Pastor withdraws from inaugural stage

It was almost déjà vu all over again.
To deliver the benediction at his second inauguration January 21, President Obama chose a pastor who had called homosexuality “probably the greatest addiction” and said marriage between same-sex partners is “absolutely undermining the whole order of our society.”
But this time around –unlike in 2009, when President-elect Obama chose California evangelist Rick Warren to deliver the benediction—the pastor with such hostile views of LGBT people withdrew his participation in the high-profile national event.
And this time around, the LGBT events will not be overshadowed by concerns over whether the president-elect will be supportive of the LGBT community. President Obama’s first term has secured his position in history as the most pro-gay president. And there will be no discomfort this time from having to watch a pastor with active opposition to equal rights for gays on the national stage at the inauguration.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee announced Atlanta pastor Louie Giglio’s participation on Wednesday, January 9, but Giglio issued a statement Thursday, January 10, withdrawing his acceptance.
Addie Whisenant, a spokesperson for the Inaugural Committee, said Giglio himself decided to withdraw from the ceremony.
In his statement, Giglio said he respectfully withdrew because he was concerned that his prayer would be “dwarfed” by negative reaction to comments he made “15-20 years ago.” Giglio did not specify which comments or what his topic had been, but he was clearly reacting to early reports in social media, beginning with, that he had delivered a sermon in the 1990s that was “vehemently anti-gay.”
Using the White House’s “We the People” petition tool, “Jeffrey C.” of New York created a petition January 9 asking the president to “Replace anti-gay Pastor Louie Giglio for the benediction at the inauguration with a pro-LGBT member of the clergy.”
The petition compared Giglio to California evangelist Rick Warren, who was asked to deliver the benediction in 2009 just months after Warren had helped pass the California ban on marriage for same-sex couples.
“There are many members of the clergy active in the cause of civil rights and who have long been on the front lines of the fight for LGBT equality,” stated the petition. “As we told you four years ago, selecting a Christian fundamentalist who has a record of anti-gay sermons is offensive and unnecessary. Therefore, we call on you to replace Giglio and to select a member of the clergy with a history of supporting LGBT equality to give the benediction at your second inaugural.”
Giglio withdrew so quickly, national LGBT groups had not even formulated a response but they clearly supported Giglio’s bowing out.
“It was the right decision,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “Participants in the Inaugural festivities should unite rather than divide.”
Darlene Nipper, deputy executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said NGLTF had let the White House know of its “grave concerns” about the choice of Giglio, given his “history of anti-gay statements” and “spiritual abuse of LGBT people.”
“Having him deliver the benediction was a divisive choice, and we applaud his removal from the program,” said Nipper.
Given the widespread discontent expressed by the LGBT community in 2009 over Rick Warren’s selection, it was, no doubt, a surprise to many that President Obama would select another LGBT-hostile voice for his second inauguration. It appears the president may have been unaware of Giglio’s LGBT sermon from the 1990s. Some news reports indicated Giglio had been chosen because of his work to stop human trafficking.
The sermon that came back to haunt Giglio was a rambling one, claiming the Bible says homosexuals should be put to death, ridiculing studies suggesting homosexuality is rooted in genetics, and repeating the oft cited Biblical characterization of “men lying with men” as an “abomination.” In the sermon, which can be heard online, Giglio said homosexual behaviors were “impure things,” “depraved,” “unnatural,” “indecent,” and “pollutes our world.”
While everyone is entitled to basic human rights, said Giglio in the sermon, homosexuals are “not entitled to be recognized as a married couple and family under God that can adopt children…as if this is a normal thing in society.” Homosexual marriage, he said, is “absolutely undermining the whole order of our society.”
Giglio and his wife head the Passion City Church in Atlanta, which focuses its ministry on college-aged young people.
Meanwhile, the Presidential Inaugural Committee also announced Wednesday that it has chosen an openly gay poet to present a poem written for the presidential inauguration stage. A Cuban immigrant, educated as a civil engineer, and living in rural Maine, Richard Blanco represents a number of constituency groups.
In a statement released by the inaugural committee, President Obama said he was honored to have Blanco present the inaugural poem.
“His contributions to the fields of poetry and the arts have already paved a path forward for future generations of writers,” said Obama in the statement. “Richard’s writing will be wonderfully fitting for an Inaugural that will celebrate the strength of the American people and our nation’s great diversity.”

One Response to Pastor withdraws from inaugural stage

  1. Francois says:

    “It appears the president may have been unaware of Giglio’s LGBT sermon from the 1990s”?

    And still the ketman spin persists. Sorry but that’s just not a credible statement. Indeed is strains credulity. This is too sensitive an issue, it has already caused him too much embarrassment, angered too many people, he has a splendid professional staff. These things are vetted into infinity.

    In any event I am glad the right thing was done and suspect he was asked to withdraw as a face-saving device for a dis-invitation would surely have angered the Southern black churches.

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