Evangelist Franklin Graham decried same-sex marriage and the push for transgender rights at a prayer rally attended by thousands outside the state Capitol Wednesday.
The eldest son of evangelist Billy Graham, Franklin Graham appeared in Atlanta as state lawmakers are considering “religious liberty” bills critics worry could lead to discrimination against gays and lesbians.
Supporters of the legislation — there are at least eight such bills pending in the statehouse — describe it as a way to protect people of any religion from government interference, particularly if they oppose same-sex marriage.
“We are here today because we see our nation is in trouble,” Graham said, speaking on a stage flanked by the U.S. and Georgia flags. “We are in trouble spiritually. We are in trouble racially. We are in trouble economically. And we are in trouble politically.”
Graham then identified the “sins of our nation,” including legalized abortion, the “great sin” of same-sex marriage, pride, materialism, racism and not caring for the poor. He called efforts to allow transgender people to use public restrooms for the sex they identify with “wicked.”
“Men belong in men’s bathrooms and women belong in women’s bathrooms,” he said. “And we don’t need men and predators going into women’s bathrooms.”
Graham also urged Christians to vote and run for office. His stop in Atlanta is part of his nationwide “Decision American Tour,” which is planned to include events in all 50 states.
Graham’s appearance in Atlanta came a day after Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders won decisive victories in the New Hampshire presidential primaries. Evangelical voters could play a critical role in this year’s election. White evangelical protestants made up 23 percent of the electorate in the 2012 and 2008 presidential elections, according to the Pew Research Center, up from 21 percent in the 2004 contest.