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January 10th, 2013
12:07 PM ET

Giglio bows out of inauguration over sermon on gays

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 Louie Giglio has withdrawn from giving the benediction at President Barack Obama's inauguration.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

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Christianity • Politics

soundoff (1,699 Responses)
  1. RJ

    Does anyone else hear David Lee Roth singing "I'm just a giglio"?

    January 10, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Note my previous post!

      GREAT SONG, but it is twice as old as David is!

      Goes WAY back as I recall

      January 10, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • GAW

      FACEPALM

      January 10, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • Saraswati

      That must have been a hard name to grow up with. I've got to have some respect for someone who makes it in life with that kind of burden. Not enough to sit through a sermon...but hey, I give him some credit.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
  2. nO POST

    Funny that the word BIGOT used towards Christians can be easily applied to those who point the finger at us for said bigotry. There's hipocrisy for you.

    January 10, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • Southern Humanist

      By your logic, the civil rights movement was bigoted against the KKK – get it?

      January 10, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • sam

      Being intolerant of intolerance is a problem now?

      January 10, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • nO POST

      I believe you mean definition.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • IKYABWAI

      Deep.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • GAW

      So bigotry is not so bad...there's good bigots and bad bigots. It all depends on what's more culturally acceptable.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • sam

      Does anyone else hear the dulcet tones of butthurt, here?

      January 10, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • tallulah13

      No one is stopping christians from praying, worshiping, marrying, having families, working, buying homes, etc. But christians seem hell-bent on depriving gays and lesbians those rights, just because a 2000 year old book tells them to do so. That's bigotry, dear, whether you acknowledge it or not.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • nO POST

      The Bible applies to those who believe it – not to those who dont. That being said I'm totally against Christians imposing laws on others who dont believe – it is the concern for the soul though that we try to tell them about Christ. I am aware that many do it with threatning messages which I am not for either. It will be my own mission to do it the right way – how Jesus did it.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  3. Maranatha

    And the fact that a pastor would be pilloried by the Politically Correct Police for speaking the Truth is a surprise to WHO?!

    January 10, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Speaking about a Bronze Age gay Palestinian carpenter who is also the ruler of time space and dimension is somehow telling the truth?

      By definition, all preachers are liars, it is how they earn their living

      January 10, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • James

      He's not speaking the truth. The scriptures actually say nothing about homosexuality as a psychosexual orientation. Our understandings of sexual orientation are distinctly modern ones that were not present in the minds of Scripture writers. A few passages of Scripture (seven at the most) object to certain types of same-sex expressions or acts. The particular acts in question, however, are sexual expressions which are exploitative, oppressive, commercialized, or offensive to ancient purity rituals. There is no Scriptural guidance for same-sex relationships which are loving and mutually respecting. Guidelines for these relationships should come from the same general Scriptural norms that apply to heterosexual relationships.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • Saraswati

      If this were a pastor who preached that African Americans suffered for being more sinful than whites would you object? If he were an Islamic Imam who preached on the sins of Christians would you? If so, you are as "politically correct" as anyone; you just refuse to see it in yourself.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • tallulah13

      This is not a christian nation. The United States government is deliberately secular. The man was invited to pray at a government function, but recused himself when he realized that his professed beliefs were not acceptable to over half the population (polls show that 51% support gay marriage in this country). It was probably the best choice for all parties concerned.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  4. k210

    Let's see we have a pastor who has devoted his life to the teachings of Jesus Christ and considers the Bible to be the Word of God. If you don't believe that it's OK but we would all expect a real genuine pastor to believe that the book he has based his life on is real. Within that book it does say what he said it says, plainly. If you don't like what it says again that's fine but it is what it says. So, if you're going to invite a Christian Pastor to pray you're either going to have to realize that he believes in the Bible or pick one who pretends he is a pastor. You're only other option is to not invite a Christian Pastor and go with no prayer or pick a religion that agrees with what you believe. At least be real in what you do and not shop for a Pastor who is willing to sell out on their faith.

    January 10, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      yep, he's sticking to the bigotry of the bible - i guess that's praise-worthy...?

      January 10, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • Maranatha

      Perhaps Obama can find a priest of Satan to bring the benediction. It would be fitting.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Linda Phipps

      There wouldn't be a problem with words spoien in the 90's unless this is still his position. But, see, we seem to have a problem with following scripture when scripture does not address gay marriage, but pretenting it does.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Perhaps Obama can find a priest of Satan to bring the benediction. It would be fitting.'

      oh arent you the cutest little hyperbole fairy.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • Pete

      "Within that book it does say what he said it says, plainly."

