Thinking Anglicans

Franklin Graham's proposed visit to Blackpool

Christian Today has a news report that: Bishop urged to oppose controversial UK Franklin Graham rally.

The Bishop of Blackburn is being urged to speak against an evangelism event in Blackpool featuring the controversial figure Franklin Graham.

Franklin, the son of famous evangelist Billy Graham, is an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump and vociferously opposes gay marriage and Islam.

He is due to speak at the town’s Winter Gardens venue, which has hosted the likes of the Beatles as well as many political party conferences after being invited by a number of local churches including St John’s Church in Blackpool, St Mark’s Church in Layton, and All Hallows Church in Bispham for the rally next September…

The open letter referenced in this article can be found here: An open letter to The Bishop of Blackburn and his Senior Staff. It is well worth reading in its entirety, but concludes this way:

… Julian, in a recent radio broadcast you said that you are ‘staying firmly on the fence’ over the visit of Franklin Graham. We have to tell you, from our knowledge at the grass roots, that to remain silent is not to remain neutral. Given that you know well that the Mission is booked and that Franklin Graham is leading it, and given that you are well aware of Franklin Graham’s own opinions and statements, we suggest that your silence, along with the silence of your Senior Staff can only be seen as support. Certainly that was the opinion of one of my fellow community leaders in Blackpool, a Muslim, with whom One of us had coffee this morning.

Bishop Julian and fellow members of the Senior Staff, are you going to remain silent? We call upon you together or severally to at least distance yourselves from Franklin Graham and his views, and to make it clear that the invitation to Franklin Graham to come to Blackpool is ‘Not in your name.’ How else shall we be able to look our Muslim brothers and sisters in the eye?

Earlier news reports:

June: Church fury as anti-gay cleric invited to talk

September: Protests over Franklin Graham Blackpool visit build as hundreds sign petition

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Scott Knitter
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Scott Knitter

Franklin Graham claims that Donald Trump somehow supports the Christian faith (and more than other presidents have). Graham obviously has a screw loose; I don’t know why any Christian group would want him to speak publicly. He’s peddling a “Christianity” that’s unrecognizable.

peterpi - Peter Gross
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peterpi - Peter Gross

Franklin Graham has a right to speak — and others have a right to disagree with that speech.
Is there any tradition, in the modern era, in the CofE of Bishops denouncing the ministers of other religions?

Kate
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Kate

There are frequent calls here for the Church of England to respect the views and consciences of both conservatives and progressives. The invitation to Franklin Graham is what such a policy would look like in practice and why I believe that, ultimately, conservatives and progressives cannot cohabit the same national Church. Certainly I don’t want my church to invite him; and if I am trying to bring people to Jesus, I definitely don’t want to be having to explain why Franklin Graham was invited by my church.

MarkBrunson
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MarkBrunson

To be neutral in this is to take a side.

Father David
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Father David

A bit of a contrast to Justin Welby’s words – “I really, genuinely do not understand” Christian support for Trump.
Next you will be telling me that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel!

FrDavidH
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FrDavidH

I see no difference between the views of Mr Graham and those espoused by, say, Anglican Mainstream. Hate already exists in the Church of England. It’s a bit rich calling for an American evangelist to be silenced when we tolerate own home-grown extremists as full members.

MarkBrunson
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MarkBrunson

If you do not stand against evil, you stand with it.

Andrew Lightbown
Guest

Its interesting that the Bishop of Blackburn feels that on this issue he has to ‘sit on the fence.’ On other issues he is anything other than a fence sitter. ‘To sit or not to sit’ that is the question. I suppose the questions raised are ‘whose criticism do you most fear, and whose support do you most cherish?’

David Runcorn
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FrDavidH I do not know what has shaped your views but you continue to express deep antipathy towards the Anglican Evangelical tradition on these threads without showing any sign of understanding its width and diversity – not least the world of difference between the USA Evangelicals and CofE Con Evos. For the record the inability of the Bishop of Blackburn to distance himself from the visit in question is huge error of judgment and appals me. But neither he nor Anglican evangelicals are racist, anti Islam or extremists. This honours no one.

stephen morgan
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stephen morgan

‘To be neutral in this is to take a side’ ‘If you do not stand against evil, you stand with it’ Both these statements sound well, but in this context they mean ‘there is only one legitimate point of view, and it is ours.’ Regrettably, this is the stance being taken by some British university student unions towards speakers whose views are divergent from their own. I’m sure I will vehemently disagree with almost anything Franklin Graham has to say, but I won’t know for sure unless I’m allowed to hear it, and I don’t see why signatories of on-line… Read more »

MarkBrunson
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MarkBrunson

“Both these statements sound well, but in this context they mean ‘there is only one legitimate point of view, and it is ours.’ “

That is not what it means. It means that, at some point, if you are serious about doing what is right and believe in what you profess, you have to take a stand, rather than taking the easy way out.

“We will listen to everybody; without necessarily agreeing with anybody.”

