The free religious Festival of Hope (Hátíð vonar), held jointly by Christian churches, sects and congregations in Iceland and the U.S. Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism, in Laugardalshöll in Reykjavík last weekend was attended by 2,600 people.
Leader of the Philadelphia Church in Iceland youth movement Einar Jóhannes Guðnason told visir.is that organizers are satisfied with the festival, although they were disappointed with the one-sided media coverage of the event.
The festival was controversial because U.S. evangelist and missionary Franklin Graham, who is known for his anti-gay marriage preaching, was its main speaker and because Bishop of Iceland Agnes Sigurðardóttir had agreed to participate in the event.
“Personally, I found [the media coverage] unfair. People have indicated that [Graham] hates gays, which is not at all true. As he said at the festival it doesn’t matter who you are or how you live, Jesus loves you and wants you to follow him,” Einar stated.
About 350 individuals came forward to accept the preacher’s special blessing.
Samtökin 78 – The National Queer Association held a human rights festival in the Þróttur sports club house opposite Laugardalshöll while the festival took place.
Zebra stripes outside Laugardalshöll was made rainbow-colored for the occasion. However, someone removed the makeshift colored tiles twice.
“[The colors] didn’t bother me at all because the rainbow is a pact between God and men, according to the Bible,” said Einar.
“It is rather strange that city authorities are wasting time and money on provoking Christian people and violating traffic laws by having zebra stripes in the wrong colors,” he added. “It was the police who removed them at least one of the times, I saw it myself.”