Famed US preacher Franklin Graham, son of the celebrated evangelist Billy Graham, has been caught in a storm of opposition from LGBT activists directed at his upcoming tour of the UK.
The tour is a chance for Reverend Graham to “join Christians like you to share the hope of Jesus Christ in eight cities across the United Kingdom.” Uncontroversial as this may seem, however, several LGBT activist groups launched petitions and protest actions on Twitter and elsewhere calling upon the arenas slated to host Graham’s tour to cancel the events.
One such petition by the LGBT rights group All Out originally targeted the London O2 Arena and garnered over 8,000 purported signatures. After news this week that the O2 had never scheduled Graham’s appearance to begin with, All Out claimed a victory in the case. A separate arena in Liverpool, however—the ACC Liverpool—did, in fact, cancel a scheduled appearance by Graham.
All Out pledge to continue trying to get other arenas to cancel Graham, writing in their Jan. 28 update to their petition: “Good news! The O2 Arena has made clear the event will not be happening at their venue. A venue in Liverpool banned him, too. Now, let’s make sure Glasgow, Newcastle, Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Cardiff, and Birmingham – the other cities on Graham’s 2020 UK tour – follow suit.“
Graham, for his part, responded to the outcry in comments shared by Newsweek: “Some people have said I am going to bring hateful speech to the UK, but this couldn’t be further from the truth… I’m coming to the UK to speak about God’s love through His Son Jesus Christ.”
Graham also called out the arena in Liverpool that had cancelled his event for applying a discriminatory standard toward Christians: “We feel that we are being discriminated against because of our religious beliefs. Cancelling venue contracts based on the demands of one very vocal group, without consideration for the views and rights of the Christians who contracted for the venue, including the views of thousands of other Christians who support it and who would be negatively impacted, does far more to harm and divide society than simply letting the events go on as planned.”
In response to the actions by the arena in Liverpool, ifamnews.com has launched a petition directed at the other arenas on Graham’s tour schedule, urging them to stand up for the rights of Christians and to not cave to LGBT activists’ demands that Christians be marginalized and barred from public venues because of their religious values.
The petition echoed Graham’s words in Newsweek pointing out that, “Christians are protected under the Equality Act of 2010 and the Human Rights Act 1998 against unlawful discrimination and have the right to freely exercise and manifest [their] religious beliefs.”
iFamNews will watch this story closely as it develops and monitor whether any other arenas opt to take the discriminatory stance toward Christians adopted by the ACC Liverpool venue.
[Note: Act Out, an LGBT rights organization referenced in this story, has in the past targeted the World Congress of Families, an initiative run by ifamnews.com’s parent organization, the International Organization for the Family.]