Franklin Graham Says Supreme Court's Gay Marriage Ruling Sets Stage for 'Persecution of Believers' in 'Most Historic and Far-Reaching Judgment of the 21st Century'

Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, addresses the crowd at the Festival of Hope, an evangelistic rally held at the national stadium in Port-au-Prince, January 9, 2011. | (Photo: Reuters/Allison Shelley)

The Rev. Franklin Graham has said that the U.S. Supreme Court's upcoming decision on whether to legalize same-sex marriage across America or allow states to continue to make their own decisions will "rank as the most historic and far-reaching judgment of the 21st century." He argued that it could pave the way for "persecution of believers," and said he would be praying for the nine Supreme Court justices.

"This is a pivotal moment in the history of America. As nine U.S. Supreme Court justices consider arguments brought before the court on April 28 about whether to make same-sex marriage a constitutional right, we need to pray fervently for the wisdom and counsel of God to work its way into the hearts and minds of those making this momentous decision," Graham said in a message on Facebook Saturday.

"The impending decision will rank as the most historic and far-reaching judgment of the 21st century. If our nation's highest court decrees same-sex marriage as the law of the land, the consequences will be great. It sets the stage for persecution of believers committed to living by the truth of God's Holy Word. "

While 36 states, as well as the District of Colombia have legalized same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court will have to decide whether the Constitution requires that all 50 states make the practice legal, or require a state (where gay marriage isn't legal) to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?

Conservative religious leaders have said that preserving marriage as a union between one man and one woman is central to protecting children and offering them both a father and a mother. Advocates for gay marriage, on the other hand, have said that the issue is a matter of all Americans receiving the same rights.

Graham has said that those who speak out against gay marriage are not anti-gay, and last week defended Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council after CBS host Bob Schieffer suggested he had taken his stance against gay marriage "too far."

"I know Tony. He's a great American and a strong Christian. Just because Christians take a stand aligned with what the Word of God says is true, that doesn't mean we are anti-gay," Graham said of Perkins.

The Supreme Court is expected to announce its ruling on same-sex marriage sometime this summer.

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