A British transit company is pulling Franklin Graham crusade ads from its buses after receiving complaints related to the Christian evangelist's opposition to the LGBTQ lifestyle.
Blackpool Transport said the ads for Graham's “Crusade of Hope” in September are coming down due to "customer feedback and reactions on social media which has resulted in heightened tension," the Gazette — a Blackpool paper — reported.
LGBTQ group Blackpool Pride last month canceled its two-day festival booking at the Winter Gardens to protest Graham’s appearance, the Gazette added.
Two members of Parliament urged the British government to investigate if Graham should be denied a visa, the Gazette noted. Officials have accused Graham of “hate speech,” citing his words against Islam and the LGBT community. As the Guardian noted, Graham has said Islam is “an evil and very wicked religion.”
Last year Graham said although he loves those in the LGBT community, he won’t be coerced into accepting the LGBT lifestyle: "The LGBT community continues to target Christians to try to get us to accept their lifestyle. It ain’t gonna happen. God calls homosexuality sin — take it up with Him if you don’t like it. He is the one who defines sin, not me.”
What else did Blackpool Transport say?
"Blackpool Transport is a proud ongoing supporter of the Pride and LGBT+ communities and in no way did we intend to cause any distress or upset," Jane Cole, the company's managing director, told the Gazette. “All buses carrying the advert will remain off the road until they have been removed."
How did Graham respond to ads being pulled?
Graham answered the news about the ads with a Facebook post — and he didn't back down.
“I’m sorry that some see hope as offensive, but I can assure you that tens of thousands of people in Blackpool and across the United Kingdom are searching for hope," he wrote on Friday. "Sex, drugs, money, even religion — none of these are the answer."
Graham continued: "I’m coming to share with everyone in Blackpool, Lancashire, and across North West England that there is One who can give you hope. Hope for today, hope for tomorrow, and hope for eternity. His name is Jesus Christ! Will you pray with me for this event in September and for God to work in a mighty way to transform hearts and lives across this region?"
How have others reacted?
Graham's post has drawn about 2,500 comments, both positive and negative:
- "Your [sic] out of touch with the reality of your statement. People don't find Hope offensive. They find the IGNORANCE of thinking Trump is offering any hope offensive. He has created major division and is a national security threat with Putin. Even the UK can see it," one commenter wrote. "I'm offended as well that you would blatenly [sic] be misleading that people are offended by hope—shame on you!"
- "Evangelism is about reaching out to the unchurched. They have a right to speak to any criticism they perceive," another commenter noted. "If someone unchurched has any criticism of you there is only one response and that is 'l apologize for giving you that impression. What can I do to undo it?' Not this passive-aggressive sneering about hope. That is neither biblical or godly."
- "Obviously the freedom in Britain is only for the LGBT group telling Christians they can't have a sign on a bus that reflects real hope in our world that Jesus Christ is our only hope. Christians have as much right to advertise on the side of a bus as they do all the time. What if Christians wanted an LGBT sign removed because it's offensive to them? Apparently Christians are not allowed in Britain and freely advertise real hope."