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Conservative Evangelist Franklin Graham Brings Tour To Vermont

Evangelist Franklin Graham
Bebeto Matthews
Associated Press
Evangelist Franklin Graham, pictured here in May 2018, is bringing his tour of the Northeast to Vermont on Tuesday, May 21.

Preacher Franklin Graham will bring his evangelical Christian message to the Burlington area Tuesday night. The event at the Champlain Valley Exposition, in Essex, is part of Graham's "Decision America" tour.

Graham is the son of the late preacher Billy Graham. Franklin Graham has drawn criticism for statements he's made about the Islamic faith and the LGBTQ community.

Seth Pankratz, senior pastor at Calvary Bible Church, in Rutland, is bringing about 60 people up to the Essex event from the Rutland area. Pankratz said he hopes to hear an inspirational message from Graham.

"In our society, with divisiveness and hate and racism, the only real solution to that we feel is through the gospel of Jesus Christ," Pankratz said. "And we are excited about the opportunity to have that shared very clearly here in Vermont."

Pankratz said he looks forward to being among many other Christians; he acknowledged that's been rare for him since moving to Vermont almost two years ago.

Carol Price, of Bristol, is organizing a protest outside of Tuesday's event, and she expects about five to 10 people to join her.

Price condemns many of Graham's controversial statements, which she views as "hate speech." She said she also disagrees with Graham's interpretation of the Bible and his support for President Donald Trump.

"He is able to overlook all of Trump's non-Christian activities, but yet is able to pick and choose the elements of the Bible he wants to believe — like that what he says about the Bible ... stating that homosexuality is a sin, and yet he's able to overlook Trump's adultery," Price said.

Graham's stop in Vermont is the second in his tour of all six New England states, as well as Syracuse, New York. His website notes he's coming to states that are considered among the "most secular" in the country.

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