Franklin Graham Wins Important Case for Religious Freedom in the UK

Renowned cleric, Franklin Graham, has won a critical case for religious freedom in the United Kingdom. In 2018, ads by Franklin Graham’s Lancashire Festival of Hope were taken off from buses in Blackpool, England. This was in an attempt to restrict him from sharing the gospel. 

Likewise, it was a means to prevent the promotion of the event. However, Manchester County Court Judge, Claire Evans, has ruled that the Christian event of that year faced discrimination with that action.

On September 2018, Blackpool Transport Services Limited and The Blackpool Borough Council took off bus ads that displayed the words "Time for Hope." Their reason was that members of the community laid complaints about Graham's association with the festival. 

More so, their complaints centered on Graham’s religious stand on sexuality and marriage. The complaints which were lodged in the court accused the religious leader of either preaching hate or being racist.

Jane Cole, managing director at Blackpool Transport said, "The removal of these adverts is as a result of us listening and acting on customer and public feedback which we aim to do at all times. Blackpool Transport is a proud ongoing supporter of the Pride and LGBT+ communities and in no way did we intend to cause any distress or upset."

This announcement triggered more complaints from people who were against the removal of the Christian ads. According to the complaints, it was an act against Christians, impingement of freedom of speech and censorship. 

However, in the ruling of the court, it was affirmed that there was nothing wrong with the ads and there was actually a violation of the UK’s Equality Act 2010 by the transportation company. The law prohibits discrimination against anyone because of belief or religion.

In response to this victory, Graham appreciated God and admitted that the win is for every Christian in the U.K. Although the ads for the Lancashire Festival of Hope with Franklin Graham were removed, 9,000 people still attended the event in Blackpool. 

Meanwhile, the event had about 50,000 online views globally. It is pertinent to note that more than 400 persons gave their lives to Christ because of that event.

Chairman of the board of directors for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association UK, James Barrett, had this say concerning Judge Claire Evans’ ruling.

"It is a significant day for religious liberty and freedom of speech. The court, in this case, recognized that Blackpool's Council cared more about not displeasing the LGBTQ community than upholding the rights of local churches to advertise a Christian festival of hope.

"The judge summarized it best in her ruling when she said, 'This is the antithesis of the manner in which a public authority should behave in a democratic society.' I am grateful the courts have once again reiterated that the freedom to speak only what is not offensive is not freedom of speech at all.’ ‘’

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