American evangelist Franklin Graham says he's thankful for all the attention he's received as he prepares to headline a free three-day evangelical Christian event at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.
"Of course there's been a little bit of controversy the last few weeks, which has helped even more to get the word out," said the 64-year-old son of televangelist Billy Graham.
On Feb. 10, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson was part of a meeting of 14 local leaders from evangelical, Anglican, Roman Catholic and other Christian groups, which discussed concerns about Graham speaking in the city, considering his remarks about LGBTQ people and Islam.
Graham says that the lifestyles of LGBTQ people are sinful and that America is, "under attack by Muslims at home and abroad."
Dozens of Christian leaders from different ecumenical backgrounds made public a letter outlining their opposition to Graham being in Vancouver.
"Our concern is that the contentious and confrontational political and social rhetoric that Mr. Graham has used has the potential to overshadow the message of Jesus and incite hostility in our highly charged social climate," it read.
On Friday, Graham responded to those concerns in a sit-down interview with CBC News and other media outlets.
"They certainly have the right to oppose, but they never were supporting me to begin with," he said.
"The 300 churches that invited me, that invitation is still there and they're still 100 per cent behind me being here."
Graham says the goal of the festival, which has made a series of stops across Canada since 1989, is to have attendees accept Jesus Christ as their saviour and the one and only path to God.
"I'm here just to teach the truth and not to speak against anybody or any group and we're not against anyone. We're here for everyone," he said.
Graham says he invites Muslims along with the LGBTQ community to attend along with those opposed to his coming to Vancouver.