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 Louie Giglio has withdrawn from giving the benediction at President Barack Obama's inauguration.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

    Another win for the "we should all be tolerant of everyone except for the christians" crowd. Well done.

    January 10, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • Andrew

      Absolutely as it should be.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • William Demuth

      You have confronted the Prison Guards Dilema

      When your power is removed by force, your pleas for mercy will be ignored.

      When you had power, you were arrogant, so rest assured if they disarm you, they WILL kill you.

      You created the jungle and its laws, your cries for civilized behavior once you are dethroned will fall upon deaf ears and gleefull killers.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • James

      The dude chose to bow out. No one twisted his arm. Always amusing to watch you people play the persecution card when you've been stood up to.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Right, because if they'd chosen an imam who'd given talks on killing the infidels we'd all be giving him a pass. Sure.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
  2. Andi

    Stupid... looks like tolerance and inclusion is the way to be unless of course you don't agree with their idea of it. Then you are excluded... dumb politics and political correctness. Jesus Christ himself would not be included!! arg Good luck finding someone everyone will be happy with.. dumb! On a bite note this pastor will get some good press on the work he is doing...i had no idea who he was before this.

    January 10, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Saraswati

      By you're logic we shouldn't have any standards at all – I love how people fall back on moral relativism when it suits them.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Why should we be tolerant of those who purposefully choose to be intolerant?

      January 10, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  3. MacV

    Where are all the secularists? Why is banning school prayer OK, but acceptable to pray at an iinauguration? I say no religious activity at a publicly funded event. Prayer at publicly funded schools equals violation of church and state separation, then so does prayer at a publicly funded event.

    January 10, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I think most secularists are busy fighting battles they can win...at this time, this one is a loser. Maybe in a few years.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Because we know Obama is really an Athiest, and we need to be patient

      Change takes time.

      Break the back of the right, THEN force the culture to change.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • NClaw441

      Praying at an inauguration is not Congress making a law respecting the establishment of religion. If anything, it is the "free exercise" thereof.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  4. raul

    maybe if we get str8 people to stop breeding gays wouldnt be such a problem.

    January 10, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • sam

      Yeah, we need to do something about these damn straight people, causing all these problems.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • lol??

      More abortions, check.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • William Demuth

      By definition I believe gays are already doing their part in reducing surplus reproduction

      January 10, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • sam

      @lol?? – the moment the fundies find a way to test for homosexuality in the womb, they'll begin to love abortion and find a way to prove that the bible supports it.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • Andrew

      Gays are not the problem.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  5. pat

    Why is religion involved with the inauguration of the president of my country? Don't even talk about this thing being "all-inclusive" – it's not.

    January 10, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • MacV

      Yup – No prayer at a publicly funded event.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • Saraswati

      It's dumb, but would you want to be the party that first threw it out? Especially as a president that a few million nitwits still think is Muslim? It's going to be an election or two more before this one's put to rest.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
  6. snowboarder

    people's views change. big deal.

    January 10, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Or more likely, people lie when their bigotry is exposed.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • lol??

      The Big O Tries, but he's only a man.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • snowboarder

      bill, not necessarily. long ago when i was in the military i was vocally anti-gay. not because i had any real reason to be, but because it was the male macho military thing to do. then one day my wife came to me and told me that an old friend was afraid for me to find out that she was gay. i was ashamed and i realized then and there that the label of deviant or sinful was just plain BS.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • William Demuth

      So Snow, you really din't change, you just stop doing what you thought was expected.

      Honorable men ALWAYS error on the side of freedom, but often are pressured to either comply or remain silent.

      I am not a fan of gay marriage, and I suspect I shall never percieve it as being "real" or "normal" marriage, but I am very much Pro Gay Marriage, becaue I realize at the end of the day it really isn't any of my buisness at all, and freedom is REALLY important.

      When in doubt, choose the path of more freedom, you will rarely go wrong.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • derp

      Mr Demuth & snowboarder, you have both affirmed my faith in humanity.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Did he say his views had changed?

      January 10, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  7. Banjo Ferret

    Tim is the Destroyer of Worlds. He cares not about social issues. But, Tim often makes fun of mindless dolts who spin archaic religious doctrine into agendas of intolerance or ignorance. Ferretianism is the one true religion. Repent!
    http://www.banjoferret.com

    January 10, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
  8. Frank

    How about some freedom from religion and separation of church (or like I like to call it – Story Book Land) and state!

    All Gods are false Gods – especially yours!

    January 10, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • lol??

      Problem is the progressives morphed the gubmint into a god. It's in charge of everything.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  9. Andrew

    Sin is geographical, but it definitely includes hate, something Jesus commanded foremost against, Oh loving pastor.

    January 10, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Sin is geographical and bulls33t is metaphsical!

      What dreck

      January 10, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • lol??

      Is love not hate?.........."1Jo 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

      January 10, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • Andrew

      The voice of reason thinly veiled as an overactive forum troll: William Demuth

      January 10, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  10. Bails

    thanks Reverend Giglio for sticking to your messgae. God teaches us not to judge anyone who's sin is different from our own. But to recognize and ask forgiveness for our sins. And to not bend to the popular "politically correct". Never confuse the will of the majority with the will of God. I will never sway from those beliefs, no matter what society tries to tell me. First and foremost in my life is God. I do not now, nor will I EVER apologize for it.

    January 10, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • Andrew

      Good, I'll adopt Mesopotamian Ancient Law and look down my nose at you, genius.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • sam stone

      Never think you have authority to preach to anyone about god

      January 10, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • derp

      You must have an awfully shiddy life if the most imprtant thing in it is an imaginary friend.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      I think if you did some research you would find that god adapts to the society he wants to infiltrate.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • John

      Unfortunately Bails, most of society takes the easy way out and adopts the politically correct road. To many liberals there are few things that are either right or wrong – their world is simply gray. Everything is a personal choice unless, of course, it is a conservative view – then they are certain that the view is wrong. At that point they show their kindness and acceptance and mock or insult the person with that view.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • ceyanna

      Years from now, sociologists and mental health professionals will categorize your statement as a severe delusional mental disorder.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • sam

      What interesting generalizations, John.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
  11. Michelle

    It will be hard to find ANYONE who isn't opiniated to deliver the benediction that won't offend ANYONE in this unfortunate 1st world country. If a Christian pastor delivers the benediction, what about the muslim community? Will he find a pastor that has never spoken against abortion? Good luck, Obama. Might as well give your own benediction.

    January 10, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Hows about we dump the mumbo jumbo and grow up as a country?

      January 10, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • lol??

      The "wegod" makes another appearance.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Yes, it would certainly make more sense to drop the whole thing, but I don't think it will happen this go around.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
  12. gladiatorgrl

    "no state sponsored religion" AT ALL!

    January 10, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • ezra

      You sure are ignorant. You must have voted in the last election.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • derp

      "You sure are ignorant. You must have voted in the last election.
      "

      Another neotard who skipped the 1st amendment and went right to the second.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
  13. peterfrohwein

    As ANYONE here actually listened to ALL of Rev. Giglio's sermon ???

    I have !

    His is a message of LOVE, not hate ! It is ABOUT Love !

    January 10, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • gladiatorgrl

      EXCEPT for Gays?

      January 10, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • sally

      Love alright my ass. He may as well get in the same circle jerk as Graham and Romney.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • peterfrohwein

      Before you comment on my post, you might want to actually LISTEN to what
      Rev. Giglio's said in his sermon. So AT LEAST you can speak to the FACTS.
      Thoughts based just on this distorted article mean nothing.

      January 10, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
    • derp

      "Before you comment on my post, you might want to actually LISTEN to what
      Rev. Giglio's said in his sermon. So AT LEAST you can speak to the FACTS"

      His sermon is quoted in the articleabove moron.

      Maybe you should have read it.

      January 10, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • peterfrohwein

      derp
      "Before you comment on my post, you might want to actually LISTEN to what
      Rev. Giglio's said in his sermon. So AT LEAST you can speak to the FACTS"

      His sermon is quoted in the articleabove moron.

      Maybe you should have read it.
      -----------------------–

      Oh yes...... sorry........I see that ALL 54 minutes of his sermon where quoted ???
      I stand by my original statement.

      January 10, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
    • peterfrohwein

      Thoughts based just on this distorted article mean nothing.

      January 10, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
  14. Saint

    Gays have made Freedom of Speech a thing of the past. More bigoted and imposing than the rest.

    January 10, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Funny coming from a faith that used to burn old ladies at the stake.

      Just remember what goes around goes around, and LOTS of people might feel more than a little reprimand was justified by this mans intrusions into their private lives.

      I would LOVE to see a mob of gays burn his church down while he was in it

      You see his position caused real harm to TENS OF THOUSANDS of kids who were tormented because of Evangelical railing against gays, many of whom took their own lives, some of whom were murdered.

      I just hope a few of them want more than just an apology.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • sam

      I think Saint actually meant "Gays have made it harder for me to use the word 'fag' whenever I feel like it."

      January 10, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • derp

      Blacks did the same thing to that poor helpless honorable KKK.

      Now everybody thinks they are bad just because they exercised their FREEDOM OF SPEECH to suggest the lynching of blacks and Jews.

      We should all support the KKK and their freedom of speech against jews, catholics and blacks.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • sam stone

      who is being denied freedom of speech, saint?

      January 10, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
  15. bigiufan29

    Reblogged this on Thoughts from a Hoosier Fan in the Buckeye Land and commented:
    I was a little behind the news on this, but was impressed how Louie Giglio handled the situation pretty well. I saw several tweets on it before I had a chance to read the article.

