BETWEEN 1971 and 1975 when I was a student in Glasgow I observed first-hand how the people of Glasgow, contrary to the reputation of the city, were warm, accepting and hospitable towards the stranger in their midst. The growth of Chinese restaurants, the Indian curry houses and the Pakistani-owned corner shops were proof that the city had become a multi-racial population. The arrival of Sikh temples and Islamic mosques in the city demonstrates a multi-faith society where there is a welcome for all, those of faith as well as those of no faith.
In 1955 Billy Graham, the American evangelist, presented the Christian Gospel in the Kelvin Hall to packed crowds for six weeks. Tens of thousands attended those meetings and thousands of lives were changed by believing the simple Gospel of hope and forgiveness, through a personal faith in Jesus Christ. Billy reminded the people that Glasgow City Council’s motto, at least in part was “Let Glasgow flourish with the preaching of the Word and the praising of His Name.”
Fast forward to 2020: what a change has taken place in dear old Glasgow, indeed in the nation of Scotland as whole. Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s son had booked one night in Glasgow to preach that same Gospel of God’s grace and love, only to find the venue has cancelled its contract with him because Glasgow City Council had received some complaints from the public (“US pastor’s Hydro date cancelled amid allegations of homophobia”, The Herald, January 30, and Letters, February 1).
In Scotland today, it seems that in our inclusive, liberal and more tolerant society, any minority view or sect is to be respected and given a public platform, except for the Christian message of hope and love.
Joseph Yule, Peterhead.
THE cancellation by the SSE Hydro in Glasgow of the Franklin Graham event is a deeply disturbing decision that is antithetical to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and to true democratic values.
Franklin Graham is being discriminated against for having on occasions expressed mainstream Judaeo-Christian views on sexuality. His views in this area are not religiously extreme, indeed they simply reflect the historic and orthodox teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England and countless other denominational groups. Like all mainstream Christian leaders Franklin Graham believes that every human being is a precious soul made in the image of God, and thus should be loved and treated with respect accordingly.
The planned event is one in a rich tradition of such Christian activity going back centuries in both Glasgow and the country at large. As Rev Graham has expressed himself his mission is not political but to make known the good news about Jesus Christ to every person regardless of their sexuality or any other characteristic.
As the leaders representing evangelical churches in the West of Scotland Gospel Partnership, we want to express our consternation and deep-seated fears at this discriminatory act against a faith group that has faithfully served the civic good of our city for generations.
Christians disagree about many things, but Christians all agree that respect for religious freedom and freedom of speech is fundamental to a free society. Therefore, we ask that the SSE Hydro management, and those political leaders who have influence in such matters, reverse this decision.
A failure to do so would be an ominous move towards a less free society and one that will in time have serious repercussions for the civic liberties of all.
On behalf the West of Scotland Gospel Partnership,
Rev. Colin Adams (Greenview Church, Glasgow); Rev. Dr William Philip (The Tron Church, Glasgow); Rev. Alan McKnight (Harper Church, Glasgow); Rev. John MacKinnon (Calderwood Baptist Church, East Kilbride); Rev. Dr Andrew Gemmill (Cornhill Training Scotland); Rev. Craig Dyer (Christianity Explored Ministries); Rev. Andrew Hunter (Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches), Glasgow G41.
AS a Christian, I thoroughly approve of the decision to cancel Franklin Graham’s appearance at the SECC. He epitomises so much that is wrong with what passes for Christianity these days – very fundamentalist, intolerant of those who disagree with him, supportive of the injustices which the Israelis are perpetrating against the Palestinians and, of course, fervently and vociferously supportive of Donald Trump, to the extent of labelling anyone who opposes Mr Trump as demonic.
Someone like that has no right to come here and tell others what they should believe and how they should live. In a week when liars and charlatans seem to have the upper hand – Brexit finally happening, Boris Johnston and Nigel Farage cock-a-hoop, and Trump about to be acquitted by the US Senate – the decision to pull the plug on Franklin Graham’s event came as a welcome piece of good news.
Martin Waddell, Isle of Seil, Argyll.