By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Editor
(CNN)–In the face of withering criticism over a sermon he apparently delivered on homosexuality in the 1990s, the Rev. Louie Giglio has withdrawn from giving the benediction at President Barack Obama's inauguration.
Giglio informed inauguration officials Thursday morning of his decision to withdraw from the ceremony, an inauguration official told CNN.
"I am honored to have been invited by the president to give the benediction at the upcoming inauguration on January 21," Giglio said in a statement delivered to the White House and the Presidential Inaugural Committee. "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 a 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."
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Giglio, a pastor and the leader of the Passion Movement, was chosen to deliver the benediction because he's a "powerful voice for ending human trafficking and global sex slavery" and due to his work in mobilizing young people in that effort, an inauguration official said earlier in the week when the reverend's selection was first announced.
Criticism over the selection swirled after the liberal website Think Progress posted a sermon that it said Giglio gave in the mid-1990s, a speech the site called "vehemently anti-gay."
A spokeswoman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee said the committee was "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."
"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," said PIC spokeswoman Addie Whisenant.
In an audio copy of the sermon posted on the Think Progress website, a voice identified as that of Giglio's called homosexuality a sin. "That's God's voice. If you want to hear God's voice, that is his voice to this issue of homosexuality. It is not ambiguous and unclear. It is very clear."
"If you look at the counsel of the word of God, Old Testament, New Testament, you come quickly to the conclusion that homosexuality is not an alternate lifestyle... homosexuality is not just a sexual preference, homosexuality is not gay, but homosexuality is sin. It is sin in the eyes of God, and it is sin according to the word of God."
The recording continues: "The only way out of a homosexual lifestyle, the only way out of a relationship that has been ingrained over years of time, is through the healing power of Jesus."
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"We've got to say to the homosexuals, the same thing that I say to you and that you would say to me... it's not easy to change, but it is possible to change," he can also be heard saying during the sermon.
Giglio is a rising voice in evangelical Christianity. Last week, the Passion conference, which he founded, wrapped up its annual event for college students in Atlanta, with more than 60,000 students attending and vowing to end global slavery. They raised $3 million for charities that work to stop slavery and aid its victims.
Giglio said Thursday that he and his team don't 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," Giglio's statement to the White House continued.
"Our nation is deeply divided and hurting, and more than ever need God's grace and mercy in our time of need," it concluded.
Giglio took to his church blog Thursday to further explain his position to his congregants at Passion City Church in Atlanta.
"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," he wrote.
He asserted that his main goal as a pastor was to love people.
"I'm confident that anyone who knows me or has listened to the multitude of messages I have given in the last decade would most likely conclude that I am not easily characterized as being opposed to people - any people. Rather, I am constantly seeking to understand where all people are coming from and how to best serve them as I point them to Jesus."
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said Giglio's decision to withdraw was the right one.
"Participants in the inaugural festivities should unite rather than divide. Choosing an affirming and fair-minded voice as his replacement would be in keeping with the tone the president wants to set for his inaugural," Griffin said in a statement.
Giglio represents a new type of evangelical leader who "doesn't like to get involved in the culture war because it blurs the larger points he wants to make," said Michael Cromartie, the vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington.
"What I want to remind his critics is he's not being named to a Cabinet position," Cromartie said. "He was being asked to deliver a prayer. All sorts of people deliver prayers who we don't agree with on a number of issues."
"It's unfortunate that this kind of political correctness doesn't allow people who are doing great work to pray at inauguration," he added.
CNN's Athena Jones contributed to this report
There is some real venom and hate here...
And I am not talking about the article! It is in the reflection of the readers....
New to the internet, are you?
I have seen raging flame wars in chatrooms about watches, fountain pen ink, camera makers, and so on. I bet I could find a chat room for kindly old grandmothers where they rage at each other over chocolate chip cookie recipes.
It's the nature of communicating in isolation, where anything can be said without consequence. People will find themselves getting nasty, which they would never do face-to-face. And it only takes one or two to get everyone going.
It's not the topic. It's the vehicle of communication, especially if unmoderated as this forum is. And considering the general topic is inherently controversial, guess what.
Want to get off your high horse now, fuckbrain, and fight like a man?!?!?!?! (That's a joke, by the way).
Disagreement does not equal hatred. Are Christians allowed an opinion anymore?
