Franklin Graham is used to opposition. His outspoken nature and relentless defense of Biblical truth have gained him a bevy of critics, but the criticism typically hasn’t blocked his mission to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Current opposition in the U.K., however, is unprecedented—not just for Franklin Graham but for the freedom of religion.
“We haven’t dealt with opposition quite like this before,” Cissie Graham Lynch said to her father on the latest episode of her Fearless podcast.
‘They’re Trying to Stop Us Because of Our Faith’
The newest Fearless episode is focused on the controversy in the U.K., where LGBTQ activists convinced eight venues to try to break their contracts with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). The venues were booked for the upcoming Graham Tour, which is still moving forward and scheduled for this spring.
“They have come out against our tour because I have said that homosexuality is a sin,” Franklin Graham said. “This is what God says. God says it’s sin, but at the same time, I say we’re all sinners … every last one of us has sinned before God.”
His message never stops with the problem of sin. Over the course of hundreds of evangelistic events Franklin Graham has held around the world, he has always pointed to Jesus Christ as the antidote to sin and the only hope for a broken world. But his Biblical views on sin—views shared by millions of Christians of various traditions around the globe—are now being labeled as “hate speech.”
“It is a sad truth that many people who tout themselves as being liberal are liberal only about what they like and are very intolerant of the views with which they disagree,” said Jacob Rees-Mogg, Leader of Britain’s House of Commons, to Parliament last week.
“This is a freedom of religion issue,” Franklin Graham said. “We’re being stopped, or they’re trying to stop us, because of our faith. And it’s also a free speech issue.”
Rejoicing Through Opposition
In Lynch’s podcast, Franklin Graham talks about the opposition his father faced when he went to the U.K. in the 1950’s. A trip that had a rather rocky start turned into one of the most influential evangelistic campaigns in the region’s history.
The evangelist also discusses the ultimate example of opposition to the Gospel: the trials faced by Jesus Christ.
“Remember, Jesus was criticized,” Franklin Graham said. “They cursed Him. They made false accusations about Him and they eventually nailed Him to a tree. But He willingly went to the cross to take our sins.”
Franklin Graham speaks about the Bible’s words of truth and comfort for Christians facing opposition. The New Testament letters are filled with encouragement to rejoice in the midst of hardships that happen as a result of following Christ.
“I think that’s the way we, as Christians, need to look at it,” Franklin Graham said. “We shouldn’t say, ‘Oh, look at poor me, I’m being beat up.’ I think we rejoice. The Bible tells us to have the confidence knowing that we serve the King of kings and the Lord of lords.”
More Than 2,300 UK Churches
Lynch had the opportunity to travel with her father to the U.K. earlier this month, where they met with and encouraged local pastors, as well as the BGEA U.K. team in London. Franklin Graham also had the chance to share his views during several media interviews—something that likely wouldn’t have happened if not for the controversy.
The opposition has galvanized the churches that were already partnering with BGEA for the tour, and the publicity seems to have caused more churches to get involved. To date, more than 2,300 U.K. congregations have committed to taking part in the Graham Tour.
“We had about 400 new churches sign up just in the last couple of weeks, so there are positive things that are taking place,” Franklin Graham said.
His daughter, a millennial raising her young family in a rapidly changing world, sees her father’s boldness as something to emulate as she finds her own voice.
“I would say the number one thing I’ve learned from you is never be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Lynch said, “And when faced with opposition, you don’t back down one inch.”