Scottish court asks venue to explain why it cancelled Franklin Graham's tour event

Franklin Graham(Photo: Facebook/Franklin Graham)

A Scottish court has expedited the case of Franklin Graham and his legal challenge against the decision of a Glasgow venue to cancel his evangelistic event. 

The Scottish Event Campus (SEC) has been told by the court that it must explain within seven days why it cancelled its contract with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), the organiser of Graham's UK tour. 

Graham, whose father is the late evangelist Billy Graham, had been due to kick off his UK tour at the Hydro, run by the SEC, on May 30. 

But the event was cancelled following pressure from the city council, which is a majority shareholder in the SEC.

Graham, CEO of the BGEA, is appealing to the venue to reconsider its decision. 

"I want to encourage the Scottish Event Campus to meet with us and discuss options for a way forward. Let's work toward a resolution," he said. 

"This is ultimately about whether the Scottish Event Campus will discriminate against the religious beliefs of Christians.

"More than 330 churches in the Glasgow area alone support this evangelistic outreach and their voices are being silenced.

"This case has wide-reaching ramifications for religious freedom and democracy in the UK and Europe."

The SEC reiterated its original comment on the cancellation: "The booking for this event was processed in the same way we would for any religious concert of this nature and as a business we remain impartial to the individual beliefs of both our clients and visitors.

"However, we are aware of the recent adverse publicity surrounding this tour and have reviewed this with our partners and stakeholders.

"Following a request from our principal shareholder the matter has been considered and a decision made that we should not host this event."

In the end, all seven venues that had been booked by the BGEA for Graham's UK tour pulled out after coming under pressure from LGBT campaigners over Graham's traditional views on marriage and sexuality. 

The developments have raised concern among Christians in the UK over free speech and a petition launched in defence of his tour has been signed over 13,000 times.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, Leader of the House of Commons, has also criticised the venues that pulled out. 

In a recent interview with Christian Today, Graham said he felt compelled to challenge the cancellations out of concern for the rights of churches in the UK. 

"I think local attorneys will need to look at this because we certainly have signed contracts, and deposits have been given. What I'm concerned about, though, is that if we don't stand up for the right to free speech and freedom of religion, there are lots of churches in this country that meet in public who are at risk," he said.

"They could be kicked out, they could be forced to go somewhere else, just because of their faith. We haven't broken any laws and I think it's important for the church that we resolve this matter so that it protects them."