The Winnipeg Jets and Franklin Graham

Jets Logo

Franklin Graham’s “Rock the River” concert is coming to Winnipeg on September 17th.  For the Anabaptist Mennonite community who are grounded in peace, anything Franklin Graham is a polarizing issue.  There are many elements that facilitate the polarity, like the nature and relationship between evangelism and discipleship.  But a large part of the debate is centered around Franklin Graham’s public support for war.  There are some within the Anabaptist community who believe that the evangelistic tone of the events are worth overlooking the fact that Franklin Graham went on national television in the United States and blessed some bombs that were to be used as instruments of war.  Others say there is no way the Anabaptist community can support an evangelistic event that is headlined by an individual who supports war .

A very interesting discussion that flirts with some of the more fundamental issues within Anabaptism.  One of which, is the relationship with the military.

Interestingly, the Jets are back in Winnipeg.  Frankly it’s about time.  Winnipeg is a hockey hotbed with a rabid fan base who deserve an NHL team!   The Winnipeg Jets organization came out with a new logo on Friday that features a CF Hornet fighter jet with the Canadian Maple Leaf, which is featured on the Canadian Flag, as the backdrop.  The logo is overtly militaristic to the point that it is fundamental to the design and is ultimately a shout out to the long history Winnipeg has with the Royal Canadian Air Force.

For the Anabaptist community, where is the line?  Is it hypocritical to object the Franklin Graham crusades, and buy Jets merch plastered with overtly militaristic design?  It seems too easy to overlook the military element of the Jets new logo in the name of sports.  I offer this as a discussion piece for a community grounded in peace.

I must write a disclaimer however, (a lame cop out maybe?). I’m not sure where I am on this.  I merely think that it is something that deserves more thought and discussion from the hockey fans within the Anabaptist community.  I’m just so darn curious.


  1. Reece Retzlaff · July 24, 2011

    Thanks Chris, I think this is definitely worth thinking about and merits further discussion.

  2. chris lenshyn · July 24, 2011

    Totally Reece.

    I think the implications however move us beyond the militaristic design of a logo and bring us into the actual game itself.

    Hockey is quite a violent sport. So are others that I watch. I have to ask if I am a hypocrite for not liking the logo because it is militaristic, but go to the games where there is a lot of fighting etc…

    Very interesting stuff. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Darren Pries · July 24, 2011

    Interesting thoughts Chris and pacifism mixed with supporting the military is something I’ve been wrestling with off and on for a while. When it comes down to it, I am a pacifist as most of my Mennonite ancestors were but in reality it’s very difficult to be a full-fledged pacifist. Despite what some pacifist’s teach, militaries do some good sometimes and without a military guarding us in some capacity we might not be free to be pacifists. So yes, It would be great for all armies to disband and all their weapons thrown into the sea, but until everyone else feels the same it won’t happen. On a national level it’s impossible unless Christ returns but is much more possible on a personal level.

    My interests include both sports and reading, most fantasy and history, and both are saturated with violence and military themes. Most fantasy stories and most history is based on war and conflict but I find it riveting despite the fact that I could never kill another human. Many sports teams are named along military lines including three of the teams I cheer for (Jets, Bombers and Senators) yet this does not make me a warmonger.

    There must be some place in anabaptism and pacifism for some level of support for our Canaidan Forces, even if it’s just gratitude that someone is willing to do the job that we cannot.

  4. Marco Funk · July 24, 2011

    to be honest, i have struggled with numerous sports because of how they embrace violence and forms of competition that train us to think in anti-Kingdom-like ways.

  5. chris lenshyn · July 24, 2011

    Darren, it is definately an interesting question. 16th century Anabaptists believed in peace to the point of death, it is a sacrifice to be sure. Yet in our society we have law enforcement etc… Have you ever known of an RCMP or Police officer attending a Mennonite church? It is a good tension you speak of.

    Marco. I wonder if there is such a thing as kindom building healthy competition? I think that there is such a thing, but it does not include fighting, and intentional hits to the head in an effort to ‘decapitate’ your competition. But boy oh boy I feel it too.

  6. chris lenshyn · July 27, 2011

    Here is a letter to the editor link for our local paper the “Winnipeg Free Press.” People are all over the map on this…

  7. Thomas · July 27, 2011

    I agree with what you say here, but frankly (pun intended – cha-ching), there are a lot of Anabatists/Mennonites who blindly follow the Grahams and their evango-parades for hundreds of reasons, non of which have to do with his (or their) stance on the military and war. It’s a shame, because there’s lots of people who sit in the pews of Menno congregations that don’t give a sniff about those core Mennonite issues/beliefs, but are some of the “best” Christians I know.

    I’m not gonna buy a “new” Jets Jersey because the logo is ugly as sin and I don’t think the NHL should have logos that feature national allegiance in any case. Furthermore, the logo shows no sign of forward-thinking and bringing the Jets into any sort of “new era” that Chipman and the boys talk so much about.

    That’s me, the guy who’ll get together with his buddies on a rainy day so we can kill each other on the vidgeo games.

  8. Thomas · July 27, 2011

    My second (and third, I know, weird. His mom married my mom’s cousin, his dad my dad’s cousin) is a Police officer and he comes to the church that on paper somewhere is stated, that I am a member of.

  9. chris lenshyn · July 27, 2011

    Thanks Thomas.

    I know, I think the logo is ugly too, just based on how it looks.

    I wonder how the core elements of Anabaptism are being communicated and passed down to other generations. I wonder sometimes if the language used to connect it with our contextual reality needs to be reworked and reimagined… just a thought.

    I play video games that are violent as well, heck I even played an old school grey box game that had me throwing bibles at people… the line is fine and there is much grey area.

  10. Ryan · September 17, 2011

    I am delighted that the Jets are back, but don’t like the way they have cozied up to the military, in their logo, uniform unveiling, etc. If I were a Jets fan, it probably wouldn’t stop me from cheering from them, although I wouldn’t buy the swag… Probably hypocritical, but what can I say, I’m a hockey fan?

    I actually have a bigger issue with the role violence plays in the NHL in general. Having played hockey my whole life (and being well-acquainted with the violent sub-culture that comes along with the hockey world in Canada), and looking at how my son is now admiring his heroes in the NHL, I really do think it’s time to outlaw fighting from hockey once and for all. It’s truly ridiculous that behaviour that would get you arrested on the street is not only allowed but glorified when done on skates in front of 18 000 screaming fans. Hockey survives just fine in Europe without fighting… Same with international tournaments. For me, arguments that it’s just “part of the game” are completely without merit. It’s mindless, dangerous, and feeds the worst part of our natures as fans. And that’s entirely leaving aside the whole Anabaptist dimension :).

    Go Jets, by the way! Except when they play Calgary… 🙂

    • chris lenshyn · September 17, 2011


      I hear ya. I’m still a huge Jets fan, migrated over from the flames this past summer when it was announced they were coming back. Though, I’m not going to be buying the new merch. I’m going retro with my Jets gear.

      My whole thinking on hockey and fighting, and many other things for that matter, has changed over the past year and a bit when I take into account the potential influence on my son. All the other professional sports ban fighting with significant penalty if it were to occur. They seem to be just fine as pro sports. I’m all for healthy competition and I’m not sure dropping the gloves in the name of knocking someone’s teeth in can be considered such.

      Go Flames… except when they play the Jets.

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