Scotland’s largest grant-making trust has admitted to illegally discriminating against the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Stirling Free Church and has agreed to pay compensation toward legal fees after canceling evangelistic events it had agreed to book.
Evangelicals in the United Kingdom view the case as one more in a string of recent victories for religious freedom.
In 2019, BGEA and Stirling booked the trust’s Barracks Conference Centre in Stirling, operated by the Robertson Trust, but the trust later reneged on the booking agreement because the events were religious in nature.
“The positive resolution of cases in Scotland, England and Wales sends a clear message—religious freedom isn’t dead,” said Franklin Graham in a statement.
“Christians in the U.K. still have every right to express our beliefs in the public square and to access venues that are open to people of any faith or no faith,” Franklin added.
Glasgow Sheriff Court heard the case in June and was scheduled to return to court on Dec. 1. However, Robertson Trust admitted that it had breached the U.K.’s Equality Act 2010, which prohibits, among other things, discrimination based on religion.
Simon Calvert, deputy director of The Christian Institute, which supported BGEA and Stirling Free Church in the case, said in a statement, “They’ve admitted they got this wrong, they’ve apologized and they’ve made substantial contribution toward legal costs. I think everyone can welcome that.”
“This settlement is another important reminder that if you discriminate against Christians for their beliefs,” Calvert added, “whether you do so in the workplace or the marketplace, you are probably breaking the law. Equality and human rights law firmly protects the ability of Christians to hold and express their beliefs, whether on sexual ethics or anything else.”
Since 2020, BGEA has prevailed in five different instances in the U.K. in which agreements to host Franklin Graham evangelistic events or feature BGEA advertisements have been reneged on because of BGEA’s Biblical views on sexuality and marriage.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Franklin was scheduled to preach on a multi-city tour in 2020, which was placed in jeopardy because of pressure from LGBTQ activists at odds with BGEA’s Biblical beliefs.
In November, following settlements from three major venues that had reneged on contracts to host BGEA events, the ministry announced 2022 dates for the God Loves You Tour—U.K. with Franklin. Tour stops are scheduled for May 14 in Liverpool, England; May 21 in South Wales; May 25 in Sheffield, England; and July 16 in London. More than 2,600 Christian congregations in the U.K. are participating so far.
Above: King Street in Stirling, Scotland.
Photo: Nick Scott/Alamy Stock Photo