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 Louie Giglio has withdrawn from giving the benediction at President Barack Obama's inauguration.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
I liked to see the Westboro Baptist Church "TRY" to protest this inauguration.
Maybe Jeremiah Wright could fill in.
Perhaps you could extract your cranium from your rectal cavity, but I doubt it.
Even Saint Paul changed his mind on his own beliefs. Went from persecuting to preaching. It is right there in The Book.
"Participants in the inaguaral festivities should unite rather than divide"
Simply having a pastor there divides!
In other words the White House is banning GOD from attending
Huh? Are you illiterate. He stepped down. And there will still be a benediction, by someone else.
Wow, you sure don't have much confidence in the omnipotence of your god.
Yeah, I hear he's also "banning" Bugs Bunny and Wile E. Coyote.
That is what the separation of church and state means
I'm sorry that your god is so weak that he can be shown the door like a petulant teen.
Great stepping on First Amendment again
what is with this place and the hatred of the Bill of Rights?
A remedial civics course may be in order.
and remedial English comprehension.
Further proof that stupid cannot be fixed.
Oh dear. That GED may not have served you well at all, I guess.
And Jesus hung out with the tax collectors. Shame on him.
the problem with the selection is that it seems evangelicals believe they must always be proselytizing, which gets very old. it seems a bit arrogant in this day and age, and no different than muslim extremists (but without the violence) in that the answer is always our way is the only way....
...um, this sermon was from the 90s. Have you looked at what this guy has been doing since then (you know, the reason why he was originally selected)? It wasn't proselytizing, it was focusing on the GOOD of Christianity to be charitable, help, etc. Good grief.
um....he likely still feels the same way about those pesky gays, so no matter how much good he does, he's still a deluded, discriminatory man of faith.
Believers in Jesus Christ are doing what Jesus told us to do, go and tell the world. If you had the cure to cancer would you just keep it to yourself? I hope not. Its all about our free will, God gave it to us, we can excercise it to accept him or deny him It is our choice. No one can force you to accept Jesus as your savior. It is a gift from God. I have never regretted doing so. I am not perfect, I make mistakes. Jesus loves me and forgives me when I make those mistakes.He will do the same for all who choose to follow him.
uh....curing cancer is fine. That's not really on par with telling gay people to straighten up or burn.
What I'm hearing many of you say is that you don't want anyone giving the benediction whose opinions disagree with. That logically leads to one of two end-points...
1) We have a government that now endorses and embraces only people who believe the "right" beliefs (obviously not Rev Giglio)...we should admit it, or...
2) We now need to find people for these duties that are without their own convictions or opinions.....people who have taken no positions on anything.
Just trying to figure out the new rules, because these don't make sense under the paradigm of the first 230 years of our nation.
what is needed is someone whose convictions do not prevent them from tolerance of other beliefs.
yes yes yes. We need more atheists to perform prayers/benedictions. hmmmm.
Hmm...should we admire or trust delusional people?
You're hearing wrong. It's not about difference of opinion. It's about idiots who think they sin less than others; that gays are sinners based on nonsense in an old book.
There ought to be a 'statute of limitations' on sermons. People's viewpoints do change with the times.
agreed. if people didn't have the ability to change their mind about something upon more experience and reflection, no one would ever mature or grow, and nothing would ever change.
however, except in front of your own church or 'flock,' or invitation to discuss why someone should follow your particular version of religion, even a pastor or priest should not think it ( or be compelled to believe it) just fine to always be trying to evangelize, proselytize or need to constantly tell others how their beliefs are the ONLY right beliefs and their method of religious observance is the ONLY acceptable/true, whatever method.
What a sick administration we are about to be led by for the next four years. Calling good evil and evil good. Making deception and lying an everyday event.
Armegeddon! Cats and dogs living together!
You know its very biblical
please provide some evidence Mr. Blake
Get someone to pray who believes anything you want to do is just fine, someone who believes that there is no such thing as "Wrong" (as long as it's not against the law). Of course they would be praying to the almighty god the Supreme Court, but whatever.
Ending slavery in all its forms? Your Bible allows slavery. Examples: "Ephesians 6:5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters" Colossians 3:22 "Slaves, obey your masters in all things"
Your remarks says you do not understood the text you quoted from the bible .
In short form. Slaves who became believers in Christ Jesus the Lord. were to be obedient as Christ was obedient. It was also the cultural norm, much like it was in our GREAT USA at one time. As in other areas of the bible . it was a way that the slave could possibly win the slave owners over to Christ. You really should do a through study of slaves in the old and dew testament and acquire a greater understanding of Gods stance on having slaves . rather then picking just one sentence here and there randomly. you are short changing yourself on understanding .
