Franklin Graham, the Evangelical preacher and son of the late Billy Graham, has been barred from all seven planned venues in his upcoming tour of the United Kingdom.
The eldest son of famed American evangelist Billy Graham and ally of President Donald Trump, the Reverend Franklin Graham, said that he still intends to tour the UK to preach the gospel, despite the cancellations which came following a backlash against his supposed anti-LGBT views.
The Utilita Arena in Newcastle was the latest venue to cancel Graham’s appearance, following cancellations in Birmingham, Newport, Glasgow, Milton Keynes, Sheffield, and Liverpool, according to Pink News.
Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes, who campaigned against the city hosting the preacher, said that he was “delighted” that the Arena cancelled the event.
“Pastor Graham peddles controversial, repulsive views about LGBT people which are in direct conflict with the values we hold dear in Newcastle,” Forbes told Chronicle Live.
Nearly 9,000 people signed a petition by the activist group ‘All Out’ to bar Graham from appearing in London at the O2 Arena. On its website, the group said: “Let’s send a clear message to this US hate monger that he is not welcome in London or the UK!”
In response to the backlash Rev. Graham said: “When my father first came to [the London Borough of] Harringay, there was a petition circulated by many churches demanding that he not be allowed in the country. Throughout history, the Gospel has consistently faced opposition.”
— Thomas D. Williams (@tdwilliamsrome) October 12, 2019
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Associaton (BGEA) is planning on taking legal action against the venues, telling CBN News: “Since the original venues have broken our legal contract with them, we are pursuing appropriate actions based on grounds of religious discrimination and freedom of speech.”
In an open letter to the UK LGBTQ community on his Facebook page, Mr Graham denied accusations of hate speech, writing:
It is said by some that I am coming to the UK to bring hateful speech to your community. This is just not true. I am coming to share the Gospel, which is the Good News that God loves the people of the UK, and that Jesus Christ came to this earth to save us from our sins.
The rub, I think, comes in whether God defines homosexuality as sin. The answer is yes. But God goes even further than that, to say that we are all sinners—myself included. The Bible says that every human being is guilty of sin and in need of forgiveness and cleansing. The penalty of sin is spiritual death—separation from God for eternity.
I invite everyone in the LGBTQ community to come and hear for yourselves the Gospel messages that I will be bringing from God’s Word, the Bible. You are absolutely welcome.
In a statement on the website for the UK tour, the reverend said that the tour will go ahead despite the cancellations; however, new venues are still being finalised.
Reverend Graham has been a vocal supporter of Donald Trump, even delivering a prayer at the president’s inauguration in 2017.
Following the State of the Union address on Tuesday, Franklin Graham wrote: “Thank you, Mr President, for reminding Americans why they voted for you in the last election. May God bless you and your family, President Donald J. Trump, as you continue to lead our nation.”
— Thomas D. Williams (@tdwilliamsrome) January 14, 2020
Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka