The Rev. Franklin Graham, a popular evangelist and the son of the late Rev. Billy Graham, recently had a speaking engagement in the United Kingdom canceled due to his views on homosexuality.
What are the details?
Graham was scheduled to speak at a venue in Liverpool this summer as a part of a larger tour through the U.K., but on Sunday the venue, ACC Liverpool, informed the public that the event would be canceled.
"Over the past few days we have been made aware of a number of statements which we consider to be incompatible with our values," ACC Liverpool said in a statement. "In light of this we can no longer reconcile the balance between freedom of speech and the divisive impact this event is having in our city. We have informed the organisers of the event that the booking will no longer be fulfilled."
The Graham Tour UK event which was originally planned to take place at ACC Liverpool in June 2020 will no longer be… https://t.co/iQ3epafNYh— ACC Liverpool (@ACC Liverpool) 1580042873.0
FaithWire noted that the decision to cancel Graham's event in Liverpool is not surprising, as LGBT protesters in the city had been calling for its cancellation for several days.
The Liverpool Labour LGBT Network called Graham a "homophobic hate preacher" in a petition to the Liverpool City Council.
"We fear that with such a high profile event gaining traction, Graham's appearance may incite hateful mobilisation and risk the security of our LGBTQ+ community," the group wrote.
The Liverpool City Region Pride Foundation also penned a letter to authorities, saying, the evangelist preacher "is well known" for "promoting hate of LGBT+ people as more important than education" and "openly supporting conversion therapy and the vicious attacks on our community in Russia."
How did Graham respond?
Following the cancellation, Graham posted a lengthy response on Facebook to the LGBTQ community in the U.K.
In the response, he did not back off his views regarding what the Bible says about homosexuality, but suggested that he is not coming to condemn them, but to present them with the hope of the gospel.
"The rub, I think, comes in whether God defines homosexuality as sin. The answer is yes," he acknowledged. "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."
Graham also said that he desires to use his freedom of speech not to speak "against anybody" but to speak "for everybody."
"The Gospel is inclusive. I'm not coming out of hate, I'm coming out of love," he wrote, inviting "everyone in the LGBTQ community to come and hear for yourselves the Gospel."
That gospel, Graham wrote, is that "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."