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George Orwell got something right

Following a recent post on this topic, one of our church members, Stephen Mills, had these thoughts about the stadiums refusing to host Franklin Graham.

I wonder what George Orwell would make of the stance of the venues that have cancelled the visit of Franklin Graham.  The Glasgow Council’s response was given by Glasgow Council Leader Susan Aitken – she said:

“The reporting of the ways in which Mr Graham expresses his views makes clear that this is not simply about offence or disagreement. Neither is it a debate about free speech.  How he expresses his views could, I believe, fundamentally breach the council’s statutory equalities duties.”

The Guardian reported as follows: 

Equality campaigners in Liverpool launched a petition against Graham’s event, saying his appearance “may incite hateful mobilisation and risk the security of our LGBTQ+ community”.

The Liverpool City Region Pride Foundation wrote to the ACC Stadium’s chief executive, the city’s mayor and the city council, saying Graham had promoted hate and supported conversion therapy.  “We are sure that you share our stance that these types of dangerous views are not welcome in, or representative of, our great city and to ask that the booking is immediately reviewed and cancelled…”

The ACC said in a statement: “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.”

Joe Anderson, Liverpool’s mayor, said cancelling the event was the right decision. “Our city is a diverse city and proud of our LGBTQ+ community and always will be,” he tweeted.

AT the BBC headquarters- Broadcasting House there is a statue of George Orwell, the writer most famous for his novels ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘1984’.  The quote on the wall behind the statue reads as follows:

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

What is it about Franklin Grahams’ reported ‘views’ that make them any more dangerous than those of the large number of minority groups in our society whether they be Muslim, Sikh, Jew, Christian, or the LGBTQ movement? 

Surely people should be free to listen and make up their own mind.  Suppressing free speech is something Orwell was concerned about – as well as freedom of the individual to have the right to think and come to their own conclusions on all of life’s issues.

What is it these communities which are trying to prevent Franklin Graham really afraid of?

He represents a view that is espoused in the Bible.  Is he not free to represent those views in the public arena?  Surely, he should be free to present what he believes and many Christians believe to be God’s message in the Bible and invite people to respond and follow Jesus Christ?  The message can be accepted or rejected.

In our country, there is freedom for the Jew, the Muslim, the Sikh, the Secularist, the Mormon and the LGBTQ community to express their views.  We are then free to choose to accept or reject the message these groups propagate.

The fact that the LGBTQ community find Franklin Graham’s views offensive is understandable as it challenges their lifestyle. But in exactly the same way Christians are challenged by most of the voices in our prevailing culture for their lifestyle – increasingly so. We all have a choice – go and listen to Franklin Graham and accept or reject his message or do not go at all.  No-one is being forced to attend his meeting any more than anyone would be forced to join a gay pride parade.

It is not just freedom of speech which is in danger in our current culture but this agenda suggests that even freedom of thought is at risk.  I am sure George Orwell would say that is a step too far.

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