Seattle Police Department rescinds invite for law enforcement appreciation dinner

SEATTLE — The Seattle Police Department rescinded an email invitation for a law enforcement appreciation dinner, which Rev. Franklin Graham of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was expected to host in Bellevue, WA next month.

The email raised concerns for Seattle City Council president Lorena Gonzalez, who said:

“By promoting this anti-LGBTQ and far-right religious group’s invitation, the Seattle Police Department is undermining Seattle’s LGBTQ community, alienating our own LGBTQ officers, and further eroding public trust and confidence in law enforcement to protect everyone regardless of their religion or identity. The Seattle Police Department’s sharing of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association event is absolutely a misuse of taxpayer resources. I’m calling on Mayor Jenny A. Durkan and Interim Chief of Police Adrian Diaz to rescind this email immediately.”

Chief Adrian Diaz shared this message regarding the dinner:

“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. 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.”

Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, issued the following statement:

“The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and I stand in support of law enforcement officers across our nation. These are our community heroes. They work hard and put their lives on the line to serve and protect our cities and our families. They are the only thing standing between us and total anarchy. In recent months, the law enforcement community has faced a demoralizing change in climate and increased lack of support. We want them and their spouses to know they are appreciated, and that’s what our law enforcement events are all about.

“I am a Christian, and I believe Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I believe He wants to help us through the storms and challenges that come our way in life. There are law enforcement professionals who represent other faiths and some who are of no faith. 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.

“This is not a taxpayer-funded event. This dinner and event are a gift from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and from Christians all across this country who want these men and women to know they are appreciated. 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.”

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