Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: Wiki
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has confirmed it is "pursuing legal remedies" after a string of UK venues axed its events.
Preacher Franklin Graham, who is head of the BGFA and the son of evangelist Billy Graham, was due to speak at events in Sheffield, Manchester, Birmingham and Wales, among others, this year.
However, the PAs were cancelled after backlash from LGBT activists.
News that the BGFA is suing some of the venues was first reported by openDemocracy earlier this week.
"Those cancellations were the result of pressure on the venues by groups with a bias against Christians"
In a statement to Attitude, a rep for the BGEA said: “The purpose of the Graham Tour UK with Franklin Graham is simple. It is to provide an opportunity for Christians and churches in the UK to partner with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
"The Good News of the Bible is summarized in John 3:16, which says 'for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.' In other words, our goal is to tell as many people as possible that God loves them and wants to have a relationship with them, and that this is made possible through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.
"Sharing this message of love and hope has been BGEA’s mission for more than 70 years, and although Billy Graham was certainly an American, as is Franklin Graham, evangelism did not originate in America. We are simply carrying on the work of faithful Christians, who have been sharing the Good News of the Gospel around the world for 2,000 years.
"The Graham Tour UK was scheduled to take place in eight cities, including Glasgow, Sheffield, Liverpool, Newcastle, Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Cardiff, and London. Seven of those venues had been under contract for several months when we learned that our events would be unilaterally cancelled.
"Those cancellations were the result of pressure on the venues by groups with a bias against Christians who hold traditional, historical Biblical views, and believe in the exclusivity of Jesus Christ as Saviour.
"Although we have continually sought constructive resolution of our concerns, in some cases we are being forced to pursue legal remedies. To do otherwise would suggest that Christians who hold traditional Biblical beliefs do not enjoy the same protections against discrimination, or the same rights of free expression and religious free exercise, as those with other views. BGEA supports freedom of expression and religion for everyone, and we hope the courts in the UK will recognize the inequities present in our cases.”
"An immoral agenda"
Graham's views on LGBTQ+ issues have been widely-reported. In 2016, for instance, he tweeted: "LGBT agenda wants to force everyone to accept & condone their lifestyle which God’s Word defines as sin."
LGBT agenda wants to force everyone to accept & condone their lifestyle which God’s Word defines as sin.— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) February 26, 2016
LGBT activists are trying to hook their caboose to the “freedom train” & drag an immoral agenda into our communities https://t.co/QeMzUA4RFk— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) February 6, 2016
The same year, he added: "LGBT activists are trying to hook their caboose to the 'freedom train' & drag an immoral agenda into our communities."