Louie Giglio and ‘the right to hold differing views’

I’ve never been to Louie Giglio’s church. But I drive past it every Sunday on the way to the church I do attend.

Passion City Church meets in a building that once was home to a Home Depot Expo and a PGA Tour Superstore. If you aren’t familiar with the site, one thing you ought to know is it has the kind of enormous parking lot you’d expect for a mega-box store and that it’s filled to capacity each week as volunteers and traffic cops direct the flow of motorists, pedestrians from the nearby Lindbergh MARTA station, and the shuttles that ferry still more worshippers to Giglio’s church.

You also ought to know that, for a couple of months last year, there were fewer parking spaces available than usual. That’s because part of the pavement was occupied by a gigantic statue of an arm and hand reaching skyward — I’m talking about 103-feet-tall gigantic — with, among other messages, “Indifference Is Not an Option” written on it.

“Indifference” to human trafficking and slavery, that is. That cause is the one that led the presidential inaugural committee on Tuesday to reveal Giglio would give the benediction when Barack Obama is sworn in for his second term on Jan. 21.

Giglio’s place in the program lasted all of two days. On Thursday, he and the committee announced a mutual parting of ways, after a liberal blog reported some comments Giglio made about the gay-rights movement in a sermon some 15 years ago.

Fighting human trafficking has become a popular cause among evangelical Christians in recent years,working with global outfits such as Stop the Traffik and local ones such as Street Grace. I’m sure the inaugural committee could find another pastor actively working against this evil though probably not many who attract tens of thousands of young people and raise millions of dollars to support the movement, as Giglio does, not even counting what happens at his church on Sundays.

There probably are not many, as well, who can get the attention of the president of the United States with a petition signed by 72,000 people, many of whom very likely did not vote for him, asking him to join their cause. Giglio did.

This is the promise Barack Obama offered Americans, even those who didn’t vote for him, when he was first elected: a purple America, a country in which people came together in the name of those things they agreed upon, and not just in opposition to those they didn’t.

That promise has faded — and, to be fair, that’s hardly the fault of Obama alone. The selection of Giglio, for the fight he and his flock share with others in spite of the biblically based beliefs they may not, was at least one reason to wonder if that promise might not be renewed.

Instead, the objections won out.

The irony is that, by all accounts I’ve come across, Giglio deliberately has not emphasized the standard culture-war issues during his pastoral career. It’s one reason he focuses on human trafficking instead.

Evidently, that’s not good enough. Evidently, lifelong purity of thought is required not only of those who live under our country’s big political tents, but anyone who might pay them a visit.

Of the more controversial topic that is keeping him off the inaugural’s agenda, Giglio wrote on his blog: “individuals’ rights of freedom, and the collective right to hold differing views on any subject is a critical balance we, as a people, must recover and preserve.”

After this episode, I wonder how possible such a recovery still is.

(Note: As usual, comments will not post immediately over the weekend. Immediate commenting will resume Monday morning.)

– By Kyle Wingfield

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102 comments Add your comment


January 11th, 2013
6:39 pm

Giglio wrote on his blog: “individuals’ rights of freedom, and the collective right to hold differing views on any subject is a critical balance we, as a people, must recover and preserve.”

There are as many rabid pro-lifers willing to denigrate Giglio’s message of tolerance to opposing views as there are gays forcing their interpretation of truth on others. Big yawn. The pendulum of fairness swings both ways.


January 11th, 2013
6:43 pm

Nobody is preventing Giglio or others the right to hold the beliefs he does on the controversial topic. Therefore, this situation does not represent a situation where any “recovery” of rights is necessary, or even possible, as none have been denied.

Giglio’s beliefs however, and the expression of those beliefs, even 15 years ago, are a direct insult to so many people responsible for this President’s re-election.

The President and the inauguration committee have an equal right to hold their own beliefs, and are under no obligation to provide Giglio a forum to express his.

Do you feel the same way about people calling for Catholic universities to revoke invitations to President Obama to speak? I take a consistent position. If Notre Dame or Georgetown were to revoke an invitation to President Obama to speak over disagreement with his views, I would think they were idiots for denying their students the opportunity to hear a live speech from a sitting President, but I wouldn’t construe it as a denial of President Obama’s rights.

Question Man

January 11th, 2013
6:45 pm

A recovery obviously is possible, isn’t the question of how we all get there and when?


