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 Louie Giglio has withdrawn from giving the benediction at President Barack Obama's inauguration.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
Someday we'll figure out that all of us are intolerant and judgmental. At least Jesus forgives. What about us?
I am more the variety that nailed his scrawny butt up in the first place.
I ain't the forgiving type.
So now ya know the rest of the story about William Demouth.
"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." – well, only those that agree with this administration's "vision". so much for diversity.
Inclusion. Acceptance. ALL Americans. What is hard to understand about this?
No human being is qualified to come between me and my concept of a god, so all imams and preachers are either evil creatures trying to control me, or just charlatans trying tot cajole me into giving them a livelihood. They are all false, pooh to them! As to god, if I ever meet him or her, he or she has a lot of explaining to do. I don't, because what have I done that matters?
Got a question for you believers though, why does god need a gender? What for, exactly? And if he or she does need a gender, doesn't that mean they are not quite complete of themself? It is an interesting question given Mr. Giglio's position on gays.
However, this thing about the Inaugural is silly. HE has to good sense to withdraw and not make a tempest in a teapot, but if he is concentrating now and for some years on ending human slavery, then he's on MY side and I am on his. Unless he brings it up again, I don't care if he can't cope with gays.
God needs a gender to empower the gender that created him.
He is the best pronoun we have in our language. It doesn't do God justice.
I don't think God is a man. He is much more.
We call nature "she". We call boats "she".
"I don't think God is a man. He is much more."
Much much more!
Like a Flying Spaghetti Monster!!!
So the guy has an opinion. You have yours as well. The only difference is that he is in front of millions and you are hiding behind your keyboard on a CNN forum.
That includes you as well, so...
I am not the one getting worked up as you obviously are. I made the statement that everyone has their opinion and it is easy to push your agenda on a forum, including myself. The only problem is that I am not pushing an agenda. I don't care if he does the prayer or not.
Does COMMON SENSE allow gay or lesbian marriages?
Doe common sense allow Justin Bieber to sell more albums than Bob Dylan?
No it dosen't, but in culture "common sense" isn't so common, or even sensical.
Does COMMON SENSE allow for the following of a 2000 year old work of fiction written by scientifically ignorant goat screwers.
The answer is no.
The gospel of Jesus Christ will flip your world upside down.
I suppose that could be true if the kids left a copy at the top fo the stairs and I tripped over it and hell head over heals down the stairs,.
@All creatures – that explains why so many fundies get so little done. You guys need to figure out which way is up.
"The gospel of Jesus Christ will flip your world upside down."
Ddi he slip on a banana peel?
Luke 12:48 "..........For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required:........."
Its pretty sad no matter what side of the fence you claim. We have gotten to the point where a sermon from 15-20 years ago is being held against somebody just to deliver a prayer. Sad indeed. I know I am not happy with all the things I said or did 15-20 years ago. I am sure most of you would feel the same. Oh well, maybe they can find a monk.
If bad things I had said years ago were boriught up today – I would apologize for them.
Christian preachers claim divine insight.
Is it your position Jesus has changed his mind about buggery??
Was he wrong then, wrong now or both?
We can't have a self correcting dogma running wild.
Either your Gods insights are divine and ALWAYS unchanging, or your God is a fraud.
Divinity does NOT evolve.
@jwt: why does he owe you or anyone else an apology?
He doesn't but he also does nto deserve to be speaking at the inauguaration without one.
Why? Does the inauguration represent the entire country because if I remember correctly, Obama didn't win 100% of the vote. Reality is that if Obama didn't agree with what he said he shouldn't have asked him to speak. Maybe the Obama staff should do a little more research next time.
Yes his staff should do deeper research,. And there is a vast difference between being incluive of most people and demeaning od some. If what is reported the rev is full of sh!t.
I would agree with jwt. If I was sorry about what I said 20 years ago, I would apologize and admit I was wrong. If I wasn't sorry, I might as well have said it yesterday.
Last I checked there is a large % of the US who is against gay marriage so there really isn't a "majority" here. To say he is full of it is a little extreme. Reality is that it is HIGHLY likely that he still believes that a gay lifestyle is a sin. The only difference is that he has chosen which battles to fight as most of us should start doing more of. How can he expect to convince someone of the gay community that being gay is a sin if that individual doesn't adhere to the same laws that he believes to be true? It is a pointless battle that, in the grand scheme of things, isn't even on the radar of his overall objective as a pastor. It is not his job or any other Christians job to judge another person. The only responsibility he should be called to perform based on his beliefs is to love others and tell them about what he feels he has found in his religion, whether those he is telling choose to believe or not. Should he apologize? I guess if he has changed his stance on the subject but if not then he doesn't owe anyone anything.
