A Response to the Recent Banning of Franklin Graham

by Rev. David Robertson
Patrick Harvie, leader of the Scottish Greens, is one of the most intelligent and effective politicians in Scotland. He knows his ideology, he knows what he wants and he knows how to get it. It is for that reason that he is one of the most dangerous men in Scotland – because he is an authoritarian who is opposed to the basic human rights of freedom of religion, freedom of association, freedom of speech and the freedom to have your children educated according to your own values.  Recently Harvie stated that ‘there is no debate’ when it comes to the Gender Recognition Act (attacking the LGB Alliance).  That is his world.  Where only his fundamentalists doctrines are acceptable and can be expressed.    The Brave New World of Patrick Harvie and his liberal progressives is antithetical to freedom and is typical of the way that authoritarian regimes work.
Step 1 – Prevent Freedom of Speech.
This week Harvie attempted to get Franklin Graham banned from speaking at the SSE.   He tweeted.

 
Given the way that modern Scotland works Mr. Harvie may well succeed in his censorship.  In fact just as I write it appears that he has succeeded.   According to The National the SEC have cancelled the event – on the command of their major share holder – Glasgow City Council.   In case you think my concerns about moving towards an authoritarian society which suppresses free speech are unfounded consider the chilling statement from Susan Aitken, the SNP leader of the Council, in which she states that allowing the Mission to go ahead could be breaking the law.  Just stop and consider the implications of that.  In the Brave New World that the Progressives are building in Scotland – to disagree with them is a crime!
When SSM was going through we warned that refusing to accept it would soon be illegal…we are getting there very quickly.   Have we now moved to a time when critiquing the sexual philosophy of Mr Harvie, or questioning Islam is deemed illegal?
The SEC, in giving into Mr Harvie’s bullying are only following the example of  the Liverpool ACC who earlier withdrew their permission for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to use their facility. In a statement they declared:
 

“Over the past few days we have been made aware of a number of statements which we consider to be incompatible with our values.
In light of this we can no longer reconcile the balance between freedom of speech and the divisive impact this event is having in our city. We have informed the organisers of the event that the booking will no longer be fulfilled.
We are proud to represent all communities and will continue to move forward with our aim as a business to drive profile, major events and economic impact for Liverpool City Region.”
 

They, like Patrick Harvie, seem unperturbed at the irrationality and intolerance in their statement – all of course done in the name of tolerance. How Orwellian!   The ACC want to avoid a ‘divisive impact’ within the city. One assumes then that they will ban political rallies, football matches and anything else that has the potential to cause division?   The ACC are ‘proud to represent ALL communities’ except those who hold to the Christian view of marriage. Or indeed the Islamic view. Or the Jewish.
Meanwhile across the country Sheffield City Trust is showing a more tolerant and liberal attitude.  David Grey, chairman of the trust, said it supported the “right to free speech and freedom of expression whilst promoting equality and freedom from hatred and abuse.” “If individuals or groups aren’t breaking the law then their right to speak freely should be respected,”.
(Addition:  Since writing this Sheffield Council have also announced that they are banning Franklin Graham with the usual oxymoronic excuse that this goes against their values of being inclusive for everyone!)
Step 2 – Impose your ideology upon all areas of life. 
Of course it is not just Franklin Graham who has to face this hatred and intolerance.   Yesterday at the Australian Open in Melbourne, John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova marched on to the courts holding up a banner calling for the renaming of the Margaret Court Arena to the Evonne Goolagong Arena – because of her views about SSM.   Two Americans telling Australians how they should run their sport – this is the new cultural imperialism of the Brave New World!

And notice how certain and fundamentalist they are in their beliefs. Navratilova said, “while it was understandable venues were named after sporting legends, generally those athletes were on the right side of history. But Margaret Court does not belong in that company.”   They know what the right side of history is. But Martina should be careful…the revolution eats itself. She has already been classed as being on the wrong side of history because of her alleged ‘transphobia’. Once you start dictating that only your view is on the right side of history and only your view has value – then that will come home to bite you.
If Margaret Court had walked on to the arena named after her and displayed a banner opposing SSM, her feet would not have touched the ground as she was thrown out.
Step 3 – Ensure the Media only portrays the State Sanctioned Ideology
Meanwhile Israel Folau has signed a contract with the Catalans Rugby league team, the Dragons. Even as I write I am listening to the BBC ‘experts’ saying that the RFL have deplored the Catalan team hiring Folau and that ‘whatever thoughts he might have, he should keep them to himself’” Read that phrase again.   This is the BBC seeking to exercise thought control over an opinion that is not (yet) illegal.
The BBC’s thought for the day is supposed to be non-controversial and none political.   Not yesterday. The Rev Giles Fraser expressed a strong and controversial opinion – attacking his own denomination, the Church of England, for its pastoral statement reaffirming Christian doctrine that sex is to be only between a man and a woman within the context of marriage.     The test for the BBC would be if they allowed someone like yours truly to actually uphold the Christian teaching – but I suspect it would be a cold day in Hell before that happened. The BBC’s commitment to equality and diversity is not even skin deep.
Step 4 – Use Mob Rule
Every authoritarian government has a handy mob who will riot on suitable incitement – which then allows the government to say that they are only acting in response to public demand. If you doubt the mob rule mentality on this issue – consider this.   Within minutes of the Catalans announcing that they had signed Folau, Wigan RL put out a press release saying that when their club plays the Dragons they will deem it Pride Day and wear LGBT ribbons.   Virtue signalling has reached a new level.
Patrick Harvie and the Progressive Stormtroopers have no qualms about stirring up a Twitter mob, or petitioning venues, warning advertisers and threatening any who dare to challenge their absolutist view.
Step 5 – Get the Religious Organisations on Board
 In predominantly Christian countries that means the church. And the church has far too often bowed the knee to Caesar. So in the Franklin Graham case – The Bishop of Sheffield Pete Wilcox said in November: “Mr Graham’s rhetoric is repeatedly and unnecessarily inflammatory and in my opinion represents a risk to the social cohesion of our city.”   I wonder if the Bishop said the same thing about Islam or does he think that it is adding to the social cohesion of Sheffield?
Meanwhile not to be outdone in asking ‘how high?” when the authorities say ‘jump’, the Church of Scotland joined in. The Rev Bryan Kerr, a Church of Scotland minister in Lanark, said Graham’s views “do not sit comfortably with many Christians in Scotland”. He said: “These views, and many more like them, are not shared by all Christians as Mr Graham would have people believe. “Franklin Graham isn’t the voice of Christianity.”
But then neither is Rev Kerr  (Although I don’t ask that he be banned!).  The voice of Christianity is the voice of Christ speaking in the Scriptures. Jesus’ Christ’s teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman would mean that he would be banned from the BBC and the SEC – if Patrick Harvie gets his way. I suspect the radical Jesus of the Bible would not be welcome in Rev Kerr’s church either – he would ban his views as being too unChristlike!
(Additional note:  Again since writing this I have discovered that Mr Kerr not only objected to Mr Graham coming but actually organised a petition to prevent him coming.  Grasp that!  A Church of Scotland minister launches a petition to prevent the Gospel being preached in Glasgow.  What will the C of S do about that?  Not a thing!  You’re fine in the church if you deny the Gospel..thats about the last thing you will get disciplined for!)
What will the Church do? There are those leaders who will speak on behalf of the State and its Progressive/Regressive ideology. The State and the media love them. But just as culpable are those who keep silent when they know what is right and wrong.   It’s easy to be ‘prophetic’ when you are saying what the cultural elites want to hear. It becomes much more difficult when you challenge the status quo. So we will have bishops who live in mansions pontificating about the poor, ministers who regularly fly on their holidays lecturing us all on climate change (as happened on thought for the day this morning) and evangelicals who keep quiet because we have to win people by not disagreeing – except on safe subjects like racism.   The Church of England stating the biblical position on marriage was a refreshing change – but is ultimately useless if there is no church discipline and its clergy can do whatever they want. It’s all just white noise.
 

“The church goes along with everything and stands against nothing – until she is convinced that it is the safe and popular thing to do; then she passes her courageous resolutions and issues her world-shaking manifestos – all in accord with the world’s newest venture – whatever it may be” (A W Tozer – 1956)
 

