Evangelist Franklin Graham has taken legal action against two more venues for canceling his U.K. tour events planned for May due to his biblical views on homosexuality, according to a spokesperson of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
After launching legal proceedings against the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow, BGEA has now sued the FlyDSA Arena in Sheffield and ICC Wales in the city of Newport, South Wales, Christian Today reported.
The Scottish Event Campus, owners of the Glasgow Hydro, had been given time until Thursday to explain why it canceled Graham’s event slated for May 30 — the first night of his tour — but the spokesperson said the SEC leaders “intend to resist the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s request for judicial relief, and have been advised that they will have another seven days to file a substantive answer,” The Herald (of Scotland) reported.
BGEA, which Graham heads, will “continue trying to work toward a resolution that will allow the Graham Tour U.K. to be held at The SSE Hydro as planned,” he added.
All eight venues booked by the BGEA for Graham’s U.K. tour pulled out, allegedly due to pressure from LGBT activist groups.
Graham’s spokesperson said the cancelations had “alarming” implications for free speech and religious freedom.
“BGEA’s position remains that in nearly 70 years of public evangelistic outreach ministry, there is no evidence whatsoever that any BGEA event involving Franklin Graham has ever caused a danger to public safety or incited public disorder,” he said.
“The actions taken by these venues and those responsible for them to publicly repudiate these contracts are clear efforts to distance the decision-makers from BGEA, Franklin Graham and other Christians who hold similar beliefs,” he continued. “There is no question that this was done under pressure from those with opposing views who have demonstrated a relatively predictable pattern of harassment and bullying of those doing business with BGEA.”
The spokesperson added, “This disregard for principles of good faith and fair dealing, based on the mere suggestion that a person's sincerely held religious views or statements are 'hateful' or would result in public disorder, should be very alarming to anyone who is genuinely concerned about diversity, inclusion and tolerance, let alone free speech and the free exercise of religious beliefs.”
In a media interview earlier this month, Graham said he was surprised over the cancelations.
“I have been surprised … I'm not coming to speak against anybody and I don’t name any groups of people,” Graham, the son of the late evangelist Billy Graham, told Christian Today, based in the U.K. “I’m coming to tell people how they can have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.”
He said he’s most concerned about the stifling of free speech for churches.
“... If we don't stand up for the right to free speech and freedom of religion, there are lots of churches in this country that meet in public who are at risk,” he said. “They could be kicked out, they could be forced to go somewhere else, just because of their faith."
“We haven't broken any laws and I think it's important for the church that we resolve this matter so that it protects them," he said of possibly pursuing legal action.
This isn’t the first time the evangelist has been met with opposition from LGBT groups. In 2018, bus ads for his evangelistic festival were pulled following an outcry from LGBT groups.
Graham believes that the need for preaching the Gospel in the U.K. is “greater than ever.”
He wants people “to know that we are all sinners and our sins separate us from God.”