Polls say that 51% approve gay marriage. A small majority is a majority nonetheless.
Lester, dear, that's WHY he's not going to speak–the staff DID do research and discovered his early sermons.
When I get into religious discussion with a religious nut, they often counter my science and evolution card with God creating all things, including implanting the genius that allowed humans to invent science, but when it comes to gays, He didn't create that. Nope, He created all things, except gays, he said so in the Bible, which wasn't written by man but by God,...which by the way I have to say is the worse writing I have ever read, there is not continuity, countless contradictions and writing styles, if this the best writing God can do, well, he is obviously not omnipotent. The three great evils are Religion, Retards and Republicans.
So it must be the devil that made Jesus gay??
You could add people who generalize, and consider themselves authority on all issues.
I am betting that God and Satan had a falling out from their gay relationship that created that rift,...after Satan hurt God's feelings He declared all gays evil and their actions sinful. This led God to commit incest / adultery with HIs mom to impregate her with Himself, so she could give birth to Himself to save us from sins He Himself condemned us too. He is an egotistical little being, everything is about His way or the Highway,...not wonder Satan left him.
Yeah, but I heard Satan had some WICKED PMS issues
I'm sorry, "hal 9001", but "you" are a redundant doosh-bag, therefore your assertions are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL"!!!
Was that some kind of rebuttal?? lol. Talk about fail.
That's what happens when you tell the truth. Unfortunately, having a different opinion in America is no longer tolerated by the very people who say straight people should be tolerate. Its a sad day.
thats what happens when you tell the truth? Huh, maybe I am confused, is that the same truth that says its ok to own slaves, not to eat cloven hoof animals, dont mix different fabric types, etc. Grow a pair and think for yourself bud.
Having an opinion that not everyone is equal is a problem.
"America is no longer tolerated by the very people who say straight people should be tolerate"
They should have Gene Robinson give the prayer.
Why persecute him for telling the truth? He read the Bible and that's what it says. He is a minister and it is his job to tell the truth, even if it isn't what is 'popular' or 'politically correct'. If you don't like what the Bible says, argue with God, not the one who is reading it.
I'm sorry, "sjhovey", but "God" is an element of mythology, therefore your assertions are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".
I believe Hitler used the same rational in Mein Kampf
Perhaps if we had only slapped that simpleton upside the head when he said his nonesense, the world might have been spared 23 million horrible deaths?
The interpretation of nonesense by simpletons is a dangerous thing!
But if you're speaking in front of the country at the inaugeration of a person who is supposed to represent the entire country, and you personally have a problem with a section of the country...that's not going to be well received.
If you don't believe in god, arguing with him is not an option. If the problem is a repressive idea codified in superstition, then the messengers are the ones to challenge.
Amen to that.
@ Sam: Obama doesn't represent me. So why do we need to assume that the person he picked to say the prayer should represent everyone in the nation?
Lester, that's a bullshit argument. I don't care if you voted for him or not, or how you feel about it. He was voted in by majority. The intent is to try and represent all equally. You're intentionally being goddamn ignorant.
You were the one who said he represents the entire country yet you now say that my rebuttal to the fact that many of his ideals and morals don't represent me is not accurate? You and I both know it is not possible to treat everyone equally so at some point you have to pick a side. You say that his job is to treat all equally yet it was Obama's team who picked Giglio. So we call it unfair if he picks someone who doesn't represent the gay community all while excluding those who feel there is a problem with it, again not representing equality.
No one's ever going to agree with an elected official 100%. That does not make him less president or less a representative of an entire nation. Obama's staff obviously did not vet this guy correctly. Hello!
"You and I both know it is not possible to treat everyone equally so at some point you have to pick a side."
That's bullshit logic built to allow you to treat others as less than yourself. You're talking yourself in a circle. The point is, the president can't purposely stand with someone who is vehemently against a section of the nation.
Please tell me how it is that someone can treat everyone equally in this situation. I look forward to hearing this.
Oh, I guess you can't explain it since you just said that he can't stand with a group who is against the nation. Last time I checked gay marriage was not legal in every state so there is obviously a large group of people who are still against it....enough to still keep it from being legal across the board.
Well, in that case sjhovey, the "truth" according to your bible is that you are commanded to kill gay folks. You are commanded to force young ràpe victims to marry their attackers. You are commanded to stone women who aren't virgins on their wedding nights. You are commanded to stone women who don't yell loud enough when being ràped.
