After a legal fight lasting several years, evangelist Franklin Graham has won an important case for religious freedom in the UK. A County Court Judge Claire Evans has ruled that the 2018 Lancashire Festival of Hope was discriminated against when ads promoting the event were pulled from buses in Blackpool, in an effort to ban him from preaching. In 2018, the Blackpool Council and Blackpool Transport Services removed bus advertisements displaying the words “Time for Hope,” citing that members of the community complained about Graham’s association with the festival. The transportation company said they received feedback from members of the community who were concerned over the evangelist’s religious beliefs on marriage and sexuality. Complaints referenced Graham’s biblical views about LGBTQ matters like same-sex marriage.
Some falsely accused him of “preaching hate” or being “racist.” Jane Cole, managing director at Blackpool Transport said, “The removal of these adverts is as a result of us listening and acting on customer and public feedback which we aim to do at all times. Blackpool Transport is a proud ongoing supporter of the Pride and LGBT+ communities and in no way did we intend to cause any distress or upset.” After the decision was announced, additional complaints were made about the removal of the advertisements by members of the public who saw the move as bias against Christians, censorship, and a restriction of free speech. Moreover, the court concluded that the ads themselves were inoffensive and the transportation company had actually violated the UK’s Equality Act 2010. The law forbids discrimination against anyone because of religion or belief.
Judge Evans ruled “overwhelmingly in favour” of the Lancashire Festival of Hope, saying that Blackpool “had a wholesale disregard” for the Festival’s right to freedom of speech. It prioritized the rights and opinions of members of the LGBT community. “We thank God for this ruling because it is a win for every Christian in the U.K.,” Graham said. Despite removal of the ads, the Lancashire Festival of Hope brought 9,000 people together in Blackpool, garnered more than 50,000 online views worldwide, and saw more than 400 people commit their lives to Christ. “It is a significant day for religious liberty,” said James Barrett, chairman of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association UK. “The court recognized that Blackpool Council cared more about appeasing the LGBTQ community than upholding the rights of local churches to advertise a Christian festival.” He added, “The judge summarized it best in her ruling when she said, ‘This is the antithesis of the manner in which a public authority should behave in a democratic society.
The Sydney Morning Herald thought this week’s Q and A was a significant cultural moment. They compared it with another one in 2008 where the shibboleth question for our culture , that of homosexuality, came up. It was indeed a revealing programme – telling us a great deal about where Australian culture, politics and religion are at – and where we are heading.
Hamish MacDonald, the host, was joined by Trent Zimmerman, Liberal Member (Homosexual) for North Sydney; Anika Wells, Labor Member for Lilley;; Antoinette Lattouf, Journalist, diversity advocate, and author; and Teela Reid, Wiradjuri/Wailwan, Lawyer; and Martyn Iles, Managing Director, Australian Christian Lobby.
It was the appearance of Martyn Iles that was too much for some people – even before he had been on the show. Those who believe in love and are opposed to hate speech were quick to share the love…
“Just saw the line up for #QandA and omg the creep from the Australian Christian Lobby is on? “
“Honestly, giving people like Martyn Iles a public platform is very unhealthy for society. The ACL is a hate group. I dearly wish we had laws against this”
“I’d rather hear from a Satanist or someone other than that man…”
The Church that believes in love, unity and diversity was also quick to show us just how loving, united and diverse they are:
“Just want to pre-emptively comment on tonight’s #qanda. This man is likely to slander and bear false witness against LGBTIQ+ people and communities. He does not represent the Church, nor the majority view of Christians in Australia.” Leichhardt Uniting Church.
And it’s not just liberals – mention Iles name in some evangelical circles and eyebrows are raised, knowing looks exchanged and a general impression is given that we don’t really want to be associated with that sort of thing.
What did we learn from the show? We learned a great deal about contemporary Australian society… Here are some of the lessons….
1. For some, ‘lived experience’ trumps everything.
Facts, truth, democracy, morality, religion – everything is subordinate to what is called ‘lived experience’. Martyn was asked “have you lived experiences, heard, shared and acted upon?” The implicit statement being that unless you have walked in their shoes then you cannot represent, speak about or disagree with. “I don’t think Martyn can walk in a gay man’s shoes”. All of this sounds so true. But in ABC culture that only applies to some groups. Nobody on the panel (which was largely hostile to Martyn) seemed to grasp that they did not have Martyn’s lived experience as a Christian – but that did not stop them commenting on it and condemning it.
One panellist spoke of Lil Naz X as being a hero because of his Satan’s shoes video. She declared that this shows that you cannot speak unless you feel the hate, it doesn’t matter what the intention of the speaker is. She has a point? I felt that her speech, and much of the rest was full of hate for people like Martyn and me – i.e., biblical Christians. By her own standard she was guilty of hate speech. Or does this not work both ways?
When Martyn mentioned the story of the Canadian man who went to jail because he misgendered his teenage daughter, he was told – “I think that’s a very specific example and we don’t know all the details…I’m not interested in speaking this specific example”. So, some stories are not worth telling and don’t count as evidence?
Within a few minutes of that we were listening to someone who identified as “an aboriginal queer non- binary person” who went on to tell the story of a relative who died in prison. That very specific example was of course not going to be questioned.
Just before the programme I saw an advert for another ABC show – You can’t say that – where we were told that everyone has a story and deserves to be heard! But is that true? Would the ABC allow my story to be told? Or that of a transgender detransitioner? Or someone who is ex-gay? Sadly, in our society today, your story only matters if it fits in with the pre-determined narrative?
