Former child actor Kirk Cameron has stood by the comments he made about gays being “destructive to civilisation” on Piers Morgan’s show earlier this month but said focusing on that comment does not reflect his “full heart” on the matter.

Earlier this month, Cameron told Morgan homosexuality was “unnatural… I think that it’s detrimental, and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.”

Asked on MSNBC’s Today show if he was encouraging gay hate, he said: “Absolutely not. Of course not. No. I love all people. I hate no one. And, you know, when you take a subject and you reduce it to something like a four-second sound bite, and a check mark on a ballot, I think that that’s inappropriate and insensitive.

“The truth is, these are issues that are very personal. These are things that need to be discussed in the context. I believe best in a personal friendship with someone who’s asking you the question.

“And so when things get edited down to that I think it doesn’t reflect, certainly didn’t reflect my full heart on the matter.”

He denied that anyone, gay, bi or straight should be mistreated. He said however he had been “on the receiving end” of people “bullying one another and calling each other names [for holding] different convictions”.

Asked why he made the comments, given that he has caused controversy in the past with his views, Cameron said: “Well, that’s a good question. I was surprised, frankly, that people were surprised by the things that I said, because I have been consistent for 15 years as a Christian, I’m a Bible-believing Christian. What I would have thought was more newsworthy is if I had said something that contradicted the word of God, if I had contradicted my faith.”

In a series of tweets yesterday, Piers Morgan said: “Kirk Cameron is moaning everywhere today that I stitched him up by releasing a 4-second ‘soundbite’ re his comments on gay marriage [...] These are the 4 seconds: homosexuality is ‘unnatural..detrimental, and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization’.

“Mr Cameron ‘stands by the comments’, despite his whining. So I’ll let others decide if he was stitched up…or just a bigot [...] Re #KirkCameron, I respect his religious beliefs – just don’t respect his use of bigoted, inflammatory language re homosexuality. End.”