      Really that's why so many Christians don't interpret the way you do, because they recognize the bigotry of the writers. Just like Christians did with slavery and women's rights.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • k210

      Bootyfunk if you don't want someone who believes in the "bigotry of the bible" then don't invite someone who believes in what it says, invite a different belief or no belief. It's really not that hard, many believe that this country is in it's post Christian phase, some even refuse to acknowledge Christianity had anything to do with the establishment of the country. So don't pretend by inviting a Christian Pastor to participate. Maybe a better move would be to openly declare that the United States does not believe in any god other than the god of obama and dare the Christian God to prove them wrong. Just do it and get it over with.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • Saraswati

      So you'd be good with having a pastor in who had given sermons on how we should bring back stoning for adultry and disobeying parents?

      January 10, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
  5. god

    I am gay.

    January 10, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • GAW

      Whatever, sure, whoop de doo, so what, who cares

      January 10, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
  6. GAW

    Well CNN thanks for making this guy famous or more famous.

    January 10, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  7. stevephoenix

    Maybe Obama can get Jeremiah Wright.. Oh wait.

    January 10, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  8. Southern Humanist

    Anti-gay bigots need not apply

    January 10, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • BetterDeadThanFed

      Anti-Religion bigots neither.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • sunnyday

      When your secular humanist viewpoints are the source of your bigotry, you need not apply either.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
      • Southern Humanist

        so wanting all consenting adults to be treated fairly and equally is now bigotry? You must be using an alternate dictionary...

        January 10, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  9. Mike from Seattle

    Should have gotten Father Guido from SNL.

    January 10, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • GAW

      A prayer while smoking a cigarette in front of millions would be epic.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
  10. RobK

    Struck down for speaking the truth. So it goes in America, the land of the free, home of the brave.

    January 10, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • Sue

      No, actually, he was pressured out for being a bigot and for hate speech he did. That is actually a good sign for America.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • James

      He's not speaking the truth. The scriptures actually say nothing about homosexuality as a psychosexual orientation. Our understandings of sexual orientation are distinctly modern ones that were not present in the minds of Scripture writers. A few passages of Scripture (seven at the most) object to certain types of same-sex expressions or acts. The particular acts in question, however, are sexual expressions which are exploitative, oppressive, commercialized, or offensive to ancient purity rituals. There is no Scriptural guidance for same-sex relationships which are loving and mutually respecting. Guidelines for these relationships should come from the same general Scriptural norms that apply to heterosexual relationships.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • sam

      A narrow idea of truth for one section of society. Try again.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      it's exactly opposite of truth - it's the bible.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • BetterDeadThanFed

      Um, James, this subject is addressed in the Bible. Educate yourself, please.

      Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination.[2](Leviticus 18:22 KJV)

      If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.[3](Leviticus 20:13 KJV)

      January 10, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • sam

      @BetterDead – so what? There's all kinds of racist, mysoginistic BS all over the bible, and it no longer applies.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • sam stone

      "Struck down for speaking the truth"

      If he would have said that black people were inferior, there would have been some who would have complained that he was just speaking the truth and is being silenced by those who "hate jeebus"

      January 10, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  11. Rodney McNeely

    When a 5-year-old has an imaginary friend, it's kind of cute.

    When a grown adult has an imaginary friend, it's kind of pathetic.

    January 10, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • Southern Humanist

      Hear, hear!

      January 10, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • allnight

      And when an adult has such a seething hatred for those of faith, it's kind of scary. We've seen your types plenty in history. The self and the state are all. No God, no Christ. Followers be damned.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
  12. ART

    Godd no hate mongers at the inaugural.

    January 10, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
  13. grassisbrown

    Please invite TD Jakes or JOEL OLSTEEN to deliver the benediction prayer... PLEASE! Both actually REACH people!

    January 10, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • Scott

      You mean reach their wallets? Yeah, anyone making 7 figures "in the service of God" is doing it wrong.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • sam

      I highly doubt Joel's sincerity. On anything.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • doris

      Can't we just can the worthless praying?

      January 10, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  14. stevephoenix

    You Liberals have said that you guys forgive Hagel for his remarks about gays but when it comes to Pastor Giglio's past comments about gays he is trash. So it's ok for Obama to say yes to Hagel but no to Giglio, how about that.

    January 10, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      well at least hagel belatedly apologized, dont believe this guy has.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Hey, he's just a gigilo

      Paid for every dance
      selling each romance
      every night some heart
      betraying

      There will come a day
      youth will pass away
      then what will they say
      about me

      When the end comes we know
      they'll say just a gigolo
      as life goes on

      January 10, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • sam

      Hagel at least tried to make amends. He's not continuing to stand by his prior remarks. Am I missing something?

      January 10, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Newt Gingrich

      Umm... this has nothing to do with LIBERALISM.

      And umm ... Obama said YES to Pastor Gigolo.

      It was Pastor Gigolo who said NO because of Obama's support of GAY RIGHTS.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  15. Danielle Johnson

    Praise God for Reverend Giguio! He is standing up for what is right and of God which is ultimately all that matters! The Bible clearly states numerous time to be gay is a sin!!!! Preach on brother!!

    January 10, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • Southern Humanist

      bigotry is not "right" no matter what book you're reading it from.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • sam

      Yawn. Really?