This really is too bad. This man is doing a lot of good. The quotes I read in the article (I can't speak for the rest of the sermon) aren't "vehemently anti-gay." They are reflective of what is written in the Bible – so call the Bible vehemently anti-gay. In fact, I think his words are substantially LESS "anti-gay" than many other sermons I've read/heard. And, it was in the '90s. Good grief. I support LGBT rights, but I think in this case they're shooting themselves in the foot... methinks the LGBTs protest too much, in this case.
" methinks the LGBTs protest too much, in this case."
There fighting for their civil rights, they have a right to protest, just like all other groups in the past.
@bob: this is not about fighting for their civil rights, it's about shouting down anyone that disagrees with them. I didn't see ANYTHING printed from the sermon that said anything about civil rights. It was a religious sermon, at a religious venue, that they can choose not to attend. To put forth that someone is inappropriate to speak at a public venue because of one past sermon is hyperbole and, frankly, just silly. I'm all for civil rights, but this went WAAAAY too far.
You're just tired of hearing about it – you don't care if religious doctorine is offensive to people who are just trying to live the same life everyone else does.
@Kid: you mean you are for civil rights, just not gay civil rights?
Giglio is promulgating the hate existent in his bible. God clearly says, "kill gays." This Gigolo dude says, "God is right." He is condoning and promoting as "righteous" the same hatred and nonsensical violence. He's free to speak his mind, but it won't be at the inauguration. He'll have to do it in a dank, watery basement surrounded by 3-4 other nose-picking, gently rocking religious bigots. Will you be there as well?
Wow, if there are any bigots out there, it is the liberal left. Apparently they forgot that religious freedom is a right. We can believe and practice any religion we choose. OK so what if he had a sermon that was anti-gay. That is a choice based on his belief. It is not like he is going out and attacking gays. Just about any preacher who has belief in the bible has preached about Sodom and Gomorrah which is an anti-gay story. You liberals talk about tolerance yet you pursue religious persecution.
Please explain how his religious freedom is being curtailed.
You left out the part about the Nazi liberal Muslims.
"You liberals". Where do you jerkwagons sprout from, anyway?
Doesn't Islam feel the same about gays as this man? Isn't there Muslim prayer being said? Is there a Catholic praying? This is pure PC.
Oh there it is........"religious persecution".
Let's see we have:
Bibles in every motel room
God on our money
Prayer before public events
Christian cable networks 24/7
Discounts on insurance for being christian
Churches every 6 blocks in every city over 100,000
Laws that prevent non-christians from holding public office
Christian bookstores in every town over 12,000
God in the Pledge of Allegiance
Christian billboards along the highway advertising Vacation Bible School and “Repent or go to He.ll”
Federally recognized christian holiday
Religious organizations are tax free
75% of the population claims to be christian
National day of prayer
God in the National Anthem
Weekday christian education for elementary students.
Please, take the persecuted christian whine line somewhere else.
I know you guys felt that way About Rev. Wright.
@sybaris We are talking about the inauguration, what are you talking about?
SAM: Wow! As a lapsed catholic and Jew, I say you are one really hateful person! Stuffing their pie holes with Chik-Fil-A? That's your clever response? Man, you and the Nazis and the KKK are right there together.
LOL Is that a denial?
1) Learn to use the reply link you inbred fundie douchewaffle
2) Never mind, because with the nazi reference you so foolishly made, I invoke Godwin's Law and end this thread.
uh oh Nazi ref!
Lapsed Catholic AND Jew?? You failed at two religions? God is going to be very, very mad at you...
i learned a new word today. Thanks, Sam!
This "benediction" speech is something that should go the way of the dinosaur. Religion has no business in politics.
Tradition, shamadition. Its time to start changing things and getting them right for once.
I tend to agree, but as a ceremonial ritual I can accept it. I sure don't rely on appeals to a deity among my top 10 steps to safeguard and improve our country.
When time is of the essence , Deploy your chute, then pray. (This method has been proven by many skydivers.)
We can agree on your point.
BUT this will surely pee off somebody...
How about inviting Glenn Beck to give the inaugural benediction?
Good idea. Then at least the morons will have representation.
I don't even want to imagine the bloodbath that would turn out to be.
They could put it on pay-per-view and pay off the national debt, if that happened.
I do 'believe' projectile vomiting would become an Olympic sport.
As a practicing Christian, I get sad to be pasted with the label anti-gay, when I have plenty of gay friends who I love and cherish their friendship. I might not agree with every person's choices, be them gay or straight, but I think it highly unfair and hypocritical for the masses to label someone as gay hating simply because they disagree with their life choices and cling solidly to their beliefs. A person can believe something is not "of God" or "sin", and still separate that act from someone's personhood. I agree that the American Church has no business being so political. I don't think Jesus taught that it was the church's role to influence the laws of the land, and therefore all humans should have the right to choose who they want to be with. Yet I also think it is unfair to persecute those who uphold beliefs that might differ from others, especially if they are doing it in such a way that does not infringe upon a person's civil liberties.
