Leave it to this president’s Inauguration Committee to create a national controversy from the seemingly simple act of choosing a pastor to pray at the inauguration ceremonies.
On Tuesday, the committee announced Passion City Church’s Louie Giglio would deliver the benediction at the upcoming presidential swearing in. The Georgia minister, like so many other Bible teaching clergy, it turns out, does not believe in promoting homosexuality.
Immediately following the committee’s Twitter announcement were a series of furious tweets questioning why a pastor, who doesn’t believe in gay marriage and has preached against homosexuality in the past, would be the choice of this pro-LGBT president.
Liberal publication Think Progress vetted the Pastor, checking for sermons that would identify him as “anti-gay,” and they found this:
In a mid-1990s sermon identified as Giglio’s, available online on a Christian training website, he preached rabidly anti-LGBT views. 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.
By Thursday, ABC News’s Jonathan Karl reported that the Pastor had been removed from the schedule.
A spokeswoman for Giglio sent Think Progress the following statement:
January 10, 2014 [sic]
I am honored to be invited by the President to give the benediction at the upcoming inaugural on January 21. Though the President and I do not agree on every issue, we have fashioned a friendship around common goals and ideals, most notably, ending slavery in all its forms.
Due to a message of mine that has surfaced from 15-20 years ago, it is likely that my participation, and the prayer I would offer, will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda the focal point of the inauguration. Clearly, speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities in the past fifteen years. Instead, my aim has been to call people to ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ.
Neither I, nor our team, feel it best serves the core message and goals we are seeking to accomplish to be in a fight on an issue not of our choosing, thus I respectfully withdraw my acceptance of the President’s invitation. I will continue to pray regularly for the President, and urge the nation to do so. I will most certainly pray for him on Inauguration Day.
Our nation is deeply divided and hurting, and more than ever need God’s grace and mercy in our time of need.
Addie Whisenant, part of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, said in a statement:
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. Pastor Giglio was asked to deliver the benediction in large part for his leadership in combating human trafficking around the world. As we now work to select someone to deliver the benediction, we will ensure their beliefs reflect this administration’s vision of inclusion and acceptance for all Americans.