Several thousand people came out Tuesday night to Franklin Graham’s “Decision America” event at Columbia Point Park in Richland.
Graham, who started speaking around 8 p.m., tweeted that about 13,000 people showed up.
A Richland parks and recreation official said the city had no accurate headcount after initially estimating 7,000 people. Also there were about 50 protesters of Graham’s message.
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It’s a normal scene for the controversial pastor and his large gatherings.
Graham took a different political path than his father, the late Rev. Billy Graham, eschewing bipartisanship for a conservative approach.
Disagreement about Graham’s interpretation of Scripture and his words about LGBTQ+ people follows him wherever he goes, including businesses and especially online.
Graham went to Porter’s Real Barbecue for lunch during the day, saying he had some “killer brisket and ribs.”
Porter’s shared the Facebook post Graham and thanked him for coming to their family business.
The blowback came around, with about 30 people reacting with “wow,” “sad” or “angry.”
But most Tri-Citians stood by the business — 290 likes by around 8 p.m. Those people included Jennifer Hamlin, who said she’d keep going to Porter’s.
The barbecue owners also posted in response, saying that while they don’t take stances and sometimes personally clash with customers, they “appreciate everyone who comes in and enjoys barbecue.”
Notably, they weren’t the only business looking for a stop.
Kevin Russell, the longest-tenured employee of Spudnut Shop in Richland, recommended Graham come by Wednesday morning.