Franklin Graham Wins Lawsuit Against UK Town That Prohibited Him From Promoting Event Using Bus Ads

Franklin Graham

Evangelist Franklin Graham won a two-year court battle against the town of Blackpool, England, following its decision to remove ads on buses promoting an evangelical rally.

According to Christian Headlines, Judge Claire Evans ruled that relative to Article 10 rights, Blackpool Borough Council and Blackpool Transport Services have discriminated the evangelist on the grounds of religion.

LGBT activists pressured Blackpool to remove the ads because of Rev. Graham's religious belief on marriage. He strongly believes in the biblical standard of marriage, which is only between a man and a woman, adding that marriage with the same gender is a "sin."

The council and transport company agreed on the removal of ads, in connection with the evangelist's Christian event in September 2018.

In July 2018, the transport company took down the adverts on its double-decker buses after receiving numerous complaints. Claiming that the ads "resulted in heightened tension," Managing Director Jane Cole said that they were just "acting on customer and public feedback," affirming the company's support for the "Pride and LGBT+ communities."

The council allowed the removal of advertisements, which read "Lancashire Festival of Hope with Franklin Graham - Time for Hope."

Judge Evans said that their decision breached the Human Rights Act that protects freedom of religion and expression.

The court ruled that they violated the Equality Act 2010, discriminating against the Festival due to Rev. Graham's religious views. They have also interfered with the event's freedom of expression without justification.

"It gave preference to the rights and opinions of one part of the community without any regard for the rights of the claimant or those who shared its religious beliefs," Evans said.

"This is the antithesis of the manner in which a public authority should behave in a democratic society," she further stated.

The council and the transport company released a joint statement saying that they "will undertake a further review to determine whether any further changes need to be made."

They also said that they "remain committed to promoting equality and diversity, eliminating discrimination and increasing respect, tolerance and understanding throughout [their] community."

Rev. Graham was grateful for the decision.

"We thank God for this ruling because it is a win for every Christian in the U.K.," he said.

James Barrett, chairman of the board of directors for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association UK, said that the victory is a "significant day for religious liberty and freedom of speech."

"I am grateful the courts have once again reiterated that the freedom to speak only what is not offensive is not freedom of speech at all," Barrett added.

Despite the removal of the ads, Rev. Graham's three-day event in 2018 drew 9,000 people all across North West, England and over 50,000 online views worldwide, while more than 400 individuals accepted Christ.

The Charlotte Observer said that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, through its spokesman Mark Barber, is expecting a "remedies hearing" wherein financial damages and measures against the council and transport company will be determined by the judge.