January 11th, 2013
6:49 pm


I want to thank you sincerely for bringing this up. It lies at the heart of my reasons for being over here the last few days.

I want to know why it is that this man, a preacher, is slapped down for something he said years ago and Hagel sails right along, being lauded by the left/liberals when what he had to say was much more hateful in that he said it within the context of his position as a representative of ALL of us, whereas Giglio spoke within the context of an address to his congregation, a limited number of us.

The song and dance routine I heard on Hagel has absolutely sickened me.

It is that damnable double standard that I loathe, detest and despise no matter which corner it comes from.

As for Giglio and his dedication to stopping human trafficking, I applaud that wholeheartedly. That is the “greater picture.” I have a much more personal reason for taking a different view of him and his congregation. Last year a fire put several of our neighborhood’s more modest families out of house and home. That was on a Friday night. Sunday, his church “passed the plate” and collected some $13,000 in donations for immediate help to these families. Then, they helped them to find new lodgings in the neighborhood so their children would not have to change schools, paying the deposits etc, as well as vouchers for clothes and furnishings.

Nobody asked them to do this, they say a need and responded. The Christian thing to do. I was almost willing to back off on President Obama’s nomination of a homophobic anti-Semite when I heard that Giglio was asked to give the invocation.

And now?

Where are my liberal colleagues here in Atlanta who went to defending Hagel? Where is their defense of Giglio. The silence has been deafening.

And to your regulars, please forgive me for the scatteredness of these comments. It is emotional, you know, the boa wearing drama que*en…. :-)


January 11th, 2013
6:53 pm

Kyle: my understanding is that Mr. Giglio withdrew voluntarily so as not to distract from the President’s inauguration. As an avowed liberal, I rather wish he had chosen to remain. I can’t speak for other of my political persuasion, but even as a defender of LGTG rights, I have no problem with the benediction of anyone who is clearly attempting to do His will as that person sees it.


January 11th, 2013
6:54 pm

Giglio’s place in the program lasted all of two days. On Thursday, he and the committee announced a mutual parting of ways, after a liberal blog reported some comments Giglio made about the gay-rights movement in a sermon some 15 years ago.

So what…..does this mean the liberal blog is indifferent to human trafficking and slavery?

I should say so……

Just Saying..

January 11th, 2013
7:04 pm

Well, the evidence is the “big tent” GOP won’t be leading the way, if the goal is welcoming diversity of opinion…

Uh Huh....Different Strokes for Different Folks

January 11th, 2013
7:21 pm

To me this is a NON issue.


Rafe Hollister preparing for an Obamanist America

January 11th, 2013
7:28 pm

Respect for an individual, no matter their views, has disappeared from America. It seems the more liberal the country becomes, the more the libs want to control every thought expressed and every action we try to take. Peoples views should be challenged when appropriate, but the person should always be respected.

Any debate that the Libs deem to be over, because they think they won, is not willingly tolerated and the argument ridiculed. Perfect example, someone once said, “elections over, John, and I won”…. so shut up. I guess the rest of them take their cue from their dear leader.


January 11th, 2013
7:47 pm

Seems a shame to discredit or disallow someone for something said 15 years ago. Personally I want to know what the recent track record is – actions speak louder than words and there has been a massive changes in society’s attitudes on many things (including homosexuality) over the past 15 years. Doesn’t seem like many (any ?) of us would make the cut if we were judged by things in our pasts>

Not Blind

January 11th, 2013
7:53 pm

The real polarization is here on the www. Out in public it’s surprising how well diverse people get along.

Big Ed

January 11th, 2013
7:54 pm

But of course, Reverend Wright bitter diatribes of hate were nothing to worry about. The Teleprompter of the U.S. wasn’t listening while attending his church, he says.


January 11th, 2013
8:24 pm

I heard he was against gay marriage at one point, he must be a hatelful bigot.


January 11th, 2013
8:44 pm

Giglio and Andy Stanley have ties to their mutual beliefs. They parted ways but they still hold mutual beliefs. Neither fit into the left wing doctrine of excluding God unfortunately from the public discourse. God bless them both.


January 11th, 2013
8:45 pm

I rarely agree with you Kyle.

But I do this time. If we can forgive Bill Clinton for his awful, cowardly signature on the Defense of Marriage Act, then we ought to be able to forgive this pastor, who has clearly not been one of the anti gay culture warriors in recent years.

CB Hackworth

January 11th, 2013
9:30 pm

This article is very fair, and the only of its kind I’ve come across. It so happens I grew up with Louie Giglio and his dear, sweet sister. His late father and my dad worked together for many years and were best friends. I certainly don’t share the views on homosexuality he expressed in a sermon many years ago, and I have no idea if his thinking has changed since then, but I also don’t believe he should have had to withdraw from participation in the presidential inauguration. Louie is a decent man, widely admired, and his ministry has an enormous following made up of fellow Americans who deserve a seat at the table, even if many of us disagree on important issues. Our country needs more unity and less division if we are going to survive.


January 11th, 2013
10:01 pm

Our country is in a deeply sad place if a pastor cannot hold a religious belief without being censored by the President and shouted from the public square by the stalinists of the left.
Personally, I think Obama and his team invited Giglio with the express intention of uninviting him too in order to send a clear message of intimidation.


January 11th, 2013
10:46 pm

I really enjoy having a conversation with people that have different views.

I do not enjoy conversations with people that use lies, false facts, short quips, irrelavent facts, name-calling, and childish arguements to make their points.

Unfortunately, that includes most all of the con repubs that post on these blogs.

Jackie McGregor

January 11th, 2013
10:56 pm

What happen to freedom of speech??? Louie is a great pastor and speaks only bible based truths. Our government is very scary. I love our country but I do not like what is happening to our freedoms that we have grown up with and that sets our country apart from the others. We have very few places where we can hear and believe what is really happening in our wonderful country. Keep up the good work. God Rules


January 12th, 2013
1:09 am

Well I have been saying things on Facebook and CNN iReport and anywhere else I could post on to. Now the clergy, it is clear that this thing called the 1st Amendment is only working for those who are clearly not on the level of most human beings. So after all of the big talk and promotion it boils down to a mild and softer tone of dictatorship. Yeah I said it. Look at what has been coming about over the course of the last few months. I find fault with the White house and I will no longer hide it. Leave this man to his God and let him continue to do his good work.


January 12th, 2013
7:35 am

It IS sad that we have devolved to this point. However, Kyle, your pious posturing about this question is disingenuous, I think. If President Obama had chosen an Islamic holy man, or a Buddhist, or, God forbid, an atheist to the minor job (you do realize that you don’t have to be a Christian to do this, don’t you?), you would have written a column crucifying the man. You are so funny.


January 12th, 2013
7:42 am

Their are so many hungry Americans in the ga. Mountains go check it out ok

Whirled Peas

January 12th, 2013
8:10 am

The secular left in this country considers themselves to be tolerant and open minded. And the press has been very accommodating to them in this regard. But anyone who is at all observant has figured out that those who have claimed the mantle of tolerance are very much intolerant of those they do not agree with and closed minded to all contrary ideas and life styles.

david c

January 12th, 2013
8:23 am

First of all, instead of retracting his statement, or explaining his position, he took the easy way out and quit. It’s rough when the room you’re preaching to isn’t filled with acolytes. Sure, everyone has the right to an opinion. But when you are speaking to a Nation, and not just your MegaChurch faithful, you better be willing to look at all sides.


January 12th, 2013
8:39 am

There is a reason why some politicians are Democrats and some are Republicans.

I doubt that Karl Rove will speak at the inaguration.

However, I also doubt anyone will say this is wrong and Karl’s
“differing views” should be heard at this ceremony.

just sayin'

January 12th, 2013
9:45 am

Still amazes me that if your viewpoint differs from libs, you can’t participate. However, they want you to be totally tolerant of their viewpoints and include them in everything. Wait, isn’t that the definition of hypocrisy?


January 12th, 2013
10:18 am

Obama is all about Obama. Giglio is all about Jesus.


January 12th, 2013
10:19 am

As warned in the Bible – those following God will be attacked by the enemy. Satan is a regular visitor to the White House.


January 12th, 2013
10:21 am

Obama talks about what his government is doing and how it can help you. Giglio talks about what God has already done, is doing and is going to do in you through Jesus. Fools trust in a politician.


January 12th, 2013
10:38 am


Good idea to moderate comments; cuts down on insults and squabbles among the posters.

