Evangelist Franklin Graham, who is on a U.K. tour called “God Loves You” despite opposition from LGBT activists, including a Welsh Labour Party politician, due to his biblical views on marriage, said the accusation that he's “a preacher of hate” is a lie.
“Their criticism is a lie. They say, I’m a preacher of hate,” Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, told Premier Christian News during his ongoing tour, which was scheduled for 2020, but the venues he had booked canceled the booking after activists groups complained about his past comments on homosexuality and Islam.
“The reason they say I’m a preacher of hate is because I say that marriage is between a man and a woman,” explained Graham, who also heads the Samaritan’s Purse humanitarian ministry. “And it is. What I do is I answer reporters’ questions. Well, what do you think about gay marriage? Well, it's a sin. That's what the Bible calls it.”
Graham’s tour involves free events throughout the U.K. from May through July.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has expressed his “regret” over Graham’s upcoming visit to Wales.
“I’m sorry to see a person of those views given a platform to express them here in Wales and they absolutely do not reflect any that the Welsh Government would be prepared to endorse or sanction,” Drakeford said, according to Christian Today.
Graham said the criticism is not fair.
“They say, Well, you're offending a lot of people. I’m not offending them, but God’s offending them, because it’s what God says. But my message is not against gay people, or people that think differently or worship differently to us. My message is a message about love.”
Graham, who has taken legal action against the venues for canceling his tour events, said criticism was expected.
“We never expect to get 100 percent support to the churches, there’s always critics within the Church,” he said. “They’re always critics of the Lord Jesus Christ within the religious community. They’re the ones that turned on Him. So I expect to have criticism, and there are a lot of churches that have compromised and there’s division within the church.”
In the interview, Graham said the Church needs to rise up. “We don’t back up. I would hope that there would be an army of young evangelists who would come down and take their place to preach the Gospel. We cannot allow one act of violence to stop the Gospel. If anything, it should be a recruiting tool for other evangelists to stand up where she shed her blood and take the Gospel to the next generation — not be afraid and not be ashamed.”
At his event in Liverpool Saturday, Graham encouraged the audience to seek a relationship with Jesus. “We have a vacuum, an emptiness inside each of us, in our souls that only God Himself can fill,” he was quoted as saying. “God made us. God created us in His own image, the Bible says. Did you know that God has a plan and purpose for your life?”
In an interview with the BBC, Graham said he wants all to know that fulfillment in life is found in God, according to CBN News.
“I want people to know that God loves them. We have trials and storms that we go through in life, but Jesus Christ is our anchor. If we put our faith and trust in Him. He will get us through those storms of life — He loves us and cares for us.”
This isn’t the first time the evangelist has been met with opposition from LGBT groups. In 2018, bus ads for his evangelistic festival were pulled following an outcry from activists.
Graham earlier said he believes the need for preaching the Gospel in the U.K. is “greater than ever.” He added he wanted people “to know that we are all sinners and our sins separate us from God.”