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 Louie Giglio has withdrawn from giving the benediction at President Barack Obama's inauguration.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
Also there is NO ONE ALIVE OR DEAD everyone likes – Herdsman
Nobody doesn't like Sara Lee.
But there are several people I prefer dead, wouldn't you agree?
I think everyone likes Jenna Jameson.
I thought everyone liked Ike.
Truth – you are SO RIGHT.
I could never understand how some people who complain about being oppressed their entire lives by obsessed, closed-minded Christians can then, without a hint of irony, practice the same exact thing which they have decried?
There is an inherent lack of respect for humanity. I had an atheist in a college philosophy course who hijacked every discussion with his vehement, negative, incessant drivel and contrariness. And I don't want anything to do with that.
People have a right not to believe just as they have the right to believe in whatever they want. But "atheism" in its current form is as destructive a cult as any other.
Keep your judgment to yourself, and move on!
"hijacked every discussion with his vehement, negative, incessant drivel and contrariness. And I don't want anything to do with that. "
But yet you continue to do the same thing, what a hypocrite.
No one has the right to believe in things demonstrably false.
We have no obligation to turn our backs on bigotry.
Your claims of relationships with the divine and your use of said relationship as rationalization for your offenses are prima facia evidence of either deceit or madness, neither of which we are morally obligated to ignore.
Your beliefs are counterproductive and indeed destructive. You need to be reeducated, and the tentacles of your cult must be removed from the throat of our democracy by any and all means.
I have a couple friends who are college professors, and they have repeatedly told me that long and away the most likely person to try to hijack a class discussion is an evangelical Christian. They seem to see it as their mission to come in and occasionally disrupt the class for their own agenda.
"People have a right not to believe just as they have the right to believe in whatever they want"
Hitler believed that jews were inferior and should be exterminated.
It's nice to see you support his right to believe that.
Separation of church and state except where we need to placate the bible belt. In god we trust, but which god? Based on recent history it is the god of money.
You know, the inaugural would be much better if they changed the format to resemble the half-time show at the Superbowl. Fireworks, legions of scantily-clad dancers, Lady Gaga (thin version, please), and a drunken audience with painted faces and enormous styrofoam hands. Make Obama yodel the oath of office to the tune of "I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt" while dressed in a glow-in-the-dark clown suit (yes, he would look like W dressed like that, but gotta be fair).
Enough of this Bible foppery.
Perhaps a crucifiction of Bohner would be a compromise I might support
You're onto something. It's very appropriate for the Diverse Beast.
The servants have been ripped of their party time enough already.
Athena and the Educratists are talkin' about future events revolving around an "Opposite Day" theme.
The choreographer says he can get Bohner up on a burning cross with the David Duke Pointy Hat Dancers high-kicking in front, right after Rush Limbaugh is catapulted over the ocean into the hands of the Jokers exploding octopuses. Good enough?
@LOL You need to to get your thorazine dosage increased a lot, because DAMN!!!! You one crazy cross-sucker!!!!
Atheists will call him a bigot for being "anti-gay," then find it unsettling that his conference donated millions to anti-slavery. They will think Christians closed minded because we believes in one Truth, then uneasy at our love and tolerance for different religions and beliefs.
What a joy it must be for pastor Giglio to draw closer to God when others revile and belittle him.
"They will think Christians closed minded because we believes in one Truth"
It's not one truth, there are many christians that believe gay marriage is not a sin.
Christianity IS slavery.
It is mental bondage for children who are afraid of the dark.
Fight your destiny all you want. Death will wait patiently.
And when you are done you will die, and you will rot while you will lie at her side for eternity, to forgotten by everyone you have ever known.
its great to talk about how hateful atheists are and then get some volunteers to show us some examples of them.
"its great to talk about how hateful atheists are"
more lies from the xtians – 82!
Uhh, not to burst your bubble moron, but believing in "one truth" actually IS closed minded.
We could solve this whole problem very simply: by dispensing with all invocations, benedictions and prayers at the inauguration and other official events. If the people involved would like to pray or otherwise engage in religious rituals, they can do so preceeding or following the official event. There is no need for this to be part of an official government event.
Makes too much sense
Without official sanction, how would the preachers be able to continue to fleece the old and bugger the innocent?
Not sure we needed a gigolo giving the prayer anyway.
FOR all of you who believe we where first apes before man and all you who think Adam was first YOUR BOTH WRONG. Apes did come first, than man and woman and then Adam and then Eve. How did Cain take to himself a wife when Eve only had boys? Read your scripture – Also Jesus said concerning the rapture- In that night 2 men shall be in the same bed together 1 taken 1 left behind. This proves Christ love FOR ALL. Herdsman
Where the hell do these ignorant tools keep coming from...
Giglio should come out of that fancy closet he lives in
story, "............Giglio is a rising voice in evangelical Christianity......"...Most preachers would be far better off if they would just READ the scriptures to the flock for a couple of hours when they meet. Don't need no stinkin' risin' voices.
And then you guess the contradiction built into the Christian Bible will just clear itself up? Guess again.
