American evangelist Franklin Graham is in Blackpool this weekend to win souls for Jesus – and to learn that his brand of bigotry does not sit well with a great many people.
One of the first sign of discontent over his three-day “Festival of Hope” in Lancashire came in July when Blackpool Transport refused to place ads for the event after it was pointed out to them that he was a hateful little shit.
The event’s “Time for Hope!” message was rejected because the company it had listened to and acted on customer and public feedback, said Jane Cole, the managing director of Blackpool Transport. And she pointed out that:
Blackpool Transport is a proud ongoing supporter of the Pride and LGBT+ communities.
Which is something that Graham is definitely not.
Now, it’s reported that Blackpool council is bathing it’s famous tower in rainbow colours this weekend to emphasise the message that bigotry and hatred has no place in this popular northern resort.
A rainbow flag will also fly from the tower. A council spokesperson said:
The council is a strong supporter of all equalities issues and we use the rainbow flag and its derivatives on a regular basis to demonstrate that support across the whole year.
Local LGBT organisations and even some locals churches have objected to Graham’s presence, and are planning alternative “Rainbow Weekend” events, including parading a four-metre-tall carnival model of Jesus wearing a rainbow sash through the town centre and holding services specifically welcoming to LGBT people.
It’s not only the gays who find Graham’s visit offensive. The Muslim Council of Britain had called on the Home Office to refuse him entry to the UK, saying it expected the government to apply its criteria on hate speech.
And Gordon Marsden, the Labour MP for Blackpool South, wrote to Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, asking him to revoke any visa already granted to Graham on the grounds that his entry and presence was not conducive to the public good.
He told Javid he had received:
A wide number of representations from constituents, including local clergy and faith leaders, who were alarmed and appalled by the derogatory and inflammatory views that Franklin Graham has consistently expressed towards Muslims, members of the LGBT community and others.
Despite the concerns and disquiet that his proposed visit has caused, Franklin Graham has made no attempt to address those concerns, or to withdraw or modify any of the views that I and others have described. Indeed he has continued to express them and emphasise his intention to continue their expression as part of his ‘mission’ to the UK.
I therefore ask you to consider urgently now stopping any further escalation of tension and hurt towards the groups he continues to attack in his preaching by barring his ability to speak at the Winter Gardens.
Graham, who said Trump’s election victory was evidence that “God’s hand” was at work, has called Islam “evil” and “wicked”, claimed Barack Obama’s “problem is that he was born a Muslim” and said Satan was the architect of same-sex marriage and LGBT rights.
This week, Graham intervened over anti-abortion supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, saying sexual assault allegations against him were irrelevant.
He told CBN News:
It’s just a shame that a person like Judge Kavanaugh, who has a stellar record, that somebody can bring something up that he did as a teenager close to 40 years ago. That’s not relevant.
Nina Parker, of Blackpool’s Liberty church, which welcomes LGBT worshippers, said she was not opposed to the Festival of Hope but only to Graham leading it.
Franklin Graham maintains wholehearted support for Trump and has a belief that God put Trump in the White House. To me, in the light of the many Trump policies that have harmed the most vulnerable in society, Graham’s support for Trump questions his credibility as a Christian leader.
Graham speaks in a derogatory and inflammatory way about LGBT people, Muslims and other minorities.
He seems committed to condemnation, discrimination, walls and prejudice in a way that Jesus never was. He seems to have a faith understanding that majors on condemnation and prejudice against minorities.
Graham’s “Trump-style Christianity” was likely to increase prejudice and polarisation in communities, she added.
Blackpool council has said it has a contractual obligation to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association over the Winter Gardens booking, but it would terminate the booking if UK law on incitement to hatred was contravened during the festival.
Hat tip: AgentCormac