Protest plans at Festival of Hope

Winter Gardens
Winter Gardens
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A peaceful protest has been planned in Blackpool for the arrival of a controversial American preacher.

Evangelical Christian Franklin Graham will appear at the Festival of Hope at the Winter Gardens this weekend. The preacher has been criticised for his anti-LGBT and anti-Islam comments.

Protesters will meet outside the town centre venue (inset) at 5.30pm on Friday.

Organiser Jon Bamborough said: “The majority of people going to the festival will be going for the right reasons, to a festival they believe is celebrating the things they believe in. Our problem is entirely with Franklin Graham and we want to make sure that the people who are going are aware of the hard line that he takes on issues such as homophobia and Islamophobia.

“Quite a lot of the people who are going to the protest are Christians and what we don’t want is for it to be seen as something for people who are against Christianity. The majority of us are practicing Christians who take a completely diffferent view of it than Franklin does.”

Speaking to The Guardian, a spokesman for the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, which Franklin Graham oversees, said the Festival of Hope would be ‘a postive and encouraging event with music, and also a message from Franklin Graham about the hope that can be found through a relationship with Jesus Christ.’

Several Blackpool churches have come together to organise a ‘Rainbow Weekend’ to coincide with Mr Graham’s planned visit.

The Blackpool Tower will be lit up with rainbow colours and the rainbow flag will be flown.