Several government officials in the United Kingdom want the country to refuse entry to the Rev. Franklin Graham for an upcoming visit, saying the Asheville-born evangelical preacher promotes hate speech.
The Guardian reported earlier this month that several members of parliament have asked the home secretary to consider refusing entry to Graham, who's expected to be the main speaker at a festival in September. The event is organized by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association U.K., of which Franklin Graham is president and CEO.
More than 7,000 signatures have been collected under a Change.org petition in opposition to Graham's planned visit.
Those opposed to his visit said it would promote prejudice and damage interfaith relations. The 65-year-old son of Billy Graham has called Islam "an evil and very wicked religion" and voiced support for banning Muslims from immigrating to the U.S.
Franklin Graham also claimed former U.S. President Barack Obama was "born a Muslim" and has criticized his support of gay rights.
"His views are not welcome, and I will make representation to the home secretary if it looks like he is intent on coming," Afzal Khan, the Labour member of parliament for Manchester Gorton, told the Guardian.
In a statement to the Citizen Times, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association said it is partnering with local churches to hold next year's event.
"It will be a positive and encouraging event with music and also a message from Franklin Graham about the hope that can be found through a relationship with Jesus Christ," the group said. "It will be free and everyone is invited to attend."
Graham serves as president and CEO of the Charlotte-based BGEA. He also run the Boone-based Christian charity, Samaritan's Purse.
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