The mayor for the city region of Liverpool, England has claimed advertisements on buses promoting an appearance by American evangelist Reverend Franklin Graham constitute “hate speech” and should be removed.
Steve Rotherham, Labour’s left-wing Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, has called on two British bus companies, Stagecoach and Arriva, to remove advertisements promoting an upcoming event involving Franklin Graham in the city in May.
The advertisements for Graham’s ‘God Loves You Too’ tour merely read: “Looking for something more?” with information about the upcoming event in Liverpool.
Despite the innocuous tone of the message, it still drew the ire of the local politician.
In a letter to the companies quoted by the BBC, Rotherham wrote: “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.”
The left-wing mayor went on to say that it was “inexcusable” for the bus companies to advertise for the famed American preacher as the local people who use the buses “belong to the very communities that Mr Graham directs his bigotry and bile towards.”
How Christian bus users might feel about an evangelical Christian being prevented from advertising in their region did not appear to be a factor in his considerations.
Now our public transport is a preacher who has a history of homophobic and Islamophobic rhetoric? Should public transport be advertising those who don't represent the public @StagecoachNW @arrivanorthwest @Merseytravel shame on you. pic.twitter.com/rCmBP2uK0h
— Liverpool Against Hate Preachers (@ToDealers) April 27, 2022
Responding to the political pressure against his tour, Rev Graham said that “there is nothing offensive in these adverts.”
The prominent preacher added that it is “deeply concerning that certain public officials are attempting to interfere with our contracted advertising in the Liverpool area based on opposition to our religious beliefs.”
It is far from the first time that leftists have attempted to prevent Reverend Graham from preaching the gospel in Britain. In 2020, for instance, a series of venues across the country cancelled events scheduled by the evangelical after LGBT activists waged a pressure campaign over his traditional Christian values.
The ACC Liverpool arena, which was one of the venues to cave to the pressure in 2020, has said that while they “do not support or condone” Rev Graham, they claimed to have “received satisfactory assurances” that the event would not contain any messages deemed to be “discriminatory or negative towards any particular communities, groups or individuals”.
We’re less than a month away from the start of the 4-city God Loves You Tour in the UK! I’m looking forward to being in Liverpool, South Wales, and Sheffield in May and London in July. For more info: https://t.co/3m6NdpyR2x pic.twitter.com/I1psLcoA2f
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) April 25, 2022
It is also not the first time that bus companies have been targeted in Britain for advertising the Reverend.
In 2018, the Blackpool Borough Council and Blackpool Transport Services removed ads for an envangelical gathering featuring Graham — although a judge later found that the ad ban had violated the “right to freedom of expression” and the Human Rights Act.
The local government was ultimately forced to pay Graham £109,000 ($150,000).
Graham is the son of the late Rev Billy Graham — one of the most famed evangelist preachers in history, having delivered sermons to hundreds of millions of Christians in over 185 countries and territories. He also served as a moral advisor to multiple presidents and even gave counsel to Queen Elizabeth II.
Rev Franklin Graham has consistently maintained that he does not hold hateful feelings towards gay people, previously writing in a social media message to the UK LGBTQ+ community:
It is said by some that I am coming to the UK to bring hateful speech to your community. This is just not true. I am coming to share the Gospel, which is the Good News that God loves the people of the UK, and that Jesus Christ came to this earth to save us from our sins.
The rub, I think, comes in whether God defines homosexuality as sin. The answer is yes. But God goes even further than that, to say that we are all sinners — myself included. The Bible says that every human being is guilty of sin and in need of forgiveness and cleansing. The penalty of sin is spiritual death — separation from God for eternity.
I invite everyone in the LGBTQ community to come and hear for yourselves the Gospel messages that I will be bringing from God’s Word, the Bible. You are absolutely welcome.
Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka