A pastor who blamed gay people for a “moral 9/11” has preached to millions at Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony.
Pastor Franklin Graham was one of a number of hard-right religious figures to appear at the event, just minutes after President Trump was sworn into office.
The pastor, the son of evangelist Billy Graham and head of Christian charity Samaritan’s Purse, spoke for less than a minute, claiming that God was “blessing” Trump by raining on the event before reading Bible verse 1 Timothy 2.
Graham is not always known for sticking so solidly to the scripture.
He claimed: “The country is imploding. We are seeing a moral implosion. Just like we saw the World Trade Center on 9/11 when the planes hit the tower, they imploded, they fell from within, and this is what’s happening to our country, we’re falling within.
“So many school districts now are controlled by wicked, evil people, and the gays and lesbians… I keep bringing their name up, but they are at the forefront of this attack against Christianity in America.”
Last year Graham declared gay people are ‘the enemy’, attacking churches that have become LGBT-inclusive.
He accused LGBT activists of “trying to cram down America’s throat the lie that homosexuality is okay”, alleging that anti-discrimination laws will mean that “your children, and your grandchildren will be at risk to sexual predators and perverts”.
In a 2015 interview with a Russian newspaper, Graham praised Vladimir Putin’s support for anti-gay laws – and claimed that homosexuals “take people’s children”.
Parroting disturbing rhetoric often used by anti-LGBT vigilantes in Russia, he said: “Homosexuals cannot have children, they can take other people’s children.”
He added: “I very much appreciate that President Putin is protecting Russian young people against homosexual propaganda. If only to give them the opportunity to grow up and make a decision for themselves.”
He was selected for Trump’s inauguration despite his slew of extremist comments. The Christmas Shoebox Appeal run by Graham’s charity continues to enjoy mainstream support in schools.
An even more homophobic preacher was invited to give a private sermon to Trump this morning.