Australia

Controversial preacher Graham touring Aust

Controversial US evangelist Franklin Graham starts a tour of Australia this week. (AAP)

Controversial US evangelist Franklin Graham is embarking on a tour of Australia, 60 years after his famous father attracted a record 130,000 people to the MCG.

From his contentious comments about Islam and the LGBTQ community, to supporting some of US President Donald Trump's most divisive ideas, Reverend Franklin Graham has been lambasted for alleged hate speech.

But the US evangelist has been equally praised for preaching God's love and grace, and now Australians will have the opportunity to see him spread that message during his forthcoming national tour.

Rev Graham is the son of popular preacher Billy Graham, who died last year at the age of 99.

His father famously embarked on a four-month tour of Australia in 1959, attracting more than 130,000 people to the Melbourne Cricket Ground - a record unsurpassed.

"I think it was an incredibly significant moment," Rev Graham told AAP.

"His goal wasn't to break records, but simply to preach the life-changing gospel to as many as would listen, never dreaming that he would eventually speak to almost one-third of the population of Australia.

"Hundreds of churches of different denominations prayed and worked together."

Sixty years later, Rev Graham hopes to bring a similar message of hope at a time when people are searching for answers to many problems.

"The audience may be different, the times are different, but the need of the human heart is the same."

But Rev Graham has courted controversy too, most notably as a keen supporter of President Trump, even creating "pray for 45" T-shirts in response to the "impeach 45" T-shirts.

He has also described Islam as "wicked" and "evil", and backed a ban on Muslims entering the US.

"President Trump has done what he promised to do, which is to work to protect my rights and beliefs as a Christian," Rev Graham said.

"For people who are concerned about what they may have read or heard (about me), I invite them to come see these events for themselves and make their own determination."

* The Graham Tour starts this week in Perth followed by Darwin, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Sydney.

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