Using the “hate” label, members of the British parliament, along with more than 6,100 people, signed an online petition to ban evangelist Franklin Graham from entering the United Kingdom before his slated visit to Blackpool next September.
The Change.org petition was primarily devised in retaliation to Graham’s biblical beliefs on homosexuality and Islam, as the left-leaning organizers of the campaign are appealing to their so-called “tolerance” and “inclusion” messaging, alleging that the Christian leader is poised to “promote prejudice and hatred” during his scheduled trip to the U.K.
“Franklin Graham engages in hate speech against minorities,” the Change.org petition alleges. “[He] has said that Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘is right’ in his crackdown against LGBT rights. [He] supports a ban on all Muslims from entering the United States, while advocating that Muslims already in living in the United States should be interned in concentration camps. He has stated that ‘Islam is ISIS,’ ‘a violent religion,’ ‘wicked and evil.’”
The writers of the petition go on to claim that unlike his father, the younger Graham is a bigot.
“Unlike his father, Billy Graham, Franklin Graham engages in outspoken bigotry targeting refugees, Muslims and LGBT people,” the petition continues. “His father promoted unity and respect in communities, but Franklin Graham’s extreme views promote prejudice and division. He says that refugees (of any religion) fleeing ISIS in the Middle East should not be offered sanctuary in the United States.”
Christian worldview not welcomed in UK?
In a post-Christian nation constantly plagued by Islamic terrorist attacks – and that embraces LGBT “rights” and Islam more than its Christian heritage – the British government is aiming its crackdown against those touting a Christian worldview.
“The movement to refuse Graham a visa has picked up some steam, as British news outlets are reporting that a number of parliament members, one high-ranking government official and even some Blackpool clergy favor refusing the 65-year-old Graham a visa to enter the country so that he can't speak at the Lancashire Festival of Hope in September 2018,” The Christian Post (CP) reported.
British parliamentary member Gordon Marsden – who represents Blackpool, where Graham is scheduled to speak – is urging the U.K.’s home secretary to deny Graham entry into the nation, contending that the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) has violated rules stated in the nation’s hate speech legislation … claiming that he is going against the Bible, as well.
“I think, frankly, the evidence is piling up that his visit to the UK … would not be a good thing, and not probably in my view a very Christian thing,” Marsden told BBC Radio Lancashire. “[Graham’s statements were] incompatible with what Jesus said in the Bible.”
One Muslim member of the Parliament, Afzal Khan, who serves as MP for Manchester Gorton – where the Islamic terrorist attack killing 22 at a rock concert took place – insists that Graham’s impending visit would only bring about disunity in Britain, noting that he is taking every action to keep him from reaching English shores.
“His views are not welcome, and I will make representation to the home secretary if it looks like he is intent on coming,” Khan told the Guardian.
Boldly defending God’s Word
Graham has come under the intense criticism of progressives who object to his unapologetic take on social issues that oppose biblical morality – including his stance on same-sex “marriage,” abortion, anti-Semitism, the sexual libertinism promoted by Hollywood, and the anti-Christian teachings of Islam. Progressives have labeled Graham as an intolerant homophobic bigot and as an Islamophobic hater because of his stances on these issues.
However, as the president of the Christian humanitarian aid organization, Samaritan’s Purse, Graham has proven to be anything but a hater of Muslims, the LGBT community, and anyone else in need of assistance and God’s love during their time of need.
Graham is currently in a Communist-ravaged area of Southeast Asia, and it is reported that his open hand has been extended even to ISIS fighters in war-torn Iraq, where his missionary ministry has regularly catered to the needs of Muslims. His upcoming U.K. event is being set up to share a message of love – not hate.
"Franklin Graham is currently traveling in Vietnam, sharing the same message of hope he has been invited to share next year in England," a BGEA representative told CP Friday. "The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is working in partnership with local churches to hold an event next year in Blackpool. It will be a positive and encouraging event with music and a message from Franklin Graham about the hope that can be found through a relationship with Jesus Christ. It will be free and everyone is invited to attend."
Will resistance inside and outside the Church prevail?
Even though many Anglican clergy are supporting Graham’s Blackpool BGEA event, a couple Blackpool pastors insist that the church must end its support of the evangelist.
"Bishop Julian and fellow members of the senior staff, are you going to remain silent?" the two pastors asked in their letter Sunday to Bishop of Blackburn Julian Henderson and his senior staff. "We call upon you together, or severally, to at least distance yourselves from Franklin Graham and his views, and to make it clear that the invitation to Franklin Graham to come to Blackpool is 'Not in your name.' How else shall we be able to look our Muslim brothers and sisters in the eye?"
The final verdict as to whether or not such protests of Graham’s visit to the U.K. will be entertained will likely take place in the upcoming months, but Blackpool Councilor Maria Kirkland asserts that her council will act to ban Graham if they deem that he is promoting hatred.
“[The council had been] made aware of a number of alleged comments and opinions on topics including gender, sexuality, race and immigration [by Graham],” Kirkland announced, according to the Guardian. “The council’s position on these matters is robust and clear. We want to tackle discrimination, promote equality and increase respect and understanding between people – regardless of their race, religion or sexual orientation, or any such matter that can be subject to prejudice in our society. If matters are brought to our attention that could constitute incitement to hatred, we will forward these to the relevant public authorities, and should this be proved, we will not hesitate to terminate this booking.”