" especially if they are doing it in such a way that does not infringe upon a person's civil liberties."
But you are since marriage is a civil right and by denying gays to marry infringes on their civil liberties.
Not to mention, that no matter what you may think, the doctrine of christianity teaches that they will be tortured forever, and you are complacent in it. You subsribe to the religion. If you don't want to be held to the doctrine of your religion, then oh well, that's not how things work.
Sorry, I should have been clearer, I do think that gays and lesbians have the right to marry. Jesus was very clear in the way he ministered that he was not concerned with trying to change people through the structure of government, but rather with love and the power of God. Forcing my beliefs down someone's throat through mandated law is not going to do anyone any favors. Thanks for helping me clarify.
The doctrine of Christianity regarding hell states that every person sins. SIN IS A LOADED word that in its simplest terms means turning from God and His design for life and going your own way. The bible teaches that we all do this,and it looks very personal and different for every person. Being gay specifically does not condemn a person to hell, the human condition of wanting to be the god of our own little universe does. If a Christian is truly set on being a disciple of Christ and emulating what Christ taught through his life and sacrifice, then complacency towards anyone going to hell, is the last thing they should be. I'm sorry if you've never known a Christian that has displayed to you Christ's GOOD news, that it doesn't have to be this way. That He loves me, you, the richest man, the poorest child, we are all on an equal playing field before God and his answer to each and every one of us is the same, the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus. He doesn't want, and neither does any truly practicing Christian, want any person to go to hell.
Kaymay many of the atheists on this blog are former Christians and ministers. So preaching at them is not the way to go.
Not trying to preach, just replying to a comment. I guess I get sick of some of the purported Christians ridiculous and rude comments as well as those coming from the other end that I long for what I believe to be fairly represented. I agree, preaching at people is the last thing anyone needs. Thanks for the reminder.
Can someone wake me when something new comes out of this?
I don't really feel like going into the complete immorality of the entire christian doctrine, including Jesus, because it won't make a lick of difference to Kay.
Kaymay, don't obfuscate the primary prenuptials with rasberries. Often, the pertinent cat presents fabled necessities in the parking chamfer. Realize your net precedent. Triangulate! Save the best for the alligators. Ever the bastille notches the orchestra but Wendy is not green and horses will capitulate. Filter out the log from the turnstile and cry prevalently.
So there brown stare. Feed your inner walnut and resolve. Subject your lemon to the ingenious door in the presence of snow and animals. Aisle 7 is for the monetary cheese whiz. Faced with the kitchen, you may wish to prolong the sailboat in the cliff. Otherwise, rabbits may descend on your left nostril. Think about how you can stripe the sea.
Regale the storm to those who (6) would thump the parrot with the armband. Corner the market on vestiges of the apparent closure but seek not the evidential circumstance. Therein you can find indignant mountains of pigs and apples. Descend eloquently as you debate the ceiling of your warning fulcrum. Vacate the corncob profusely and and don’t dote on the pancreas.
Next up, control your wood. Have at the cat with your watch on the fore. Aft! Smarties (12)! Rome wasn’t kevetched in an autumn nightie. (42) See yourself for the turntable on the escalator. Really peruse the garage spider definitely again again with brown. Now we have an apparent congestion, so be it here. Just a moment is not a pod of beef for the ink well nor can it be (4) said that Karen was there in the millpond.
Garbage out just like the candle in the kitty so. Go, go, go until the vacuum meets the upward vacation. Sell the yellow. Then trim the bus before the ten cheese please Louise. Segregate from the koan and stew the ship vigorously.
And remember, never pass up an opportunity to watch an elephant paint Mozart.
@kay: it's nice you approve of gay marriage, however your god does not. The church isn't going to win on this until they strike those parts from the bible, apologize profusely and start paying out the reparations.
atheists have used a loud voice; Christians have remained silent; so sin and immorality rules in America unfortunatley
Seriously?? The only time christians are silent is when they're stuffing their giant pie holes with Chik-Fil-A.
"Christians have remained silent; so sin and immorality rules in America unfortunatley"
Since 80% of people claim to be Christians, then your religion has caused the immorality.
I'm sure you're going to start comparing the USA to Nazi Germany next. It's always the same stupid rhetoric. Sid you are a moron.
"Christians have remained silent"
Sometimes it is better to remain silent, than to utter stupidity as if it were truth.
Christians have remained silent, really?
Here's some silence for ya:
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.