Some christians are allowed to have a wrong opinion for sure. Now if only they would not try to make it the law.
christians have been coddled long enough. 2000+ years of, "I have an invisible friend. He commands respect because he says so. And I command respect because he's right."
Those are some of the most ignorant comments I have ever heard. If any theist said it, they would be crucified. I hope you see the traits you are portraying are exactly the ones you hate in fundamentalists.
bruce, i understand you're upset because the comments are true. One can't hate imaginary creatures.
This is the last time I glorify such immaturity with a response. I am not angry but only calmly standing up for rights. To pull the whole "imaginary creatures" argument only shows that you are more adamant about offending and attempting to disprove religion than you are searching for the truth, no matter where that lies. I recommend the book "The Reason for God" by Timothy Keller, which you are far too close minded to pick up. Good day and G-d bless.
". I am not angry but only calmly standing up for rights"
So will you stand up for gays to have their civil right to marry?
Bruce, End Religion's statements were pretty factual and not emotional, at least by the standards of some of the venom that turns up this blog. Maybe you really should take a more critical look at your beliefs. They really do look unsupportable, and indications are that such unsupported beliefs as Christianity are on their way out. Long time coming, and sometimes the truth hurts, but there it is.
Bruce, calling others "close minded" hardly helps your case and just shows your desperation to make a case that really can't be made. Your sky creature remains imaginary, until proven otherwise, and we are still waiting on such proof.
'Are Christians allowed an opinion anymore?'
ah is that what it was? sure, and people are allowed to respond to those opinions as well.
@bruce: "This is the last time I glorify such immaturity with a response."
That's too bad because I have some questions for you.
"I am not angry but only calmly standing up for rights."
What rights are you standing up for that you feel are being threatened?
"To pull the whole "imaginary creatures" argument only shows that you are more adamant about offending and attempting to disprove religion than you are searching for the truth, no matter where that lies."
We fully understand the bible is a fraud. While we do not know if a creator exists, your abrahamic god does not. How would my search for truth benefit from having time wasted on what we know to be false?
"I recommend the book "The Reason for God" by Timothy Keller, which you are far too close minded to pick up. Good day and G-d bless."
You see my unwillingness to read your book as "closed minded," I see it as "we only have so much time, why waste it on known falsehoods?" I could fill my life with books glorifying imaginary creatures. It's only fun to a certain point. If it makes you feel better I have read the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings a few times.
I see you're so afraid of your "loving and tolerant" god that you are petrified to spell its label, "god." Great advertisement for your fairy tale, there.
America is rotten from the inside out because the salt has lost its savour. It wil be good if American Christians start talking less and live Godly lives.America became the world power it has beome because of it's motto "In God we trust"... Sodomy is a direct result of a fallen nation. Keep silent, fall on your knees, humble yourselves and repent from the evil of your doing because you- America; have forsaken The Living God.
"Sodomy is a direct result of a fallen nation. "
Wow guys that means no more B J and no more going down on your woman.
You can't sit back and say that the Bible is proven to be false. There are many, many loop holes in evolution, however we still teach it in schools, right? Most of the people I meet "spewing hate" isn't from a christian standpoint anymore. Most people are angry at christians right off of the bat. I doubt few, if any, of you have ever really studied any religion at great length. Being scared of religion is much like a child being afraid of the dark. They aren't afraid of the dark really, they are afraid of the unknown. I don't try to "force" my beliefs on anyone, and all I ask in return is that if you choose to try to have a civil conversation on the topic of religion, first have an open mind and second understand what you are talking about. You can't ask questions about a book you have never read and then expect to understand someone when they are talking about it.
To Bruce and all Christians reading this post. It is not our duty to change peoples minds and force them to believe what we believe. We just have to let them know about Jesus and God's love and leave the rest to God. I think Mr. Giglio was originally so excited about the national prayer because he would be able to speak about jesus and prayer for this nation at a national scale. I don't think his agenda was for force people to believe what he believes, but to let people know about the love of God. If people don't want to believe then all we can do is pray for them and love them. Responding to insults with insults goes against God's message. Jesus does not need us to defend him. He is Jesus the son of God. The original christian's received constant insults, but they changed hearts by responding to the insults with love. Bruce, I know you heart is in the right place. You passionately love God. Like a father wants to protect his son and a son wants to protect his father, you feel you need to stand up for our God, but I beg you to let the insults go, focus on God's love for you and love on those who do not know his love. That is all we can do and all we have been commanded to do.
