Franklin Graham: My message is one of love, not hate

Franklin Graham(Photo: Facebook/Franklin Graham)

Franklin Graham, and son of the late Billy Graham, is touring the UK in the summer.  But planning for this major outreach has proved challenging, with all seven of the confirmed venues pulling out after coming under pressure from LGBT+ campaigners. 

But they are not the only ones to have asked questions about Graham or the tour.  Christians, including fellow evangelicals, have too. 

Graham speaks to Christian Today about what's next for the tour and what he makes of all the criticism that's come his way.

CT: Have you been surprised by the level of opposition to your upcoming tour?

Franklin: I have been surprised. And of course, some of the opposition has been taken out of context. I'm not coming to speak against anybody and I don't name any groups of people. I'm coming to tell people how they can have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.

I want people to know that we are all sinners and our sins separate us from God. And unless we confess our sins and repent, and believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we have no hope. The only hope that we have is through Christ.

And so, I'm coming to tell the people of the UK how they can have a relationship with God through faith in His Son, and I want people to know what steps we have to take in order to have that relationship. I'm certainly not here to speak against anyone. I'm here to speak for everyone.

CT: In many reports in the British media, you have been called a "hate preacher". How do you feel about that label?

Franklin: Well, I don't think anybody likes that title. What I do is try to share the truth and there are some people who just don't want to accept the truth. A friend of mine has cancer and he was very upset when he was given this bad news. He didn't want to accept it.

There are people, when you tell them that they are sinners, they don't want to hear that they are sinners. They think that this is hateful and angry speech. It's not. In love, I want to warn people and tell them the steps they need to take to have a right relationship with God, and how they can be sure their sins are forgiven.

And there's only one way, there's not multiple ways to God, and that's through Jesus Christ. He is the only one to have paid the debt of sin. No other person in history has paid the debt of human sin. He died and shed His blood, and took all of our sins to the cross, and that requires a response. We have to respond to that by accepting our salvation by faith or by rejecting it, and there are many people who will reject it. At the same time, there are many who will accept that by faith and they'll put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ.

CT: There are two things that critics don't seem to like about you. One is your uncompromising position on sexuality, and the other is your strong support for Donald Trump.

Franklin: I certainly don't support the President in everything he says or does. I did not campaign for him and I'm not campaigning for him now. But if the President does something good for the American people, I certainly will try to support him the best I can.

And the President has done a lot of good. He stands for the right to life. We've never had a president in my lifetime that has taken the stance that he has taken on the right to life. This is a huge, huge issue in our country. And so I applaud him and I support him on that.

He is also a defender of religious freedom and I was with him at the United Nations when he addressed the UN leaders about protecting people of faith. We have never had a president do that before.

And so, I support him in those things. Again, I don't agree with everything he says or everything he does, but I certainly support him where I can. He is the President of my country and I believe we should support him where we can.

CT: You have faced criticism from some fellow evangelicals here in the UK, some of it suggesting that you came without an invitation and that you haven't properly engaged with local church leaders here. How do you feel about the way you have approached this tour?

Franklin: I don't know if I would agree with that criticism. The Apostle Paul when he went to Asia, I don't know if he was invited, but he felt that the Holy Spirit was leading him and I just feel that God has led me here.

We are including the churches, and across the cities, we have hundreds of churches that have signed up and are working with us, helping to train counsellors and ushers, and people who will serve at the meetings.

We certainly appreciate the churches that have stood with us and are still standing with us. A petition supporting the tour has been signed by 8,000 people.

I would like to add that we're not raising money here in the UK and we're not taking up offerings. These events are free and for everybody.

I want the churches to know that this is an opportunity for evangelism and if you have an unsaved family member, co-worker, friend or school mate, this is an opportunity to bring them and let them hear about a God who loves them and cares for them. I close every meeting with an invitation and opportunity for people to stand and confess their sins to God, and by faith believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

CT: Some of the other criticism has suggested that large-scale evangelistic events aren't a good fit for the UK context. What do you make of that?

Franklin: I've heard that criticism for years and my response is: well, come and see. There are many methods to evangelism and I'm not saying ours is the best or the worst. I'm just saying that it's an effective tool that God uses.

Peter stood up on the day of Pentecost and preached and 3,000 were added to the church in that one day. And Paul stood up on Mars Hill and preached.

One on one evangelism is great, but there are different methods of evangelism that work. This is just a method that we've been using successfully for over 70 years.

CT: With all the previously confirmed venues pulling out from your UK tour, how is the search going now for alternative venues?

Franklin: We have people in cities right now checking out other venue opportunities. We'll know in a couple of weeks what those opportunities look like. But so far, it's been very positive.

CT: Regarding the venues that have cancelled, is legal action a possibility?

Franklin: I think local attorneys will need to look at this because we certainly have signed contracts, and deposits have been given. What I'm concerned about, though, is that if we don't stand up for the right to free speech and freedom of religion, there are lots of churches in this country that meet in public who are at risk. They could be kicked out, they could be forced to go somewhere else, just because of their faith. We haven't broken any laws and I think it's important for the church that we resolve this matter so that it protects them.

CT: You regularly tour the US with your Decision America tour. Have you ever encountered anything like this level of opposition in the US?

Franklin: No, never.

CT: As an outsider looking in on the UK, what do you think about the state of Christianity here?

Franklin: I think I need to come and preach the Gospel! I think it's important that this be done, that there are many people in this country who are searching for meaning to their life, and who are wanting to know if there is a God; people who are asking: does He know me, does He care? And I want them to know how they can have a relationship. I think the need today in the UK may be greater than ever before in its history.

CT: You have said you're not coming to the UK to speak about politics. It must feel a little frustrating that so much of your tour already seems to have been overshadowed by politics.

Franklin: Well, we live in a political world and politics affects everything that we do, and I think it's important we understand politics. But I don't want politics to influence my message. I'm going to preach the same message regadless of what the politicians say. Many politicians love to compromise and we cannot compromise the Word of God.

CT: Your father came to the UK many times and faced opposition but in spite of that, he left a great legacy, with many Christians here crediting his preaching with bringing them to faith. Do you hope that your tour, in spite of the opposition now, will also leave a great legacy?

Franklin: I'm not worried about the legacy. My hope is that God will use this tour for His purpose and for His glory. I want the name of Jesus Christ to be magnified and lifted up. And I think maybe the opposition has helped us to do just that. Because of the opposition I think more people will know about the tour, more people will come and more people will get saved.

Find out more about the tour at