Franklin Graham said that Christians are being discriminated against following the cancellation of venue contracts in several U.K. cities scheduled to host Graham Tour UK events in May and June.
“It is said by some that I am coming to the U.K. to bring hateful speech to your community,” Franklin wrote on Facebook in an open letter to the United Kingdom’s LGBTQ 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 U.K., and that Jesus Christ came to this earth to save us from our sins.”
ACC Liverpool, where Franklin was scheduled to speak in June during his eight-city Graham Tour, announced last weekend it was canceling the contract, saying, “We can no longer reconcile the balance between freedom of speech and the divisive impact this event is having in our city.”
Franklin responded further in his open letter on Facebook: “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.”
The Liverpool Labour LGBT Network wrote in a letter that “Graham’s appearance may incite hateful mobilization and risk the security of our LGBTQ+ community.”
Franklin addressed that claim in a Facebook post:
“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 U.K. as well as in the United States, we have religious freedom and freedom of speech. I’m not coming to the U.K. 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.
“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.”
Citing hundreds of churches who are partnering with the Graham Tour, Franklin said in another press release: “It’s wrong for venue managers and local officials to make a decision that disadvantages Christians. It is our hope that venues will allow contracts to remain unchanged.”
Besides Liverpool, Franklin’s U.K. Tour schedule includes stops in Glasgow, Newcastle, Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Cardiff, Birmingham and London.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is still finalizing where the Graham Tour will be held in the cities that have canceled venue contracts, but Franklin Graham has made it clear the initiatives will still take place.
The LGBTQ issue has made headlines in the U.K. lately. Earlier this month, the Church of England affirmed that sexual relationships belong only within the context of a heterosexual marriage between one man and one woman.
In a pastoral statement from the House of Bishops, the bishops stated, “sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage are regarded as falling short of God’s purposes for human beings.”
“The introduction of same-sex marriage, through the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, has not changed the church’s teaching on marriage or same-sex relationships,” the statement reads. “Marriage, defined as a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman making a public commitment to each other, is central to the stability and health of human society.”
Story updated at 12:25 p.m. EST, Jan. 31.
Above: Franklin preaches in Blackpool, England, during the three-day Lancashire Festival of Hope in September 2018.
Photo: Ron Nickel/©2018 BGEA