Apologist Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis and the Ark Encounter defended Evangelist Franklin Graham after the Seattle police chief rescinded his dinner invitation, due to what the officer believed were the reverend’s alleged views of the LGBTQ community.
"What this police chief is really saying is that if a sincere Christian like Franklin Graham believes God's Word concerning gender and marriage, that this is hate speech," the apologist began.
In the article, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) invited the enforcement officers of SPD for a dinner at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue as an act of appreciation for their service. The invitation was emailed to the employees on Wednesday.
But on Friday, police Chief Adrian Diaz revoked the invitation on the premise that it was hosted by the BGEA, which is headed by Mr. Graham. The police chief opposed the evangelist's Biblical belief on marriage.
In an email to SPD employees, Diaz claimed that the department "supports the equity and just treatment of all people."
"The SPD did not sponsor this event and is not connected in any way to its hosts. This email is meant to rescind the invitation sent through department email because the event's hosts do not share the inclusive values of the SPD," he further stated in the email.
Mr. Ham pointed out that believing the Bible's definition of marriage is not hate speech.
"In other words, Christians are not free to believe the Bible, and they have to reject what God clearly teaches. But believing God's Word concerning marriage and calling adultery, fornication, homosexual behavior, gay "marriage," and transgender sin is not being hateful!" he said.
The apologist further stated that though the Biblical worldview contradicts the LGBTQ's, it does not mean that Christians hate the members of the LGBT community, adding that Mr. Graham actually preaches about the love of God.
"Certainly the LGBTQ worldview and the biblical worldview clash. But just because worldviews differ doesn't mean Christians therefore hate. Franklin preaches the love of God (not hate) and the message of the saving gospel-God's Son died on the cross so those who repent of sin and put their faith and trust in Him will spend eternity with the Lord," Mr. Ham concluded.
BGEA, through its Graham Rapid Response Team, reportedly organized appreciation dinners for enforcement officers as part of its National Law Enforcement Ministry. They have also scheduled dinners for other areas such as Vancouver-Portland and Asheville, North Carolina.
In response to SPD, Mr. Graham released a statement.
He reiterated his appreciation for the service of the enforcement officers "regardless of their beliefs, sexual orientation, or the color of their skin." He added that they deserve the support of the organization and "to know how much they are appreciated."
Mr. Graham further stated that though Diaz rescinded the announcement of the event, the invitation still stands. The evangelist also hoped that many of the officers in the nearby areas will join the event.