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)