- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 8, 2020

Evangelical leader Franklin Graham vowed Friday to follow through with an upcoming tour of the United Kingdom in spite of setbacks caused by a series of recent cancelations.

Mr. Graham, the son of the late evangelist Billy Graham, had previously announced plans to hold events in eight cities throughout Scotland and England between May and October.

Venues across the board recently canceled on Mr. Graham amid mounting pressure from activists to cut ties with the preacher over his controversial past comments about homosexuality, however.

Logistical snags aside, Mr. Graham insisted he will visit the U.K. in the coming months to preach the gospel from Glasgow to London.

“Some people may think we may have canceled. We’re not canceling anything. We’re coming,” Mr. Graham said in an interview with Premier Christian News.

Speaking to the outlet while making several media appearances in London, Mr. Graham also raised concerns about the impact of the outcry triggered by his planned summer tour.

“If a small group of people can force a cancellation of an event where thousands of Christians are participating, I think there is no question of danger in the future to others,” said Mr. Graham.

“I think we we are at a pivotal moment as it comes to free speech—and free speech, remember, is for all of us,” Mr. Graham added. “It’s one of our most cherished freedoms, and so I would certainly encourage people to push back and to guard and protect your right to free speech, and then also for our religious beliefs. I hold firm to my religious beliefs, and to be discriminated against because of those religious beliefs—we need to be very careful and protect what we can.”

European venues previously scheduled to host Mr. Graham’s tour canceled amid an online petition opposing the appearances garnering nearly 9,000 signatures in recent weeks.

“He stands on stages in huge arenas warning people of the consequences of being gay, threatening impressionable young people with the ‘flames of hell’,” reads the online petition.

“Let’s send a clear message to this US hate monger that he is not welcome in London or the UK,” it reads.

In a video statement posted Friday to his official Facebook account, Mr. Graham said churches across the U.K. have “mobilized” to make sure his summer tour still takes place.

“In every city we are going, we have hundreds of churches that have signed up, that are working with us, partnering in this endeavor, to reach another generation with the gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said.

Locations for events scheduled in all eight cities across the U.K. are currently listed on Mr. Graham’s website as to be announced, meanwhile.

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