The Rev. Franklin Graham, a popular evangelist and son of the late Rev. Billy Graham, is planning a four-month gospel-preaching tour through the United Kingdom this summer.
But now, all seven of his scheduled venues have dropped him, citing his views on homosexuality and Islam.
What are they saying?
CNN reported that on Wednesday an arena in Newcastle became the seventh and final venue to cancel Graham's scheduled appearance, following similar cancellations by venues in cities across the U.K., including Birmingham, Liverpool, Sheffield, and Glasgow.
The cancellation came after the regional LGBT groups joined with Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes to oppose the visit.
Forbes, who claims that Graham “peddles controversial, repulsive views about LGBT people” said he was “delighted” to hear the news.
“Instead of focusing on such divisions, we can now come together and look forward to hosting U.K. Pride here this summer,” he added.
More than 5,000 people had signed a petition put on by Northern Pride calling for the event to be canceled. The petition argued that Graham has “publicly promoted homophobia.”
Similar protests have erupted in other U.K. cities over recent weeks. In Liverpool, a local gay pride foundation penned a letter to authorities, saying, the evangelist preacher “is well known” for “promoting hate of LGBT+ people” and “openly supporting conversion therapy.”
CNN noted that Graham has “fueled anger for his past comments and stances” such as maintaining the Bible's view that “homosexuality is a sin” and calling Islam a “wicked and evil” religion.
The tour will go on
Graham has responded to the cancellations with resilience, vowing the tour will go on.
“We are still finalising where the Graham Tour will be held, but we want to be clear that the initiative and all associated training courses will take place on the same dates as originally planned,” a statement on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website says.
Graham had previously noted on the website that opposition in the cities came from “a small but vocal minority,” and assured that such opposition would not derail the tour.
Last week, after the Liverpool venue cancelled, Franklin Graham took to Facebook to articulate his views and send a message to the LGBTQ community in the U.K.
“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 then went on to offer his detractors the Gospel, saying that he plans to come to the U.K. not out of hate, but out of love.
“The Gospel is inclusive. I'm not coming out of hate, I'm coming out of love,” he wrote. “I invite everyone in the LGBTQ community to come and hear for yourselves the Gospel.”
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