May even get comments relative to your blog.

Not sure what he advocated, but unless it was for murder, the statute of limitations should have kicked in for 15-20 year old comments.


January 12th, 2013
11:22 am

I recognize that people can have a change of opinion, especially after 15 years. However, it is also highly unlikely that Giglio has had such a change. Were his remarks 15 years ago made against any other minority, the ramifications would be clear. But gay people are still acceptable fodder for conservatives to demonize and thus the tempest-in-a-teapot reaction by conservatives to Giglio’s withdrawal from the Inaugural, of his own accord. Keep digging your own graves, conservatives.

Mike Lum

January 12th, 2013
11:23 am

Well said. Nice to see support for Louie in the AJC.


January 12th, 2013
11:55 am

Interesting take on this preacher, his church and his philosophy.
Now I understand why our President would never allow a very orthodox Rebbe to address the country. Very enlightening to say the least.


January 12th, 2013
12:32 pm

Tolerance is defined by the left as accepting all worldviews with which they agree; disagreements based on bible-based faith are particularly excluded.


January 12th, 2013
12:33 pm

Great article Kyle.

Shannon, M.Div., Th.M.

January 12th, 2013
12:51 pm

This is not a freedom of speech issue. This is, quite simply, an issue of not having someone speak for the president who does not believe in the equality of all Americans.

Nobody is censoring Giglio; we commend him for his work with human trafficking. But doing good deeds does not always counterbalance the rest of one’s life (and I daresay Giglio’s theology would agree with that). Giglio is welcome to preach to his followers.

We do not need to “recover” the right to hold differing views on any subject. We *have* that. Look at this blog. Nobody is stopping Wingfield from writing! But we also do not need, in the name of some kind of faux equality, to promote those who don’t believe all Americans deserve equal rights.


January 12th, 2013
1:01 pm

The Rev Lowery’s prayer at Obama’s first inaugural was hardly a model of inclusion. Hypocrites!

Still think...

January 12th, 2013
1:28 pm

Still think that Obama is a Christian? He doesn’t believe anything in the Bible. He’s not a Muslim either. Who knows what this guy is.


January 12th, 2013
1:31 pm

Well, here we go again. Got to find a man who is politically correct, has a faith, presentable on TV, follows the party line, draws a crowd, says the “correct” words,and knows who sent the invitation to give the benediction. Heyyyyy, this is the inauguration of the President of the USA and don’t you forget it.

May I suggest Santa Claus? He’d be perfect. He’s sweet and kind and likes to give, give, give. Add a blue ribbon to his red and white and you’ve got it made. HIs ho ho ho is catchy and without discrimination. His past history is perfect. He’s photogenic. People love him..

Add a little child looking at him with adoration and Santa is ready for the grand finale.. OH, I am already touched. Sniff…

Truth Squad

January 12th, 2013
1:47 pm

Barack Obama has already had one bigot at one of his inaugurations in Pastor Warren. So he has fulfilled his quota.

Giglio, by his own statement,is still a bigot.Either everyone is equal under the law, or they are not. Just because you do outstanding work in one area doesn’t mean you get a pass on bigotry. “Holding different views” is just code when it means believing certain citizens have second-class civil rights.

He had an opportunity to step up and prove his critics wrong. Sadly, he blew his opportunity and is now just another conservative bigot being portrayed by other conservative bigots as a victim of those evil people who demand everyone be treated equally in law. The Republican Party is now paying the price for their embrace of bigotry for political gain.

I wonder how many of those kids Giglio now calls to service is he going to “hold a different view” of when they get older? Hopefully those kids turn out better than he did and continue their great service without the yoke of bigotry.

Always Skeptical

January 12th, 2013
1:51 pm

If he had repudiated his previous remarks, he’s still be able to be included. He didn’t and so he’s not going to be part of the festivities. That’s alright with me. His past deeds make him unfit for offering anything at this sort of gathering…plain and simple. He’s not the only person or organization fighting human trafficking. Even though he may choose now not to engage in the culture war promoted by American conservatives, he felt free to engage in the past. Let him suffer the consequences for it until he chooses to repudiate his role in it. You might as well have him preach alongside Rev. Wright. As for me, I’m glad that neither one of them will be there.

