Glasgow’s Sheriff Court issued a strong defense of Christians on Monday, ruling that Franklin Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) were wrongfully discriminated against when the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) canceled BGEA’s contract to hold an evangelistic outreach at the SSE Hydro in 2020.
In a strongly worded, 280-page ruling, Sheriff John McCormick said: “The concern is expressed that there is the potential for Mr. Graham to make homophobic and Islamophobic comments. I found no evidence to that effect.” Instead, Judge McCormick said, “The defender’s true problem with the pursuer arises as a result of the religious views of Franklin Graham, which it has sought to categorize by wrenching selected comments made in the past whilst conveniently ignoring contrary comments also made by Franklin Graham.”
McCormick called this a “thinly veiled exercise in virtue signaling” by the SEC. He went on to say the exhibition center “bowed to public pressure, spurred on and whipped up by political leaders online.”
Judge McCormick ruled the SEC violated the U.K.’s 2010 Equality Act when it favored the opinions of the people who were protesting BGEA’s event and silenced those who supported it.
“The law cannot endorse an outcome whereby a mainstream Christian religious gathering cannot be held because some members of the community, however vehemently, disagree with religiously based beliefs to which they take objection. Such objectors in a democratic society undoubtedly have a right to freedom of expression and of assembly to protest against other’s religious views. What they do not have is a right to silence them or to stop religious assemblies from being held and from making welcome all who would come and hear the Good News preached by Franklin Graham at the Glasgow SSE Hydro Event,” the judge wrote.
On Monday, Sheriff McCormick awarded BGEA damages totaling $109,927. An additional hearing on expenses has been scheduled for Jan. 18.
In response to Monday’s ruling, Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said, “I am grateful to God for this decision—it is a clear victory for freedom of speech and religion in the U.K. This case was never about financial remedies—it was about the preservation of religious freedom in the U.K.—particularly the right for Christians to share the Gospel in the public square. I want to thank Sheriff John McCormick for upholding the law and affirming that Christians must be treated fairly and equally. This ruling will be a great encouragement for Christians and people of all faiths across the U.K. and many other parts of the world.”
The Glasgow ruling stems from an outreach in 2020 when Franklin Graham planned to share a message of God’s love across the U.K. The tour was postponed after the venues canceled their legally-binding contracts with BGEA. Opponents criticized BGEA and Franklin Graham for uncompromisingly standing by their traditional Biblical beliefs about human sexuality, even though the only aim of the tour was to share the message that God loves the people of the U.K., and anyone who puts their faith and trust in Jesus Christ can be forgiven of their sins, be reconciled to God, and have hope for eternity.
To date, five of those cases have been resolved in BGEA’s favor. Legal disputes are continuing with venues in Birmingham and Newcastle.
The rescheduled God Loves You Tour with Franklin Graham took place in May and July of this year, with stops in Liverpool, South Wales, Sheffield, and London. Christians from more than 2,000 churches across the U.K. partnered with the tour, and nearly 20,000 people attended the events across all four cities.