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?"
Poor baby. However, according to other sources, both Graham and FRC omitted some details.
The Charlotte Observer said the following:
Graham’s critics in Great Britain have cited his 2001 comments calling Islam “a very evil and wicked religion.” They also quoted Graham approving Russian President Vladimir Putin’s crackdown of LGBTQ people in that country.
The PinkNews added to that:
Graham previously praised Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay laws, heading to Russia to spread claims that homosexuals “take people’s children”. He has also claimed there had been a “moral 9/11” in America due to homosexuals and has declared that gay people are ‘the enemy’ of civilisation. After Blackpool Transport were made aware of his extreme beliefs, the company confirmed that they would be removing the ads for his event.
Specifically in 2015, Graham gave the following praise of Putin's crackdown on the Russian LGBT community:
I very much appreciate that President Putin is protecting Russian young people against homosexual propaganda. If only to give them the opportunity to grow up and make a decision for themselves. Again, homosexuals cannot have children, they can take other people’s children. I believe that President Obama (and I’ll repeat, he’s a very nice person) is leading America down the wrong road. He’s taking a stand against God.
According to CBS News:
In 2013, Russia enacted laws banning "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" and blocking same-sex couples from adopting children. A 2014 Human Rights Watch report documented an uptick in anti-gay violence and harassment in Russia since the laws were passed.
And then there are the anti-gay purges taking place in the Russian republic of Chechnya . . .
So no, Franklin Graham. You aren't being persecuted. You are being called out for supporting persecution. Now that thing being done to the Russian LGBTQ community, the thing which you vocally supported? That's persecution.