Aynie Sue

January 12th, 2013
1:53 pm

“Differing views” about the civil rights of other citizens, and the insistence that an “individual’s right of freedom” encompasses the right to deny individual rights to other citizens, may be the core issue here. But maybe not.

Rev. Giglio has, like many prominent Americans, may have changed his view on gay rights over the past 15 years. Why should members of the clergy like Rev. Giglio and Rev. Wright (Obama’s former pastor) be held to a “lifelong purity of thought” standard? Isn’t growth in wisdom (i.e. changing views) one of the tenets of religious faith?


January 12th, 2013
1:56 pm

Believe the Bible = Vilified

People believe that something is morally wrong…….Obama says they are evil.

Morals will be the new laws and he is more than happy to make himself the good guy. People with morals will be the bad guy in this new world being crafted.


January 12th, 2013
1:57 pm

Passion City Church is a wonderful place full of loving, kind, and compassionate people who love Jesus and love all people. I will continue to pray for Louie, the Church he leads, our elected leaders and our country.

Army Strong

January 12th, 2013
2:24 pm

It boggles my mind that the Obama staffers are appalled that a Christian pastor holds Christian views on a social topic that is widely religious in nature..


January 12th, 2013
2:43 pm

It is not easy to discern what is the real point of Kyle’s article is. A tribute to pastor Giglio for his fight against human trafficking? A criticism of the “mutual parting of ways” of Giglio and the presidential inaugural committee? A condemnation of the opposition to Giglio because of “some comments Giglio made about the gay-rights movement in a sermon some 15 years ago?” An attack on the President (and unspecified others) because of a “fading promise?”

Let’s take a look at the items other than the well-deserved tribute. There is the opposition based on the comments about the gay-right movement. Apparently, Giglio never rescinded those. Those remarks are still very offensive to a fairly large segment of the population. Let’s hope that Kyle and others will keep in mind the timing frame they point out to when they comment on Hagel’s appointment hearing and his remarks years ago, which Hagel has rescinded.

Kyle quotes Giglio’s illogical demand about the recovery of “individuals’ rights of freedom, and the collective right to hold differing views on any subject. “ Has anybody denied those rights to pastor Giglio, or his church? As for Kyle’s wondering if such a recovery is possible: How does a “de-invitation” to speak at the inaugural equal a denial of a RIGHT of freedom and of the RIGHT to hold differing views? And it is equally illogical to call a “fading” promise the President’s words about a country in which people come together “in the name of those things they agreed upon, and not just in opposition to those they didn’t.” In spite of the political polarization, don’t people still do that all the time, on many subjects?


January 12th, 2013
3:03 pm

He’s a pastor. He should be accepting of ALL people. This is not just about a disagreement. it’s about vilifyin gays in a sermon as being sinful and not allowed into the Kingdom of God. I can’t of anything a man of the cloth could say to gays as un-Christian as that. Differing view, my a##.

Saul Good

January 12th, 2013
4:43 pm

Being a “bigot” is now a “view” when it comes to human civil rights. It’s hate. 45 years ago here in GA he’d probably have made the same remarks about African Americans… bashing gays is NOT acceptable. Better for him to have “evolved” on the issue and still accepted the invitation. Instead he stood by his hate.

John Beasley (Dr. Sky Hook)

January 12th, 2013
5:44 pm

Ah, the irony of the persecution of Pastor Giglio. I admire his work in stopping slavery and human trafficking, but I remind you that slavery was a well established practice during biblical times and is supported in Ephesians by Paul who writes that the slave should submit wholeheartedly to his master. This is right after Paul admonishes women to do the same to their husbands. My point is that Giglio realizes that some societal arrangements in the Bible are no longer morally acceptable, so not all “biblically based beliefs” carry the same weight and stature. Each individual has the right to pick and choose which ones still apply and which do not, but when a “minister” uses his “biblically based beliefs” to justify denying basic human rights to a whole group of individuals, then that person should not have the right to speak at a ceremony that is supposed to represent all the people. Kyle, if you were a gay person or had a gay family member, would you want to listen to a benediction given by a man who had denigrated your worth and rights as a human being?


January 12th, 2013
6:18 pm

Nothing new here – the left is all for freedom of speech, gasp – even political
dissent, just make sit that speech is “correct speech …” Never spit
into the wind, tug on Superman’s cape or upset the Furher aka the collective leftists