Whats the matter. the flock can't read for themselves??
It would thin the flock considerably and get the false brethren OUT. Discrimination is a great thing.
Contradictions?!?!?! You atheisiemtisteest scum!!!!! Just because the accounts of the resurrection totally disagree on how many women went, what they found, and what they did afterwards, it doesn't contradict at all!!!!!
Morons, when you have a family reunion do you invite the whole state?
You know, places like Alabama and West Virginia are so inbred that you should probably invite the whole state to family reunions.
Thats why Christ wont be coming back in West Virginia
Not enough Wise Men or Virgins left.
zingo and Demouth, Royalty is where you find the inbreeding. Athena didn't teach you that?
I worship neither Gods nor Kings, and you have obviously never thravelled the south.
Many mens mothers are also their sisters!
Well mouth, then all that killin' during the Civil War was for naught. Sure hope some of em were Christians. Nobody had patience to wait on the cotton gin. But anyway you da man in charge of History, too.
"Truth", I really respect your comment....it's the TRUTH.
As someone who appears to be backpeddaling from biblical teaching, he should in fact, remove himself from the benediction. The problem is that he will be replaced with another equally weak "pastor" or worse.
Our Nation, oh goodness. When is one a bigot for stating his own values or opinion? God have mercy on us.
God exists only in the imaginations of the feeble minded
Thus his mercy is somewhat over rated, as was recently demonstrated in Newton Ct. and Aurora, Colorado and ad nauseum.
But feel free to continue praying. I am sure it will serve you just as well.
( Psst. Some people have exclusionary, inappropriate values.)
" When is one a bigot for stating his own values or opinion?"
Why can't those damn "colored" folks mind their own business and send their kids to their own schools. You know those "darkies' have the mark of Cain, right?
Why can't those damn women sit down and shut up! Who the hell cares what the think anyway. God says they should be subseviant to men!
Get the point?
@William – Don't be so hard on yourself, your mind will come around to the Truth.
Preaching lies, misunderstandings and ignoracne about/against others based only on irrational bias is hardly a "Value". It's simply bigotry, howeevr well meant.
Son. your type is simple enough that with a few lies I might convince your ilk to worship me.
You were born a sheep to be sheared, I just leave the shearing to others.
None the less, you are still shorn.
"When is one a bigot for stating his own values or opinion?"
Uh, maybe when those opinions are blatantly prejudicial?
How stupid are you christards?
isnt his job to stand up for what is written in the bible, looks like he is backing away from God to stand closer to Christ... problem is he is just backing away from God. Spineless.. but then again thats why we didnt crusify an ordinary man as they dont have the stones to hold up for what is right and wrong.
"but then again thats why we didnt crusify an ordinary man as they dont have the stones to hold up for what is right and wrong."
That's why in the past xtians thought slavery and treating women as second class citizens where ok because of the bible. It might help if you read up on your own religion.
African-American men and women used that same Bible for their freedom.
They still use it today.
"African-American men and women used that same Bible for their freedom."
And gays are using the bible to get their civil rights. 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.
" a speech the site called "vehemently anti-gay." ....
In some church scandals over the past few years it turned out that these "vehemently anti-gay" ministers turned out to be gay themselves. This is like those falling on the floor sermons by Jimmy Swaggart against er, uh ladies of the evening.
Yes. It's unfortunate that so many people evaluate God by the behavior of humans and "professing Christians" have given an unbelieving world immeasurable ammunition.
It is perfectly legitimate to judge God on the behavior of his followers, especially since god never does anything else we can judge him on. There is no evidence he is even there.
If Christianity doesn't make people better, and it doesn't, then what good is it? If a deity won't stop evil, then what good is it? If a god punishes people for nothing more than not believing when he has put out so much confusing alternate deceptions, then what good is he?
God is a no good bum. Good thing he doesn't exist
Good for him. Stick to the Bible. Anything else is a slippery slope into moral relativism.
lol. the Bible is a slippery slope.
That's right, stick to that bible! No more shellfish!
What about divorce, Baptist Deacon? You holier-than-thous love to trash gays but turn a blind eye to divorce. Why is that? A little too close to home? Bashing gays a better fundraiser for you? Remind me what the Bible says about divorce. We have a 50% divorce rate and you people are AMAZINGLY silent on divorce. But oh so vocal on gays.
America is the definition of moral relativisim.
We have overthrown the old orders.
Each generation MUST define right from wrong, and thankfully as we mature, so do our morals!
I doubt even you are crazy enough to believe in the old testaments morals?
Or are you that crazy?
Bow out, crawl out. dragged out, sheetcanned, same thing. He could have withdrawn and apologized for his comments about gays and lesbians. Chose the stupid option instead.
Ever seen an A&A apologize on the belief blogs?
"It's unfortunate that this kind of political correctness doesn't allow people who are doing great work to pray at inauguration,"
He does not have 1st amendment rights because the progressive liberals do not like it.
It is the first that procludes it!
Showing preference ofr one space fairy over another is NOT the American way.
All the imaginary Gods have been created equal, but from the look of things Allah passed old Jeebus up on the last lap.
Soon Sharia shall dominate, and all the Chubby Fundie Chicks shall be given to martyrs.
Defining your life by volatile ant..itheism—in other words, clinging to something you don’t believe in—isn’t just annoying, it’s actually pretty backward, and, in some cases, culturally malignant.
For a demographic that spits a lot of game about equality and mobility, they sure love lording their “intellect” over anyone who dares to think differently.
The atheist gets off on feeling superior to other people; it’s not about ideas or truth, they’d rather thrive on that faux-scholar buzz.
That’s why Dawkins is their fire-and-brimstone pin-up boy.
That’s why they screencap Facebook updates from their religious “friends” so they can laugh at all the plebeians from their pretty little perch.
There’s no respect or pragmatism, just bottomless, never-ending hate.
William Demuth = what the Truth says.
Take it down a notch, Bill – hatemonger.
"The atheist gets off on feeling superior to other people"
More lies from the xtians – 37!
with each post, pete feels that much more superior to those he hates.
you are only hurting yourself, kid.
Ironic that someone who espouses to be "The Truth" mentions Facebook, the last playground of the immature and the Pedo’s that chase them..
Clearly just another infantile Fundie angry that his cult is losing its grip on power.
Frankly, I could beat you to death with the truth, and you would deny it with your dying breath.
Thus is the nature of indoctrination. Once a mind is poisoned, it is difficult to un-poison, and in your case unworthy of the effort.
Perhaps with less preaching, and more education you might yet break the grip, but I doubt it.
So continue your railing in church, but rest assured, soon enough you shall be alone in it
You shall then die, rot and be forgotten.
At least in that context, justice will be served.
"with each post, pete feels that much more superior to those he hates.
you are only hurting yourself, kid."
More lies from the xtians – 68!
Pete's "lies" = "things Pete doesn't agree with"
Another dipshit who has no idea what first amendment rights means.
William Demuth = nobody is reading your hate speech
"Pete's "lies" = "things Pete doesn't agree with""
More lies from the xtians – 70!
"with each post, pete feels that much more superior to those he hates."
More lies continue – 71!
So simpletons as yourself merely reply to unread postings?
I suspect this was your key in your academic career as well!
"William Demuth = nobody is reading your hate speech"
How do you know it was hate speech if you didn't read it? Otherwise you read it idiot, which means it can't equal nobody.
No, we actully are amused by the fact that we are superior to religitards.
"That’s why they screencap Facebook updates from their religious “friends” so they can laugh at all the plebeians from their pretty little perch"
Ok, yes we do that. It's fun making light of religitards
"There’s no respect or pragmatism, just bottomless, never-ending hate"
We don't hate you.
We just think you are stupid.
And we wonder why our nation is has become as filthy as it has. We've taken God out of schools and there are shootings, we have taken God out of Government and look at the economy and lack of moral values. Might as well take God out of the inauguration of a man who is tolerant of whatever benefits him! Don't forget OBAMA'S speech a few years ago where he agreed that marriage should be between man and woman.
Leave magic men in the sky out of life and we become a much more progressive and civilized people.
So perhaps Pakistan's Let's Put God Back in the Madrassa program is one we should emulate here?
Christianity is obsolete. It clouds minds. It is the past.
And we have no plans on going backwards.
Chucky: If you cannot teach your kids about god at home or in church, don't expect the government to do it for you. Isn't it the conservatives who are always complaining about the nanny state? Now you want the nanny state to teach your little maggots about god? Puhleeze
There’s no respect or pragmatism, just bottomless, never-ending hate.!!!
another lying xtian – 36!
another lying xtian – 36!"
thanks for illustrating this point so well! hypocrite.
Crime is at its lowest levels since the 60's. The whole 'The country is going to hell because no religion' argument makes no sense. If you think that there is less religion than in times past, then you are saying taking religion out of our country has decreased crime, since, as I said, crime is at a 50 year low.
"then you are saying taking religion out of our country has decreased crime, since, as I said, crime is at a 50 year low."
Because the laws have gotten tougher idiot, it has nothing to do with your religion.
Actually, school shootings are happening because we, as a country, value our guns over our children. And there are a great many so-called Christians witht heir fingers on the triggers.
Chuck, you would not make a good statistician. But let's play your game:
Since we have taken God out of school, the number of deaths from virtually every disease has decreased.
Since we have taken God out of government, communism seems to be less prominent worldwide.
I guess that everytime God is removed from something, there is improvement.
No, you say?
Then learn the difference between causation and correlation
I'm sorry but most individuals such as Rev. Louie Giglio are not devinely driven. Most are compelled by their own inability to deal with personal demons, and so their denial causes them to react hatefully towards others. Anyone remember Larry Craig. Better to be gay and proud, than bitter and hateful.
How do you know the things you say about the Rev? Did CNN tell you that?
Have you looked at your own heart?.........."Jer 17:9 The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it?"
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.