NBC News, by Tim Fitzsimons: Evangelical preacher Franklin Graham is scrambling to find new venues in the United Kingdom after all eight of the locations he reserved for an upcoming tour of the country backed out over the controversial American pastor’s stances on LGBTQ issues.
ACC Liverpool, an arena northeast of England, was one of the eight venues to cancel Graham’s tour stop, noting it had been made aware of a “number of statements which we consider to be incompatible with our values.”
“In light of this, we can no longer reconcile the balance between freedom of speech and the divisive impact this event is having in our city. We have informed the organizers of the event that the booking will no longer be fulfilled,” ACC Liverpool told the Guardian.
“This attack on me is an attack on religious freedom and freedom of speech,” Graham said in an interview with Religion News Service. “For any Christian group that wants to rent a venue that believes the Bible is the word of God, they’re in danger of being canceled.”
Graham promised to file lawsuits against seven of the eight venues for allegedly breaching signed contracts. He also vowed to find new venues for his Graham Tour, which originally was set to start in late May and include eight events in eight British cities.
“It is said by some that I am coming to the UK to bring hateful speech to your community. This is just not true,” Graham wrote on Facebook in late January after the first few venues canceled. “The rub, I think, comes in whether God defines homosexuality as sin. The answer is yes.”
A petition started by advocacy group Northern Pride that called for ending Graham’s U.K. tour garnered nearly 6,000 signatures as of Friday.
“The controversial speaker has publicly promoted homophobia, claiming that homosexuality is a ‘sin,’ that Satan was the architect of same-sex marriage and LGBT+ rights, and that gay people are causing a ‘moral 9/11,'” the petition states.
“Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot…” Luke 17:28.