Step 6 – Dumb Down the Population so that Rationality doesn’t matter and truth is whatever the Elites say it is.
This is why you can get such inconsistencies. Patrick Harvie wants Franklin Graham banned because of his views on SSM and Islam. The only problem for Mr Harvie is that if he were ever to be consistent he would have to ban the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and most evangelical churches. It is ironic that the Church of England pastoral letter issued this week stated: ‘Sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage are regarded as falling short of God’s purpose for human beings.’ If Mr Harvie and his allies are banning Franklin Graham for saying that sex outside marriage is a sin then they would have to ban the C of E as well – because that is precisely what they have said. For the non-theological who get upset about the use of the word ‘sin’ – it means ‘falling short of God’s standards”.
Even worse from Patrick’s point of view he would have to ban Islam which also states that SSM is a sin. Perhaps Mr Harvie should do a wee study of how homosexuals are treated in Islamic countries? We have Premier League football clubs owned by countries where homosexuality is banned and homosexuals go to jail or are executed. Meanwhile our brave sports clubs show how virtuous they are by remaining silent on this injustice, whilst campaigning against an Australian rugby player because of a couple of injudicious tweets! They are so blind they can’t see the beam in their own eye.
Scotland, the UK and much of the West is heading down this authoritarian route. Whilst paying lip service to democracy the reality is that to various degrees these steps to authoritarianism are becoming increasingly common. Harvie states that he is ‘for equality for all’. With such a statement the English language has become meaningless. He does not think that Franklin Graham or those who believe what he believes, should have equality. In order for his statement to make sense he has to redefine both ‘equality’ and ‘all’. If the latter he is really saying that those of us who don’t agree with him are not the ‘all’ of the people. We are the ultimate outsiders, the ultimate Untermenschen – fit only to be cast out and trodden on.
And Finally: The Old World of Franklin. Some will say that you are only arguing this because you are a fan of Franklin Graham and he is on your side. That is understandable in today’s binary world. ‘You are either for us, or against us”. But, and in some ways this is by far the harder part to write, although I support Franklin Grahams right to come, I don’t think this is a wise move for the UK church. It’s an attempt to return to the glory days of what God did wrought through Billy Graham – but that’s the issue. It was God who did it – merely being Billy’s son (or grandson) is not guarantee that you are a good preacher I have no doubt that Franklin will preach the Gospel – and for that I am glad. Like Paul I too rejoice if the Gospel is preached – whatever the motivation. But I struggle with several issues about this mission. I realise that in saying this it will cause some of my fellow Christian’s pain – but please bear with me. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association UK’s website said the tour meant, “The truth of Jesus Christ will be preached amongst a nation searching for answers”. I think that whilst that may be the intention – Franklin Graham is not the way to achieve that.
Unlike his father he has shown a considerable lack of insight and wisdom in his open and public support of President Trump as the Christian champion.   I think that some of his statements on other issues have been injudicious and unhelpful.   But most of all I think that this style of public stadium evangelism is not really appropriate for todays UK.   It costs a fortune, and I fear will largely be attended by Christians who are encouraged to make it a ‘success’ and will show little fruit.
How can I know that? I don’t.   But I can go by previous experience and knowledge of my own culture. A Trump supporting American evangelical using American revivalist methods is not the person to answer the questions that are being asked in the UK today.     I know as bible believing Christians we feel obliged to support this. We remember the success of the Billy Graham crusades in the 1950’s. We long for people to come to know Christ. We love the idea of Christians working together in evangelism. And so we feel bad about even daring to question.   But for all the above reasons I can’t support or give money to something that I don’t believe will work. I would love to be wrong – but I wish the money spent on this was spent on far more effective and long-term evangelism – like Twenty Schemes, or Solas, or many other largely unsung organisations which exist to communicate the Gospel. What about the local church? We don’t need one big name big scale publicity campaign – we need thousands of faithful local churches living out their faith and communicating Christ within the context of their local culture.
The great need of the UK church just now is not this kind of large-scale mission, with small-scale impact – but rather the equipping and mobilisation of the thousands of evangelical churches in the country. We need to know both the Gospel and the Culture better.
I would argue that Franklin Graham is an example of how NOT to communicate to our culture. But is anyone listening? The liberals who deny the Gospel don’t want him anyway, and the evangelicals are looking for an easy way to reap. Evangelism is ploughing, sowing and reaping – we just want to go straight to the reaping part – without bothering with the difficult stuff.
I have just been reading about the revival in Australia in 1902 – where tens of thousands were converted. What stands out is the commitment to prayer, the extent of evangelical unity, the desire for holiness and the sheer long-term hard work. In Melbourne alone there were 16,000 prayer meetings – and over 250,000 out of a State population of 1 million attended the weekly mission meetings.
We need the same again – there are no quick fixes. Patrick Harvie wants to introduce his Brave New World. He will use things like the Franklin Graham mission to impose his views upon us all.  We don’t need the old world style of Graham – especially when it is mixed in with American politics – we need God to do something new. And so we pray. Come Lord Jesus….
PS.   We warned what this increasing intolerance would lead to last year.  See the article below.   The time will come when articles like this will be banned either because media platforms will be intimidated into banning those who disagree with the current Zeitgeist or it in the words of Susan Aitkens it will be against the law.

Rev. David Robertson is a the former Moderator of The Free Church of Scotland. Mr Robertson was also a minister in St Peter’s Free Church, Dundee before moving to Australia in 2019 to take up a new post as the Director of Third Space. 
The original article can be found on his blog:

The Brave New World of Patrick Harvie and the Tired Old World of Franklin Graham


Source: Free Church of Scotland