Christian evangelist Franklin Graham has criticized LGBTQ activists who successfully managed to derail his planned tour of the UK.
The US-based pastor, aged 67 – son of the late Billy Graham – was due to appear at eight large towns and cities arenas around the UK later this year, kicking off in Glasgow on May, 30.
However, following petitions and lobbying, every venue has now canceled his planned appearances.
Yesterday, Graham took to Facebook to criticize those who had managed to get the tour canceled. He denied being homophobic, and instead asked if his critics are actually “truthophobic” or “free-speech-ophobic.”
“Opposition to the Gospel shouldn’t really surprise us,” he said. “Jesus warned that it would come. As you may know, my eight-city evangelistic tour across the UK has been met with resistance by LGBTQ activists who inaccurately claim that I am homophobic, Islamophobic, and say that I speak hate.
“Anyone who knows me or has heard me speak knows that this really isn’t true—but, I DO preach the TRUTH of the Gospel. Could it be, rather, that these folks are truthophobic or free-speech-ophobic?”
Graham is known for taking a public stand against any advancement in LGBTQ rights.
In the past, the vocal supporter of President Donald Trump has spoken out against banning so-called conversion therapy and against same-sex marriage.
Last August, he backed a New Jersey mayor attempting to ban schools teaching LGBTQ history to children. Graham told a radio show, “I don’t believe that the schools have a right to teach our children something that is an affront to God … God made us and created us, he made us male and female so that we can carry on the population, so that we have children and that we would increase, and homosexuality goes against God’s plan for the human race.”
Graham has said that he still wants to visit the UK and has consulted with lawyers in an attempt to get the venues to reverse their decision.
“We had contracts signed and, in some cases, deposits paid,” he told The Guardian a couple of weeks ago. “I haven’t broken any laws. We are being denied because of religious beliefs and our faith. It’s a freedom of religion issue and also a free speech issue.
“We have attorneys trying to get the venues to reverse their decisions. We certainly have a legal position we’re standing on.”
As yet, none of the major arena venues who dropped him have indicated they will reconsider. If he can’t appear at those venues, Graham has said he will find alternative venues.