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 Louie Giglio has withdrawn from giving the benediction at President Barack Obama's inauguration.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 admit it, I'm a troll and I recant everything I have said. I'm sorry, but I'm a moron with a childish mentality.
I was a wicked dope smokin alcoholic fornicating foul mothed horrble sinner, then the Lord showed me Jesus, that I was hell bound and needed a savior. More people are coming to Jesus right now than EVER BEFORE! MAny muslims are having dreams and visions of Jesus and coming to faith in Him with NO explainable reason at all. Miracles are all around us, if you would open your eyes and SEE THE GLORY! What an awesome CREATION we have that had to have been designed by an awesome CREATOR, It is UNBELIEVABLE!!! What an amazing GOD! He so loved the world He sent Jesus to die for us that we could be COMPLETELY FORGIVEN because of His sacrifice for our horrible sins! Take the offer before it is too late!
Oh, maybe I should give up, because he proved his god – he typed it in all caps. Hmm. People have done a good job selling encyclopedias and vacuum cleaners using the same type of personal pleas as this. Well, I guess if you're selling vacuum cleaners you usually are asked to demonstrate something. Let's have a demonstration.
Trade secret, know what that means? The experts know they have no fossil evidence, but they are not telling YOU about it. YOU BEEN SNOWED!
“The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils … in any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the gradual transformation of its ancestors; it appears all at once and ‘fully formed’.”
Stephen Jay Gould (Professor of Geology and Paleontology, Harvard University), Evolution’s Erratic Pace, Natural History 86(5):14, May 1977.
The thing Greg and others like him have a lot of trouble with is that, regardless of evolutionary theory, regardless ot creation theory, they still have no proof of the god of Israel. Try and try again, and fail each time they do.
You know your tailbone? Guess what: it's evidence that you had a tail that evolved away. The bone structure of marine mammals clearly shows they were once the paws of land animals that have evolved since they returned to the sea. Antibiotic-resistant diseases evolved in the last 50 years. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera
I'm praying for pastor Giglio and hoping he stays strong in his faith and beliefs through the unwarranted scrutiny that's coming his way.
I think it just shows how hypocritical liberals can be when one person is persecuted and ridiculed for his belief and they are the ones who are doing the ostricizing and judging on that view.
"we are seeking to unite, not divide"
Yeah right, censoring someone strictly on his beliefs will only divide us even further.
Let's just shut everyone who doesn't agree with us up to continue to fool people into believing our opinion and convincing them that it is the only "accepted" opinion.
Diversity sounds great so long as it doesn't include any evangelical Christians.
adam, can you please whine some more about your persecution complex? It's laughable.
ONE man's OPINION from 35 years ago. Much has changed since 1977.
You don't read very well, do you, Greg? Or should we call you Chad?
What's (obviously) wrong with what Giglio said?
There are @12 pages of what's wrong with it. Read before posting, doofus.
@ Polonius, first off God created science, so it would make sense for our puny brains. Yes MANY of God's miracles could be interpreted with science, you are correct in that. However it is not just about the FACT that these miracle's were done, but when they were done. It is agreed upon by many historians ( both religious and not) that the Red Sea was parted. They believed in this so much they took to a science lab to reproduce this, and were able to scientifically explain how this could happen. They even recreated the event, in a petri dish about an inch deep. Now tell me, if God did not exist, how is it possible for that moment in time for the Red Sea to part at the exact moment it needed too. Not just did it part at that exact moment but it never happened before that and has never happened since. Please try to explain that away.
If scientists were able to make such a thing occur, why would you believe that god was necessary to accomplish the task the first time?
Your beliefs do not equal facts.
You failed at "first off, God created science".
And you don't know that it DID part. You only know that the bible says so. That doesn't make it true.
No, I don't know that it did part, because I was not there. I believe the Bible, yes. However many historians who do not believe in God also agree with the Red Sea parting. And to the person saying that we recreated it, we did. On a much, much, much smaller scale. It took the exact perfect conditions at the exact right time to part the Red Sea at the exact perfect time. That has never happened on that scale ever again.
