The evangelical pastor chosen to give the benediction at President Barack Obama’s inauguration withdrew from the ceremony Thursday after remarks he made two decades ago condemning the gay rights movement surfaced.
The Rev. Louie Giglio of Passion City Church in Atlanta said in a statement he withdrew because it was likely that the “prayer I would offer will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda the focal point of the inauguration.”
Addie Whisenant, a spokeswoman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, said the committee had chosen Giglio because of his work to end human trafficking.
“We were not aware of Pastor Giglio’s past comments at the time of his selection and they don’t reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country at this inaugural,” Whisenant said in a statement.
The liberal website ThinkProgress posted audio of the sermon Wednesday. In the talk, which the pastor said he gave 15 or 20 years ago, Giglio cites Scripture and called same-sex relationships sinful and an abomination. He warned congregants about what he called the “aggressive agenda” for acceptance of the “homosexual lifestyle.” And he recommended the writings of an advocate for therapy that aims to convert gays and lesbians into heterosexuals.
Repeatedly in the sermon, Giglio urged congregants to welcome gays and lesbians to the church and says God loves them.
In Thursday’s statement, Giglio said “speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities in the past 15 years.”
Obama’s inaugural planners have put an emphasis on reflecting diversity in the festivities, including the participation of gay Americans. Obama personally selected Richard Blanco, whose work explores his experience as a Cuban-American gay man, as the inaugural poet. And the Lesbian and Gay Band Association of St. Louis was one of the first selections to march in the inaugural parade.
Whisenant said the committee was considering others to deliver the benediction at the Jan. 21 event.
The 54-minute sermon, entitled “In Search of a Standard – Christian Response to Homosexuality,” advocates for dangerous “ex-gay” therapy for gay and lesbian people, references a biblical passage often interpreted to require gay people be executed, and impels Christians to “firmly respond to the aggressive agenda” and prevent the “homosexual lifestyle” from becoming accepted in society.
Think Progress cited this passage:
”We must lovingly but firmly respond to the aggressive agenda of not all, but of many in the homosexual community. … Underneath this issue is a very powerful and aggressive moment. That movement is not a benevolent movement, it is a movement to seize by any means necessary the feeling and the mood of the day, to the point where the homosexual lifestyle becomes accepted as a norm in our society and is given full standing as any other lifestyle, as it relates to family.”
And this one:
”I would refer you maybe just to the article “Born gay?” by Joe Dallas, who is the president of a ministry that helps with homosexuals in “recovery.” It was found in Christianity Today in June of 1992. It really unfolds for us that the evidence that they say is there, that the media wants to tell us is there really isn’t there at all. But I want to tell you this tonight. Even if it was there…
“How do you respond to that? How do you respond to the news reports that we’re hearing in the last few months that there is a genetic tendency to be an over-eater and it’s been supposedly proved by the scientists? That there is a genetic tendency to addictive behavior. Alcoholics by and large have a genetic tendency to addictive behavior. I predict in our lifetimes and not a very long period of time from now, scientists and geneticists will have found a way to prove a gene theory for every malfunction in sinful society. And do you know why? We talked about it the very first week—because we do not want responsibility for our choices.”
I still can’t fathom what the White House thought it was getting when it booked a well-known, conservative pastor. Somebody didn’t do his homework.
Beyond that, opinion toward same-sex marriage is one of the most rapidly shifting areas of cultural policy ever seen in American politics. One wonders how many people will soon be penalized for being on the wrong side of this one – which could be a dilemma for a president who wants to be seen as reaching out to religious conservatives.
To that point, here’s a paragraph from a statement that Giglio has posted on the Passion City Church website:
The issue of homosexuality (which a particular message of mine some 20 years ago addressed) is one of the most difficult our nation will navigate. However, 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.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider