Franklin Graham. They come under the previous description, i.e. “Islam is Isis and Isis is Islam. Islam has declared war on the world.”
The Communities Secretary has today expressed how he, as a Muslim, is made to feel by these statements and tweets. He says that this “has endorsed the views of a vile, hate-filled racist organisation that hates me and people like me. He is wrong and I refuse to let it go and say nothing.” (Independent, 30th November 2017 - http://www.independent.co.uk/…/sajid-javid-donald-trump-bri…
We wonder if Sajid Javid has been made aware that Franklin Graham who shares the same kind of opinions as Donald Trump, has been invited, by members of the Christian Church to visit Blackpool next year.
We are so nervous about this proposed visit and the damage it will do. Our local Imam is already afraid to put his personal address and phone number on their website. We just wish that we could somehow make it clear that our opposition to Franklin Graham’s visit next year is not just a ‘spat’ between two different Christian groupings. We want to express our opposition as Christians, as citizens of the UK and more especially the North West and Blackpool.
Despite the confusion, and despite the hurt we know it will cause to some of my Christian and indeed Anglican brothers and sisters in Blackpool, like Sajid Javid, we cannot stay silent in the face of such dangerous and outspoken prejudice. To be clear. We area NOT against the Mission, but we are opposed to Franklin Graham leading it.
Bishop Julian, in a recent radio broadcast you said that you are ‘staying firmly on the fence’ over the visit of Franklin Graham. We have to tell you, from our knowledge at the grass roots, that to remain silent is not to remain neutral. Given that you know well that the Mission is booked and that Franklin Graham is leading it, and given that you are well aware of Franklin Graham’s own opinions and statements, we suggest that your silence, along with the silence of your Senior Staff can only be seen as support. Certainly that was the opinion of one of my fellow community leaders in Blackpool, a Muslim, with whom One of us had coffee this morning.
Bishop Julian and fellow members of the Senior Staff, are you going to remain silent? We call upon you together or severally to at least distance yourselves from Franklin Graham and his views, and to make it clear that the invitation to Franklin Graham to come to Blackpool is ‘Not in your name.’ How else shall we be able to look our Muslim brothers and sisters in the eye?
With the assurance of our prayers, Andrew and Tracy.