The mayor of Greater Liverpool, England, has claimed adverts on buses promoting an appearance by American evangelist Reverend Franklin Graham constitute “hate speech” and must be removed.
Steve Rotherham, the left-leaning Metro Mayor of the Liverpool region, has called on two UK bus companies, Stagecoach and Arriva, to remove adverts promoting an upcoming event involving Franklin Graham in the city in May.
Ads for Graham’s “God Loves You Too” tour simply read, “Looking for something more?” with information on 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 businesses quoted by the BBC, Rotherham wrote: “To say that I am angry that the views of a known hateful preacher – who has an appalling record of homophobic and Islamophobic views – are being posted anywhere in our city. region would be an understatement.
The leftist mayor went on to say it was ‘inexcusable’ for bus companies to advertise the famous American preacher, as the locals who use the buses ‘belong to the very communities to which Mr Graham directs his bigotry and its bile.”
How Christian bus riders might feel about an evangelical Christian being barred from advertising in their area didn’t seem 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 advertise those who do not represent the public @StagecoachNW @arrivannorthwest @Merseytravel shame on you. pic.twitter.com/rCmBP2uK0h
– Liverpool against preachers of hate (@ToDealers) April 27, 2022
Responding to political pressure against his tour, Reverend Graham said that “there is nothing offensive about these adverts”.
The prominent preacher added that it is ‘deeply concerning that some officials are trying to interfere with our contract advertising in the Liverpool area because of their opposition to our religious beliefs’.
This is far from the first time leftists have tried to stop Reverend Graham from preaching the gospel in Britain. In 2020, for example, a series of venues across the country canceled events scheduled by the evangelical after LGBT activists led a campaign to pressure its traditional Christian values.
The ACC Liverpool arena, which was one of the venues to bow to pressure in 2020, said that although it ‘does not support or condone’ Reverend Graham, it claimed to have ‘received satisfactory assurances” that the event would not contain any message deemed “discriminatory or negative towards particular communities, groups or individuals”.
We’re less than a month away from the start of the UK 4-city God Loves You tour! I can’t wait to be in Liverpool, South Wales and Sheffield in May and London in July. For more information: 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 to advertise the Reverend.
In 2018, Blackpool Borough Council and Blackpool Transport Services removed adverts for an evangelical gathering featuring Graham – although a judge later found the advert ban breached the ‘right to liberty of ‘expression’ and human rights law.
The local government was ultimately forced to pay Graham £109,000 ($150,000).
Graham is the son of the late Reverend Billy Graham – one of the most famous evangelical preachers in history, having delivered sermons to hundreds of millions of Christians in over 185 countries and territories. He was also a moral adviser to several presidents and even advised Queen Elizabeth II.
Reverend Franklin Graham has always maintained that he has no hateful feelings towards gay people, previously writing in a social media post to Britain’s LGBTQ+ community:
Some say I come to the UK to bring hate speech to your community. It is simply not true. I come to share the Gospel, which is the Good News that God loves the people of the United Kingdom and that Jesus Christ came to this earth to save us from our sins.
The catch, I think, comes in whether God defines homosexuality as a 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 needs forgiveness and cleansing. The penalty for sin is spiritual death—eternal separation from God.
I invite all members of the LGBTQ community to come hear for yourselves the gospel messages that I will bring from the Word of God, the Bible. You are absolutely welcome.
Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka