Evangelical churches in Germany are defending Rev. Franklin Graham in the face of criticism over his biblical beliefs on sexuality.
Graham, the president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), and Samaritan's Purse, an international relief organization, is scheduled to preach at a Festival of Hope in Cologne this June.
Premier Christian News reports a local politician has called on the venue to cancel the event, accusing Graham of being a "hate preacher."
In response, several churches have issued their support for the evangelist. The Evangelical Free Church of Cologne said in a statement that the allegation against Graham is defamatory.
The church also explained that Graham's goal for the tour was simply to invite people to his presentation of the gospel - a transformation message which they said: "resists radicalism and racism and works for justice and peace all over the world."
Heinrich Derkse, the director of the Bible Seminary in Bonn (Bornheim), also said Graham was not stirring up hate against gay people and maintained that he "would never call for human rights to be restricted for homosexuals," according to PCN.
Graham has said that while he believes marriage is solely between a man and a woman, he is not preaching against anybody. He is scheduled to speak at Cologne Lanxess Arena on June 20.
In announcing the Festival of Hope in Cologne (Köln), the BGEA said: "Franklin Graham's father, Billy Graham, launched his first meetings in Germany in 1954, which led to nearly four decades of ministry in Germany and reached more than three million people with the message of God's love.
"Franklin Graham believes, as his father did, that what Germany and the rest of the world needs is spiritual change."
"I'm coming to Germany to share the same powerful message that my father preached here for nearly 40 years," Franklin Graham noted.
"Just like my father, I'm looking forward to sharing with the people of Köln that God loves them and has a purpose for their lives," he added.
Legal Challenges Continue
Meanwhile, the BGEA has mounted legal challenges to Graham's venue cancellations in the United Kingdom. A Scottish court recently expedited a case involving the BGEA, the Glasgow City Council, and Scottish Event Campus Limited.
In addition, the BGEA has also filed legal claims against parties in Sheffield and Wales that it believes were responsible for canceling its legally binding contracts.
Graham's eight-day tour is set to begin in Glasgow on May 30.
As CBN News reported in January, the company dropped Graham's booking at the order of its principal shareholder, the Glasgow City Council after bowing to pressure from LGBTQ activists and their allies.
Graham penned an open letter to the LGBTQ community in the UK in January, informing them he is coming to Great Britain not to condemn them. Rather, he is coming to present the Gospel.
Graham did, though, admit he does see homosexuality as a sin.
"The rub, I think, comes in whether God defines homosexuality as sin," he wrote. "The answer is yes. But God goes even further than that, to say that we are all sinners — myself included. The Bible says that every human being is guilty of sin and in need of forgiveness and cleansing. The penalty of sin is spiritual death — separation from God for eternity."
Graham also defended the right to free speech and religious liberty. He wrote he is not coming to the UK "to speak against anybody" because the Gospel "is inclusive."
"I'm coming to speak for everybody," he added. "The Gospel is inclusive. I'm not coming out of hate, I'm coming out of love."
The 67-year-old preacher ended his letter by saying those in the LGBTQ community are "absolutely welcome" to attend one of his events in the UK.