Scottish Charity to Pay Church, BGEA $26,000 Each for Cancelling Event Bookings over Groups' Religious Affiliations
A Scottish charity is apologizing after the group canceled bookings made by a local church and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
The Robertson Trust has issued an apology to the Stirling Free Church and the BGEA for canceling its 2019 bookings to use The Robertson Trust conference center in Stirling, Scotland. Canceling the bookings violated the United Kingdom’s Equality Act.
The Robertson Trust also agreed to pay both groups around $26,500 for legal expenses, The Christian Post reports
The Robertson Trust “inadvertently breached the Equality Act 2010,” said Mark Batho, chairman of the board of trustees at The Robertson Trust.
“The Trust’s long-standing funding policy legitimately states that we do not fund or support the promotion of any particular religious or political beliefs,” Batho said. “We recognize that in applying our funding policy to the hire of our facilities, which are available at substantially subsidized rates to charities and community groups, we inadvertently breached the Equality Act 2010.”
The Stirling Free Church minister said in a statement that it is “against the law” to advertise a venue as being available to all but to then cancel the contract because the booking was for a “religious event.”
“Christians have the same legal rights as everyone else, and the outcome of this case affirms that,” Iain Macaskill said.
In a statement from Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s son, Graham said the case “sends a clear message” that “religious freedom isn’t dead.”
Graham had previously said he was “surprised” at the cancellation.
“I’m not coming to speak against anybody, and I don’t name any groups of people,” he said. “I’m coming to tell people how they can have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.”
The Robertson Trust’s Barracks Conference Center was not the only venue in the U.K. to cancel an event from Franklin Graham and the BGEA. The tour was rescheduled for May 14 through July 16.
“Even through these unprecedented circumstances, BGEA has remained committed to the goal of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ,” the group said in a statement. “We are profoundly grateful for the thousands of churches of various denominations across the U.K. that have stood alongside us and continued praying for the tour.”
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.