1. Identity Politics is polarising and dividing Australia.
Martyn was told that ‘you don’t have skin in the game when it comes to women’s issues”. That assumes a narrow fundamentalist individualistic view of what a human being is. All of us were ‘born of a woman’ and most of us had a mum as did Martyn. Martyn is young and not married but he has colleagues and friends who are women. I would suggest as a Christian he has a lot of skin in the game. He cares about issues such as the sexual exploitation of women and the trans attack on the very notion of what a woman is.
2. Most Australians don’t have a clue about Christianity and are hostile to what they do not know.
This was exemplified by the tweets that ABC put up on the screen. In itself it was revealing that the only tweets that I saw them put up were hostile. I’m sure they received some supportive ones for Martyn but that did not fit their narrative. He was there to be mocked and abused.
3. Shallow superficial soundbites have largely replaced substantive discussion as the primary discourse in Australian politics and media.
There were so many examples of this in the show. The lack of depth and thought was quite frightening. Take this one example. Anika Wells stated: “In the Bible there are 3,000 references to poverty and very few to homosexuality, so why can’t the ACL spend their money on that? “ This was retweeted as Gospel truth – but it’s just factually wrong. Clearly they had not bothered to read Mark Powell’s response to this oft made fake claim a couple of years ago – https://www.spectator.com.au/2017/11/abc-anything-but-biblical-christianity/
The point is that it sounds right, and they want it to be right, so the claim is made and left completely unchallenged.
Or take Trent Zimmermann’s claim that “any person should be able to decide what future they want from their own life and their body is part of that”. So if someone feels they are too fat they should be allowed to starve themselves? Or if people decide they want to change sexuality they should be allowed to seek conversion therapy? After all its their body!
Trent Zimmermann then went on: “we have to be careful about questioning whether transgenderism is a legitimate course for an individual to take…’ after pointing out that transgender people are much more likely to attempt suicide. Again, the host and other panellists, seemed to miss the rather obvious point that if being transgender does lead to such a high risk of suicide, perhaps we should question it a lot more?
But transgender is a very protected category on the ABC – the host gave out the Lifeline number after the discussion on trans….“if this conversation raises any issues…” which of course led to the inevitable tweet “If you have a guest on #qanda that makes you need to announce the LifeLine phone number that should tell you what sort of guest you have”.
4. The Cultural Elites don’t do diversity or equality.
At times this whole show felt like a put-up job. I think four of the questions were hostile to Martyn. The host questioned whether Martyn was just raising the Israel Folau issue (Israel was sacked from playing rugby after a Biblical post on Facebook that stated homosexuals were destined for Hell) as an attempt to increase the ACL’s membership, he also challenged Martyn’s figures on transgender. These are legitimate questions – the problem is that he made no similar challenges on the rest of the panel. He stated that Rugby Australia officials were not there to defend themselves – but permitted a series of attacks on Folau, who also wasn’t there to defend himself. He told Martyn ‘you’ve had plenty time, make it quick’ which again would have been fair enough if it were not for the fact that it was four (five?) against one and most of the questions were directed against him.
The audience seemed far more diverse than the panel (something noted by the Twitterati – some of whom objected that such people were even there). One young man made the telling statement “if you express your faith, then you will be met with severe career ending consequences”. This show was ample evidence of that.
Adapted from a report in The Australian Presbyterian by David Robertson
“This is the first time in American history that free speech is in jeopardy,” Dennis Prager conservative nationally syndicated talk show host says.
In my opinion, Dennis is one of the most respected and influential thinkers, writers and speakers in America.
To expose this frightening battle in the USA, Prager and comedian Adam Carolla star in a new film that’s coming out this Friday calledNo Safe Spaces.
The documentary-style film features several cultural experts who shed light on the assault on free speech, particularly on college campuses. No Safe Spaces reveals that assault for what it is. And it’s no wonder—universities have become increasingly liberal over the years.
Prager said, “free speech is one of the few things all Americans virtually always agreed on. And it’s almost unbelievable, but almost half of Millennials don’t believe in free speech for ‘hate speech,’ which means they don’t believe in free speech because everybody thinks the other guy has hate speech.”
Prager is doing a great job with Prager University. It is not an accredited academic institution but provides videos on a wide range of political, economic and philosophical topics from a conservative view. Go and take a look http://www.prageru.com. Check out Evolution: Bacteria to Beethoven by Stephen Meyer.
Prager’s videos are making a difference, because the big left-wing social-media platforms are making it difficult for him to spread his content.
“We come out with a video a week,” he says. “We have over 400 of these five-minute videos. Four prime ministers of countries have given videos. Three Pulitzer-Prize winners [have given videos], and [these platforms] still put 80 of the videos on the restricted list, one with pornography. I have a talk on the Ten Commandments, and it’s lumped with pornography on YouTube.”
Why are YouTube and Google trying so hard to hide his videos? Prager said, “If it’s healthy, the left hates it. That’s the way to understand it.”
That’s why Prager believes the movie No Safe Spaces is so important right now. It is due for release in the USA in October 2019.
“The movie is very powerful,” Prager says. “You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. But even if it weren’t good, conservatives need to support movies that express our values. But it’s a great movie. Adam Carolla alone is worth the price of admission. … It’s extremely well-done. The people who brought you Dinesh D’Souza’s movies are behind this producing, and the writing is first-class.”