It's being hailed as the Super Bowl of spiritual crusades: a massive revival featuring the Rev. Franklin Graham and involving scores of Pittsburgh-area churches.
Scheduled for Aug. 15-17 at the 19,000-seat Consol Energy Center, the mega-event features country-rock veteran Charlie Daniels, the band Tenth Avenue North, and artists Kari Jobe and Michael W. Smith.
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The free-to-all "Festival of Hope" event will harken back to the crusades that propelled Graham's renowned father, the Rev. Dr. Billy Graham, now retired at age 95, to international prominence.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that scores of Catholic and Protestant churches have marshaled their members to stuff mailers, staff phone banks, and place signs on area lawns to promote the event.
Hundreds of volunteers of various denominations are gearing up to serve as ushers and counselors at the event, which aims to leave a lasting mark.
Religious leaders say the excitement in Pittsburgh's faith-based community is palpable as the festival draws near. As Graham told the Post-Gazette: "I've never been to a city yet where I didn't see lives changed."
Some media outlets are already suggesting, however, that the younger Graham's role in the event is somehow controversial.
In 2010, the U.S. Army withdrew an invitation for Graham to speak after he suggested Islam exhibited inherently evil tendencies. Graham also was quick to come to the defense of Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson last year after the reality TV star was targeted for denouncing homosexuality. Graham blasted "the intolerant gay community and its vast network of immoral, liberal allies."
Graham also once remarked of polytheistic Hinduism that "none of their 9,000 gods is going to lead me to salvation."
Graham insists the Festival of Hope, though, will center on faith rather than politics. "People of different faiths are absolutely welcome and we want them to come," he said.
Samaritan's Purse, Graham's charitable relief organization, has been in the global headlines lately after two of its medical workers contracted Ebola while caring for sick people in West Africa.
As that relief effort illustrates, if Graham is one of Islam's leading critics, he also is a leading benefactor of Muslims through his far-flung charitable endeavors.
In addition to his ministry activities, Graham has been an outspoken voice opposing the global persecution of Christians.
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"We are seeing it across the globe, no question about it, and it's frightening," Graham told "America's Forum" host J.D. Hayworth during a Newsmax TV appearance earlier this year.
Graham noted that not all of the persecution occurs overseas.
"We see the anti-Christian position in this country," he said. "We see so much of it coming out of the entertainment industry, especially in certain segments of the news media."
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