Thousands gather in Liverpool to hear preacher Franklin Graham despite controversy

Protesters against the event marched near ACC Liverpool as it was being held.

Thousands of people turned up to the ACC Liverpool on Saturday for the first leg of US preacher Franklin Graham’s God Loves You Tour UK.

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association said that people from more than 400 churches throughout Merseyside supported the event.

Rev Graham told the audience at the ACC: “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.”

There has been widespread oppositon to Rev Graham appearing in Liverpool as he has previously described same-sex marriage as a sin and promoted Islamophobic views.

Thousands gather at ACC Liverpool to hear Franklin Graham speak. Photo: BGEA

Rev Graham, who is close friend of former president Donald Trump, is the son of famous American evangelist Billy Graham who passed away in 2018, aged 99.

Graham Snr was known for holding huge evangelistic rallies and was spiritual adviser to 12 presidents from Harry S. Truman to Barack Obama.

Rev. Franklin Graham speaks during Franklin Graham’s “Decision America” California tour. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Last month, metro mayor Steve Rotheram criticised adverts promoting Rev Graham which appeared on the side of some buses in the Liverpool City Region and demanded their immediate removal.

The mayor contacted bus operators Stagecoach and Arriva urging them to take action, saying: “We will never give in to those who seek to divide us.”

Franklin Graham advert on a bus in Liverpool. Image: Liverpool Against Hate Preachers @ToDealers/twitter

A protest by opponents of the tour gathered at Gower Street on the evening of the event.

Merseyside Police confirmed the force attended Gower Street at around 5.30pm on Saturday during the proteset which they said ‘passed without incident’.