A Scottish court ruled in favor of evangelist Franklin Graham and his organization, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), after a venue canceled a 2020 evangelistic event due to Graham’s stance on homosexuality and Islam.
Glasgow’s Sheriff Court awarded Graham and BGEA $109,927 in damages after concluding that the Scottish Event Campus (SEC), Scotland’s largest event space, canceled the outreach in 2020 due to public pressure.
On Monday, Sheriff John McCormick said in his ruling that there was insufficient evidence for canceling the event. He also argued that the SEC’s actions violated the U.K. 2010 Equality Act by ignoring Graham’s supporters and listening to protestors.
McCormick further argued that the law could not support a case where a “mainstream Christian gathering” is denounced because of differing beliefs, CBN News reports.
Although McCormick believes in the right to protest, he wrote there’s no right to “silence” or “stop religious assemblies.”
“The concern is expressed that there is the potential for Mr. Graham to make homophobic and Islamophobic comments,” the judge said. “I found no evidence to that effect.”
“The defender’s true problem with the pursuer arises as a result of the religious views of Franklin Graham, which it has sought to categorize by wrenching selected comments made in the past whilst conveniently ignoring contrary comments also made by Franklin Graham,” McCormick added.
Graham released a statement calling the ruling a “clear victory for freedom of speech and religion in the U.K.”
“This case was never about financial remedies — it was about the preservation of religious freedom in the U.K. — particularly the right for Christians to share the Gospel in the public square,” Graham said. “I want to thank Sheriff John McCormick for upholding the law and affirming that Christians must be treated fairly and equally. This ruling will be a great encouragement for Christians and people of all faiths across the U.K. and many other parts of the world.”
Another hearing is scheduled to take place in January 2023 to discuss expenses.
According to BGEA, Graham’s outreach event in the U.K. was canceled in 2020 after multiple venues “canceled their legally-binding contracts” with the organization due to the evangelist’s position on homosexuality and Islam. The tour eventually took place this May and July across Liverpool, South Wales, Sheffield, and London. During the tour, Graham shared a message on God’s love.
BGEA also noted that they have five legal victories so far, with pending disputes with venues in Birmingham and Newcastle.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Drew Angerer/Staff
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.