Sources, Zack. Let's start with sources.
Doesn't matter who "believes" it happened, Zack. If the only source you have for the event is the Bible, you have no evidence. You believe it's true. That doesn't make it true.
Just one of the many that I have found, not as detailed as I would like it to be. But in short time this will work.
No historian believes the Red Sea parted. None. That's just stupid.
Many of the same people who believe it is true that it happened, also believe in evolution. Does that mean evolution is not true?
First of all, your source is hardly neutral, Zack. Secondly, "proposing" doesn't mean there's any proof at all. Simply that scientists think they can figure out the conditions that might have allowed such an event to occur–I doubt a single one of them said "it must have been god."
Who cares whether they "believe" in evolution? Evolution isn't up for debate. It's accepted by nearly every scientist as fact.
Zack, read that story. Slowly. Do you see a single mention of the event having been the work of god? Even one? Do point it out.
There is just as much evidence to say God exists as to say he does not. There is no open and shut case for evolution, there just isn't. Do they have some compelling stuff, sure, absolutely. I have never denied that. However there is no final nail in the coffin. Just as there is no final nail in the coffin for God's existence, if you don't believe. However I believe that if you look at all the facts there is a very compelling argument for His existence. There were hundreds of prophecies fulfilled by Jesus, written hundreds of years before his birth, he fulfilled them all. Some of them you need faith to believe in sure, the rest of them are just facts. And also, it was accepted by NEARLY (being a key word in your last comment) every scientist that the earth was flat, then it was proven wrong. Unless it can be proven without a shadow of a doubt you can't say without faith that evolution does not exist. The difference between you and me, is I put my faith in God, you put yours in evolution. I do have to run out now, but I would like to say thank you for having an intelligent conversation without bashing or name calling. I always enjoy a good conversation, and the small chance that I may help you question about God. I hope the rest of this new year is a great one for you. Good bye and God Bless you.
Before I leave I read your last comment, the point in that last source posting was to find something that didn't mention God. The point was to show that scientifically the event is fully possible, however for it to happen at the exact right moment in history, that has to lead some people to question things.
Zack, if it isn't possible for you to believe that the entire bible is a fraud, which it is, even christian scholars understand the whole Moses episode did not happen. There were no Jewish slaves which necessitated Moses' exodus which precipitated the "parting" you referring to. The bible is just one myth after another. None of it is real.
So what? So it's possible. By the same token, so is the Big Bang. So is evolution. There is no evidence of a god in any of these events. You believe there is, but you have nothing but your faith and the bible as your proof. Sorry, but that's not sufficient.
Zack, there is as much an open and shut case for evolution as any other descriptor of our reality which rely on enough to call "facts." If you're not sure you want to rely on these facts of our shared reality, find a window and jump out of it – it doesn't need to be fatal for you to understand gravity works. If that doesn't do it for you, you may want to consider not typing into your computer/device which is only here because of those crazy "non open and shut case" sciency things which we've harnessed. Please don't ever fly in a plane, watch TV or drive a car. There is no open and shut case for those things to exist.
Zack, of course Jesus fulfilled the prophecies, the people who embellished the story of his life wrote it so that he would fulfill the prophecies because they had read the old testament.
There should be follils all over the place proving evolution between various species, but instead all the evidence just helps out the good ol BIBLE! Looks like ol God was telling the truth ALL ALONG! (surprised look)
ah ha hah ha.. there it is. that every embarrassingly large leap from theory to the fabled god of Israel. LOL. you must have been going warp speed to get there so quickly. now i still need to speak to your mother about keeping some cash safely for me, Greg. I'm sure she and you both are the perfect fit for me.
sorry – VERY embarrassingly
Has anyone noticed that Greg posts comment after comment to elicit responses, then ignores the rational refutation of the crazy sh1t he says? Greg=Chad.
