Cancelling Christians

Jun 14, 2021 by

By Lizzie Troughton, The Critic:

Billy Graham wouldn’t be welcomed into Britain today.

Fifty years ago in the UK, there was widespread public support for Billy Graham’s evangelistic crusades and his “Festivals of Hope”. The American preacher, known for his enthusiasm in proclaiming the message of Jesus Christ, drew thronging crowds of over 2 million eager listeners in 1954 at the Harringay Arena in London. 2.6 million people came to Glasgow the following year, and thousands more flocked to public venues until his last British crusade in 1989. He was famously invited for a private audience with the Queen and the media endorsed his mission favourably.

If Billy was alive today, it seems unlikely that he would have the same opportunities. The courting of cancel-culture across the UK is now rapidly denying Christian preachers the opportunity to preach on the streets, make bookings at privately rented venues, and even be indirectly advertised in public. We’re not just facing a free speech crisis. We’re cancelling Christians.

The popular Christian network, Destiny Ministries, has experienced this head on. Last year, they had their three-day venue booking in Glasgow axed by the City of Edinburgh Council, which they intended to use for a summer conference. Larry Stockstill, a Louisiana-based preacher who held orthodox views on marriage, was due to be flying over for it until the Council made the executive decision that he was “too offensive” and that the Ministries should not be allowed to rent their venue space. Larry was well known to promote a traditional view of sexual ethics — a hermeneutically literal interpretation of the Biblical passages on marriage. But, these views were no longer acceptable to the Council and their public services and facilities — they did not “promote equality”. It did not even matter that Larry was not due to be speaking about marriage at the conference.

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