ATLANTA - One of the nation's most recognizable evangelicals held a prayer rally in Atlanta Wednesday and encouraged Christians to become involved in the political process.
Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of evangelist Billy Graham, plans to make stops in all 50 states ahead of the November election on his Decision America tour. An estimated 6,800 people attended his event at Liberty Plaza just across the street from the state capitol.
"I can tell you one thing right now this is a campaign for God and nobody else," Rev. Graham told the crowd. "We're here today because we see that our nation is in trouble."
Rev. Graham said the country has turned away from God and has become too politically correct by legalizing abortion and same-sex marriage. He also railed against politicians who try to include the transgender community.
"I can tell you right now that's wicked and that's evil. Men belong in men's bathrooms and women belong in women's bathrooms and we don't need men and predators going in to women's bathrooms," he emphasized.
Patrick and Marzilla Harris drove from Covington to hear Graham speak. The couple arrived at the event five hours early to ensure they would get front row seats.
"Our country right now is in a mess right now. It's in an uproar," said Patrick Harris. "So, what can bring them back together is prayer. That's why we came out."
Harris said he agrees with Rev. Graham on the issues of abortion and gay marriage.
"God loves all, but he just hates sin," he added.
Late Wednesday, the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement condemning Rev. Graham's comments.
“While Mr. Graham is entitled to express his opinion on same-sex marriage and transgender individuals, it is a shame that he uses his bully pulpit to condemn and dehumanize those who are different from him," wrote Mark Moskowitz, director of the ADL's southeast regional office in Atlanta. "In America’s public marketplace, we serve everyone regardless of who they are or where they are from."
Rev. Graham said he will not endorse any specific candidates, but urged Christians to vote for other Christians running for public office.
"I don't think we're going to make it another election cycle if we don't do something to try to get God's voice back in the political arena," he told reporters after the event.
Aria Randolph brought her four children to hear Rev. Graham speak. The Sandy Springs mother said his message about taking part in the political process really resonated with her.
"It's just an encouragement to get involved in American politics and that is why I think we're all so proud to be part of our great nation and I just really appreciated that encouragement," said Randolph. '[I'm] glad my kids got to hear that too."
Rev. Graham's next tour stop will be in Honolulu, Hawaii on February 24.