Muslims have launched an all-out effort to have Britain ban evangelist Franklin Graham from appearing as planned at an event later this month in Blackpool.
The Muslim Council of Britain, which represents multiple groups, claims Graham supports “hate speech,” Newsweek reported.
“In the past, the government has banned individuals whom they claim are ‘not conducive to the public good.’ Mr. Graham’s remarks are on record and clearly demonstrate a hatred for Muslims and other minorities,” the council said in a statement, according to The Guardian. “We would expect the government to apply its criteria here. If it does not, it will send a clear message that it is not consistent in challenging all forms of bigotry.”
In July, when protests against his visit were just coalescing, Graham issued a response on his Facebook page.
“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. Sex, drugs, money, even religion — none of these are the answer. 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!” Graham wrote.
“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?” he wrote.
Graham has been direct about his concerns that Islam is a religion that bring danger with it.
“Politicians should stop saying ‘Islam is a religion of peace,'” he tweeted in 2017.
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) August 20, 2017
Graham has also said he upholds Biblical teachings on same-sex relationships.
“The LGBT community continues to target Christians to try to get us to accept their lifestyle,” he has said, according to TheBlaze. “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.”
Liberal legislator Gordon Marsden said the government should deny Graham a visa.
“It’s perfectly possible for the government not to admit someone whose presence is not conducive to the public good,” he said. “Graham’s visit to Blackpool is likely to cause considerable offence.”
Anglican bishop Julian Henderson, said he was neutral about Graham’s appearance, but appeared to side with Graham’s critics.
“I must be very clear … I do not support any kind of hate speech, including the language of Islamophobia, Christianophobia or homophobia. There is a difference between having a different point of view and expressing hate. Within the Christian ethic there is no room for hate of another person and I do not defend the use of such language,” Henderson said.
Blackpool’s governing council also appears to side with Graham’s critics.
“The council’s position on these matters is robust and clear. We want to tackle discrimination, promote equality and increase respect and understanding between people regardless of their race, religion or sexual orientation or any such matter that can be subject to prejudice in our society,” councillor Maria Kirkland said. “If matters are brought to our attention that could constitute incitement to hatred, we will forward these to the relevant public authorities and should this be proved we will not hesitate to terminate this booking.”
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