Glasgow Sheriff Court has asked the Scottish Event Campus to explain by Feb. 27 why it canceled an event evangelist Franklin Graham was scheduled to hold at the venue.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which Graham heads, had asked the court to pass an interim order for the venue to hold the event, which was canceled last month due to his views on homosexuality.
Susan Aitken, Glasgow City Council leader, had said earlier that the way Graham “expresses his views could, I believe, fundamentally breach the council’s statutory equalities duties.” She pointed out that in 2016, Graham accused LGBT activists of “trying to cram down America’s throat the lie that homosexuality is OK.”
“This is ultimately about whether the Scottish Event Campus will discriminate against the religious beliefs of Christians,” Graham said, according to Glasgow Times. “More than 330 churches in the Glasgow area alone support this evangelistic outreach and their voices are being silenced. This case has wide-reaching ramifications for religious freedom and democracy in the U.K. and Europe.”
Aitken had earlier sought to explain that the booking for the event “was processed in the same way we would for any religious concert of this nature and as a business we remain impartial to the individual beliefs of both our clients and visitors.”
She added, “However, we are aware of the recent adverse publicity surrounding this tour and have reviewed this with our partners and stakeholders. Following a request from our principal shareholder the matter has been considered and a decision made that we should not host this event.”
Graham said the CEC officials should at least “meet with us and discuss options for a way forward. Let’s work towards a resolution.”
All eight venues booked by the BGEA for Graham’s U.K. tour, which is scheduled to start in May, pulled out due to pressure from LGBT groups. In a media interview earlier this month, Graham said he was surprised.
“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 met opposition from LGBT groups. In 2018, bus ads for his 2018 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.”
“And unless we confess our sins and repent, and believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we have no hope. The only hope that we have is through Christ,” he continued. “And so, I'm coming to tell the people of the U.K. how they can have a relationship with God through faith in His Son, and I want people to know what steps we have to take in order to have that relationship. I'm certainly not here to speak against anyone. I'm here to speak for everyone.”
However, he added, some people don’t want to hear that they are sinners. “They think that this is hateful and angry speech. It’s not. In love, I want to warn people and tell them the steps they need to take to have a right relationship with God, and how they can be sure their sins are forgiven.”