Atlanta pastor, Evers' widow named to speak at inauguration
Civil Rights activist Myrlie Evers-Williams and Atlanta Pastor Louie Giglio were selected to offer a prayer at the 2013 Presidential Inuguration.
January 8th, 2013
07:56 AM ET

Atlanta pastor, Evers' widow named to speak at inauguration

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Editor
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(CNN)– The widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers and an Atlanta pastor will deliver the invocation and benediction at President Barack Obama's inauguration January 21, the Presidential Inaugural Committee announced Tuesday.

The committee said in a statement that the president was involved in selecting Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of Medgar Evers, to deliver the invocation and the Rev. Louie Giglio, pastor of the Passion City Church, to deliver the benediction.

Obama said he and Vice President Joe Biden are honored to have the two participate in the inaugural ceremony.

"Their voices have inspired many people across this great nation within the faith community and beyond. Their careers reflect the ideals that the vice president and I continue to pursue for all Americans - justice, equality, and opportunity," the president's statement continued.

Evers-Williams' work and life is an example for the nation, said a source close to the planning of the inauguration. "Following her husband's murder she worked tirelessly not only for justice for his murder but for justice for the nation as well," the source said.

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Giglio, a pastor and the leader of the Passion Movement, was chosen 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, said the source.

The official swearing-in of the president and the vice president will take place on Sunday, January 20, in keeping with the constitutional requirement. A public ceremonial swearing-in will take place Monday, January 21 on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol.

This year, the inauguration falls on the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, which officials told CNN played into the selections of Evers-Williams and Giglio.

Evers-Williams' husband, Medgar Evers, was the NAACP's Mississippi field secretary when he gunned down in the driveway of their Jackson, Mississippi, home in 1963. Evers-Williams went on to chair the NAACP from 1995-1998 and has remained a tireless advocate for civil rights.

"I am humbled to have been asked to deliver the invocation for the 57th inauguration of the President of the United States - especially in light of this historical time in America when we will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement," she said in a statement from the inaugural committee. "It is indeed an exhilarating experience to have the distinct honor of representing that era."

Giglio is a rising voice in evangelical Christianity. Friday, the Passion conference 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.

"It is my privilege to have the opportunity to lead our nation in prayer at the upcoming inauguration," Giglio said.

"During these days it is essential for our nation to stand together as one. And, as always, it is the right time to humble ourselves before our Maker. May we all look up to our God, from whom we can receive mercy, grace and truth to strengthen our lives, our families and our nation. I am honored to be invited by the President to lead our nation as we look up to God, and as we look ahead to a future that honors and reflects the One who has given us every good and perfect gift," he added, in the statement released by the committee.

An official close to the inauguration speaking on background said the president viewed the selections as "spiritual and not political."

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"I think it's a poignant thing for the ceremony to open with someone who to many folks in the country symbolizes courage but also some of the rough times we've been through as a country," the official said. "To close with a pastor from the South who is fighting modern slavery in this generation, I think there's a poignancy to that that shouldn't be missed."

"Both individuals meet the moment," the source said.

Obama has highlighted Giglio's Passion movement several times in the past year. He mentioned the movement of young evangelicals against slavery in his 2012 speech at the National Prayer Breakfast. Giglio was also a participant at Obama's annual Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House. Most recently, the president noted the work of Passion in a speech at the Clinton Global Initiative.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Belief

soundoff (224 Responses)
  1. Atheist Truth

    Why do we still have people talking to imaginary sky creatures in 2013?

    January 8, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      I really don't know why. Since it is written in Luke 17:21, "The kingdom of God is inside you!" one would think the Christian movements would know better!

      January 8, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  2. snowboarder

    prayer is fine, but make sure you actually have a plan, too.

    January 8, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
  3. Roxannebs

    Everyone ever notice how the name of Jesus is the real problem? I think He's the real solution! Hallelujah!

    There is no separation of state or church, God made the earth, state and church so there is no way in getting away from Him!

    You will hopefully find that out before eternity rolls around, go CHRISTIANS!

    January 8, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • snowboarder

      your god is just one of many

      January 8, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • sybaris

      your god made a state? Did you sleep through U.S. History and Government in High School?

      January 8, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      snowboarder wrote, "your god is just one of many".

      While there are many 'sons and daughters' of God there is but one top dog God, the beginner of all God's sons and daughters while we are their culminations within the leverages of atomized realms becoming cellular cosmologies in Life itself.