Great news. Now, come on President Jesus, why not help America grow up and skip the ridiculous nonsense prayers completely.
You can do it America. You can become adults!!!!! You CAN become emotionally mature. Remove the nonsense incantations you call "prayer".
Please, your statement referring to belief in religion as not being 'adult' is old and stale. Do the adult thing and do some research before you make these immature statements. You need to grow up.
Gracious, those are some strong words. I think that being a person of faith takes great maturity.
Yes, let's just imitate those great faith-less societies of the Soviet Union, China, Eastern Europe, Cambodia, and North Korea. You know those countries run by commonsense atheists who killed, imprisoned, tortured millions to satisfy their common god-hatred goals.
Yes, Joel is right. Believing in religion is as adult as believing in Santa Claus, Tinkerbell, Bigfoot or riding magic dragons.
Please don't make fun of adults who believe all of those things. It is perfectly acceptable to an adult to believe in god and wookies.
"atheists who killed, imprisoned, tortured millions to satisfy their common god-hatred goals"
Note to moron-
Atheists can't hate god.
They don't believe god exists.
There is no god for them to hate.
Nobody kills in the name of Atheism.
Hitler on the other, he was pretty explicit about killing Jews in the name of god and christ.
You will need prayers at your death bed! In hell, it's too late!
God bless you!
I'm sorry, "Chris" but your assertions regarding atheism are unfounded. One could just as easily assert that Hitler killed in the name of Christianity. Neither notion is useful in defining any particular belief system. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".
"You will need prayers at your death bed! In hell, it's too late!"
Ooooohhhh, the big scary magical sky wizard is going to get me.
I stopped believing in scary imaginary beings when I was child.
Do you fear the Zombie apocalypse, or just jeebus?
A serious question for serious responses, please. If one is born gay, then wouldn't that mean that one of the parents was also gay? How else would the 'gay' trait get passed on? Is there another way of passing on a trait/gene/DNA?
wow. you don't understand much about how traits are passed on, obviously.
Maybe you should read up on genetics and inheritance before you make statements like that. It's a lot more complicated than just saying one of your parents had it.
It may be acquired.
Or it may be an Epigenetic trait
Or it might be infectious
Or it might involve recessive traits
Or it may be a choice
Or it may be a combination of any of the above
@Pam: Hence, the question, but thanks for the 'serious' reply.
we are all born bisexual in one way or another; being born Strait or Gay is a recessive gene
@Not Quite: no statement was given, just a question, so I'm not sure exactly what you mean.
@William: Thank you! I have not heard of epigenetics before so this will give me something to look into.
It is powerfull stuff. Gays who understand it are scared.
It may permit a test InUtero, and if that is the case, huge numbers of gays will be aborted.
Its a ticking time bomb for them.
Since no genetic marker has been found; the current leading cause is an imbalance of estrogen and testosterone during pregnancy. If that is proven to be true it will create quite the backlash, I believe.
The fundies weeping over abortion now would take that back fast if there's ever any kind of test that discovers their babies are gay.
Hom.ose.xuality has been shown to be innate, but a genetic link hasn't been found. It is likely more about hormones within the womb. The fact remains that it is natural, and that straight parents have gay kids. Prejudice against people for no other reason than how they are born is not enlightened or virtuous, no matter how many bibles are thumped.
I can't believe that anyone is dumb enough to believe that it's a choice. If it were, I'd be at least somewhat attracted to the opposite sx. But no. Not once in my life has it happened. Not even a little bit.
"The fact remains that it is natural, and that straight parents have gay kids"
And kids born to, or raised by gay parents have identical orientation rates as straight couples.
the only significant marker for prediction orientation is twins vs siblings. Twins have twice the rate of same s e x co- orientation as do non twin siblings. This does suggest a genetic component.
Being gay doesn't mean one's offspring will be. My partner is gay but his kids are all straight.
The 3 greatest evils in the world are Islam, the Catholic Church, and the Republican Party.
What about Rachel Ray?
She is clearly more evil than the Muslims are.
If she gets any fatter, she is going to throw off the Earths orbit!
Ignorance is the devil, my little friend!
So fantastic Penny that you know all Islamist, everyone in the Catholic Church, and the Republican Party. We really needed someone who knows them all and can speak to their evil.
Penny I'm sorry you feel like the Republican Party is evil, but if you take a step back and look who our president is now the evil is he. Its not any party. I am Republican always have been and always will be and I'm very proud of our party!
