Franklin Graham, son of the late evangelist Billy Graham, was due to lead an evangelical rally in Blackpool in 2018.
Graham’s views on same-sex marriage are summarised in a BBC interview: ‘Marriage is for a man and woman and that is what the Bible teaches.’
Local complaints about this ‘bile spewing preacher’ led to a ban on some local advertising.
Graham’s ‘Festival of Hope’, supported by about 200 local churches, went ahead. He subsequently challenged Blackpool’s advertising ban in court; the court ruled in his favour.
Graham quoted St Paul: ‘Speaking the truth in love…’
Speaking… Judge Claire Evans in her ruling said that Blackpool’s decision had breached the Human Rights Act’s protection of religion and freedom of expression: ‘It gave preference to the rights and opinions of one part of the community, without regard for the rights of the claimant or those who shared his religious beliefs.’
I’m delighted that the LGBT+ community has been free to express their views in recent years; the Christian community has that same right.
Truth… Graham describes same-sex weddings as a ‘sin’: ‘If we don’t repent and turn from our sins then we are doomed.’
A local councillor expressed his view: ‘Clearly this chap cannot be allowed a stage to promote this venom.’
Mankind doesn’t have a good record regarding discerning and requiring moral, political or spiritual truth… For 2000 years the defence and promotion of Christian ‘truth’ in particular has led to repeated division, hatred and wars…
Love… I’m delighted that Blackpool Council remain committed ‘to promoting equality and diversity, eliminating discrimination and increasing respect, tolerance and understanding…’
Jesus and Paul both said that love was their priority: more important than speaking freely or promoting truth. This is within the Christian, LGBT+ or other distinct communities; more importantly it’s about love to those outside the community those who aren’t ‘one of us’.
We all need to continue to learn this lesson.