The Muslim Council of Britain is calling on the British government to ban renowned evangelist Franklin Graham because they allege his views on Islam and same-sex marriage violate the nation’s hate speech laws.
Graham, the president of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, is scheduled to lead a series of religious gatherings beginning Sept. 21.
“In the past the government has banned individuals whom they claim are ‘not conducive to the public good.’ Mr. Graham’s remarks are on record and clearly demonstrate a hatred for Muslims and other minorities,” the organization said in a statement.
One government leader said he would press the issue with Home Secretary Sajid Javid — urging that Graham’s visa be denied.
“Graham’s visit to Blackpool is likely to cause considerable offense,” MP Paul Maynard told The Guardian.
Franklin Graham believes marriage is between one man and one woman. He also believes that salvation is found only through a relationship with Jesus Christ. That is apparently considered hate speech across the Big Pond.
The Blackpool Methodist Circuit declined to support the upcoming Festival of Hope – telling the newspaper it “cannot support any preaching or teaching which promotes homophobia or is likely to be damaging to interfaith dialogue.”
In July a local transit company removed billboards promoting the religious gatherings after customers complained about the message of hope.
“I’m not coming to preach hate, I’m here to preach about a savior – Jesus Christ who can make a different in our lives if we put our faith and trust in him,” Graham told Premier. “I don’t think I’ve been to any country where everybody was supportive – there’s always been churches or groups who don’t like my theology or that we associate with this group or that group.”
Graham also rejected accusations that he hates Muslims and members of the LGBTQIA community.
“I’m not coming to speak against anyone; I’m not there to speak against Islam or against gays,” he told the publication. “I want to invite the Muslims to come, I want Christians to come, I want gays to come and to listen to what God has to say. It’s an open invitation.”
As many as 200 local churches have been planning the Festival of Hope for about two years. A number of ministers say the British people need to hear the Gospel message.
“There is a strong Christian heritage in our country but in recent years there has been a move towards secular liberalism as well,” Pastor Steve Haskett told CBN News.
Anglican Bishop Julian Henderson told The Guardian neither he nor his leadership team would attend the festival.
“I do not support any kind of hate speech, including the language of Islamophobia, Christianophobia or homophobia,” the bishop declared. “There is a difference between having a different point of view and expressing hate.”
A recent survey found more than half of the country’s population has no religious affiliation at all. And based on the comments of the Anglican bishop, it appears many religious groups have all but renounced their religious affiliation, too.
So Franklin Graham has invited all sorts of people to attend the Festival of Hope – no matter their politics or their sexual orientation or their religion.
Meanwhile, the Muslim British Council wants to banish the American evangelist because of his religious beliefs and his politics.
Blimey! That sounds a bit intolerant to me, blokes.