Anti-gay evangelical Billy Graham has died, aged 99.
Graham was one of the most well-known and powerful US Christian evangelists, fuelling the rise of the evangelical movement.
The preacher, who met with 12 US Presidents spanning 60 years, preached that homosexuality is “detestable” and “a sinister form of perversion” contributing to the decay of civilization – and the Billy Graham Evangelical Association continues to advocate gay ‘cure’ therapy on its website.
He was clear in denouncing gay people throughout the equal rights movement, telling his followers: “Let me say this loud and clear, we traffic in homosexuality at the peril of our spiritual welfare.”
Graham, who claimed in 1993 that AIDS was a “judgement from God”, also used his large political influence to push anti-gay laws – throwing his support behind a 2012 attempt in North Carolina to amend the constitution to define marriage as “between one man and one woman”.
He wrote at the time: “At 93, I never thought we would have to debate the definition of marriage. The Bible is clear – God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman.”
The preacher’s son Franklin Graham, who previously took over as head of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) and Christian charity Samaritan’s Purse, is an outspoken anti-LGBT activist.
Franklin Graham previously claimed there had been a “moral 9/11” in America due to “gays and lesbians”.
Graham Jr had claimed: “The country is imploding. We are seeing a moral implosion. Just like we saw the World Trade Center on 9/11 when the planes hit the tower, they imploded, they fell from within, and this is what’s happening to our country, we’re falling within.
“So many school districts now are controlled by wicked, evil people, and the gays and lesbians… I keep bringing their name up, but they are at the forefront of this attack against Christianity in America.”
In a 2015 interview with a Russian newspaper, Franklin Graham praised Vladimir Putin’s support for anti-gay laws – and claimed that homosexuals “take people’s children”.
Parroting disturbing rhetoric often used by anti-LGBT vigilantes in Russia, the late preacher’s son said: “Homosexuality and same-sex marriage — those are sins against God, and the president [Barack Obama] is promoting them.
“Homosexuals cannot have children, they can take other people’s children.”
He added: “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.”
Franklin Graham recently declared gay people are ‘the enemy’, attacking churches that have become LGBT-inclusive. And he 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”.
Billy Graham’s daughter Anne Graham Lotz, meanwhile, has suggested that God let 9/11 happen because he’s too upset about transgender people.
She said: “There is silliness, there is craziness, there’s the most illogical rulings. The one in North Carolina on HB2, which is to protect our children in bathrooms and locker rooms, has become something where the justice department is suing us for something that’s just common sense.
“What happens then is God abandons us and backs away, he he takes his favour and blessing away from us.
“[If we repent] I think he would begin to reveal the plots of terrorists before they are carried out, even the weather patterns he can control and protect us from violent storms.
“I think that’s why God allows bad things to happen. I think that’d why he would allow 9/11 to happen, or the dreadful attack in San Bernardino. To show us we need him.”