More than 6,000 people joined members of the British parliament in demanding that American evangelist Franklin Graham be banned from the U.K. over his views on homosexuality and Islam.
A petition posted on Change.org demanding the ban garnered more than 6,000 signatures and alleges that Graham, son of famous evangelist Billy Graham, made several comments about Islam and homosexuality that violate the U.K.’s hate speech laws. MPs Afzal Khan, Gordon Marsden, and Paul Maynard, who is also a minister at the Department of Transport, voiced opposition to Graham’s upcoming visit to Blackpool and demanded that he be refused a visa, according to The Guardian.
“Speech likely to promote prejudice and hatred is grounds for the government to refuse a visa. Help us stop this man getting a visa to come here to spread his hatred,” the petition reads.
The petition lists some of Graham’s past comments on Islam, in which he called it “a violent religion” that was “wicked and evil” and alleged that “ISIS is Islam.” The petition also alleges that Graham expressed support for Vladimir Putin’s stance toward gay people in Russia.
Marsden said he believed Graham’s views were “incompatible with what Jesus said in the Bible” and that “frankly the evidence is piling up that his visit to the UK … would not be a good thing and not probably in my view a very Christian thing,” according to the Guardian.
Khan told the Guardian that he not only disagreed with Graham’s upcoming visit, but would actively oppose it if Graham does not back down.
“His views are not welcome, and I will make representation to the home secretary if it looks like he is intent on coming,” Khan said.
Several church leaders in Blackpool also voiced opposition to Graham’s visit, saying that they believe his views will damage local churches’ relationship with those of other faiths and LGBT individuals.
Graham is planning to come to Blackpool for a speaking engagement in September 2018, in response to an invitation from some local churches.
“The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is working in partnership with local churches to hold this event next year in Blackpool. It will be a positive and encouraging event with music and also a message from Franklin Graham about the hope that can be found through a relationship with Jesus Christ. It will be free and everyone is invited to attend,” the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association said of the event in a statement to Premier Christianity.
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