Press Statement, 4th February 2020

The following Press Statement was issued in response to recent developments…

Covenant Fellowship Scotland, which represents hundreds of Church of Scotland ministers, elders and members across the country, believes the decision of the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) and its majority shareholder, Glasgow City Council, not to host the American evangelist Franklin Graham at the Hydro, to be deeply regrettable and alarming, and calls on all parties to reverse the decision in the name of religious tolerance and the right to freedom of speech and expression.

1. Covenant Fellowship Scotland believes that Scottish Event Campus (SEC) and Glasgow City Council have, in this instance, acted against the right to freedom of speech and religious expression. Franklin Graham has broken no laws and has not incited anyone to violence. Refusing to grant him the use of the Hydro is a disproportionate response to disagreement with the differing beliefs and opinions of others. Mr Graham adheres to the traditional view of marriage, a view he shares with most Christians worldwide; Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant as well as by many Muslims, Jews, and other people of no religious faith. The decision to no-platform Franklin Graham has alarmed many in the Christian community of Scotland, who now feel that the public expression of traditional Christian beliefs about marriage and human sexuality is regarded as a clear disqualification when it comes to the use of public buildings, which are paid for by all of the residents of Glasgow.

2. Covenant Fellowship Scotland also believes that Scottish Event Campus (SEC) and Glasgow City Council ought not to have reacted, as they have done, to an online petition. It should not be the case that the use of public premises or spaces for religious events are withheld from individuals simply on the basis of opposition and pressure through online petitions. We also regret that a Church of Scotland minister was involved in setting up the petition. It is quite astonishing and sad that the Church of Scotland, which has long worked fruitfully and harmoniously with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, has become associated, in this instance, with stopping the evangelistic preaching of Franklin Graham, especially in a city with the motto: ‘Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of his Word and the praising of his Name’.

3. Covenant Fellowship Scotland calls on the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) and Glasgow City Council to reverse its decision in the interest of tolerance and inclusion. Genuinely free speech means supporting the right to expression of those with whom you do not at all agree.