I am a high-volume moron.
well no one is perfect
A person who thinks you're wrong can be a very good person with good things to say. I try to listen to people who think I'm wrong – especially people in ministry – because they might actually be trying to help me. The pastor was right to back out if participation requires a compromise on the difference between right and wrong. Would you give the impression that what you believe to be wrong is right, just so you can deliver an inaugural speech? I hope not. We must never compromise on what we judge to be right and wrong. Do you believe that gay is love? I disagree. That doesn't mean you have nothing important to say to me. I would have liked to hear this ministers speech. But it's better he says nothing, if, by saying something, he compromises on what he believes is true. In the land of free speech, why must we compromise our beliefs to say anything in public?
Greg, evolution occurred, is occurring, and will continue to occur. It's not up for debate.
"I fully agree with your comments on the lack of direct illustration of evolutionary transitions in my book. If I knew of any, fossil or living, I would certainly have included them. . .I will lay it on the line, There is not one such fossil for which one might make a watertight argument."
- Dr. Colin Patterson, senior paleontologist at the British Museum of Natural History.
if you're a bad witch, at some point you'll make some very embarrassing leap to the god of Israel.
The bible condems Gay relations, but Gioglio and his church cannot be innocent! A lot is said in done that has nothing to do with the bible.
Example: at the same time evangelicals condem GAyS, many that call themselves evangelical, are presently in the Middle East killing people in warfare... When in the New Testament killing others is condemned!
"Echoing the criticism made of his father's habilis skulls, he added that Lucy's skull was so incomplete that most of it was 'imagination made of plaster of Paris', thus making it impossible to draw any firm conclusion about what species she belonged to."
Referring to comments made by Richard Leakey (Director of National Museums of Kenya) in The Weekend Australian, 7-8 May 1983, Magazine, p. 3
so are you a good witch or a bad witch?
Obviously Lucy is NOT the only fossil, dumbshit, and Lucy is not seriously challenged by any serious anthropologist. You are taking quotes out of context.
@President of Nigeria: He's a sandwich...short of a picnic.
lmao @tom – good one!
"The chance that higher life forms might have emerged in this way is comparable with the chance that 'a tornado sweeping through a junk yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein'."
Sir Fred Hoyle (English astronomer, Professor of Astronomy at Cambridge University), as quoted in "Hoyle on Evolution". Nature, vol. 294, 12 Nov. 1981, p. 105
"The absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages between major transitions in organic design, indeed our inability, even in our imagination, to construct functional intermediates in many cases, has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution."
Stephen Jay Gould (Professor of Geology and Paleontology, Harvard University), "Is a new and general theory of evolution emerging?" Paleobiology, vol. 6(1), January 1980, p. 127
You have trouble understanding quotes, don't you. He is making a case for rapid evolutionary transitions.
For all the Bigots and haters of Truth, there will come a Time when you will need the Old book, at that point your Theories will be nothing but a pack of lies crumbling from a highrise tower. God bless you pst. Giglio, continue the good work.
what's with the raNdom capitalization?
THe thermal vent hypothesis is so utterly ridiculous, that is why it does not really get any credence at all, do you think any of us are that stupid? Why would a vent of rushing hot, superhot water put together molecules in the perfect order to create reproducing beings working their way up to brains? NO WAY!!! Did you know there is NO fossil evidence for evilution? NONE!!! True enough, they don't have ANY
Yes, everyone here thinks you're dumb.
you must be a part of the 'tbt' and john p tarver' group. Lies so outrageous even nutters blush.
I think so, End – the group that includes Electrical engineers that think they've solved the creation puzzle.
Nobody knows where life came from? Surprise, surprise. I already knew that, the experts on the subject are JUST SCRATCHING THEIR HEADS< BEWILDERED!!! HA! too funny. They haven't got a clue, neither do you!
This will help you. It pretty much destroys your illogical, but that's no surprise.
Let's face it: guys like you were the ones saying "you can't explain lightning, so GOD DID IT" to cavemen. Of course, everything that was previously attributed to god has eventually been revealed to be a perfectly natural phenomenon, devoid of anything divine or supernatural, so it is quite safe to say you are just the last gasp of primitive ignorance in a world that is slowly realizing that it's all just nature doing its thing.
@gag: might want to go back and read some of your earlier posts before you get ahead of yourself, skippy.
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.