    Really like this quote Giglo gave: "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."

    January 10, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • William Demuth

      In other words, Jesus as a shiny object defense.

      Flash him around to distract.

      As I recall that was often used at Nuremberg.

      Didn't work then either.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  16. lol??

    Nuthin' like h0m0se xuality for getting all the A&A's little soldiers to stand up.

    January 10, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • sally

      Somewhere between fred and complete stupidity lies the mind of lol??

      January 10, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • lol??

      don't rock yer little man in the boat, sally.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • derp

      "don't rock yer little man in the boat, sally"

      But if you decide to, we'd appreciate pictures.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • lol??

      derp no pictures needed....."2Cr 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)"

      January 10, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
  17. SCBAMA

    And Hagel is still ok for Sec. of Defense with his position on gays 15 years ago? You folks have gone way overboard with this gay thing. Backlash is a coming.

    January 10, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • SCBAMA

      So gays disagree with his position. Does that disqualify him because he does not agree with the lifestyle you have chosen. Sounds like gays are the bigots to me.

      January 10, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • sam

      Hagel apologized for his remarks. This guy didn't. Now what?

      Who don't you expound on this 'backlash'?

      January 10, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • sam

      Actually, never mind. You have zero idea what you're talking about. Isn't there a good redneck forum you could hang out on insitead?

      January 10, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Lets just say when it comes to "backlash" my money is on the gays

      January 10, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • Brad

      @SCBAMA: You lost all credibility with the "lifestyle you have chosen" remark.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • derp

      "So gays disagree with his position"

      So do we secular straight people.

      "Does that disqualify him because he does not agree with the lifestyle you have chosen"

      It is not a lifestyle moron, it is an orientation. There is a huge difference. When you call it a lifestyle, all the smart people immediately consider you an idiot.

      Sounds like gays are the bigots to me.

      That's like saying blacks are bigots for not tolerating the KKK.

      Do you have any more stupidity to contribute?

      January 10, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Havel has said he changed his position. This guy, to my knowledge, has said no such thing.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
  18. Robairdo

    Another bigot bites the dust.

    January 10, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • NAM VET

      BEING A BIGOT IS NO DIFFERENT THAN MERELY HAVING A DIFFERNCE OF OPINION-IF IF CAN.T HANDLE THAT YOU ARE THE ONE WITH THE PROBLEM. OR NOT–WHO REALLY GIVES A SHEITE.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Bigotry is often used to enact laws that discriminate. You can believe what you want, but once discrimination enters the scene, you can expect those who believe in fairness and equality will fight back. Then it will be your problem.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • sam

      Uh...hey Nam Vet, it takes more than a difference of opinion. If you don't own a dictionary, there are a lot of free ones online to help you with the definition of bigot.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
  19. paul

    We are all intolerant and judgmental. At least jesus forgives. Will we?

    January 10, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • William Demuth

      No.

      I say we kill our enemies!

      It's our favorite human pastime!

      January 10, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • paul

      William – From reading your posts, I'm praying you have a more peaceful and joy filled life. Life's to short to spend attacking everyone we don't agree with. Have a good one!

      January 10, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Thanks.

      I am sure prayer will make all the difference, like it did for those kids in Newton

      January 10, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • Blue Sox

      Paul, good point. Thanks.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
  20. OOO

    This guy (through his work against slavery world-wide) certainly appears to be a good guy. But it just goes to show you that religion is one of the few ideas that can make a good person do or say evil things, like his anti-gay sermon, which I think he did not detract from.
    Also, he makes that scary leap forward to state what god's position on it is (anti-gay) and that this position is very clear.

    January 10, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • sam

      Yeah, he's done some good, and harm, and can't seem to shake the idea that it's not harm.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • Hunter

      Since when is stating what is in the Bible wrong?

      January 10, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • sam

      Hunter – because it's an outdated book of myths and parables?

      January 10, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • tallulah13

      You have the first Amendment rights to quote whatever book you want, Hunter, but in a situation when you are speaking at a government sponsored event, where not everyone agrees with the edicts of a 2000 year old book of mythology, discretion is generally advisable.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • ezra

      Scary leap? Why is it scary? What if he prayed for gun control would that be scary?

      January 10, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Tallulah

      On average the Bible is about 3500 years old, with some entries believed to be over 6000 years old.

      In other words WAY older, and thus way less relavent

      January 10, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • ezra

      willam demuth – "where not everyone agrees with the edicts of a 2000 year old book of mythology, discretion is generally advisable."

      So using your reasoning if one person disagrees then it should become null and void unless it is for your stance on how things should be. Vile and disgusting.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • Todd

      ezra since you just proved you have poor reading skill your opinion is worthless.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:50 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.