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.
The signs were pulled in response to complaints from British LGBTQ leaders. Jane Cole, Managing Director at Blackpool Transport, said the company was responding to “heightened tension” over Graham’s previous remarks critical of the LGBTQ community. She added, “Blackpool Transport is a proud ongoing supporter of the Pride and LGBT+ communities and in no way did we intend to cause any distress or upset.”
Graham responded on his Facebook page, saying his “Crusade of Hope” will be designed to “transform hearts and lives.”
“I’m sorry,” Graham posted, “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. “
The LGBTQ group Blackpool Pride canceled its two-day festival booking at the Winter Gardens in England in June to protest Graham’s appearance, The (Blackpool) Gazette reported.
Graham’s critics in Great Britain have complained he approved of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s crackdown of LGBTQ people in that country and his 2001 comments calling Islam “a very evil and wicked religion.”
Graham supports the biblical definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman. He has also warned against the “dangers of the teachings of Islam” in the wake of terror attacks around the world.
His views have prompted a change.org petition, where some 8,000 people wanted him banned from entering the U.K. over his “hate speech.”
Responding to the controversy, Graham insisted in an interview with Premier in January that he is not going to Blackpool to preach against Islam or gay people.
“I’m not coming to preach hate, I’m here to preach about a savior, Jesus Christ, who can make a difference in our lives if we put our faith and trust in Him,” Graham stated.
“We’re not here to preach against anyone, we’re here to talk about God.”
In that interview, Graham pointed out that protesters also tried to keep his dad, the late Billy Graham, from speaking in the U.K.
“They tried to stop him coming,” he recalled. “He was due off a boat into Southampton and there were petitions to stop him coming and members of parliament speaking against him.”
Graham noted that Jesus Christ himself “offended many people,” and that the Gospel “still offends people today.”