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 Louie Giglio has withdrawn from giving the benediction at President Barack Obama's inauguration.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
Which hand do the gays shake with?
Obviously that is important to you, but likely no one else. Give it lots of thought?
well ob, I saw a vid clip of the big o acting silly trying to shake a marine's hand when he jumpedd off a chopper. proactive protocol means everything in washington. they wash plenty of money there.
You likely think you got the inside scoop on Washington when you went there on a bus tour, lol.
a christian man PRAYING at a democratic president's INAUGURATION??? this is unheard of. he better have not been able to be there!!!!!! no need to have jesus freaks firing up the nation with their phony religious politics!!!! GET OUTTA HERE!!!!!!!! always fussing over gays!! HOW CAN YOU LOVE EM IF YOU DONT ACKNOWLEDGE THEY ARE HUMAN COME ON GET WITH THE PROGRAM YOU BUNCH OF DIM WITS cant accept anybody!!!!!!!!!!!!! LEAVE
You need to reasearch a little better. No one is without sin and no one is condemned if they repent and ask for christs salvation. This goes for christians and none christians.
Not the hand that you wipe your own a.. with that's for sure.
He didn't get paid enough. Guess God told him that payment of 1 million tax free would set his church in a sin forgiving path for at least a month.
He is not against walking around in a $2500 suit.
It's sad how many people get a kick out of blasting other groups of people. I've never known any person that was swayed to believe one way or the other through insults. Personally, I am a follower of Jesus. Why? Because he has revolutionized my life. There's never been another person that's ever lived that has been more controversial. I've traveled the globe and seen his miracles from the poorest sections of India to the Amazon rainforest and back. If you are even slightly curious.... Ask him to show up in your life. You might be surprised that if your heart is open to him, what you'll find.
I think you may have a very flexible definition of the word "miracle"...
Thankyou for the proper christian response, you would make a great mentor.
Whether or not someone agrees with his views, at least he is consistent in his stance and willing to avoid conflict with the people
Then why did he accept in the first place?
"my participation, and the prayer I would offer, will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda a focal point of the inauguration"
So, he obviously still hates gay people. Good riddance!
That's exactly how I took his nasty comment. We all know what he meant by "agenda," it's just another code word, like "traditional marriage" and "defense of marriage."
Anti-gays, you can whine until the cows come home, but the fact is, this is further proof your anti-gay agenda has failed. Ever since Anita Bryant, anti-gays have cheated and lied in an attempt to keep LGBT Americans at the fringes of American society, but now it's anti-gays who are at the fringe. Most Americans condemn your shameful attacks on their family members, friends, neighbors and coworkers who are LGBT. Many major Christian and Jewish denominations are marrying same gender couples in 9 US States.
Cawwot bwain. That's a usurpation. God claims to do the marryin'. Not Wizbutt Trailer.
I've never understood why a gay couple would want a religious ceremony. I've always felt that it's counter-intuitive.
The Supreme Court took on Proposition 8and the Defense of Marriage Act for review this term. Unless they cop out to a very narrow interpretation instead of the Equal Protections clause that is truly relevant, gay marriage is going to become legal throughout the land. Even the present bunch of right wing judicial activists are not going to be able to ignore Equal Protections (expect Scalia to try, though).
@Rational, If you're gay and religious and you don't believe your religion is anti-gay, why wouldn't you want a religious ceremony? It all depends on the religion.
Sorry, lol, your nasty plaster deity has nothing to do with legal marriage.
My husband and I were married in a public park by an elected official. No minister or church wanted or needed, but that's what we wanted. MANY denominations are marrying same gender couples right now. They obviously aren't fooled by anti-gay nonsense or fake Bible passages.
I don't understand how a gay person could adhere to a religion which states they should be executed.
You just said 'religious ceremony'; you didn't specify a religion.
I think many of them ignore the nonsense and focus on the love of Christ and the forgiveness of sins.
Tom, did you just make a comment about religion that wasn't venomously hateful? I'm a tad disappointed.
Why? I've written often that I have nothing but respect for those who believe and live their faith through action. I have nothing against belief as long as those who believe don't attempt to use religion as an excuse to discriminate against others. i admire the faithful who leave judgment to someone else and concern themselves more with loving others.
I loathe the religious zealots who spend more time patting themselves and their brethren on the back and polishing their halos than they ever do working for the good of all. I have no time for the arrogant bozos who think their interpretation of scripture is the end-all and be-all of faith. I am disgusted by the dumb sh!ts who get on here and try to tell others what "god thinks" or what the "bible says" when they can't even spell "cat" without a dictionary.
If that disappoints you, so be it.
Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son,
That's probably the best comment I've seen you make. Bravo!
Cawwot, you were warned a long time ago about the pharisees wantin' to take over the world.
Well, thank you, Observer!
TTPS nailed it in first 2 posts. Before I joined the church at 13 (which was the last time I ever went) I hadn't read the bible. The only scriptures many christians know are the ones the pastor points out in "today's sermon" or the cherry picked ones in "bible study." I can't say I remember discussing any contentious bible passage. It was always love, love, love.
