Franklin Graham: Christian Hockey Player Right to Skip ‘Pride Night’

FILE - In this March 2, 2018 file photo, Pastor Franklin Graham speaks during a funeral service at the Billy Graham Library for the Rev. Billy Graham, who died last week at age 99 in Charlotte, N.C. Graham has denounced the impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump, but this week …
AP Photo/John Bazemore, File

Celebrated Evangelical pastor Franklin Graham has defended a Christian hockey player’s right to sit out gay-themed activities, saying such faith-based choices don’t make him “homophobic.”

“Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov is being accused of being homophobic and hateful—because he chose not to participate in a ‘Pride night’ warmup that would have forced him to wear a Pride-themed jersey and use a Pride-themed hockey stick that went against his Christian beliefs,” Graham noted on Facebook.

Rev. Graham was referring to news that Provorov had opted out of pregame warmups when the team wore Pride-themed jerseys and used sticks wrapped in rainbow Pride tape. The player cited his Russian Orthodox religion as the reason why he didn’t participate in the gay-themed activities.

In his post, Graham observed that Provorov told reporters, “I respect everybody and I respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion.”

He went on to commend Philadelphia coach John Tortorella who stood by Provorov and urged his 10 million Facebook followers to reach out to the athlete with a word of encouragement and support.

Tortorella said it was really a “great night.”

“With Provy, he is being true to himself and to his religion,” the coach added. “This has to do with his beliefs and his religion. That is one thing I respect about Provy, he is always true to himself, so that’s where we’re at with that.”

In response to his post, Graham received more than 5,000 comments in support of Provorov, none of which bore a tone of anything resembling hate.


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