Christianity Evangelism Justice Media Politics

Franklin Graham and the Mayor of Liverpool – Which One is the Real Hate Preacher?

Another article in Christian Today

Franklin Graham is not a ‘hate preacher’


The Metro Mayor of Liverpool wants Franklin Graham’s adverts displaying the message “God Loves You” to be pulled off local buses.(Photo: Billy Graham Evangelistic Association)

‘God Loves You’. ‘Looking for Something More?’. They may not be the most outstanding advertising slogans you have ever heard, but apparently in modern Britain, these slogans now constitute “hate speech”. At least they do if they are said by Franklin Graham. It seems we have reached a place where hate speech is no longer about what is said, but rather who says it.

The American evangelist is due to speak at a youth event in the Wirral and at the Liverpool exhibition centre on 14 May as part of his God Loves You UK tour. The invite says, “Join Franklin Graham as he shares a personal message of hope and enjoy an exciting evening of live music. This event is free of charge. Bring your friends and family!”

The sight of these slogans on the side of buses in Liverpool seems to have triggered the Metro Mayor of Liverpool, Steve Rotherham, who wrote to the bus companies demanding that they remove the adverts.

He told Arriva, “To say that I’m angry that the views of a known hate preacher – who has an appalling track record of homophobic and Islamophobic views – are being displayed anywhere in our city region would be an understatement.”

Apparently, Mr Graham is a “known hate preacher” because he is opposed to radical Islam and same-sex marriage.

We have been here before. In 2020, Franklin Graham’s UK tour was cancelled because of similar concerns. He went to court and was successful. A few years ago, Blackpool City Council also lost a court case after they were sued for removing bus adverts for a Franklin Graham event. They had to apologise and make compensation to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. In both these cases the judge noted that the councils were not behaving in a fair and appropriate manner for a civic authority.

Rotherham has clearly not learned that lesson. As a civic authority he thinks that he has the right to demand that private companies remove legal slogans, for a legal campaign – just because he does not like the person who is making them. It is not (yet) illegal in the UK to disagree with Islam, or to oppose same-sex marriage, although it is clear that Rotherham thinks it should be.

Notice also the disingenuity of Rotherham’s argument. He tweeted; “No one should feel unsafe or uncomfortable using our public transport. Bus companies should prioritise the feelings of passengers – who pay their hard-earned money – over promoting the work of a hate preacher.”

This would be an amusing silly tweet, if it were not for the chilling implications of it. The idea that someone feels “unsafe” seeing an advert that says ‘God loves you’ or ‘Looking for Something More?’ is as absurd as the notion that no bus company should put an advert which makes anyone feel ‘uncomfortable’. That would put an end to all advertising!

But of course, Rotherham does not believe that this should apply to everyone. Personally, I find the mayor’s views uncomfortable, and they certainly make me feel unsafe – he is after all seeking to ban people like me. But of course, I don’t count, because I am a Christian.

And therein lies the rub. In his letter to Arriva, he argues that Liverpool is a “diverse and vibrant community of more than 1.6 million people”. But in the Newspeak language of the new progressives, ‘diverse’ means ‘the same’. Just as in this Brave New World, ‘tolerance’ actually means ‘we will not tolerate those who disagree’; and ‘equal’ means ‘there are some groups who are more equal than others’.

So, in this same letter the Metro Mayor expresses his support for Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson and Liverpool City Council in seeking to “develop an ethical charter to prevent events like these happening in the future”. In the name of diversity, equality and tolerance, the Metro Mayor of Liverpool is seeking to ban Christian preachers who hold to the teaching of the Bible, from being able to meet in his city. That’s the progressive view of tolerance and diversity!

There is one other disturbing factor. Why the rage? I can understand raging about the poverty in Liverpool, the drug abuse, the crime, the prostitution, the sexual abuse, the broken homes, the homelessness and the many other social problems facing the city. But to rage against a couple of slogans on a bus?

Jesus warned us about this kind of civic authority: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).

One could argue that Rotherham is himself guilty of hate speech by seeking to stir up hatred towards Christians who do not share his social views. Unlike Franklin Graham, he is not willing to permit those who disagree with his views to have a public platform. In writing his letter to the bus companies, he is using his power to intimidate and bully, in order to silence those with whom he does not agree.

I suspect that Mr Rotherham’s hatred of traditional Christian views, fuelled by his ignorance and prejudice, is only the beginning of what the Church can expect in the UK in the years to come, which is why the Gospel needs to be proclaimed more than ever. We have to work while it is still light – before the darkness deepens.

