While several venues have canceled events planned for Franklin Graham in the United Kingdom, citing objections to his views on homosexuality, the evangelist is not calling off his eight-date tour of the country and has instead asked his supporters to pray that the doors remain open for the Gospel.
Graham, the son of the late evangelist Billy Graham, was booked to speak at the International Convention Centre Wales in Newport on June 14, but the event has been canceled, according to WalesOnline.
Jayne Bryant, Assembly Member for Newport West, said Graham has “a long record of preaching hate, prejudice and intolerance" and called for the event to be canceled due to her concerns and those raised by LGBTQ charity Pride Cymru.
Earlier, Liverpool ACC and Glasgow SEC also pulled out of hosting events for Graham. So did Sheffield City Trust for a planned event at Sheffield Arena.
Despite some cancellations, Graham, who leads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said on Saturday that he's “looking forward to preaching the Gospel across the UK in late May & June.”
"Hundreds of churches are praying & planning to be a part of these evangelistic outreaches. People everywhere are searching for something to fill the void in their lives. Jesus Christ is the answer.”
Earlier last week, Graham wrote to the U.K.’s LGBTQ community, explaining his stand.
“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,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
“The rub, I think, comes in whether God defines homosexuality as sin. The answer is yes,” he continued. “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.”
“That’s why Jesus Christ came. He became sin for us. He didn’t come to condemn the world, He came to save the world by giving His life on the Cross as a sacrifice for our sins. And if we’re willing to accept Him by faith and turn away from our sins, He will forgive us and give us new life—eternal life—in Him.
“My message to all people is that they can be forgiven and they can have a right relationship with God. That’s Good News. That is the hope people on every continent around the world are searching for. In the UK as well as in the United States, we have religious freedom and freedom of speech. I’m not coming to the UK to speak against anybody, I’m coming to speak for everybody. The Gospel is inclusive. I'm not coming out of hate, I'm coming out of love.”
Graham concluded his message by inviting “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.”
Graham also wrote a letter to his supporters earlier, urging prayers “that God will keep the doors open” for him to preach the Gospel in the U.K.
“For the last two years we have been preparing to go to the United Kingdom and take the Gospel to eight different cities starting in Scotland, going down to Wales, and finishing up in London,” he wrote. “As we move closer to these events in late May and June, we are experiencing opposition from LGBTQ activists who want to stop this Gospel work. This small but vocal minority is pressuring venues to back out of our contracts because I have said that God defines homosexuality as sin. Several venues have already told us that they are cancelling.”
He continued, “Much prayer and effort has been put into this, and hundreds of churches across the U.K. are partnering in this tour. This is spiritual warfare. The enemy does not want the Gospel proclaimed.”
He went on to say that he believed this to be a “defining moment” for the Church in the U.K. “You and I have been called for such a moment as this,” he said.
“Please join me in praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ there, that God will remove obstacles to this Gospel work, and that He will prepare the hearts of people across the nation to hear and respond to His message this spring.”