      January 10, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Ryan

      It does not say percisely that "being bay is a sin". Do your research.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Southern Humanist

      Ryan: actually Leviticus 18 and 20, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 1 Timothy are all pretty explicit, not to mention the whole Sodom and Gomorrah nonsense.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'not to mention the whole Sodom and Gomorrah nonsense.'

      actually, as has been pointed out on another story thread, they were actually supposedly destroyed for being greedy and not helping the poor etc.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • sam stone

      danielle: how can something not a choice be a sin? can skin color? eye color?

      January 10, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  16. sam

    The fact that you think the comments section of a CNN article is indicative of the downfall of America...seems more like an actual sign of downfall.

    January 10, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  17. Newt Gingrich

    Is Christianity a RATIONAL belief? (ie. does it make sense)

    Short Answer: NO

    Hence, Yahweh=Jesus=HolySpirt=Trinity does not exist.

    If you're still confuse, simply try to answer these questions:
    1. What is "Yahweh" (God)?
    2. What is "Jesus"?
    3. What is "Holy Spirit"?

    If you can't come up with a rational response to these questions, then your "Jewish God" does not exist.

    January 10, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • nO POST

      God cannot be comprehended rationally. But please, do come up with a rational explanation as to how we got here, why were here and what happens after. Throw in there only rational explanations and not theories that cannot be proven. Thanks

      January 10, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • Newt Gingrich

      nO Post wrote: "God cannot be comprehended rationally"

      Hence, you no as much about "God" as an atheist or RATIONAL person: which is absolutely NOTHING.

      Hence, your "Jewish God" does not exist. QED

      January 10, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • M

      1. Creator
      2. Savior
      3. Comforter

      There you go! Have a nice day. :)

      January 10, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'But please, do come up with a rational explanation as to how we got here'

      couldnt tell you the exact science but i know the answer isnt 'it was magic'

      'why were here'

      There isnt any reason why we are here, we just are. There is nothing special about us, no grand purpose. to the universe we are quieter than a bird fart.

      'and what happens after'

      nothing, nada, zip. Thats it, game over, enjoy life while you can because this is all you get.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • nO POST

      Still waiting for your answer man of all knowledge. Praise be to thee.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • tallulah13

      nO post: A science class or a decent book could answer your questions about how we came to be. We are here now because our species successfully reproduces. As for what happens after we die, there is nothing to indicate that anything other than decomposition occurs. I realize that death is a scary thought, but really, it's only the natural conclusion to life.

      Why not appreciate this one life we get? Why not try to be the best person you can be and not worry about unsubstantiated rewards that come only when you die? Life is it's own reward.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • Newt Gingrich

      nO Post still doesn't get it.

      Since you cannot rationalize your "Jewish God" truth claims, all 3 of your "Jewish Gods" (ie. trinity) do not exist. This is a basic principle of existence and logic.

      So it doesn't matter if I or anybody else can provide an answer to why YOU exist. Your answer to your own question is IRRATIONAL, hence it is FALSE. Nothing can make it true.

      But since you asked, there are two possible RATIONAL answers to your question:
      1. We don't need a reason why for our existence.
      2. We simply just don't know ... yet.

      It is stupid to solve a mystery with a even bigger mystery.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
  18. William Demuth

    Anyone who has ever actually read the Bible should have gleaned the character Jesus was Gay with a capital “G” long ago.

    I guess reading comprehension and Biblical studies do NOT go hand in hand.

    January 10, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • nO POST

      Cite the passages to prove this since apparently you've read it. This should be good...

      January 10, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Oh please silly person, site a passage?

      No lovers, no children, wore sandals, hung around with 12 men and a ho and never dipped him magical manhood into her once.?

      For such a phobic bunch you can't see the forest for the trees!

      In truth if Jesus came back and went to shchool in the Carolinas, the football team would beat him up, AND YOU KNOW IT!

      January 10, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • nO POST

      PATHETIC falls short on your knowledge of the Bible and as a person judging by your comments.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • frank

      Even Leo picked up on that. Pretty obvious in the dinner party picture.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • Really??

      Fictional characters often do not have a fully thought out background story. Lets just agree it is a distinct possiblity, although again, a fictional character. It does change the meaning of love your fellow man, doesn't it.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  19. "I Believe in the word of God"

    “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” ... Luke 12:49-56 also:

    January 10, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • William Demuth

      "Hulk Will SMASH"

      Avengers #3 Page#2 Bubble#3

      Now granted, basing your life on a comic book is dumb, and I realize that.

      Why don't you????

      January 10, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • "I Believe in the word of God"

      An angry minks in the vineyard trying to reap havoc, the more he reap the more he reeked!

      January 10, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
  20. End Religion

    End religion – promote relationship with Jesus

    January 10, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Is that what the priest call buggering altar boys?

      A personal relationship with Jesus??

      January 10, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
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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.