Franklin Graham, an American preacher, has declared that advertisements for his UK tour on Liverpool buses are “not objectionable.”
The mayor of the city area has demanded that they be removed, claiming that they promote “hateful discourse.”
Steve Rotheram expressed his displeasure at the promotion of a “known hate preacher” on Stagecoach and Arriva buses.
Mr Graham is on a UK tour and will be in Liverpool on 14 May. He has called homosexual marriage a “sin.”
He called it “very disturbing” that “certain public authorities are seeking to obstruct our contracted advertising in the Liverpool region based on objection to our religious views.”
He said, ” “These advertisements are not provocative in any way.
“Based on our Christian views, we oppose to Reverend Franklin Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
“Unfortunately, this rivalry is well-known and predictable.”
While the offer followed advertising guidelines, Arriva Bus UK said it was investigating its internal procedures.
“Acceptance of any advertising is not an endorsement of any products, organizations, or the ideas they represent,” a Stagecoach representative stated.
Mr Rotheram has written to the bus operators, demanding that the advertisements be removed immediately.
It was “inexcusable,” he added, to advertise the preacher’s beliefs on buses used by people who “belong to the exact groups that Mr Graham focuses his hatred and vitriol towards.”
Mr Graham, the eldest son of the late preacher Billy Graham, will deliver the keynote address at the ACC Liverpool site.
In 2020, a prior event at the venue was canceled after the company that organizes it was “made aware of a number of remarks that we deem to be incompatible with our principles.”
Following Mr Rotheram’s letter, an ACC Liverpool Group representative stated that “we do not endorse or condone” the preacher, and that they had decided to “challenge the original event going place in the manner suggested” in 2020.
She added that the venue has “got adequate assurances from the event organizers that Reverend Franklin Graham’s message would not be discriminatory, insulting, or hostile towards any particular communities, organizations, or individuals” since then.
Liverpool City Council, the venue’s only shareholder, announced it will develop a community advisory board to formally interact with local organisations.
It’s not the first time that bus advertisements for the preacher’s meetings have sparked controversy.
Blackpool Borough Council and Blackpool Transport Services banned bus advertisements for an evangelical rally with Mr Graham in 2018.
A judge fined the council £109,000 last year after concluding that the ban violated the Human Rights Act by disregarding “the right to freedom of speech.”