Anybody whose name is so similar to the word gigolo should avoid any anti gay sentiment.
"... to be in a fight on an issue not of our choosing;"
Yet, he chose to withdraw, not to say that he was wrong or even misinterpreted. Apparently, he hasn't changed his position.
I guess their "desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country at this Inaugural" does not include evangelical Christians.
Well, they couldn't just invite everyone. It's just a tiny step from that to feeling they would have to extend an invitation to the Westboro Baptist church of Kansas.
Hey, you guys have made it clear that we are all going to hell to be tortured for eternity, why would you even WANT to be included with us? You might as well get used to your exclusiveness here.
Science>Religion. We have fossils, ergo we win.
That is soooooo ignorant. Yes there are fossils, but there is no evidence of a clear evolution of a species. There is NO evidence of the stages from start to finish. Just fossils here and there that "scientists" try to explain through theory. Understand the word "Theory", Tom?
They actually both work better when they compliment each other.
Try the fossil record for the horse M.
No evidence of evolution? You're joking, right? There is massive evidence. Are you being lame and trying to demand that every piece of the chain still exist and be in our hand to prove it, when your belief has NO piece of evidence at all?
Here are the easy ones, but there ae literally millions more:
You have a tailbone. As a fetus, you had a tail. Your DNA is 99.4% identical to a chimpanzee's.
The bones of a whale, seal, porpoise, and all other marine mammals show that they are actually hands in the late stages of evolving into fins. Evolution.
The flu that is kicking everyones' ass this season was included in the flu shot, but it evolved/mutated so much that the version in the shot was too different from what finally came around to protect you. Evolution.
50 years ago, there was only the TB virus. Now, due to exposure to anti-biotics, new antibiotic-resistant strains have evolved (and they are potentially a major problem).
I can go on and on, and these are the obvious ones.
Tom sorry, from Tom to Tom: you don't get the idea of scientific theory at all. Scientists talk to each other even if they disagree, until they get it all figured out and move to the next problem. Religions don't talk much to each other, because you are mutually exclusive. (if there's only ONE True god, which one is it? Hint, hint.... it's a made up story...)
Religion has nothing to prove or disprove, hence it's called faith. Fine by me. But that's where any reliable statements end.
"Yes there are fossils, but there is no evidence of a clear evolution of a species."
Incorrect, there is evidence. What you are probably asking for is a complete chain of parent and child fossils showing the evolution of a new species, but fossiliztion is not that thorough. That does not mean that the fossils we do have do not support evolution, because they do.
"There is NO evidence of the stages from start to finish."
Evolution does not "finish", it is ongoing.
"Just fossils here and there that 'scientists' try to explain through theory. Understand the word 'Theory', Tom?"
Apparently you do not understand the word.
"Theory: In science, a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses." ( http://ncse.com/evolution/education/definitions-fact-theory-law-scientific-work)
The problem is that for people like M every time a new fossil is found it just bolsters their case because now there are two new missing links that they can complain about.
A theory isn't just a made up explanation M. The word for that is Bible.
Giglio just showed the Christian community that he failed to lean on his faith in Christ. He bowed out when he should have stayed in! This shows that he is a pastor with low convictions in his belief. Anyway. Giglio is not in a leadership position so who cares if the public complains about a old sermon. It’s not like he was being elected to a position that gives him power and authority over the people!
Way to stand up for medieval bigotry. Congrats...
He did not sacrifice his values; he saw that this would detract from his focus on slavery. It isn't glorifying to God to argue when the end result is only going to send people further from Jesus. Everyone knows the stances and debate and over-debated issue further will not get your point across. Preach the gospel and let minor issues stay minor.
David, you could not be more wrong on this point. Louie is so passionate about ending slavery that he did not want people making their agenda the primary focus of his inaugural prayer. Louie has been convicted to show people the true gospel of Christ and part of that includes a social component that must make a stand against slavery. Louie is standing by his convictions by not allowing people to take away from the fight to end slavery.
GLBT is not a minor issue at all.
your god's condoning of slavery and expectations of nonsensical violence to others are not minor issues to anyone but you.
so apparently you believe that equality is an agenda? How interesting...
