Franklin Graham says he's still 'looking forward' to preaching the Gospel in the UK despite multiple cancellations

Franklin Graham takes to the stage in Rhode Island during the Decision America tourBilly Graham Evangelistic Association

Franklin Graham is determined to press ahead with his UK preaching tour this summer despite multiple venues pulling out. 

On Friday, the ICC Wales in Newport and Milton Keynes Arena became the latest venues to cancel his evangelistic event after pressure from LGBT campaigners. 

Jayne Bryant, Assembly Member for Newport West, and Pride Cymru had both called for the Wales event in June to be called off. 

"We should not be welcoming people like Franklin Graham to Newport," she had said, according to WalesOnline.

"He has a long record of preaching hate, prejudice and intolerance."

Announcing the cancellation, a spokeswoman for ICC Wales said: "The Graham Tour UK event which was scheduled to take place at ICC Wales on 14th June 2020 has been cancelled.

"As a venue, our policy is to remain impartial to the individual beliefs of both our clients and visitors but, over the past week, we have been made aware of a number of views held and comments made by the Graham organisation which are incompatible with our own values of equality, diversity and inclusivity.

"Opposition to this event has come from numerous sources, and from across the community.

"As a result of this, we can no longer reconcile the balance between freedom of speech and the divisive impact this event is having in our community.

"We have informed the organisers of the event that the booking will no longer be fulfilled.

"ICC Wales is proud to represent all communities and looks forward to hosting events of all sizes, promoting Wales as a destination for business events, and bringing huge benefits to the visitor economy."

Other venues to have cancelled in the past week are the Liverpool ACC, the FlyDSA Arena in Sheffield, and the Glasgow Hydro. 

Despite the latest setback, Graham tweeted on Saturday: "I'm looking forward to preaching the Gospel across the UK in late May & June. Hundreds of churches are praying & planning to be a part of these evangelistic outreaches. People everywhere are searching for something to fill the void in their lives. Jesus Christ is the answer." 

Graham is the son of late evangelist Billy Graham and is an outspoken critic of gay marriage, having previously called homosexuality a "sin". He is also a strong supporter of US President Donald Trump. 

His tour of the UK follows in the footsteps of his famous father, whose 1954 London Crusade is remembered as one of the most significant evangelistic events ever held in the country. 

Last week, thousands of UK Christians gathered for a prayer event ahead of Graham's tour. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association UK said the day was "filled with prayers that God will prepare the hearts of those will hear Franklin Graham share the Good News that Jesus Christ is our only hope and Saviour".

Graham has insisted that he is not coming to preach hate but the message of the Gospel. 

"When my father first came to Harringay, there was a petition circulated by many churches demanding that he not be allowed in the country. Throughout history, the Gospel has consistently faced opposition," Graham said.

He continued: "Our world is filled with turmoil. People are searching for purpose, peace, and meaning to life, for which there is only one source—Jesus Christ.

"I'm coming to preach the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is the only way to salvation."

After the Glasgow Hydro cancelled his event, Graham told The Scotsman newspaper that he was considering legal action. 

He accused the Hydro and the city council - which is a stakeholder in the venue - of discriminating against Christians, and said the decision was "unfortunate because it's based on heresy and false accusations by just a very small group of people."

"I don't preach hate speech. We're not coming to speak against anybody, everybody is invited to our meetings - we're inclusive," he told the newspaper. 

"Though this venue may be cancelled we have not pulled out of Glasgow - we're coming.

"We do have options legally. We'll certainly pursue those options. We would rather not do that. We don't like having to do that.

"We would hope that the people of the SSE Hydro would reconsider because we do have a contract and we've done nothing or have said nothing that would cause them to breach that contract.

"We just need to pray that God will intervene and that we'll be able to move forward."