Which worked out so wonderfully for Mr. Chamberlain.

Kate
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Kate

Stephen, in secular society the right of individuals to free speech is supremely important and if a university debating society wishes to invite Franklin Graham I would support their right to do so. But the Church is the Bride of Christ, not a society for individuals and it is not appropriate for the Church to invite someone who preaches hate. There is a key difference.

Also, nobody is suggesting his books or pamphlets should be suppressed, or that those interested should not read them, but we should not offer him a platform and, effectively, an endorsement.

stephen morgan
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stephen morgan

Mark Brunson: I’m not clear why a simple desire to hear for myself what someone has to say is ‘taking the easy way out.’ As this thread and TA are not about the origins of World War Two, I’ll pass on your rather strained allusion to Chamberlain.

Kate: ‘We should not offer him a platform and, effectively, an endorsement.’
How is listening to someone’s views an automatic endorsement? I might go to listen to the Conservative and Labour and LibDem candidates hustings at the next election without agreeing with any of them.

James Byron
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James Byron

I disagree that handing Graham Jr. a platform’s automatically an endorsement; but regardless, the worst thing that can be done to his message is to allow him to broadcast it far and wide. Banning him makes him a martyr; exhibiting his speech makes him a pariah outside his bubble.

As for Graham being in some way representative of conservatives, I think much better of conservatives than that.

CRS
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CRS

Unless I am missing something some people here seem to want FG to be banned from speaking. He’s not even speaking on any anglican property. How would that happen? What happened to disagreement? FG is probably no stranger to protests. Have at it.

Jo
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Jo

@stephen morgan: I might go and listen to representatives of legitimate political parties. However, if a hate group like the BNP were putting up a candidate and they were invited I would not attend and I would expect any candidate interested in my vote to refuse to share a platform with them. Franklin Graham is the religious equivalent of that BNP candidate, with links to a wide range of Islamophobic, homophobic and transphobic organisations the SPLC has on record as hate groups and a long list of vile pronouncements of his own. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

Jo: does that evidence distinguish between platforms where hatemongers are given free rein, and platforms where they’re vigorously challenged?

“No platform!” has been extended to pretty much anyone who disagrees with the latter-day New Left; and, indeed, among themselves. It’s a censor’s charter that rejects the core principle of free speech: dangerous ideas should be defeated in debate, no driven into dark corners, where they’re at their most dangerous.

Linda Nash
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Linda Nash

“Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.”

Jo
Guest
Jo

The right to free speech allows you to say what you like free from government interference or threat of illegal action to prevent you. It does not require anyone to give you a platform to say it from, nor require anyone to be forced to listen to you. Returning to the BNP example, when you place a fascist candidate on a platform with others you legitimise them, you make their ideology just one choice among many. It’s not, and shouldn’t be treated as such. This isn’t academic, the rhetoric of these people gets people killed. You can discuss the ideas… Read more »

CRS
Guest
CRS

“It does not require anyone to give you a platform.”

How is this relevant here?

Is someone being required to give a platform? I thought FG had been invited to speak.

stephenmorgan
Guest
stephenmorgan

Nick Cohen in yesterday’s Observer, talking of ‘the worst of today’s generation of radicals:’

”The determination not just to refute opposing arguments but to ban them and destroy their proponents is everywhere.’

it seems you don’t have to be right-wing, in politics or the C of E, to still be a bigot.

Jo: ‘I would expect any candidate interested in my vote not to share a platform with them.’ is a profoundly un-democratic statement!

Jo
Guest
Jo

Tolerance of different views extends only to the point where those views advocate intolerance of people. When someone advocates criminalising love between two people, or when someone smears 1.6 billion people as evil because of false allegations about the religion they follow and implicitly or explicitly promotes violence and abuse towards these groups of people they’ve exceeded the bounds of where reasonable people can agree to disagree. There is a social benefit in refusing to treat such views as acceptable because not everyone (in fact very few people) form their views based on rational deduction. For those whose instincts might… Read more »

CRS
Guest
CRS

Jo, sounds like you need to spend your energies with those folks who are your neighbours who have invited him. Obviously they do not hold the hard line views of FG that you do. Advent blessings.

Stephenmorgan
Guest
Stephenmorgan

Jo: If ‘very few people’ form their views based on rational deduction (and I think you’re being very hard on the many, assuming that you’re including yourself among the very few), how can we (the very few) be sure of ‘the bounds of where reasonable people can agree or disagree? And if there are so few of us, why are we so convinced that we are right?

Jo
Guest
Jo

Broadly, because we’re not the ones trying to hurt others.

And no, I don’t think I base all my views on rational deduction. You don’t become or remain a Christian by logic. I’m aware that I’m aided in behaving in ways that are socially positive by the social consequences of not doing so, whereas without that I might (more often than I do) act in ways that harm others.

Can we be sure, all the time? Nope, but I’m pretty sure that when people advocate imprisoning people for who they love they’ve crossed a boundary.