Whether or not any of you agree with his view or not, he has the right to believe and speak his view just as any person does, as long as it is not hateful. He is just saying in his belief it is a sin. And notice he hasn't tried to be "PC" and back out of it either.
Yes, he is free to go back to his house and mumble these bigoted comments to himself and any other idiot churchies in ear shot.
Would you want an Islamic speaker who called Christianity sinful or immoral giving a national government sponsored address?
For the Scriptures say, "'As surely as I live,' says the LORD, every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess and give praise to God.'" Roman 14:11
Enjoy your ignorant freedom now, all those who are against the Creator of this world. You WILL be held responsible for your blasphemy and your eternal consequences will be self-imposed. If you read and researched everything that you are against, I can guarantee you would see things differently. Rather, you would just jump on the band-wagon of gossip and opinion and make yourself a fool. God will NOT have mercy on your soul, if you don't repent and seek His forgiveness.
I'm sorry, "M", but "LORD", "God", "Creator" and "His" are elements of mythology, therefore your assertions are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".
@Morno: haven't you heard? The bible is a fraud, jeebus never existed. No member of mankind's pantheon ever existed, except Bacchus. Now have a beer and chew on that!
Proxy threats for your follish nonexistant version of a god.
I I am the God of Mercy
Do you have any idea how foolish it sounds to threaten us with the wrath of a god we don't believe in?
"Free speech for me, but not for thee", Rundvelt? Is that how it is? That pastor didn't say anything like all gays should be shot. I would hardly call what was quoted in the article as "vehemently anti-gay".
It's interesting to see how the voices preaching "tolerance" are anything BUT tolerant of views which disagree with their own...
He's free to say what he wants, it just won't be in a manner that appears to be endorsed by the greatest President the U.S. has been graced with.
Oh that tired old "I'm rubber, you're glue . . . " turnaround tactic the Republicans use all the time. They get their political tactics from kindergarteners.
The black are the REAL racists!
The gays are the real oppressors!
It's a good thing they can turn on Limbaugh every day and find out what their opinions are. They wouldn't know what to think if FOX didn't tell them.
Supporting tolerance does not mean one has to be tolerant of intolerance.
That's what it is. Don't impose your views or athiesm on others. Keep it to yourself. Quietly practice and don't let others know that what you find good is good for others too. All things will be revealed in its time. We started seeing results of peoples views and practices already. Garbage IN Garbage OUT (GIGO).
But Tim who is the keeper of the standard – you? me? Who get's to call someone else's view ignorant while saying their own is the truth? Being tolerant means being tolerant of all, right? True tolerance doesn't allow for anyone to call someone else's view ignorant or even right. True tolerance accepts all...yet here is no such thing in this world, this message board is a loud example of that. All of us claim truths that we think are right or better than others...even the "outspoken tolerant" ones. When the opposite of what I believe is presented we fight against it, we do that because we believe in what we believe.
Tolerance does not mean one needs to be tolerant of hate speech or any other form of prejudice.
Telling the world that sin is sin is like telling the Taliban they are a terrorist organization – they just dont see it that way. Only God can change a persons heart and personal view of a subject.
I'm sorry, "nO POST", but "God" is an element of mythology, therefore your assertion is unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".
Ok, I'll change my words from God to Jesus. No mythology there. Thank you for that.
Your Jeebus never existed. If you can manage to think for just a moment; you just admitted God was mythology, therefore he never had a son.
Thanks God, wait when you or some relative came out fron the closet. Amen.
The anti-religion zealots on this board seem to be far more bigoted than this man. Ah well, my mantra to these folks is – if you are correct and I am wrong, I have lost nothing. But what if I'm right?
Your Pascal's Wager is uncreative and immoral.
If you are wrong, you have lost a lot. The ability to love your neighbor like yourself. The ability to be caring and compassion to all, to just name two. And those in my eyes (and maybe even GOD) are big.
That old "What if I'm right and you are wrong" argument is so stupid. What you're saying is that you believe in Jesus, NOT because you think that's how the entire Universe actually works, but because you are afraid of eternal damnation. What if the Aztecs were right? What if the ancient Greeks were right? What if the ancient Egyptians were right? Maybe we should all be mummified and put in pyramids in order to have eternal life. If you believe in Christianity just to save yourself from hell, don't you think an angry, omniscient god would see through that tactic and condemn you anyway?
