Franklin Graham UK tour begins despite opposition

Franklin Graham’s UK tour is finally under way, despite concerted efforts from some LGBT activists to prevent the preacher from sharing God’s word.

Graham was due to tour eight UK venues in 2020 but faced opposition when all of them cancelled after activists objected to his biblical stance on marriage, claiming his mainstream Christian view would prompt violence against gay people.

But after several legal actions were settled, some of the venues backed down, and the four-date God Loves You tour began on Saturday in Liverpool with events in Newport, Sheffield and London still to come.

Call to repentance

The Liverpool event came just two weeks after the city’s Metro Mayor branded Graham a “hate preacher” for his biblical views on marriage and sexuality, and demanded the removal of bus adverts for the tour, claiming they would leave passengers feeling “uncomfortable” and “unsafe”.

Steve Rotherham wrote to Stagecoach and Arriva, saying: “There is no place for discrimination of any form in a civil society – and that should include your buses. I would ask that you remove these advertisements with immediate effect.”

He said the adverts on the buses, which displayed the slogan ‘Looking for something more’ alongside the ‘God Loves You’ tour details, exposed passengers to “bigotry and bile”.

The adverts remained, and the Liverpool event was supported by over 400 churches around Merseyside. The exhibition centre was filled to capacity, and many were reported to have responded to Graham’s call to repentance.

Opposition in Wales

Graham next heads to South Wales, where First Minister Mark Drakeford apologised that he could not prevent the evangelist from speaking.

During a Senedd meeting, Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said Graham “may be entitled to his homophobic beliefs but he is surely not entitled to be provided with a stage to air them at a convention centre that is 50 per cent owned by the Welsh Government”, also suggesting it sent out a message that “homophobia and hate are somehow still acceptable” in Wales.

In response, Mr Drakeford said he regretted that the event was going ahead, but said that, while the Government does part-own the building, it does not run the centre and therefore the decision is out of his hands.

He said: “I’m sorry to see a person of those views given a platform to express them here in Wales and they absolutely do not reflect anything the Welsh Government would be prepared to endorse or sanction.”

Unlawful discrimination

Franklin Graham’s view that marriage is the union of one man and one woman is a belief which is protected by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and is worthy of respect in a democratic society.

This was affirmed last year by Manchester County Court, when it found in favour of the Lancashire Festival of Hope after Blackpool City Council removed adverts for the event on buses due to Graham’s involvement.

The Court ruled “overwhelmingly” in favour of Festival organisers, stating the Council had shown “wholesale disregard for the right to freedom of expression”.

After being ordered by the Court to apologise, the Leader of Blackpool Council admitted the decision to ban the adverts – which displayed the slogan ‘Time for Hope!’ – unlawfully discriminated against Christians.

Also see:

Liverpool Mayor fails to learn from Blackpool Council’s discrimination against Franklin Graham

Franklin Graham attacked by council over biblical views on sexuality

Govt raises free speech concerns over Franklin Graham ‘no-platforming’

Cancelling Franklin Graham ‘antithetical to free speech’, say church leaders