      Luke 17:21, "The kingdom of God is inside you!"

      1Corinthians 3:9 "For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building!"

      January 8, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • Free From Religion

      I would modify to "Your god is just one of many imaginary gods"

      January 8, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  4. sybaris

    Nothing fails like prayer

    January 8, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
  5. WVLady63

    Hey Bwana, the reason God isn't listening is because he has been taken out of EVERYTHING! You can't pray at football or baseball games, you can't pray at work, you can't pray in public, you can't print God's name anywhere, God's name is under fire because His name is on money. And you wonder why "He" isn't listening? ITS BECAUSE OUR EVIL, PERVERTED, GOD HATING SOCIETY HAS TAKEN HIM OUT OF EVERYTHING!!! The only time He is called upon is when people are taking a break from sin, when they are in trouble and even though they have NEVER set one foot inside a church or have NEVER done anything for anyone else, they whine and call His name! If you have been demonized as God has been with our Godless Society now, would you hear prayers from or answer prayers from Godless people????? God loves us all, BUT, not many people today love him back because they have their heads and hearts buried in sin.

    January 8, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      yeah because the christian movement in the US is such a small, insignificant, and powerless faction right?
      give me a fricking break.

      January 8, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • Blake

      If we do not turn to God soon this nation will suffer. We can't continue down a path of sin, knowing we are doing wrong.

      January 8, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • sybaris

      WVLady63 <<<<<<<<<< adeptly illustrates how religion and the worship of god(s) is a filthy perverted disease of the mind

      January 8, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • sybaris

      Blake, by your logic any non-christian country or region should be in total chaos. That is simply not the case and in some instances those populations live a much more productive and healthy life.

      January 8, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • snowboarder

      lady, those are all simply lies. no one can stop you from praying.

      January 8, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      People have become the idols of our humanities forsakenness ideals and ideologies. We have put ourselves and our deeds upon godly pedestals.

      January 8, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • Free From Religion

      How can little humans take your all powerful god out of anything? How is this a god hating nation? Most people believe in a god or gods. The ones who don't have nothing to hate. You make no sense.

      January 8, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  6. Call me Bwana

    Why prayers at the inauguration? God is clearly busy elsewhere, doing whatever he does. The Country is a mess, so obviously prayers haven`t been heard. We need to do it all by ourselves. "Help yourself and God will help you". Guess we haven;t helped ourselves much lately. We seem to cater to the religious extremists by praying during the inauguration. I thought State was separated from Church, but, it is what it is.

    January 8, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • End Religion

      It will be a beautiful day when CNN finally runs a story on "Why There was No Prayer at the Presidential Inauguration."

      January 8, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • Don

      Why an inauguration? The president is already in office and was already inaugurated in 2008. Why waste the money on some pompous ball and ceremony. It is no wonder we are broke!!

      January 8, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • End Religion

      I wonder if that would be a good PR move or not, to cancel the unnecessary 2nd inaug. "to save money." I'm sure folks would laugh at the pittance when compared to spending but at least it would be an interesting gesture.

      January 8, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • JDD

      "Why prayers at the inauguration? God is clearly busy elsewhere, doing whatever he does. The Country is a mess, so obviously prayers haven`t been heard."

      Here's another possibility for reflection: We are clearly busy elsewhere, doing whatever we do. The Country is a mess, perhaps because God hasn't been sought.

      January 8, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
  7. Joe Plumber

    Freedom of religion = freedom from religion

    January 8, 2013 at 11:52 am |
  8. Desert1

    There are no atheist in a fox hole

    January 8, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Pete

      And the xtians just keep on lyin' .....

      January 8, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • End Religion

      A foxhole is too small to contain the atheist's big brain. However, the foxhole leaves lots of wiggle room for the religious.

      January 8, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      interesting claim, often made, always wrong.

      January 8, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • snowboarder

      desert, as a veteran and an atheist, it is obvious that you know nothing of what you speak and you simply regurgitate the inanities that you hear.

      January 8, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • End Religion

      cedar, just throwing the obligatory drive-by snipe until a military person showed up to refute, as is what normally happens when this foxhole card gets played. There are very intelligent Theists running around just as afraid of the afterlife as you. The need for a sky buddy security blanket somehow transcends the rational thought process even in folks who otherwise show smarts. That's how strong the delusion is.

