Franklin Graham says summer UK tour will go on, despite most venues canceling visits
North Carolina evangelist Franklin Graham said his summer tour of the United Kingdom will go on, even though almost all venues have canceled his scheduled appearances because of his anti-gay views.
Opposition in the cities came from “a small but vocal minority,” Graham said in a statement on the UK website of his Charlotte-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
He said he wasn’t surprised by the opposition. His father, the late Billy Graham, “experienced the very same hostility” before his 1954 London Crusade at various venues, he said, including Harringay Arena and Wembley Stadium.
“When my father first came to Harringay, there was a petition circulated by many churches demanding that he not be allowed in the country,” Graham said in the statement.
“Throughout history, the Gospel has consistently faced opposition.”
In a separate statement, association officials said they are still finalizing where the Graham Tour will be held, “but we want to be clear that the initiative and all associated training courses will take place on the same dates as originally planned.”
The tour is scheduled for eight stops, starting in May. Liverpool was the first city to cancel his visit, followed by Sheffield, The Charlotte Observer previously reported.
“Our City is a diverse City and proud of our LGBTQ+ community and always will be,” Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson tweeted on Jan. 26, the Observer reported.
“We can not allow hatred and intolerance to go unchallenged by anyone, including by religious groups or sects. It’s right we have banned from the M&S Arena Franklin Graham. #Love conquers hatred always.”
Most other cities followed suit, The Times (of London, England) reported.
In response, Graham penned “a letter to the LGBTQ community in the UK” and posted it to Facebook, the Observer reported. He said he did not intend “to bring hateful speech to your community. This is just not true.”
In his letter, Graham maintains his stance that “God defines homosexuality as sin.”
“But God goes even further than that, to say that we are all sinners — myself included,” he wrote.