“Have we really come to this?” Christian evangelist and missionary Franklin Graham asked in a social media post. “Even a picture of a preacher holding a Bible is now too offensive to have on a mall banner in California?”
Graham was referencing an incident at a popular mall in Southern California where a colleague of Graham’s, Pastor Greg Laurie, was denied an opportunity to advertise for an event after someone reportedly complained a picture of a Christian Bible was too offensive.
The President of Samaritan’s Purse said the picture did not feature the word “Bible” on it but was simply a picture of a man holding a book in the air.
“My good friend Pastor Greg Laurie has a large event coming up in August and they had a very benign banner designed to promote this 29-year-old annual event,” Graham wrote. “And the picture of the Bible didn’t even say the word Bible on the front of it! Nonetheless, someone complained, and the mall, called Fashion Island, had the banners taken down.”
“They said people weren’t comfortable with the photo of the Bible, so when the ad design was re-done with no Bible photo, the owner of the mall who I understand is Irvine Company then told the church they wouldn’t advertise the event at all. This should concern us for our nation.”
CBN News confirmed Graham’s account:
Laurie and Harvest Crusade contracted Irvine Company, a real estate company in Southern California, to advertise the upcoming SoCal Harvest. The event will be held August 17-19 at Angel Stadium and is expected to draw tens of thousands of people. The company agreed to post large billboards promoting the crusade at Fashion Island, a prestigious outdoor mall in the center of Orange County.
However, after claiming the religious imagery on the ads provoked multiple complaints, including a “serious threat,” the Irvine Company mandated the billboards be modified. Harvest complied with the request and resubmitted new ad artwork without the image of the Bible. Ultimately, however, the changes were not enough to resolve the situation as the Irvine Company decided to completely remove all the advertisements and billboards for the crusade.
Notably, the picture of the Bible also did not include a cross or any other religious symbols.
“There was nothing overtly religious about it,” John Collins, Harvest Executive Director said, per CBN News.
He continued: “We changed it to a more simplified ad that simply said ‘Harvest,’ giving the dates and some of the musical artists that are going to be with us. Then they came back and said they just wanted the ads completely removed and they refunded us.”
Collins said the sort of intolerance his groups and other Christian groups face are a growing problem in today’s culture.
“We’re certainly not upset with The Irvine Company. Obviously, they’re catching heat for allowing us to run these ads. We feel it is just unfortunate that people are complaining,” the executive director added. “It’s sad that our culture is at this degree of intolerance…There’s such intolerance against Christianity that we aren’t allowed to state that or to publicly advertise this event. That’s amazing.”
In his social media post, Graham echoed similar sentiments that Christianity and its components are viewed as offensive to an increasingly secular and intolerant culture.
“The Word of God and the Name of Jesus Christ are an offense to many,” Graham added.
“I wish they knew that the Bible holds the answers to what troubles the human heart. God wants to heal broken hearts, and bring comfort, wisdom, and peace to all who will turn to Him by faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. I can’t explain everything in the Bible, but I do believe every word of the Bible, by faith.”
Have we really come to this? Even a picture of a preacher holding a Bible is now too offensive to have on a mall banner…
As CBN News reports, the longest-running large-scale evangelistic event in America’s history usually draws 90,000 to 100,000 people. About ten percent of attendees make first-time declarations of faith.
The crusade typically draws 90,000 to 100,000 people, all of whom get a chance to hear the gospel.
“We typically have about 9,000 to 10,000 people make a profession of faith,” Collins shared. “That’s 9- or 10,000 people coming forward and saying, ‘I want to know more about what it means to be a Christian. I want to give my life to Christ. I want to rededicate my life to Christ.'”
This year, the SoCal Harvest team will be holding food drives for needy people at home and abroad.
“There’s many positive things that occur throughout the weekend and we’re just mystified that we can’t advertise this event,” Collins said.
For more information on the Harvest event, click here.