Franklin Graham: Everyone is Welcome – A Response to LGBTQ Opposition to Upcoming UK Tour

Franklin Graham - Premier Christian
(Photo: Franklin Graham - Facebook: Premier Christian Radio)

For many months, we have been praying and preparing to preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in eight cities across the United Kingdom, spanning England, Scotland and Wales. 

Hundreds of churches have been hard at work in reaching out to their communities, inviting their neighbors to attend our meetings this spring, and asking God to save souls and bring much-needed revival. 

Yet the Bible makes it clear that wherever the Gospel is proclaimed, opposition is certain. 

When LGBTQ activists in Liverpool heard of our plans to preach there, they launched an aggressive campaign to block us, claiming that we were coming to preach hate. The local arena reserved by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association buckled under pressure from the gay activists and canceled our signed contract. The mayor of Liverpool said, “We cannot allow hatred and intolerance to go unchallenged by anyone, including religious groups or sects.”

Almost immediately, venues in the other cities announced that they, too, would cancel our contracts. Their rationale followed the same script as Liverpool—they alleged that we were coming to the U.K. to spread a message of hate and intolerance toward those who follow the LGBTQ lifestyle.

Of course, that is completely false. We faced similar opposition in 2018 when I preached in Blackpool, a seaside resort just north of Liverpool. Yet the churches stood strong with us, and the crowds overflowed the Opera House. Protesters marched outside, but inside we saw hundreds repent of their sins and come to faith in Christ.

We are coming to the U.K. to preach the same Gospel that John Wesley, George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon and others proclaimed. It is the truth of God’s Word—about sin, about repentance, about saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here is how I responded on social media to those who were unfairly criticizing us:

“It is said by some that I am coming to the U.K. to bring hateful speech to your 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.

“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. 

“That’s why Jesus Christ came. He became sin for us. He didn’t come to condemn the world. He came to save us by giving His life on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. And if we’re willing to accept Him by faith and turn away from our sins, He will forgive us and give us new life—eternal life—in Him. 

“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.”

That is my heart, wherever I go—to invite all who are lost and need their sins forgiven, whatever those sins may be. I am not afraid to call immoral acts—homosexuality, adultery, lying, covetousness—sin. It all falls short of the glory of God, but the free gift of salvation is offered to all who will repent and call on the Lord. “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13, KJV).

How anyone can call that “hate” is incomprehensible to me, but our culture today—in the U.K., in the U.S., around most of the world—simply doesn’t want to hear it. In the name of tolerance, acceptance and diversity, they simply refuse to afford a platform to anyone who disagrees with them. Tolerance apparently is a one-way street. 

The opposition is not surprising, but neither will it deter us. In city after city, the Apostle Paul faced strong resistance from virtually every quarter, but nothing could keep him from preaching the life-changing Gospel of Christ. He told the Corinthians while he was writing to them from Ephesus that he hoped to see them soon, but would stay at Ephesus until Pentecost. “For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:9).

We believe God has opened a door in the U.K. for us to preach Jesus, and we will do so. Whether it be from a rugby arena, a street corner, a farmer’s field, it doesn’t matter. God will make a way, and we are fully trusting Him to provide. Paul preached by rivers, in prisons, in marketplaces, in open-air forums. It didn’t matter. He just proclaimed the pure Gospel of Christ leading to repentance, and the Kingdom of God routed the spiritual forces of evil. 

We feel that we are being discriminated against because of our religious beliefs. Canceling venue contracts based on the demands of one very vocal group, without consideration for the views and rights of the Christians who contracted for the venue and thousands of other Christians who support our work, does far more to harm and divide society than simply letting the events go on as planned. 

It is wrong for venue managers and local officials to make a decision that discriminates against Christian beliefs. Some LGBTQ activists have a pattern of harassment and bullying of evangelicals in general. It should be noted that Christians are protected under the U.K.’s Equality Act of 2010 and the Human Rights Act 1998 against unlawful discrimination, and they have the right to freely exercise and manifest their religious beliefs.

Someone asked me during our Decision America Sunshine State Tour in January, how I felt coming to cities where there was a good deal of hostility toward the Gospel message. I responded, “I do not concede any territory to the enemy.” 

The Gospel is the “power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16, KJV), wherever and whenever it is faithfully proclaimed. It is the light of Christ that invades and overcomes the darkness. It is the truth that triumphs over every lie. It delivers from the “power of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18). As one well-known theologian so famously declared: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’” 

As God always does, He is at work for good even in the midst of such challenges. The opposition that has arisen in the U.K. has given us tremendous opportunities in media interviews to talk about the Gospel. Tens of thousands of people who may not have known we were coming have now heard about our Tour. My prayer is that many of those will come and hear the Word of God proclaimed, and that the Holy Spirit will “convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8). 

Many churches across the United Kingdom have rallied around us. They understand the crucial issues at stake—the freedom to preach the Gospel in the public square and to call sinners to repentance. The same outcry that seeks to drown us out right now will soon try to silence their churches, their preachers and their religious freedom, which is the bedrock of Western civilization. 

And if Americans are not vigilant about protecting our freedom of religion, the same kind of opposition that has erupted in the U.K. could soon be at our church doorsteps. That’s why I will never back down from standing for the truth of the Gospel—no matter the cost.

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