Liverpool Mayor Steve Rotheram is calling for the removal of bus ads promoting an upcoming evangelistic event featuring Franklin Graham.
Franklin is scheduled to speak at the Liverpool Exhibition Centre on May 14 as a part of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s “God Loves You Tour UK.”
Rotheram claims that Franklin is a “hate preacher” based on his Biblical beliefs about marriage and his past comments condemning Islamic extremism.
“To say that I’m angry that the views of a known hate preacher—who has an appalling track record of homophobic and Islamophobic views—are being displayed anywhere in our city region would be an understatement,” Rotherham told BBC.
Although the bus ads simply ask the question “Looking for something more?” and include the date and location of the event, Rotherham wrote the Stagecoach and Arriva bus firms demanding they immediately remove the ads.
According to BBC, Rotherham told the companies that it was “inexcusable” for them to promote an event featuring Franklin on buses used by people who “belong to the very communities that Mr. Graham directs his bigotry and bile towards.”
Arriva Bus UK said while the promotion meets the Advertising Standards Authority standard, it is reviewing its internal policies.
A Stagecoach spokesperson said: “Acceptance of any advertising is not an endorsement of any products, organizations or the views they represent.”
This is not the first time Franklin has faced opposition in the U.K.
In 2018, Blackpool Borough Council and Blackpool Transport Services removed bus ads promoting another evangelistic event featuring Franklin. Yet a landmark ruling in 2021 found that the counsel and transport service had unlawfully discriminated against the evangelist.
“The bus adverts for Rev. Graham’s evangelistic event in Blackpool were confirmed by the court to be inoffensive and the judge observed that the approach taken by the Blackpool Borough Council was ‘the antithesis of how a public authority should behave in a democratic society,’” BGEA spokesperson Mark Barber told The Christian Post.
“What’s more, the judge ruled that Christians who hold traditional Biblical views, including Rev. Graham and the organizers of the evangelistic outreach, are not extremists and must be treated fairly,” he added.
“We certainly respect the rights of others to disagree with us on matters of religious belief. It is disappointing, however, that public officials who are elected to represent their entire community would describe the traditional views of Christians as ‘hate speech’ and actually use their office to discriminate against them and interfere with the expression of their beliefs,” Barber said, referring to Rotherham. “Our hope and expectation is that public officials would … execute their public duties reasonably and impartially and welcome people of all religious beliefs.”
Above: Franklin Graham preaches at the Lancashire Festival of Hope in Blackpool, England, on Sept. 23, 2018.
Photo: Thomas J. Petrino/©2018 BGEA