US evangelist Franklin Graham is due to hold a mission at the O2 Arena later this year
UPDATE January 29, 2020: The O2 Arena has pulled the plug on Franklin Graham.
MORE than 8,400 people have so far signed a petition asking Alex Hill, Chief Executive and President of AEG Europe, to cancel Graham’s booking at the O2 Arena later this year. It coincides with news that the anti-gay and Islamophobic hate preacher has been “dealt a blow” by having his planned mission in Liverpool cancelled by the ACC conference centre.
The petition says:
He persuades audiences that LGBT+ people don’t deserve to have families. He stands on stages in huge arenas warning people of the consequences of being gay, threatening impressionable young people with the ‘flames of hell’.
In short, he spends a lot of time and money telling the world that our love is a sin and encouraging those who want to hurt us. And now he is coming to the UK.
Asking signatories to help “send a clear message to this US hate-monger that he is not welcome in London or the UK,” organisers say:
If enough of us act quickly, we still have time to pressure the management of the O2 to cancel this hate event.
The petition, addressed directly to Alex Hill, says:
Franklin Graham is due to appear at the O2 Arena in 2020. Graham is a hate preacher. His message is deeply divisive, encourages violence and has been condemned by UK Christian leaders.
London is a proudly diverse city and the O2 should not be a venue that amplifies and facilitates hate.
We call on you to send a clear signal that AEG takes LGBT+ equality seriously and to cancel Franklin Graham’s event at the O2 Arena.
Graham, above, was due to visit the ACC on June 12 but the venue blew him off because of:
The divisive impact this event is having in our city.
A petition was launched against his visit, while the city’s Anglican bishop Rt Rev Paul Bayes has spoken out against him.
Concerns relate to Graham’s links to comments previously made about homosexuality and Islam which have been deemed “hateful”.
In a statement, the ACC said:
Over the past few days we have been made aware of a number of statements which we consider to be incompatible with our values. In light of this we can no longer reconcile the balance between freedom of speech and the divisive impact this event is having in our city. We have informed the organisers of the event that the booking will no longer be fulfilled.
We are proud to represent all communities and will continue to move forward with our aim as a business to drive profile, major events and economic impact for Liverpool City Region.
In a statement sent to Newsweek, Graham condemned the effort to bar him from speaking at British venues – and, predictably, he played the “persecuted Christians” card.
For some time I have been planning to come and preach the Gospel in eight cities across the UK in 2020. Hundreds of churches are working with the Graham Tour UK and praying for these events
Some people have said I am going to bring hateful speech to the UK, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m coming to the UK to speak about God’s love through His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world – He came to save it. The Gospel is timeless, and Bible-believing Christians in the UK have proclaimed it for centuries.
The preacher then said that he believed that he and other evangelicals were being:
Discriminated against because of our religious beliefs. Cancelling venue contracts based on the demands of one very vocal group, without consideration for the views and rights of the Christians who contracted for the venue, including the views of thousands of other Christians who support it and who would be negatively impacted, does far more to harm and divide society than simply letting the events go on as planned.
It is wrong for venue managers and local officials to make a decision that disadvantages Christians. It is our hope that venues will allow contracts to remain unchanged.
Graham also said he wanted to:
Invite everyone to come and hear for themselves the Gospel message that I will share from God’s Word. All are absolutely welcome, regardless of their beliefs or background