Kirk Cameron has answered his critics.
The former "Growing Pains" actor has weathered a firestorm of controversy since his appearance on Piers Morgan's CNN talk show last Friday when he shared his anti-gay views, saying that homosexuality is "unnatural" and "ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization." The comments immediately drew heated responses from many including GLAAD, Cameron's former co-stars and thousands of social media users.
However, in an email statement released exclusively to ABC News on Tuesday, Cameron says that some of those reactions have included "hate speech" and slander. He defended his right to share his views and says that contrary to what people may think, loving all people is a focus of his life.
"I spoke as honestly as I could, but some people believe my responses were not loving toward those in the gay community. That is not true. I can assuredly say that it's my life's mission to love all people. I should be able to express moral views on social issues, especially those that have been the underpinning of Western civilization for 2,000 years -- without being slandered, accused of hate speech, and told from those who preach 'tolerance' that I need to either bend my beliefs to their moral standards or be silent when I'm in the public square."
He added, "I believe we need to learn how to debate these things with greater love and respect," and added, "I've been encouraged by the support of many friends (including gay friends, incidentally)."
GLAAD, which had already organized a petition to urge Cameron to "grow up," fired back again on Tuesday in response to the actor's statement. Herndon Graddick, GLAAD's senior director of Programs and Communications, said, "Cameron used his platform to attack gay Americans and is now attempting to play victim in an effort to sell his upcoming movie. That Cameron would risk the health and safety of young people in order to do so speaks for itself. So many Americans, popular celebrities and Christian leaders have stood up and said his views are out of touch. The fundamental dignity of gay people should no longer be a debate in this country."
Among those who have stood up and sounded off on Cameron's views were his "Growing Pains" family, including Alan Thicke and Tracey Gold, who both responded with comments on Twitter in favor of equal rights and the LGBT community. "I'm getting him some new books. The Old Testament simply can't be expected to explain everything," Thicke tweeted. Gold posted, "I am a strong supporter of the #LGBT Community, and I believe in equal rights for all. #NOH8 #LOVE"
Fellow sitcom star Roseanne Barr also used Twitter to voice her opinion, posting, "Kirk or kurt or whatever Cameron is an accomplice to murder with his hate speech."
Other actors who spoke out about Cameron's comments included Debra Messing, Neil Patrick Harris, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Josh Charles and Craig Ferguson.
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While some dubbed them controversial, Cameron's comments came as no surprise to others who have followed his post-"Growing Pains" career. He has segued from the small screen to the church, where he has been an active supporter of the Christian faith. He has starred in the faith-based films "Fireproof" and "Left Behind" and written the book "Still Growing." He is also the co-founder of The Way of the Master, a ministry that's mission is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. His appearance on Morgan's show was to tout the documentary "Monumental," which tracks the true intent of the founding fathers of the U.S., which Cameron has said was to create a religious nation.
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