The evangelist preached to thousands of people in Liverpool on Saturday despite the backlash he faced leading up to his UK tour.

Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) CEO Franklin Graham is pushing forward with his UK tour titled "God Loves You" this month despite the backlash he faced from LGBT activists and other leftists with an anti-Christian sentiment. On Saturday, Graham appeared before a crowd of thousands at the ACC Liverpool, where he addressed an audience who came from more than 400 churches in Merseyside.

"People are searching for purpose and meaning and they're not finding it. We have a vacuum in our souls that only God can fill," Graham told the massive crowd, as per Liverpool World.

Graham added, "God made us. God created us in His own image, the Bible says. Did you know that God has a plan and purpose for your life?"

The 69 year old evangelist's UK tour will also take him to Newport, South Wales, where he will preach on May 21 and to Sheffield on May 25.

Evangelist Labeled as a 'Hate Preacher'

Despite Graham's warm welcome at the "God Loves You" UK tour over the weekend, the event was met with criticism from leftists with anti-Christian sentiments and LGBT activists. In fact, Liverpool Mayor Steve Rotheram said that Graham's ads promoting his UK tour should not be displayed on buses in the city because the evangelist was a "hate preacher," CBN News reported. He urged bus operators who showed the ads to take action, vowing, "We will never give in to those who seek to divide us."

Moreover, some protestors gathered at Gower Street on the evening of Graham's first leg of the UK tour in Liverpool. Protesters and those who opposed Graham's UK tour claim that the evangelist described same-sex marriage as a sin and had promoted Islamophobic views.

Also Read: Franklin Graham's Bus Ads Facing Removal In UK

BGEA Defends Graham's UK Tour Advertisements

BGEA has explained that the signs promoting Graham's UK tour simply asked people if they were "looking for something more." They argued that there was "nothing offensive in these advertisements" and that the objection is merely based on their Christian beliefs. The group labeled the opposition and anti-Christian sentiment "familiar and predictable."

This is not the first time Graham faced rejection in the UK over his Christian views. Back in 2018, he also faced backlash over ads displayed on buses in Blackpool that promoted the Lancashire Festival of Hope, where he was set to make an appearance. The city council and transport services group took the ads down after facing complaints from the community. But in 2021, a judge ruled that Graham was discriminated against when the ads were taken off the buses. The court said that Blackpool's Council was more concerned about displeasing the LGBT community than religious freedom.

This week, Graham spoke to Wales Online, clarifying that he does not preach hate and instead is spreading the message of hope. The evangelist also reacted to a statement from Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford, who expressed regret over Graham's appearance, which he believed would send a wrong message that "homophobia and hate are somehow still acceptable."

Graham said that while he respects others' opinions, it was "deeply concerning" that elected public officials would describe traditional Chrisitan beliefs as "hate."

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