American evangelist Rev. Franklin Graham has warned against the risk of losing free speech rights amid a petition by activists to ban him from the U.K. over his stance against homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail Online, Rev. Graham said there was a war going on between the West and the Muslims and mentioned that every Muslim immigrant could potentially become radicalized, noting that the 9/11 attack was done "in the name of Islam." However, he also acknowledged that there were millions of Muslims who were opposed to radical Islam and just want to live peacefully.
In addition, Graham defended his past statement about Putin having the right to pass laws that block children's exposure to "gay propaganda" and said these kids can make their own decisions when they are older. However, his statement has sparked calls to ban him from attending the Lancashire Festival of Hope in September, with an online petition to deny him a visa garnering more than 7,500 signatures already.
The city council of Blackpool, on the other hand, has responded to the petition to ban Graham from the country. Councillor Maria Kirkland said it was up to the authorities to decide if the American evangelist's views on homosexuality and Islam could be classified as hate speech, The Christian Post reported.
Kirkland said the council was committed to addressing discrimination and promoting equality among the people. She maintained, however, that the council has the obligation to accommodate the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's contract and to uphold free speech rights.
"We're in danger in western civilization of losing the freedom of speech," said Graham in light of the call for him to be banned in the U.K. "To have the freedom to voice one's opinion and freedom of speech and I'm afraid in Western society we may lose that one day."
He went on to say: "I don't think I've ever been anywhere with 100% support, people either don't support for theological position or political positions."
In addition, Graham said people who do not like his opinion are generally the ones who want to hear what he has to say. He added that their upcoming event was open to everybody.