Kirk Cameron is experiencing a new sort of growing pains over his anti-gay remarks.
Former “Growing Pains” star Cameron went on the defensive on Tuesday, responding to the many people who criticized his comments about homosexuality and gay marriage during an interview on Friday’s “Piers Morgan Tonight.”
In a statement provided to ABC News, the 41-year-old Cameron — a Christian evangelist who’s starred in a number of religious-themed films since his ’80s heyday as a child actor — lamented that he’s been accused of “hate speech” and accused his detractors of trying to suppress his opinion.
“I should be able to express moral views on social issues,” Cameron said, “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.”
In the statement, Cameron also denied that he has hatred for the gay community, saying “I can assuredly say that it’s my life’s mission to love all people” and adding, “I spoke as honestly as I could” during the Morgan interview.
The actor went on to offer a variation on the “some of my best friends are gay” gambit, adding, “I’ve been encouraged by the support of many friends (including gay friends, incidentally).”
During his interview on the CNN show, Cameron — while promoting his new film “Monumental” — opined that homosexuality is “unnatural” and “detrimental and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.”
“I think that it’s detrimental and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization,” the actor told Morgan.
As for gay unions, Cameron added, “I would never attempt to try to redefine marriage. And I don’t think anyone else should either.”
Cameron’s comments drew an almost immediate response from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, whose senior director of programs, Herndon Graddick, wrote, “In this interview, Kirk Cameron sounds even more dated than his 1980s TV character. Cameron is out of step with a growing majority of Americans, particularly people of faith who believe that their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters should be loved and accepted based on their character and not condemned because of their sexual orientation.”
The actor’s statements also drew the wrath of his former “Growing Pains” colleagues. Cameron’s former TV dad, Alan Thicke, tweeted on Monday, “I’m getting him some new books. The Old Testament simply can’t be expected to explain everything.”
Thicke later added, “I love Kirk but I may have to spank him…’tho not in a gay way!”
Cameron’s former onscreen sibling, Tracey Gold, also offered her take on Cameron’s utterances, noting, “I am a strong supporter of the #LGBT Community, and I believe in equal rights for all. #NOH8 #LOVE.” Gold also posted a picture of herself participating in the anti-discrimination “No H8” campaign.