Franklin Graham has accused the National Basketball Association of "catering to sexual activists" after the league announced it will not hold its annual All-Star Game in Charlotte next year due to North Carolina's "Bathroom Law," which directs transgender people to use public toilets corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificate.
According to Yahoo Sports, NBA commissioner Adam Silver first threatened to move All-Star Weekend out of Charlotte back in March unless HB2, which was passed earlier this year and also omits LGBT people from North Carolina's anti-discrimination protections, was changed.
However, the organization officially decided to pull the game out of the city when state legislators this week refused to adjust the newly enacted laws.
"While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2," the league said in a statement.
In turn, Graham, the leader of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, urged Christians nationwide to boycott the All-Star Game and refrain from buying products sold by the NBA.
"It's a shame that the NBA announced today that they're pulling their 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, NC," he wrote in a lengthy Facebook message on Thursday. "The fact is this-the North Carolina legislators and Governor Pat McCrory are exactly right for protecting the state's women and children from pedophiles and sexually disturbed people who are looking for opportunities to take advantage."
He added that while this is "basic common sense," the NBA "cares more about being perceived as politically correct and catering to sexual activists who are trying to use this situation as a scare tactic to gain leverage to change North Carolina's law."
"I think the NBA needs to realize that the safety of women and children is far more important than a ball game," Graham continued. "They have every right to have their games anywhere they chose, but to move out of North Carolina to try to 'punish' the state for protecting women and children is wrong."
The evangelist contended that while he, along with millions of other Christians, loves watching basketball, he will not be watching this year's game.
"I hope thousands of others will tell them that they're not going to watch either," he said. "You can let the NBA know on their Facebook page that you're not going to watch. And we need to let the sponsors of this All-Star Game know that we don't agree with this decision and don't have to buy their products."
Meanwhile, the league says it hopes to announce a new location for next February's events shortly, and that it also hopes to reschedule the 2019 game for Charlotte, according to Fox News.
"We understand the NBA's decision and the challenges around holding the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte this season. There was an exhaustive effort from all parties to keep the event in Charlotte, and we are disappointed we were unable to do so," Charlotte Hornets chairman and Hall of Famer Michael Jordan said. "With that said, we are pleased that the NBA opened the door for Charlotte to host All-Star weekend again as soon as an opportunity was available in 2019."