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UPDATE: Apology to Franklin Graham Could Be ‘Turning Point’ for Religious Freedom in UK

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Source: Facebook

UPDATED July 21, 2021: Franklin Graham has received an apology from Blackpool Council and Blackpool Transport regarding a joint decision the two entities made three years ago to ban ads for an upcoming crusade in Blackpool, England. Ads for “Festival of Hope” were removed from the sides of buses following complaints from British LGBTQ advocates.

“In a day and age where religious freedom is continually being clamped down at seemingly every turn,” said the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) in a statement, “a significant settlement in the United Kingdom from a landmark ruling earlier this year may provide a turning point for Christians throughout England and beyond.”

As ChurchLeaders previously reported, in April Judge Claire Evans ruled that the decision to pull the advertisements had violated freedom of expression. Even though the dispute surrounded the fact that Graham (who is president and CEO of the BGEA), believes in traditional marriage, the ads simply presented the details of his event and said, “Time for Hope!” On July 9, Blackpool Council and Blackpool Transport published the same apology, which said in part:

We accept that the advertisements were not in themselves offensive. We further accept that in removing the advertisements we did not take into account the fact that this might cause offence to other members of the public and suggest that some voices should not be heard. We also regret that we did not consult with the organisers prior to taking our decision.  

We accept the findings of the Court that we discriminated against Lancashire Festival of Hope because of the religious beliefs of Franklin Graham and in doing so interfered with Lancashire Festival of Hope’s right to freedom of speech.

We sincerely apologise to the organisers of the event for the upset and inconvenience caused.  

We have learnt from this experience. We are committed to ensuring equality of access and opportunity for the population of Blackpool and providing and improving quality services for all. We have now introduced clear and transparent policies that will ensure no repeat of events such as these. 

“This is the type of ruling and settlement that could have ripple effects impacting religious freedom protection beyond the U.K. and even the EU,” said the BGEA. “This remedies settlement can’t be appealed, and the order approving it is public, meaning both the ruling and the remedies can serve as precedent for other cases…We’re grateful to God for the final outcome of this case, and for what it will mean for churches and Christians across the U.K. in the years ahead.”

ChurchLeaders original article written on July 16, 2018, below:

A transit company in England has removed ads from the sides of its double-decker buses promoting the planned Franklin Graham crusade in Blackpool on September 21-23.