The cancellation of Franklin Graham’s tour events is a seminal moment for the UK

The Ghost of Kyiv and the Ministry of Truth – CT


  1. Why is the left so obsessively protective of Islam? Islamic views aren’t even remotely compatible with their own. They don’t care about defending any other minority religion. Is it simple cowardice? Or do they see Islam as a temporary “enemy of my enemy”?

    1. The left is obsessively protective of freedom of religion, which generally means protecting Muslims freedom to worship and live without fear because they are the ones that people like Graham try to hurt (Graham encouraged Trump to seek to ban Muslims from entering the US)

      1. I assume that’s irony? The left has never been protective of freedom of religion. In all my involvement in left wing politics – it was if anything hostile. But it is curious why they attack Christianity and give Islam a free pass?

      2. Trump never sought to ban Muslims from entering the USA. Only left-wing propaganda tries to portray what he did in that way. He put restrictions on anybody entering the USA if they come from a number of countries. These countries tended to have majority Muslim populations but the restrictions were not specifically aimed at Muslims – as is shown by the fact that the restrictions did not apply to all majority-Muslim countries. Nor were Muslims affected if they lived in countries where Muslims are in a minority.

      3. David, could you perhaps give an example of when the left has attacked Christians freedom to worship etc?

      4. Yes – right now – there are demonstrations and pickets outside some churches in the US. Numerous examples. The left are for freedom of religion in the same way that China says it has freedom of religion.

      5. Indignation from Left, Right and Centre is being stoked up by a simple misunderstanding about prayer. Praying for our enemies is something that Christ told us to do but the idea has somehow got around that to pray for a world leader is to endorse their policies. To pray for Putin is normal Christian behaviour so attacks on Franklin Graham for doing so are attacks on us all.

  2. Franklin Graham has praised Putins treatment of gay people, which is violent and suppressive. He twice campaigned for Trump and promoted the lies about Trump having really won the election.

    More recently he condemned Disney for withdrawing donations to the Republicans for their notorious anti gay bill.

    Agree with him or not, he has done everything he can to court controversy and oppose gay rights

    1. Not the issue. You don’t have to agree with someone to support their right to free speech. And the Republicans did not have a ‘notoriously anti gay bill’ (you really have swallowed the kool aid!). They had a bill protecting parents rights to not have their children indoctrinated with sexual perversion…

  3. I live in Liverpool, so I thought I should write to the Mayor:-

    Mr. Mayor,
    thank you for playing your part and indeed for taking a lead in the campaigns listed on your website; these are examples of why we vote, for you or for your opponents. (For what it’s worth, I voted for you.) However, your recent reported comment about bus advertising in Liverpool is a glaring example of a reason why many people do not vote. What you claim to be known about Franklin Graham, is at odds with what a significant number of your constituents ‘know.’ A tiny number will know that Blackpool Council had to compensate the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to the tune of £109,000 for unlawfully-cancelled advertising. A larger number will know Franklin Graham as the figurehead of “Operation Christmas Child” and many of them will have been personally involved in filling some of the thousands of shoeboxes that that organisation sends from this region every year. Still more will fondly remember the visit of Franklin Graham’s father to Anfield Stadium in the 1980s; quite frankly, they are not going to believe that you know better than they do, especially when the details of the Blackpool council leader’s apology becomes better known, as it is bound to.

    IMHO the most helpful thing you could do in the circumstances would be to admit publicly that you may have been misinformed about Franklin Graham’s ‘track record’ and about how fair or otherwise it would be to label him as a known hate preacher. To do otherwise will leave Christians all over the Liverpool metropolitan area convinced that your angry words constitute a hate speech directed at them.

    John Kilpatrick/.

  4. The vehemence of the rhetoric involved makes it clear that the intolerance and hatred comes from Mayor Rotherham.

  5. I am amazed by the left’s ability to constantly portray themselves as marginalised victims when they currently hold virtually all the socio-cultural power in the UK and the US.

    1. If there are victims here, and we hope not (right?), it will be gay people and Muslims- not “the left”.

      I’d argue the political left actually doesn’t have much influence on culture in either country. Id argue 70% of the media are center right and 10% far right, but I guess that depends on where you think the center is!

      1. What a weird world you live in! The victims here are those who are silenced by people like you claiming that they are Islamaphobic or Homophobic. The idea that the political left actually doesn’t have much influence on culture is absurd – almost as absurd as saying that 80% of the media are centre- right or far right! You have literally no evidence for that whatsoever….but you want to believe it – so it must be true.

      2. When have gay people and Muslims been victims recently? I can’t remember any violent attacks on either of those groups in recent times.

  6. This is a thought-provoking debate between Franklin Graham and the Mayor of Liverpool. I like how this article explores contrasting viewpoints, raising important questions about hate speech and tolerance.

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