BravesGal: Do you seriously think that god is so dense that he cannot see that your belief is a "get out of jail free" card?
If you're wrong you've lost an entire lifetime of thinking for yourself.
"Our nation is deeply divided and hurting, ..."
And it will continue to be so as long as people like Louis Giglio spew hatred in the name of Jesus Christ and try to force their Christian beliefs and agendas on Americans who are non-Christian, agnostic or atheist.
Your argument is with God, not with Giglio. Did you actually READ the text from the sermon, or for that matter, the relevant scriptures that he's referring to? No, you're just marinating in your own pool of moral relativism and casting aspersions towards those whose own morals don't happen to jive with yours.
So your solution is to force people to believe the way you do? that will unite the country? So someone who doesn't believe the way you do is "spewing hatred"?
seems to me that Think Progress is doing the bulk of the "forcing" in this instance but that is just my opinion
As Mr. Giglio said, it is not an issue he has pursued for the last 15 years. He was very gracious in his response and said nothing hateful, but at the end of his statement, mentioned the need for grace. And, no matter anyone's beliefs, Christian or not...shouldn't we ALL be displaying grace for each other?
Just out of curiosity, what do you think would be left of our culture, society, literature, art, and history, and philosophy if you removed every trace of Christianity, as well as all the knowledge that was preserved by the Church through the last two millennia?
We do not need to "show grace" for one another. Religion and its adherents are deserving of all the scorn we wish to heap on them. We have coddled their childish notions long enough.
End Religion You give Democrats a Bad name. Democrats please dont become the Republican Party and alienate some of your base. Most Blacks and Latinos are Christians you know
Nick, I don't think that anyone can "force" someone else to change a belief. People change when they realize that a belief no longer fits, was incorrect, etc. People change when they realize that Jesus truly meant to LOVE your neighbor as yourself, and that means that if you want equality, do not deny it to others. If you want to marry the adult you love, don't deny that right to someone else, etc.
Someone who advocates against equality cannot truly be called a followerer of Christ.
Having had the chance to work with Louie Giglio, hear him speak, and know those he is around often...I don't think him to be vehemently anti anyone. He loves everyone and has a passion for people that has impacted his entire life...such a passion you can't help but be impacted by it. I'm sad to see this happen but also have to say that the way he has handled it makes me respect him even more.
Wow. Really? That language is considered "vehemently anti-gay" ??? Are you kidding me?
American christians who live by the Word of God....we're in trouble.
I'm sorry "davidcrichton", but "God" and "Word of God" are elements of mythology, therefore, psychologically, you were already "in trouble".
You are only "in trouble" if by "live by the Word of God" you mean forcing your beliefs on the rest of us. In that case, you are in trouble because we are not going to take it anymore.
No, so-called "Christians" who advocate inequality are "in trouble" as you put it. Those who advocate love (i.e. equality) and truly follow Jesus's law of love are fine.
I would like to thank Think Progress for making the nation aware of a bigot.
How does a person who cares about your soul not being destroyed for eternity become a bigot? Oh, that's right, people like Roger only care about instant gratification.
@"?" Looks like the person who supposedly cares about peoples' souls can be described as a flip-flopper at best.
Wow, Roger. That's the pot calling the kettle black, now isn't it? Get over your "enlightened" self why don't you?
Why is it that if I don't believe what you believe, I am a bigot, but if you don't believe what I believe you are enlightened? I think that makes you, Roger, a bigot and a hypocrite.
"How does a person who cares about your soul not being destroyed for eternity become a bigot?"
I do not know know about bigotry, but purporting to speak for god makes one delusional, or corrupt.
Why doesn't he attend and offer a repeat of that sermon, Obama could use some fresh air.
As usual, religion is oppressive thinking in the land of the free. Get over your childish superstitions!
Wakey Wakey, you do know you are spiritually dead in this world and won't be around for eternity.
spirituality is mental illness
Why should anyone who lets their personal views be dicated by an old and musty book be allowed to be in any public sphere? They should be left to the street corners selling pencils.
That's not very nice of you, Rundvelt. How would you like to be those pencils.
Everyone gets to have a voice, even the people you hate. That's what the First Amendment is about. I'd rather I let my views be dictated by an old book than by new fashion.
What has the atheist given the world except lies?
I'm sorry "?", but your assertion regarding atheism is unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".
Old musty book, you mean like the US Code, Congressional Record??
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