The court found that Franklin Graham and his organization were discriminated against because they were Christian. This is a big win.
In the Spring of 2020, Franklin Graham was touring the United Kingdom preaching the Gospel.
In July 2019, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association paid a £6,000 deposit (the total cost of the contract was £50,000,) for use of the Scottish Event Campus’s Hydro Arena on May 30 as part of the tour, but the organization canceled the event in a letter in January 2020 leaving the organization without a venue.
The BGEA sued SEC for terminating the contract for their large, free-to-the-public event.
On Tuesday, a Scottish court ruled in favor of Graham and the BGEA stating that SEC had violated the 2010 Equality Act, which is an umbrella law that folded in other anti-discrimination protections under one Act.
SEC was ordered to pay £97,325.32 (approximately $113,000 USD) to cover BGEA’s losses for the event because the venue did not honor the contract.
Franklin Graham called the ruling “a clear victory for freedom of speech and religion in the UK. This case was never about financial remedies — it was about the preservation of religious freedom in the UK—particularly the right for Christians to share the Gospel in the public square.”
The Scottish Sun reports:
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) successfully sued the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) after a sheriff decided that they were the victims of discrimination.
Franklin Graham, 70, had been due to appear at the Glasgow venue on May 30, 2020 as part of a UK tour.
But, the event at the Hydro arena was cancelled in January 2020 citing security fears.
Social media posts by LGBTQ+ activists opposing Graham’s preaching of the Gospel hit the radar of the SEC.
Graham, aware of the backlash, posted on Facebook, “It is said by some that I am coming to the UK to bring hateful speech to your community. This is just not true” and added, “everyone in the LGBTQ community” is invited to the event stressing, “You are absolutely welcome.”
The radical Left’s vitriolic Christophobia spread all over social media apparently spooked the SEC as well as members of the Glasgow City Council, a major shareholder of the venue. They decided to not allow Graham to hold his event at the Hydro Arena.
While they’re saying that they canceled because of “safety” concerns, meeting minutes reveal the truth — the concern was the message that was being preached. Comments such as, “there was a scale on the message that was being preached which is darker than seen before”, “contractually we may be in breach” and “it’s about ‘doing the right thing’ notwithstanding the contractual position” all reveal that the council was concerned with what Franklin Graham might say and how a certain segment of the public would take it. This was confirmed when it was revealed that Hydro’s principal sponsor didn’t want to be associated with the event over fears that artists may refuse to play at the arena if the Franklin Graham event went forward.
Council Leader Susan Aitken either admitted that she feared the anti-Christian mob and caved to them, or that she sided with the mob in her concern over Graham’s religious views.
In her court testimony, Aitken said, “My overriding concern, and I suppose the factor that ultimately was the most decisive for me in taking the view that the event should be canceled was because I thought that – not just the expression of the views, but also the knowledge of, or the expectation that the views may well be expressed or could be expressed, which would have real life consequences for people in Glasgow.”
(It sounds like a little from Column A and a little from Column B, if you ask me.)
It seems pretty clear what happened here — the contract was broken because of Franklin’s religious views.
“The concern is expressed that there is the potential for Mr. Graham to make homophobic and Islamophobic comments. I found no evidence to that effect,” said Sheriff McCormick who issued the court ruling.
Additionally, in his closing remarks, Sheriff McCormick said, “The intended audience was the general public, irrespective of any religious belief or none and irrespective of sexuality.”
While “safety” was the defense given, those security concerns were not expressed to Graham and the BGEA or to local police.
Glasgow City Council, as the venue’s majority shareholder, contacted SEC requesting the event be cancelled.
The letter made no mention of security concerns.
No security concerns were raised with BGEA, the police, or G4S at the time.
The termination letter to BGEA also failed to mention security concerns.
It mentioned “adverse publicity” which was “reviewed with our partners and stakeholders.”
Sheriff McCormick said: “The event was cancelled because of the religious or philosophical beliefs of BGEA and Franklin Graham as viewed by the SEC’s reaction by others to the religious or philosophical beliefs professed by BGEA and/or Franklin Graham.
“By terminating the agreement, SEC directly discriminated against BGEA in that it treated them less favourably than it would have treated others.
“SEC had hosted other religious events but here it terminated its agreement because of a protected characteristic, namely, the religious or philosophical beliefs of BGEA and Franklin Graham.
“It acted under pressure from others.”
Source: The Scottish Sun
Sheriff McCormick identified the real issue, “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.”
He added that it was a “thinly veiled exercise in virtue signaling” by the SEC and that public officials “bowed to public pressure, spurred on and whipped up by political leaders online.”
McCormick had quite a bit to say in his decision about the overt discrimination against Graham and his organization by the SEC specifically as it related to the Equality Act.
“The law cannot endorse an outcome whereby a mainstream Christian religious gathering cannot be held because some members of the community, however vehemently, disagree with religiously based beliefs to which they take objection. Such objectors in a democratic society undoubtedly have a right to freedom of expression and of assembly to protest against other’s religious views. What they do not have is a right to silence them or to stop religious assemblies from being held and from making welcome all who would come and hear the Good News preached by Franklin Graham at the Glasgow SSE Hydro Event.”
It’s nice to see these anti-discrimination laws actually being used to protect the rights of Christians.
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