I kind of agree about Rachel Ray. Not the weight, but the infernal, constant chirpiness. Yikes!
Maybe Mr. Obama needs to call the Reverend Wright! Or the Reverend Jessie Jackson! I'm not sure there are going to be very many pastors who are going to say yes to an Obama invitation on the condition that they renounce their views on gay marriage, abortion etc.
It's President Obama, not 'Mr'. And the Rev Wright schtick has already been hashed out. Move along and let the big kids talk.
This just shows how some preachers say what is popular to get thier churches full.
15-20 years ago, gay bashing was socially acceptable, and he did it. Today the culture has changed and he has changed his preaching.
Like they used free child buggery to get their Priesthood full!
* You can correct the spelling of "Atheist" in the Name box if you want... unless you are really the most 'athi' or something?!
I doubt it Atheist! Why don't you attend a house of worship and find out for yourself what is preached about! You will find a lot of preaching on gay marriage and abortion! It just doesn't get publicized on CNN. CNN does not send reporters to houses of worship so you will have to go yourself Atheist!
Well, you have to tweak your message when you're working for the Almighty Dollar!
It's not gay bashing, it's the old and new testament word. I think it is gracious of him to step down even though I may disagree with the decision. I am a Christian, and even though I do not support gay marriage, it doesn't mean I hate gay people.
I have been to church. I wasted about an hour every Sunday, and many holidays in church.
I do not believe that your all powerful creater of the universe spoke to Moses while he was alone, and then condemned everyone who didn't believe him or never heard of him.
I do not believe the creator of the universe would set Adam up to fail in the Garden of eden and then hold his sin against everyone who was ever born. Stupid.
I do not believe that something powerful enough to create the universe and smart enough to engineer life couldn't give us a book without errors and contradictions that needed to be edited.
You will have an eternity to think about what you have chosen to believe and put your trust in.
"CNN does not send reporters to houses of worship so you will have to go yourself"
Yes, this comment was just posted on the CNN BELIEF BLOG.
You know the part of CNN.com where religious leaders, priests, pastors, Imams, and Rabbi's regularly write columns.
It is amazing how unfathomably stupid religious people are.
People are very selective about what they accept and follow from the Bible, ignoring those parts that they say no longer apply and applying those parts they say do apply. So, despite their saying they believe in the Bible, they don't, fully and unconditionally.
We are supposed to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, not the Bible.
And thank God for that
Even Fundies realize it is a yardstick for lunatics
If you actually lived that way, you would be executed or thrown in prison right quick!
There is great wisdom in the Bible.
There is great cruelty in the Bible, and god is the perpetrator.
There is great injustice in the Bible, and god is the perpetrator.
There is much nonsense in the Bible
He even loves the bratty creatures.
Seperation of Church and State
Courts have also ruled can't teach ID/creationism in public schools in US
New 26 states create NEW science standards (stem) for 2013
For some people it is going to take the rapture before they are convinced they were left behind for some type of Sin. it does not matter the sin you will not be apart of God Kingdom if you do not repent and turn from whatever sin that has you. If a preach gave a sermon on stealing is that not a sin. Why is it that we focus on a person that is doing his job point out a sin. If you go to church and reserach other sermons I am sure that you will find that he spoke about other sins to according to the bible. But as son as the sermon is about being gay there is a problem with speaking on that topic. Now here is my take Yes I believe that a gay is a sin. But there are other sins too. So I do not judge people because of their sins I love them regardless. Just because I believe it is a sin to do other things that are again the law of God. Each person has to believe that what they are doing is a sin. But they would never consider it a sin if the are never taught thought scripture that it is a sin.
" But they would never consider it a sin if the are never taught thought scripture that it is a sin."
But it's not a sin. 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.
Oh know....the rapture...yes it will take that before you convince me that your imaginary friend is real. I'll take my chances...
Your comments would carry more weight were they grammatically correct English.
It wouldn't take a rapture to make me believe in god. It would just take some irrefutable proof of existence. Until such proof is provided, I will continue to follow the logical path of unbelief.
Your interpretation of the bible applies only to you and point by point to others that believe as you do. Being gay is not a sin for all christians and not a sin at all for non-christians.
Wasn't that a Blondie song??
Where have you been the rapture was a few months ago, all of the christians are gone. Only us evil people left.
Hahahahahahaha – I would love for the rapture to take you silly kooks off of this rock!
what he said was monstrous; the Obama administration (aka the Obamanation) did the right thing for once
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.