It was a social event. It wasn't a place where people gathered to ACTUALLY discuss and/or debate. Bible study was simply sitting in a room of indoctrination where a church leader would read a passage, ask if we had questions but then always guide us back to his interpretation. Contentious passages weren't discussed.
End religion, you are projecting your own "contentiousness" onto scripture. Take off yer shoes before reading.
I assume your talking about the OT- in genesis 6:2 it talks about the sons of God saw that they were fair and took them as wifes ( these were the 200 or so fallen angels that took a pack on mt. herman) which through that union created giants (nephlim). These fallen angles taught astrology, sorcery, weapon manufacturing, abortion etc. The whole earth was corrupted by hybrids, human, animals, plants. This is confirmed by the book of Enoch and Jashar. Gen 6:5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that ever imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. So He flooded the place and kept Noah and his family whose genes hadn't been corrupted. The OT was about keeping Israel away from spiritual corruption and physical corruption (and much more) so that Jesus could be born
Or it was to help get the kids to sleep on a long camel ride.
Why Noah's Ark is total bullshit:
No evidence of a global flood. Moving species all over the world to noah virtually impossible and really stupid. Ark way too big to be made of wood, and way way way too small for all the animals and their provisions. Way too few people to care for all those animals. No way that only two of each species would result in stable population growth as species eat other species – not enough to sustain the predators, and wipes out the prey. Genetic inbreeding as well. Transportation back to the farthest reaches of the globe virtually impossible, and really stupid. Multiple variations of Asians, Africans, Hispanics, aborigines, Arabs, Whites, and all the other races emerging from 6 Middle Easterners, getting to their various geographic locations – absurd.
God's rules in the Old Testament are corrupt and evil. How can good come from such evil?
I suppose you think Dianetics is science fiction?
What continues to amaze me is the Left, Liberals, Gays, Atheists, etc. who portray themselves as open fair minded people, willing to have a civil discussion on the issues. Until you disagree with them. Then they turn into the absolute perfect, greatest poster child of a narrow, close-minded BIGOT!!! Exactly what they are accusing their opponent of being, Political Correctness at its best!!!
You would think, as smart and intelligent, as you claim to be, you would look at your favorite target, supposed enemy, Christians. Examine closely the mistakes that Christians have made in the past. Looked closely at the failure for the way Christians have lived and treated non-believers or those they have disagreed with. The bad decisions made in the name of Christ. The big mistakes made in the name of Christ. The Westwood Baptist Church and their picketing of military funerals is a prime example today.
So why would you want to treat someone you disagree with, with the same hate and venom like they have treated you? Has it been successful? Has it made a major impact/change in those they have/do oppose?
Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu nor Jesus, conquered their foes by returning blow for blow. They stated their case quietly, treated their foes like they wanted to be treated, treated them better than their foes treated them and won.
If Christians throughout all of the past 2000 years since Christ had continued to truly live as the 1st century believers did, as Jesus lived, this world would be very different!
But unfortunately man stepped in.
I pray it will change.
Who is Desmond Tutu's foe? Poverty? You can't really shoot poverty, can you? By the way, what happened Jesus, Gandhi and Jesus? They all lost and were murdered.
You're pretending as if the discussion revolves around favorite movies or baseball teams. It isn't. The discussion is hinged on the fact that christians defend a bible which espouses death to gays. DEATH for someone who loves another of the same gender! That's outrageous.
When you say "why can't gays even have a conversation where I can voice my opinion?" you are asking gays to have a pleasant conversation with someone who either wants them dead or feels it is justified. Your god has commanded you through the bible to kill gays. If you think that's wrong, great, stop pretending religion is about love and tolerance. If you still think the bible's great, don't expect an easy-going conversation from the gay community.
Says the person without an open mind.
Its to bad there is a need for him to back out because of his beliefs. He has a great ministrie and its to bad that he will not be able to bless obamas being sworn in. We are taught to respect peoples beliefs and i hope everyone keeps this in mind before they slander someone else for there beliefs.
The literacy level of Christians remains dismal.
I also slander people who think the earth is flat, 6000 years old and popped into existance by the snap of an invisible old white mans fingers. People who think the moon is made of cheese. People who think Nasa faked the lunar landing. People who think Elvis is still alive. People who think thier handgun will prevent the government from "oppressing them". People who think equality means "as long as you do what i think the bible says". People who think the illuminati secretly control everything. People who think Obama was born in Kenya and will give the country to "the muslims" if elected, and then again if re-elected. Hope you get the idea. Have a swell make believe day!
My prayers are with you both and thanks for the colorfull content
Mr. Giglio wants to torture all LGBT Americans with the condemned "ex-gay" fake therapy that never works and that always injures the victims. No one should respect such shameful "beliefs."
Anyone who thinks that gay people shouldn't have the same marriage rights as straight people deserves to be slandered. However, calling them a bigot in this instance isn't slander it is the truth.
It's true that God condems GAY relations. But the Evangelicals, persist on doing and teaching many things the bible doesn't teach.
