Evangelist Franklin Graham is met with hostility in England by a mayor who expressed contempt in seeing bus ads on the upcoming "God Loves You" Tour on May 14, which will be held at the Liverpool Exhibition Center.
Liverpool Mayor Steve Rotheram expressed anger for the "God Loves You" Tour bus ads, which he classified as hate speech, as per BBC News. Rotheram also referred to the American evangelist as a renowned hate preacher for stating gay marriage is a sin. Yet, The Christian Post pointed out, the bus ad only contained the question, "Looking for something more?" beside Graham's photo along with information on the tour.
Opposing Franklin Graham's BIblical Stand On Sexuality
The mayor has written the bus companies Arriva UK and Stagecoach who promote the ads, urging them to immediately remove them. He stressed that it was inexcusable to display the ads since the people Graham allegedly directs his bile and bigotry to use the buses.
"Never give in to those who seek to divide us," Rotheram said in the letter.
"To say that I'm angry that the views of a known hate preacher--who has an appalling track record of homophobic and Islamophobic views--are being displayed anywhere in our city region would be an understatement," he added.
In response to the letter, an Arriva Bus spokeswoman said that they take their responsibility for the local community seriously. The spokeswoman affirmed the mayor's views that no one should feel uncomfortable while using public transport, which should be no place for any form of discrimination in a civil society.
The spokeswoman stressed that the Arriva has decided to review its internal policies on the ground of its inclusivity and the company's principles. She said they will undertake this review despite the particular ad meeting the requirements of the Advertising Standards Authority.
The venue's owner, ACC Liverpool Group, similarly conveyed support for the mayor's concerns through its spokeswoman. The Liverpool City Council is reportedly the only shareholder of the ACC Liverpool Group. She assured that the company will create a community advisory group tasked to engage with various groups in the locality.
Discriminating Against Franklin Graham
The spokeswoman also referred to the 2020 event that they have challenged in terms of its proposed format while stating that the ACC Liverpool Group does not condone or support the preacher. The said 2020 event involved ACC canceling the hosting of "The Graham Tour" after discovering that his statements were contrary to their values, which represent all communities.
"(We) received satisfactory assurances from the organizers of the event that The Reverend Franklin Graham's message will not be discriminatory, disrespectful or negative towards any particular communities, groups or individuals," the ACC Liverpool Group spokeswoman said.
Besides the said event, Graham was also involved in a 2018 case involving the Blackpool Transport Services that removed ads on the preacher's Lancashire Festival of Hope event. Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Spokesman Mark Barber pointed out that the judge in the said case ruled that Christians who hold traditional Biblical views are not discriminatory and must also be treated justly.
Barber expressed alarm that Rotherham, being a government official, would publicly classify Christian views as hate speech. He pointed out that the Liverpool mayor is using his office to discriminate against Christians and impede their free speech. He was hoping that public officials would be aware of the 2018 case by welcoming all people regardless of religious beliefs.