All seven planned stops on US Christian evangelist Franklin Graham’s upcoming UK tour have been abruptly canceled. Franklin Graham, the son of the legendary Billy Graham, faces intense backlash over his remarks on Islam and same-sex marriage.
Despite being an in-demand speaker in the United States–and a confidante of President Donald Trump–Graham is not so popular overseas. His 10 million social media followers were not enough to shield him from backlash and criticism over remarks the preacher has made about minority groups.
Graham is a proponent of so-called conversion therapy for LGBT+ people and considers homosexuality a sinful “abomination.” He also claimed that the legalization of gay marriage was orchestrated by agents of Satan.
Speaking of Democratic president nominee Pete Buttigieg in April, Graham said that homosexuality is “something to be repentant of, not something to be flaunted, praised or politicized.”
In addition, Graham is outspoken in his criticism of Islam, calling the religion “wicked and evil.” He was a leading voice in the conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was secretly Muslim, and he continues to insist that Islam is a danger to America.
It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that all seven UK venues that had previously been confirmed for Graham’s tour have now backed out under public pressure. Newcastle’s Utilita Arena decided to cancel the booking after 5000 people signed a petition in protest.
Venues in Birmingham, Liverpool and Sheffield also decided to ban Graham from taking the stage. Glasgow, Newport, and Milton Keynes also declined to host the outspoken fundamentalist preacher.
Despite this setback, spokespeople for the tour insist that it will still go ahead as planned in May and June of this year.
“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,” the tour’s website states.
Graham is also allegedly pursuing legal action against the venues, telling the Christian Broadcasting network, “Since the original venues have broken our legal contract with them, we are pursuing appropriate actions based on grounds of religious discrimination and freedom of speech.”