Ex: In the New Testament, Christians are though to leave vengeance in Gods hands, and to love there enemies, though the Evangelical church members went and go to war to kill people in Afganistan and Irak. George Bush, himself as a Evangelical, started all the blood shed in the Middle East, and many of his fellow church members were fighting the war. Meanwhile the Church leaders were applauding warfare!!
Also, if you engage in relations with a squid, you must be smitten in the knees. If you ever see a guy walking bow-legged from the beach, now you know why.
Is it just squid? Are octopi okay if I don't make them wear clothes of those evil blended fibers?
Learn something new every day. Now I know why my dad, Hollywood, was bow-legged.
Bushs religion is Skull and Bones
Next time do a little research before inviting knuckle-dragging troglodytes like this buffoon to the party.
Yes, that's the thing that bugs me about this whole situation.
Obama swears on stacks of Bibles, this guy fits right in with the Dems.
Eventually, we'll be seeing not just anti-gay references anathematized, but anti-sin references as well. Think about it. For certain types of people (whose numbers are increasing daily) nothing is "sin." For them, the concept of sin is outmoded. Clearly, nowadays, things such as adultery, lechery, fornication, lust, greed, anger are not seen as sins, but as signs of power, strength and potency: as freedom. Instead of sin, we'll have things that are seen as being "counterproductive and non-conducive to the smooth running of Society", a society that has been remade in the Image of the Beast. Drug add-iction, alcoholism, child abuse, spousal abuse, se-xual abuse, self abuse, gluttony, sadism, masochism will cease to be sins. In fact, we're already seeing this. Many of the most popular TV shows nowadays (for example Weeds, Hung, Dexter, Nurse Jackie, The Shield, The Sopranos, and many many others) are about people living secret, sinful lives. And getting away with it. We've become a society that Roots for the Bad Guy. Or at the very least, a society that is seeking to redefine (or eliminate?) the very concept of "bad" (i.e., sin.) In a world ruled by the idea of Relativism (cultural, moral, etc) even value judgments of "good" or "bad" will become potential hate speech...
You clearly haven't put much thought into the concept of victimization. Might want to start there...
This is embarrassing but I've misplaced my invitation to Satan's Royal "We Won" Party and Next Day Brunch. Can one of you other atheists take me as your date?
I am super serial.
I really love it when Christian zealots try to use science to debunk science. It's really hilarious! I just love the flagrantly absurd misunderstandings of what they are trying to present.
The well of Christian stupidity has no bottom.
Agreed. (Off-topic: I love your screen name!)
I was very skeptical about the bible, often saying that it's been translated so many times – who could believe it? Being raised as a catholic for 16 years of my life, I believed in God but was terrified by him. I also thought because of Flip Wilson's "The devil made me do it", the devil was just being used as a scapegoat. Getting more aquainted with the bible, I have come to realize that the devil or lucifer is very real and that we are in spiritual warefare. Looking at all the crime, killings and the perversion in the music industry/ movie industry and hate in the world we are being manipulated and deceived by people who have authority over us – and spiritually by lucifer and his minions.
Jeremiah 17:9 says the heart is deceitful above all things, and deperately wicked: wo can know it?
The bible is full of wisdom and information. It has so much depth to it that it was made for all people even you highly intellectuals
The bible is also filled with horror and evil, no small part of which is conducted at the hands of your god. Might want to read it a little more carefully.
Yes I'm highly intellectual and you're correct, the Bible is for me. My Bible is printed on thoroughly absorbent paper and if I run out of tissue paper in my toilet, I use my Bible. It truly is a great book.
I find Psalms to be the most like Charmin, by the way. And the older the Bible, the better, too.
Sorry, manpigbear, GOD (Yahweh, the GOD of the Bible) does NOT perpetrate evil; that comes from the sinful heart of man.
So murdering children is not evil? Thanks for that insight into the christian mindset.
Who created my heart to sin (even though my heart just pumps blood through my body. Most of the sinning comes from my mouth and manhood)?
You sure you haven't read Dianetics?
amy, keep questioning things. Bad people are bad, good people are good. Bible has nothing to do with that. Being intelligent is in no way a negative.
Sure only a lib would rerd this schit!
There's a very good chance that any comment containing the word "lib" will be completely irrelevant. Thanks for helping to keep that correlation alive and well.
So you are a lib. Welcome on board.
And "Greg" and "Chad" are my aliases, because I is too scared to post under my real name.
Remember: if you're going to name-jack at least be funny.
this is untrue...Giglio was asked not to give the prayer because Obama's minions found the sermon...please report correct facts next time CNN
No, actually "christian" groups asked him not to. Why is it you "fact" people are always so terribly misinformed? Fox much?
That's okay, either way, as a good man, right with God and the view of scripture, will not have to soil himself by association with Obama.
Sure, Sane Person. And you believe it when someone leaves office to "spend more time with his family," don't you?
Depends on the person Tom, but most are just trying to get out of work. But fact is, right wing christian groups tried to get him to turn down the invite long before this. They didnt want him rubbing elbows with the likes of Obama.
I'm not talking about leaving "the office." I'm talking about elected politicians who leave posts because they've been asked to do so by their bosses.
I also have a very small member.
Grow up and let Greg talk for himself.
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.