Rev. Franklin Graham is headed to England in September – but the British may be the last to know now that his ads have been pulled off area busses. Of course, nothing about the signs were offensive, unless you consider “hope” to be. And based on the response of local LGBT activists, they do.
Blackpool Transport, the double-decker bus line that was slated to promote Franklin’s event, pulled out of the deal after some members of the community complained. “The removal of these adverts is as a result of us listening and acting on customer and public feedback, which we aim to do at all time,” said the company manager. Interestingly enough, nothing about the banners had anything to do with social issues or even overtly Christian. The message was simply this: “Time for Hope.”
Franklin, who’s had a front-row seat for the censorship of religion in the U.S., wasn’t surprised. On his Facebook page, he talked about his festival and the obvious need for it around the world.
“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! 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?”
Of course, the bus company’s response was mild compared to two British lawmakers who tried to ban Franklin from the country altogether. As Fox News’s Todd Starnes explains, that would be tall task in a country where nearly 200 local churches have worked to plan this Festival of Hope – “the largest ecumenical Christian event in a generation.”
While the U.K. and U.S. differ in several areas (Britain doesn’t have the First Amendment protections we do, for one), this ferocious push to sideline Christians is something we both have in common. As in America, these small minorities aren’t just going after the vocal opponents of their behavior – they want to silence anyone preaching the Gospel. Fortunately for the people of England, Franklin isn’t easily dissuaded. He’ll take that message to the U.K. and around the world for the same reason his father did: because God’s love is too important not to.
Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.