By Jeff Labrecque
March 06, 2012 at 08:33 PM EST

Four days after calling homosexuality “unnatural,” “detrimental,” and “ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization” during an appearance on Piers Morgan Tonight, actor Kirk Cameron has responded to the criticism that erupted following his remarks. In an e-mail to today, Cameron wrote, “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,” he 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.”

“I believe we need to learn how to debate these things with greater love and respect,” he said, before adding, “I’ve been encouraged by the support of many friends (including gay friends, incidentally).”

Cameron’s initial comments have been repudiated by many in the entertainment industry, notably his former Growing Pains costars Alan Thicke and Tracey Gold. Responding to Cameran’s e-mail GLAAD said in a statement: “Saying that gay people are ‘detrimental to civilization’ might be ‘loving’ in Kirk Cameron’s mind, but it’s gay youth and victims of bullying who truly suffer from adults like Cameron who espouse these ideas… Obviously, Cameron has the right to recite his anti-gay talking points, just like fair-minded Americans have the right to tell him that his views are harmful and have no place in modern America.”

Read more:

GLAAD slams Kirk Cameron for ‘unnatural’ stance

Kirk Cameron: Does controversy help or harm his upcoming ‘Monumental’ doc?