Victory for Franklin Graham in Discrimination Case

Franklin Graham called the ruling "a clear victory for freedom of speech and religion."

Credit: Anthony Correia/Shutterstock

A Scottish event center discriminated against Franklin Graham and an event planned by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association when it arbitrarily canceled a valid contract to use the building, according to a new court ruling.

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The BGEA revealed that the Glasgow Sheriff Court, through Sheriff John McCormick, ruled that the cancelation of an event that had been booked by the BGEA in the SSE Hydro of the Scottish Event Campus for 2020 was because of opposition to the Christian views that would be expressed.

McCormick’s ruling said, “The concern is expressed that there is the potential for Mr. Graham to make homophobic and Islamophobic comments. I found no evidence to that effect.”

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He identified the real problem: “The defender’s true problem with the pursuer arises as a result of the religious views of Franklin Graham, which it has sought to categorize by wrenching selected comments made in the past whilst conveniently ignoring contrary comments also made by Franklin Graham.”

The dispute arose at a time when the BGEA was arranging a number of events across the United Kingdom to share the Christian message. The plans infuriated the nation’s pro-LGBT activists who argued that any message but their own should be suppressed.

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McCormick’s ruling said the opposition to Graham’s plans were a “thinly veiled exercise in virtue signaling” by the Scottish Event campus, where officials “bowed to public pressure, spurred on and whipped up by political leaders online.”

The actions, McCormick concluded, were a violation of the 2010 Equality Act.

“The law cannot endorse an outcome whereby a mainstream Christian religious gathering cannot be held because some members of the community, however vehemently, disagree with religiously based beliefs to which they take objection. Such objectors in a democratic society undoubtedly have a right to freedom of expression and of assembly to protest against other’s religious views. What they do not have is a right to silence them or to stop religious assemblies from being held and from making welcome all who would come and hear the Good News preached by Franklin Graham at the Glasgow SSE Hydro Event.”

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The BGEA immediately was awarded damages of $109,927 with another hearing scheduled in January for consideration of expenses.

Franklin Graham, who is head of the BGEA, explained the ruling was “a clear victory for freedom of speech and religion in the UK. This case was never about financial remedies—it was about the preservation of religious freedom in the UK—particularly the right for Christians to share the Gospel in the public square.”

The dispute developed when Franklin Graham planned a series of events sharing the message of God’s love across the U.K.

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The tour was postponed after the venues cancelled their legally binding contracts with BGEA. Opponents criticized the Christian organization and Franklin Graham for uncompromisingly standing by their traditional biblical beliefs about human sexuality, even though the only aim of the tour was to share the message that God loves the people of the U.K. and anyone who puts their faith and trust in Jesus Christ can be forgiven of their sins, be reconciled to God, and have hope for eternity, the organization reported.

So far, five of the disputes have been resolved in favor of BGEA. Remaining disputes involve locations in Birmingham and Newcastle.

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The events were rescheduled and were held in May and July this year.

One of the results of the opposition to the BGEA was that about 2,000 U.K. churches of a wide range of denominations joined in support of the scheduled meetings.

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