Franklin Graham, the preacher who called for Pete Buttigieg to “repent” his sexuality, posed for photos with Mike Pence at a White House reception.
The President and Vice President hosted the right-wing pastor at a reception for the National Day of Prayer on Thursday (May 2), just days after his incendiary remarks aimed at gay Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg.
Graham had faced anger from other religious leaders after he hit out at Buttigieg in a Facebook post on Tuesday (April 23), claiming: “God’s Word defines homosexuality as sin, something to be repentant of, not something to be flaunted, praised, or politicized. The Bible defines marriage as between a man and a woman—not two men, not two women.”
The pastor suggested Buttigieg will face “eternal damnation.”
White House hosts anti-LGBT preacher Franklin Graham, days after anti-gay Buttigieg attack
Despite the widespread condemnation of his remarks, a string of senior Trump officials posed for grinning photos with Graham at the White House reception on Thursday.
Taking to Facebook, Graham shared photos of himself with Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence.
He was also photographed with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, as well as White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her father Mike Huckabee.
Graham was on hand as President Trump announced new rules that grant healthcare workers the right to discriminate based on their religious beliefs.
He later wrote: “I’m very thankful that we have strong men and women of faith in God serving our country in Washington.
“President Trump talked about the power and importance of prayer—as he pointed out, our first Continental Congress opened with prayer and it is still vital to our nation today.”
The Trump administration has maintained close links to Graham, the son of evangelist Billy Graham and the head of international Christian charity Samaritan’s Purse.
He was also invited to preach at President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, and has been photographed at events with the leader on a number of occasions.
Franklin Graham has ‘extreme’ anti-LGBT record
Graham has previously praised Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay laws and told crowds in Russia that homosexuals “cannot have children, they can take other people’s children.”
He said in 2015: “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 has also claimed there had been a “moral 9/11” in America due to homosexuals and has declared that gay people are “the enemy” of civilisation.
In 2016, Graham 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.”