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Religious Tolerance logo

Religious matters in the United Kingdom (UK)

From 2016 until now:
2017: Banning Franklin Graham from the UK

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Franklin Graham in Lincoln, NE on his Decision America tour in 2016

Franklin Graham 1

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2017: A petition has been raised to ban Franklin Graham from visiting the UK:

William Franklin Graham III (1952 -) is the son of the evangelist Billy Graham. He is the President and CEO of both the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) and of Samaritan's Purse, an international Christian relief organization. 

Samaritan's Purse helps victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine worldwide, wherever and whenever there is need. 2,3 The group was named after the "Good Samaritan" who Yeshua of Nazareth (a.k.a. Jesus Christ) included in one of his Bible parables. In Luke 10, a Samaritan, a member of a cultural group who were despised by Jews at the time, is described as helping a stranger who was in great need. He took money from his purse to pay for the stranger's room and board. Yeshua concluded the parable with the instruction: "Go and do likewise." The parable illustrates the main theme of Yeshua's ministry, the Golden Rule -- to treat others as you would wish to have them treat you.

Graham is noted for his anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT attacks, and for his support of President Trump. He said that God intervened in the 2016 election to cause Donald Trump to win the presidency. 4

Graham is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the Lancashire Festival of Hope during 2018-SEP at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, on the western coast of Enland. The festival is supported by a number of Church of England (Anglican) churches and clergy in the area. 4

Two Members of Parliament from the Blackpool area : MP Paul Maynard and Gordon Marsden wrote to Amber Rudd, the home secretary, calling for the UK government to withdraw Graham's visa so that he would be unable to enter the country for the festival.

Change.org has posted a petition by Nina Parker, pastor of Liberty Church in Blackpool. It is titled: "Stop Hate Speech Preacher Franklin Graham's Visa to UK." It received 4,600 signatures by 2017-DEC-07, and 7,066 signatures as of DEC-17. It says, in part:

"Unlike his father, Billy Graham, Franklin Graham engages in outspoken bigotry targeting refugees, Muslims and LGBT people. His father promoted unity and respect in communities but Franklin Graham’s extreme views promote prejudice and division." 6

Harriet Sherwood, writing for The Guardian, said:

"The evangelist, who backed Donald Trump in last year’s US presidential election, has described Islam as “an evil and very wicked religion” and has equated the actions of extremist groups such as ISIS ...[with all of Islam].

He noted that [former U.S. President] Barack Obama was “born a Muslim” and had allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to infiltrate the US government at the highest levels during his presidency. He also said the Obama administration was pushing “a gay and lesbian agenda”, and he has spoken out against LGBT rights, saying that Satan is behind same-sex marriage."

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Rev. Canon Andrew Sage and Rev. Tracy Charnock are two clergy from the Blackburn area. Writing for the web site "Saint Stephen on the Cliffs, they sent the Anglican Biship of Blackburn an open letter concerning Graham's visit. They wrote:

"We are so nervous about this proposed visit and the damage it will do. Our local Imam is already afraid to put his personal address and phone number on their website. We just wish that we could somehow make it clear that our opposition to Franklin Graham’s visit next year is not just a ‘spat’ between two different Christian groupings. We want to express our opposition as Christians, as citizens of the UK and more especially the North West and Blackpool. ... To be clear. We area NOT against the Mission, but we are opposed to Franklin Graham leading it.

Bishop Julian and fellow members of the Senior Staff, are you going to remain silent? We call upon you together or severally to at least distance yourselves from Franklin Graham and his views, and to make it clear that the invitation to Franklin Graham to come to Blackpool is ‘Not in your name.’ How else shall we be able to look our Muslim brothers and sisters in the eye?'."

In contrast, Dorothy Cummings McLean, writing from a conservative Christian point of view for "Life Site News," supported Graham's statements:

"The evangelist has taken a strong Biblical stance against homosexuality, calling it 'a sin' and warning those engaging in homosexual acts about the judgment of God. He has called Christians to boycott businesses that promote the LGBT agenda. He criticized Disney earlier this year for its remake of Beauty and the Beast that promotes homosexuality. 'They’re trying to push the LGBT agenda into the hearts and minds of your children,' he said. 'Watch out!'

The evangelists has also been an outspoken champion of the right to life of the preborn. He said earlier this year that fundraising for Planned Parenthood:

'... is like raising money to fund a Nazi death camp.'

He has also not shied away from pointing out how Islam is antithetical to Christianity."

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During a question period in the UK House of Lords, Lord Pearson of Rannock asked a question of the government:

"My Lords, will the Government confirm that the latest definition from the [Criminal Prosecution Service] of a hate crime is one which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by prejudice based on a person’s religion? Will the Government therefore confirm unequivocally that a Christian who says that Jesus is the only Son of the one true God cannot be arrested for hate crime or any other offence, however much it may offend a Muslim or anyone of any other religion?" 7

Baroness Vere replied:

"I am not going to comment on that last question from the noble Lord. However, I will say that when the public statements were revised, the definition did not change; it has been the same for the last 10 years." 7

Lord Pearson is concerned that in the UK, a simple analysis of a religion's beliefs or practices may well be considered a hate crime, if any member of that religion is offended. He feels that one should be able to criticize a religon and to promote their own faith without running afoul of the law. He said:

"I’m afraid at the moment free speech is on the retreat in this country particularly from a wish to appease Islam. There’s no other way of putting it." 7

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More developments are inevitable during the upcoming months.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Image by "Cornstalker," CC BY-SA 4.0, downloaded from Wikipedia, https://commons.wikimedia.org/
  2. "Franklin Graham," Wikipedia, as on 2017-DEC-12, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/
  3. "About Us," Samaritan's Purse International Relief, 2017, at: https://www.samaritanspurse.org/
  4. Harriet Sherwood, "US evangelical preacher should be banned from entering UK, critics say," The Guardian newspaper, 2017-DEC-07, at: https://www.theguardian.com/
  5. Fr Andrew & Rev Tracy Charnock, "An open letter to The Bishop of Blackburn and his Senior Staff," St Stephens on the Cliffs, 2017-DEC-03, at: https://www.ststephenblackpool.co.uk/
  6. Nina Paarker, "Stop Hate Speech Preacher Franklin Graham's Visa to UK," Change.org, undated, at: https://www.change.org/
  7. Dorothy Cummings McLean, "Franklin Graham spoke Bible-truth about LGBT. Now the UK wants to ban him for ‘hate speech’," Life Site News, 2017-DEC-15, at: https://www.lifesitenews.com/

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Site navigation: Home pageReligious information > Basic info > Religion in the UK > here

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Copyright 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2017-DEC-17
Author: B.A. Robinson

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