MPs are trying to ban anti-gay preacher Franklin Graham from entering the country
An invitation to evangelical preacher Franklin Graham to speak at an event in Blackpool has sparked huge backlash.
A number of MPs, including a government minister, are pushing the home secretary to refuse Graham UK entry.
They argue that his anti-gay and Islamophobic remarks constitute hate speech, breaking British law.
A petition against him being granted a visa has already collected over 6,500 signatures.
Graham, who spoke at Trump’s inauguration, has previously said that gay people are causing a “moral 9/11.”
“As a Christian and as a leader of a church that particularly welcomes LGBT people, I’m horrified that other local churches are inviting someone with this record of hate speech,” Nina Parker, petition organiser and pastor at Liberty church in Blackpool, told the Guardian.
In addition to homophobia, Graham has called Islam “an evil and very wicked religion,” linking all Muslims to extremist groups such as ISIS.
Parker says there was an “enormous amount of protest from Christians in the north-west,” against Graham’s planned appearance at the Lancashire Festival of Hope, at Blackpool Winter Gardens next September.
Paul Maynard, Conservative Blackpool MP and a minister at the Department of Transport, has been among those calling on Amber Rudd to stop Graham’s entrance into the country.
Gordon Marsden, Labour MP for Blackpool South has joined him, saying Graham’s views are “incompatible with what Jesus said in the Bible.”
“I think 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,” he told BBC Radio Lancashire.
Afzal Khan, a Labour MP who has worked for the Home Office on race relations and preventing extremism, expressed concerns to the Guardian about Graham sowing division.
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“His views are not welcome, and I will make representation to the home secretary if it looks like he is intent on coming.”
The Blackpool festival is organised by the Billy Graham Evangelical Association (BGEA), of which Franklin Graham is president and CEO and is being supported by a number of Anglican clergy and churches in the Blackpool area.
Blackpool vicars Andrew Sage and Tracy Charnock are calling on the bishop of Blackburn, Julian Henderson to condemn Graham’s views.
I have good relations with Muslims and gay people in my parish, and everyone is welcome at the church where I’m the parish priest,” Sage said.
“This is not in my name, and I’d like the bishop to distance himself from it.”
A BGEA spokesperson said the event with be “positive and encouraging” and there would be “a message from Franklin Graham about the hope that can be found through a relationship with Jesus Christ.”