"Hate" preacher’s tour date cancellation "was not our decision" says under-fire Milton Keynes Council
An American evangelical preacher’s Milton Keynes tour date has been cancelled but the preacher – the son of the charismatic Billy Graham – is still planning to hold events in the city.
The cancellation of the huge preaching event by the Rev Franklin Graham at the Marshall Arena, scheduled for June 10, was raised at last night’s (Tuesday) meeting of the Milton Keynes Council cabinet
Cllr Robin Bradburn (Lib Dem, Bradwell) said: “Many of us have received emails regarding an attendance at the Marshall Arena for Rev Franklin Graham, asking for us to reconsider the decision. I think it would be worth the council pointing out that it wasn’t our decision to rescind his invitation.
“It was the stadium or Marshall Arena who did that, unless I am mistaken.”
MK Council cabinet member Cllr Jenny Wilson-Marklew (Lab, Stony Stratford) said: “You are quite right, it wasn’t us that made that decision and I am in the process of drafting a response to those emails. I will be responding on behalf of the council.”
A statement on the StadiumMK website reads: “The Marshall Arena has taken the decision to cancel the event due to be held at the Arena on June 10 2020. This decision has been taken due to our concerns that the event may lead to a breach of the peace, which we believe would have a disruptive effect on our staff, our neighbours at Stadium MK and the inclusive Milton Keynes community.”
The Rev Graham’s speaking tour has been a controversial one, attracting criticism from the LGBT+ community, who have criticised the reverend’s preaching and attitudes to gay people.
A number of cities in the UK have cancelled events, with many of the venues run by local councils.
A statement on the Billy Graham website says the tour will still go ahead, as will other prayer events. Milton Keynes remains on the tour itinerary, with a venue “to be announced” on June 10.
The statement reads: “We are still finalising where the Graham Tour will be held, but we want to be clear that the initiative and all associated training courses will take place on the same dates as originally planned. We are continuing to consider sites for the main event and when we have determined where the meetings will take place, we will post updates. All Christian Life and Witness courses are proceeding as scheduled.”
The decision to cancel the event has been criticised on Twitter by Cllr Ric Brackenbury (Lib Dem, Campbell Park & Old Woughton).Cllr Brackenbury, a Christian, tweeted: “Disappointed that Arena:MK have cancelled booking for Billy Graham’s son this summer. MK should welcome practicing of all faiths and none and this is not the right approach in my view.”
But Peter Holmes replied: “Franklin Graham is well known anti LGBT hate preacher. All venues in Britain have cancelled him.”