WalesOnline spoken to controversial preacher Franklin Graham who set to preach to an audience of thousands in one of Wales’ most high profile conference venues on Saturday evening (May 21)
Mr Graham is due to appear at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Newport. Labelled a ‘hate preacher’, he was due to appear at the centre in 2020 but was stopped from doing so after concerns were raised about his views and beliefs which, according to the venue, were “incompatible with our own values of equality, diversity, and inclusivity”.
Mark Drakeford has said he “regrets” that a hate preacher will be able to perform in Wales. He said despite the Welsh Government having a 50% stake in the International Convention Centre in Newport it does not have any say over who appears there.
Mr Graham is the CEO of the charity Samaritan’s Purse t hat runs Operation Christmas Child. He spoke at President Trump’s inauguration and has been very outspoken on his views on homosexuality.
He has gone on record several times defending Russian President Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on homosexuality, wrote an article where he praised him for “protecting children from any homosexual agenda or propaganda”. He has also said the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan “may be” the second coming and Armageddon.
On his Facebook page he has also said: “We are under attack by Muslims at home and abroad. We should stop all immigration of Muslims to the US until this threat with Islam has been settled.
“Every Muslim that comes into this country has the potential to be radicalised and they do their killing to honor their religion and Muhammad. During World War Two, we didn’t allow Japanese to immigrate to America, nor did we allow Germans. Why are we allowing Muslims now?”
This is a part of WalesOnline’s conversation with Mr Graham:
WalesOnline: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us. Can you just explain to start with why you think South Wales needs this tour? Why is it important to bring the God Loves You to South Wales?
Franklin Graham: Well, first of all, I think everybody’s needs to know that God loves them. We come out of a pandemic. And this pandemic has changed the world.
I don’t think we’ll ever be quite the same again. People lost loved ones. I got two shots. I got a booster? And I still got Covid. And it’s not the flu. It was like a cold. No, no, it’s not like a cold. We’ve seen the lives that has taken, the people that have been sick and families that have ben been impacted, and people are afraid and scared.
I think the UK probably had some of the more strict lockdowns, but people are afraid and scared and wondering has God left them? Does God care? Is there a god? And if there is, why do we have to go through all of this? So I think it’s important that we go through this great nation, and remind them of not only the heritage of the forefathers, their faith, but also to remind them that God has not turned his back on Wales.
So there’s obviously been some controversy around the tour. The First Minister of Wales was speaking about it recently, referencing some of the views you’ve expressed on homosexuality for example. Having lived here myself I can attest Wales is a very welcoming and tolerant place to people of any sexuality. I wanted to put some of the views you’ve expressed in the past to you, to see if you still hold these views and ask whether you think they are compatible with Wales.
So you’ve said previously, that you would like school boards in America “to be in the hands of evangelical Christians within four to six years”.You said that would “have a huge impact because many school districts and are controlled by wicked, evil people, and the gays and lesbians”. Do you think that’s a loving message?
First of all, it’s not a question about a loving message. A lot of the voices that we do hear in the media, is one side of the voice [and] is one side of the picture. And I want people to know that God does love us and care for us but sin is the issue is not homosexuality. My message is not against a group of people or a religion. But I want people to know that sin separates us from God.
All of us are guilty of sin as far as God is concerned. We have all broken his standards in one way or another. And so therefore, the Bible says that the penalty for sin is death. The entire human race is under his death sentence from God because of our sin.
God will forgive us of our sins. But we have to come to Him, we have to repent, repent means to turn, and go the other direction, we have to leave our sins behind. So I’m coming to share this wonderful news that God loves us that he’s willing to forgive us.
Let’s talk about sin. In 2019, you tweeted that you believe that “the Bible, which defines homosexuality is a sin, is something to be repentant of, it’s not something to be flaunted or praised”.Essentially there you’re telling people to hate themselves, aren’t you? How is that compatible with any message of love?
It’s not to hate themselves. I’m not saying that. I mean, you’re, you’re adding words. All of us are sinners that are separate from God. I’m giving people God’s plan to redeem us by sending his son to take the penalty of sin.
Jesus Christ will pay the debt on your on your behalf. Well, so that’s a wonderful story of God’s love.
That word “repentant”, to repent, that’s to apologise isn’t it?
But what you are asking people to apologise for is who they are. Homosexuality isn’t a choice, you are asking them to stop being who they are.
So, first of all, I don’t believe that. I think we all make choices in life. And it’s just like you’re saying, a person that is addicted to sex and, and he just wants to have sexual relations with 2,000 women, that’s just who he is. And he has maybe a number of diseases, and he’s just passing that around. But that’s just who he is. No, he’s a choice, he makes a choice.
And if people want to make a choice towards sin, understand that whether you are homosexual, heterosexual, doesn’t matter, all of us are guilty of breaking God’s standards, not Franklin Graham’s standards, God’s standard.
But you say, these are not Franklin Graham’s standards, these are God’s standards, but there are many Christian people would find your views on homosexuality absolutely repugnant?
But they are following the Christian faith. They’re following God, and they think it’s absolutely fine. Somebody is born gay, they can live their life and they’re not living in – it is just who they are.
Now let me ask you something Will. I have been in your country a little over a week. Every reporter I have spoken to, you know what the subject is? What we’re talking about right now. They don’t talk about Ukraine, they don’t talk about the crises that we have in the world today. There’s gonna be an incredible food shortage in about six months. You have what 98 million people that have been in Egypt that are going to be hungry, they’re going to be riots in the streets, the governments are going to change. But all we talk about is this one subject, and the world is falling apart around us Will and this is just the one one issue that seems to obsess reporters here in this country.
Well, I will carry on with it though we can talk about Ukraine in a second. That analogy you said about the man who will have sex with 2,000 women spread venereal diseases. That’s as a comparison to homosexuality…
[Interrupts] I met a personal one time and that was their goal to see how many women he could sleep with and it was over 1,000.
But that’s treating homosexuality as a form of sex, but it is a form of love.
Okay, and I’m sure that person slept with over 1,000 women was still trying to go further. I’m sure he would say that was love.
Head down the motorway over there and you’ll see loads of roads and railways going off into the Valleys there. Many of those were built for the extraction of coal. They ran all the way down to Cardiff Docks.With this history at the docks, that part of Cardiff has developed one of the most diverse parts of Wales. It’s got a huge Muslim population, it’s incredibly diverse.
But in 2015, you talked about “being under attack by Muslims”, and that “we should stop all immigration until the threats of Islam is settled”. You said “during World War Two, we didn’t allow Japanese or Germans to emigrate. So why do we allow Muslims now?” Do you see those people in Cardiff Bay as a threat to the UK? Because they are Wales. They are Welsh. They are part of Wales. Do you see them as a threat?
So why did you say these comments previously? Do you no longer believe these comments?
When your country is under attack, I think it’s important that the people from that part of the world, and they weren’t Welsh people that flew into the World Trade Centre.
I’m just saying from that part of the world we ought to stop immigration to find out what’s going on. And our country didn’t know what was going on.
I don’t believe that Islam can save you Will, I don’t believe it can save anyone, I believe only Jesus Christ can save anyone, they will disagree with me.
I present this freely to them. And I want them to know that and they present their side for me. I was with the Bashir of Sudan [the then president]. And we were working in his country and I was meeting with him. Now he’s under indictment from the International Criminal Court for murdering his own people, but I was talking to the president and he said, ‘I want to make you a Muslim’. So I said ‘thank you for thinking that I’m worthy to be a Muslim, but I would like to persuade you to follow Jesus Christ’
He had his views, I have my views.
In your promotion for the tour you say that ‘70% of people in the UK see it as a deeply divided nation’. I don’t know where those stats necessarily come from, but when you use language referring to ‘enemies’ and ‘we need to stop all Muslim immigration’ that’s not convincing people, that’s taring every single person who follows Islam with the same brush isn’t it?
There’s very strict immigration policies coming and in most countries, you have to apply, you have to know who the person is, their background, and so forth.
Unfortunately, in the United States, we have a very broken system. If you try to come in legally, it can take forever. So you can go to Mexico and just walk across the Rio Grande River. And we have a lot of very bad people coming into our country right now today.
I’m not going to labour this point but that isn’t the same as banning all Muslims coming into the US. That’s not the same as saying ‘Muslims cannot come into the US till we know what’s going on’? That’s very different to talking about illegal immigration isn’t it?
Those are my views. Those are my opinions. So I think that on immigration, we need to know who’s coming into our country.
Let’s talk about some situation in Ukraine and with Russia. Obviously, in the past, you’ve praised Vladimir Putin for his defence of ‘traditional Christianity’. I think it was if you said ‘protecting children’. Do you still maintain support for Putin’s actions? We have seen the changes he has made in Russia do you see these as positive changes?
I do not support President Putin one bit. What he’s doing to Ukraine, the destruction, the lives that have been destroyed. And it’s not just the Ukrainian lives but the Russian soldiers. They estimate close to 20,000 have been killed. That is 20,000 families, mothers and fathers, wives and children who have lost their father, their sons. It’s terrible. I don’t support President Putin. This is wrong.
You have previously said that you’re praying for the President of Russia who is ‘protecting traditional Christianity’.
I felt that we ought to pray because I could see what was coming, that maybe God could turn his heart away from invading Ukraine.
It is always a tough decision when deciding whether to interview people with controversial views.
Of course you want to challenge them but you also don’t to offer them a platform to spread their hate speech. However, WalesOnline made the decision to speak to Mr Graham because he is already going to be speaking at an event attended by thousands. We felt that that if these views were bring aired in Wales it was better that they do not go unchallenged.