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Queer Talk: This Time the Anti-LGBT Pastor Invited to Give Inauguration Benediction Won’t

Four years ago it was anti-LGBT evangelical pastor Rick Warren. LGBTs and allies protested his participation in Obama’s 2008 inauguration, but Warren remained. This time it was anti-LGBT evangelical pastor Louie Giglio. Protests resulted, and the 2013 Inauguration will not include Giglio.

On January 8, the Inauguration committee announced details of the event. As reported by Mediate, these included:

Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of civil rights activist Medgar Evers, has been chosen to deliver the invocation at President Obama’s public inauguration later this month. …

The inaugural committee has also chosen evangelical pastor Louie Giglio to announce the benediction. Giglio is a conservative and a contrast to Evers-Williams.

In a statement released Tuesday, the president said Evers-Williams and Giglio together ‘reflect the ideals that the Vice President and I continue to pursue for all Americans – justice, equality and opportunity.’

The next day, Think Progress reported:

Inauguration Pastor Has History Of Anti-Gay Preaching

The Presidential Inauguration Committee announced Tuesday that the President Obama has selected Pastor Louie Giglio of the Georgia-based Passion City Church to deliver the benediction for his second inauguration.

In a mid-1990s sermon identified as Giglio’s … , he preached rabidly anti-LGBT views. The 54-minute sermon … 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.

My initial thought was: this is like inviting a White Supremacist to add a benediction, to balance out the African American who gave the invocation. My second thought: why would Obama do this, again? And of course, will Giglio follow Warren, or withdraw? As Jeremy Hooper wrote, following a statement from Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association, Giglio had a choice to make.

“If I were Louie Giglio,” Wildmon stated,

‘I would say, This could hurt my credibility within the Christian community because it seems to be an implicit endorsement of President Obama by participating.’

Does he address and hopefully put to rest the concerns of those who refuse to accept anti-LGBT hostility as a public norm, or does he listen to groups that would like nothing more than to see anti-LGBT views take over.

Giglio chose the latter course. Statements from him, and from the Inauguration Committee, seem to indicate that the parting of ways was not exactly friendly. Via Sojourners, excerpts from the statements by Giglio and the Committee:

… Giglio’s withdrawal statement:

‘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. …

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.’ …

Here is the text of a statement from the Presidential Inaugural Committee:

‘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.’

Aravosis has an interesting post about how the invite / un-invite process happened, Louie Giglio and the power of the blogs:

After nearly nine years of blogging, and 18 years of online organizing, I’m still routinely amazed by the power of the progressive blogosphere, and more generally the power of the Internet for political advocacy. …

Just take one look at tomorrow’s NYT. The article about the Louie Giglio controversy cites three sources. ThinkProgress (a blog). Wayne Besen (not quite a blogger, but a more-or-less individual player who created his own small and nimble online organization dogging the religious right, and especially the “ex-gays” who claim they can cure homosexuality). And … they quoted my blog post on Louie Giglio.

I’ve heard the “time’s have changed” reasoning several times, about why Obama uninvited Giglio when he didn’t un-invite Warren. After all, the president has “evolved” on marriage, DADT is gone, etc. Maybe, too, Obama realizes he isn’t going to get the support of the more extreme Religious Right, no matter how many pastors who so identify he invites to pray. That in itself would be a sign of some kind of progress.

Giglio clearly wasn’t willing to disavow his earlier anti-LGBT statements. Neither, of course, was Warren, four years ago. The difference, or at least a difference, is surely grounded in the long, hard, persistent work of LGBT and supportive activists becoming more visible and widespread. A White Supremacist would never have been considered appropriate by the Committee as someone reflecting the “vision of inclusion and acceptance.” Once made aware of Giglio’s anti-LGBT position, the similar inappropriateness was acknowledged, and acted upon.

(Louie Giglio photo via LastFM)

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8 Responses to Queer Talk: This Time the Anti-LGBT Pastor Invited to Give Inauguration Benediction Won’t

  1. ladywalker68 January 12, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I just don’t get it. There is no excuse for this happening a second time. What was whoever is in charge thinking? These things are so easy to check ahead of time before making the same mistake.

    No excuses. In fact, in honor of the fact that we are in a financial crisis and that the middle class and poor continue to be squeezed, it is a slap in the face for Obama to make this inauguration such a big deal, even if he is getting private funding for it. It is like “neener, neener, neener…look at us we can party and you can’t!. HA!”

    • Joyce Arnold January 12, 2013 at 10:36 am #

      It does seem odd, given the 2008 Warren controversy, that the Inauguration Committee didn’t check out the LGBT angle with Giglio.

      To your larger point — I’m in full agreement that the Inauguration should be less costly. I think that about Inaugurations in general — turn the private funding into opportunities to donate the same big chunk of money to a nonprofit or whatever “worthy cause.” The big dollar donors would still get their “access” status.

  2. fangio January 12, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    Haven’t we been turning the Inauguration into a coronation in our slavish worship of the ruling class? How many surveys do there have to be showing that Americans, after everything that has happened over the past 30 years, still don’t dislike the rich. They still have this inane idea that the deck is not stacked against them and anyone in this country can become wealthy if they work hard enough. Well, these people did not become wealthy by working hard, they became wealthy by manipulating people like us. As for Giglio, it’s just Obama playing both sides of the street as usual. He has no real feelings, it’s all about calculation.

    • jjamele January 12, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

      It would be fine with me if these stupid, expensive spectacles were tossed in the ashbin, at least for re-elected Presidents. There is simply no reason to turn Washington DC into a crowded, congested madhouse for 24 hours just so that the President can pretend to take the oath again (he is actually going to take it in a private ceremony in the White House on Sunday, so the stuff everyone sees on Monday is just pointless pageantry.) Ah, but there are all those Inauguration Balls which simply must be held to honor the big contributors.

  3. secularhumanizinevoluter January 12, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    Jeebus crispies onna pogo stick….aren’t there ANY NON homophobic CHRISTIANS THEY COULD INVITE TO DO THIS? i MEAN, TO ME i WOULD WONDER WHY THERE WAS A NEED FOR any OF THE SUPERSTITION CROWD…BUT WHY ARE THEY ALWAYS THE HATE MONGERS?

  4. TPAZ January 12, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

    Cut Dear Leader some slack, he is still evolving, on, you know, the gay issue thingy.

  5. Cujo359 January 12, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

    start quote:

    The difference, or at least a difference, is surely grounded in the long, hard, persistent work of LGBT and supportive activists becoming more visible and widespread. A White Supremacist would never have been considered appropriate by the Committee as someone reflecting the “vision of inclusion and acceptance.” Once made aware of Giglio’s anti-LGBT position, the similar inappropriateness was acknowledged, and acted upon.

    end quote

    I wonder if it has anything to do with LGBT leaders recognizing that their relationship with this President wasn’t so much friendship as an alliance – a relationship that has to be beneficial for both sides. They seem to have been more assertive than progressive leaders generally, who will accept just about any amount of crap as long as it comes from Democrats.

  6. Cujo359 January 12, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

    An afterthough: If President Obama really wanted to include all Americans in the Inauguration, he could start by acknowledging that at least a quarter of us don’t believe in the Christian god, and that at least half the Christians here clearly don’t believe in the one he believes in. He could just dispense with the benediction, invocation, and anything else designed to make sure the right holy words are spoken and the right hand passes made, and the whole thing would be done in time for lunch.

.... a writer is someone who takes the universal whore of language
and turns her into a virgin again.  ~ erica jong