Franklin Graham compared his stance against LGBT rights to his father’s efforts to extend equal rights to black Americans.
“You talk about controversy – my father stood with Martin Luther King in the early 1960s,” Graham said. “My father never worried about polls. I don’t care about them, either, and with the issues we are facing today – if my father were a younger man, he would be addressing and speaking out in the exact same way I’m speaking out on them.”
The younger Graham told the Charlotte Observer on Tuesday that he only condemns LGBT people and other “sinners” because he loves them so much.
“I love people enough and care enough to warn them … that if they chose to continue to live in sin, God is going to judge them one day and they’ll be separated from him for eternity in hell,” Graham said.
He said his father had started writing a book on hell but has been unable to finish it due to failing health.
But the 95-year-old, now bedridden and “very, very weak” at his Montreat, N.C., home, gave outlines to his children to complete the book.
The elder Graham spoke against racial segregation in the 1950s, invited King to preach alongside him, and even paid the civil rights leader’s bail in 1960.
Critics say the younger Graham has hijacked his father’s reputation and message to preach a politically motivated campaign against homosexuality.
While the elder Graham likely agrees that homosexuality is a sin, he was apparently uncomfortable with its preeminence as a political and moral issue.
“Why do we jump on that sin as though it’s the greatest sin?” Billy Graham asked his followers during a 1997 “crusade” event.
His son recently made news by praising Russian President Vladimir Putin for signing a law imposing fines on adults who discuss same-sex relationships in a non-negative way.
Graham told the newspaper that Putin, unlike his American counterpart, President Barack Obama, was interested in protecting children from abuse and exploitation.
“Of course, gays and lesbians cannot have children,” he said.
The reporter pointed out that same-sex couples are permitted to adopt children, but Graham questioned their motives.
“They can recruit,” Graham said. “You can adopt a child into a marriage, but you can also recruit children into your cause. I believe in protecting children from exploitation – all exploitations.”
Watch the interview posted online by Charlotte Observer: