William Eichler 30 January 2020

Charity cancels evangelical event over preacher’s ‘repulsive views’

A charity which manages entertainment venues in Sheffield has cancelled an event by the evangelical preacher Franklin Graham after LGBT+ groups warned that he promoted homophobic views.

The American preacher was due to appear at the FlyDSA Arena in June. However, Sheffield City Council wrote to the Sheffield City Trust, which manages the venue, urging it not to go ahead with the event.

The Trust, which had initially agreed to host the event on free speech grounds, subsequently decided to cancel Mr Graham’s show.

‘Franklin Graham, who has demonstrated his intent on creating divisions with his discriminatory and repulsive views, could affect the long established values that we all hold so dear in Sheffield,’ said council leader Julie Dore.

‘Following continued dialogue with the Chair of the Trust, I am now pleased that the council, Sheffield City Trust and trustees have reached common ground. I want to thank them for their hard work and commitment throughout this decision.’

In an open letter to the LGBT+ community in the UK posted on Facebook, Mr Graham wrote, ‘The rub, I think, comes in whether God defines homosexuality as sin. The answer is yes.’

He went on to add that everyone was a sinner and he invited members of the LGBT+ community to come and listen to him preach.

Sheffield City Trust chairman, David Grey, commented: ‘This has been an exceptionally challenging time for Sheffield City Trust as we aimed to balance freedom of speech whilst promoting equality and freedom from hatred and abuse. We made our decisions as independent trustees and in the best interests of the Trust.

‘Throughout it all we have been steadfast that we do not endorse the views of Franklin Graham. The matters for consideration were the aspect of freedom of speech, any breach of the law or potential public order implications.

‘We thank all the partners we have been liaising with on this matter and in particular Sheffield City Council for their support and professionalism.’

Image: Anthony Correia / Shutterstock.com.

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