Christians are organizing a special weekend to fight back against anti-LGBTI preacher Franklin Graham – but have faced horrible abuse.
The American evangelist is set to be the principle speaker at the Festival of Hope in Blackpool, England. Franklin is well known for his views against same-sex relationships, Islam, and women’s rights.
So in order to stick up for Blackpool’s LGBTI community, faith leaders are hosting a series of inclusive services. The event is called Rainbow Weekend and is in collaboration with local churches and the Open Table – a network of LGBTI-friendly churches. They’ll also be parading ‘Big Jesus’, a representation of Jesus wearing a rainbow sash, through the town center.
Despite the message of hope and inclusiveness, the local faith leaders have faced horrific abuse from Graham supporters.
Gay Star News spoke to Vicar Andrew Sage, who heads the Saint Stephen on the Cliffs Church. He detailed some of the horrific things said to him.
‘My congregation is almost unanimously opposed [to the visit]. [They] have been very supportive of my stance against the visit, especially during the period of personal abuse I have been subjected to,’ he told us.
‘[There was] a lot on social media, but some in person too. Everything from me being a closet peadophile to subverting the Christian Gospel. There has even been a proposed “prayer walk” to “pray the darkness out of my church”.
‘I did receive one particularly nasty anonymous letter through my door. I have handed this to the police. Not much they can do though.’
While the abuse is bad, the Rainbow Weekend has support from lots of local sources.
Other Christians’ support
Nina Parker is a pastor of Blackpool’s Liberty Church and she wants to remind everyone that LGBTI people are welcome.
She said: ‘As a Christian and as a leader of a church that particularly welcomes LGBTI people, I’m horrified that other local churches are inviting someone with this record of hate speech.’
Tracy Charnock, vicar at Holy Trinity South Shore, added: ‘I would like to make known my deep disappointment in local Christians and senior leaders of the Church, who have shown support (often through their silence) towards a man who has, on many occasions, preached hate’
It’s not just these religious leaders against Graham. A petition to deny the preacher’s visa reached 8405 signatures. A rainbow will illuminate Blackpool Tower during the festival. Also, a bus company recently removed the Festival of Hope’s advertisements after discovering the keynote speaker was Graham.
Gay Star News has reached out to the Festival of Hope’s organizers for comment.
Franklin Graham, sin, and the LGBTI community
Franklin Graham, son of preacher Billy Graham, has a long history of making anti LGBTI-remarks.
To former President Jimmy Carter’s assertion that Jesus would approve of gay marriage, Graham warns of the ‘serious consequences of sin.’
He notes on a post on his Facebook page: ‘The Bible is very clear. God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of homosexuality.’
On his father’s website, he claimed that Putin ‘is right’ for his treatment of LGBTI people. He then praises Putin for taking ‘a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda’.