A significant apology from the UK

Jul 18, 2021 by

by Michael Brown, Christian Post:

As the ominous tide of cancel culture continues to rise in North America, Europe, and other parts of the world (such as Australia), it is all the more important to point to significant victories on behalf of freedom of speech. We can now report on one such victory from the U.K., a victory that is not just legal but also morally substantive. Put another way, what was said by way of apology was just as important as the victory won in court.

Here’s the relevant background.

Back in July 2018, Blackpool Transport decided to remove ads that were placed on double-decker buses promoting a Franklin Graham outreach event.

As their public statement explained, “Blackpool Transport has recently been made aware of an advert in place on the side of some of our double decker buses.

“In light of customer feedback and reactions on social media which has resulted in heightened tension, we have taken the decision to remove all adverts relating to the ‘Time for Hope’ Festival with immediate effect. We will reimburse any income back to the advertising company.”

[…] Now, as reported in The Christian Post, “The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has been awarded a financial settlement and received a public apology from a British council that censored the Christian group’s ads.”

As a result of the verdict, “the Blackpool Council in Lancashire also agreed to pay damages of over $150,200 (£109,000).”

[…] What an important and comprehensive apology.

First, they recognized that the ads themselves contained nothing offensive. The offense was over other positions taken by Rev. Graham regarding LGBT issues. (Interestingly, despite Graham being an outspoken supporter of President Trump, that was not a factor in the public complaints.)

Second, they recognized that they only took into consideration one aspect of public opinion, namely the LGBT community which was offended by the presence of the ads. Blackpool failed to consider the public opinion of the Christian community, which was offended by the removal of the ads.

Third, they recognized that their actions were nothing less than outright discrimination against the religious beliefs of Graham and the host organization, thereby interfering directly with the host organization’s “right to freedom of speech.”

And these, of course, are the bottom line issues: freedom of religion and freedom of speech must be protected, and what’s good for one side must be good for the other side. (Let’s remember that we’re not talking about religious calls to murder the infidels. We’re talking about religious beliefs concerning the meaning of marriage.)

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