      January 8, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
  9. Humanist11

    There should not be prayers for the inauguration, period. It is a violation of the first amendment by endorsing a religion. In this case Christianity. It is absurd and dangerous for our government to promote a specific religion. This country was founded on freedom OF religion, not Christianity. Religious governments have been the most violent organizations this world has ever known.

    January 8, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • Akira

      How is this a violation? He is not requiring or forcing his prayer o anyone.
      Is he forcing you to pray? No?
      It's his CHOICE to include prayer; he's not endorsing anything.
      He is as free to express his faith as you are to not have any...

      If you even watch the Inauguration, you can always mute your telly.

      January 8, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • Carl

      I have no problem with a general prayer for the welfare of our country and president, but invoking the name of Jesus Christ should be prohibited at such a very public national function that is so central to our democracy. That's where prayer crosses the line from a fairly universal message to government endorsement of a specific theology.

      January 8, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • IAM

      iI don't think they are going to make you take communion or anything like that. It's just a prayer for the nation. Nobody is forcing you to do anything.

      January 8, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
  10. lonomoholo

    'derp, somebody claiming to be Christian doesn't make it so.'

    Ah, the No True Scotsman' fallacy...
    Clearly, he wasn't a true Christian because you say so. Abject nonsense, Bruce. Hitler and the majority of his minions were in fact christians. The belt buckles of the troops even has 'gott mit uns' on them, meaning 'god is with us'. Additionally, the catholic church (a truly vile organization to this day) was more than happy to provide tacit support for Hitler and his vile plans.

    January 8, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • sandalista

      It's called "Das Reichskonkordat". The agreement between Hitler and the katholic church. Hitler introduced the church tax (in effect to this day) and left the church untouched. In return the katholic church closed both eyes to the holocaust and all other atrocities. Same in Italy. The church and Mussolini agreed not to interfere with each other's interests. As a reward the kath. church got the Vatican land as a present.

      January 8, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • Bruce

      lonomoholo,I disagree with you, plain and simple.

      January 8, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • Bruce

      Funny.... following right along with the atheist talking points 🙂


      January 8, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  11. darte

    rad666 If America is "one nation under God," why does America leaders send troops overseas to kill?God said, "Thou shalt not kill."

    It was "One nation under flag" before it was changed to "One nation under God".

    January 8, 2013 at 11:24 am |
  12. Ivan Kahn

    Holding an inauguration for a sitting President seems like a waste of taxpayer money.

    January 8, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • Akira

      Yep, they've been wasting it since the first second-term President was elected.

      January 8, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • Steve

      I so agree!

      January 8, 2013 at 12:18 pm |

    Obama CLAIMS to be about "justice, equality & opportunity". But his actions are UNjust and INequal, he proposes different taxes for different citizens, NO taxes for almost half. The upper 1% earners of the economy pay over 40% of the taxes. There is no longer any opportunity to realize the American dream and reap the rewards of hard work. Obama is just a liar, thief and incompetent to boot.

    January 8, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • Akira

      Thanks for your comment, Mrs. Romney.

      January 8, 2013 at 11:29 am |

      You're quite welcome, Ms. Pelosi.

      January 8, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • sandalista

      The top 1% also own 40% of the total wealth. That has nothing to do with the american dream anymore; it is pure greed. Funny thing is, most of the 1% don't mind paying 3.5% more tax.

      January 8, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • Akira

      Lol, Mrs. Romney. Touché.

      January 8, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • Rev. Rick

      When Warren Buffett starts to complain that he's paying too many taxes, I'll believe you have a valid argument...

      January 8, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
  14. petena

    Why do people have so much hate? Why do the GOP want history to remember them as the ones who were always contrary and showed so much hatres? And then we question ourselves why we have nutty people going out and killing for the sake of killing. There is relevance.

    January 8, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • Anthem

      GOP remembered in history for spreading hate...?

      You mean like ending slavery and passing Civil Rights? The GOP have stepped up to the plate every time there was something real and meaningful to be done (while Democrats opposed). History remembers... but you seem to have forgotten.

      January 8, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • Rev. Rick

      Republicans ending slavery and promoting civil rights? That's right, but your example is the exception that proves the rule – especially now. Today's republican party is NOT Lincoln's republican party. I doubt old Abe would even recognize most of his consti-tuents in today's political arena.

      January 8, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
  15. Steve

    If any of you think the President believes in God or whatever non-sense you are the ones that are delusional. No one as smart as the President would believe in such a fairy tale. Bush maybe, but Obama, I doubt it. You must understand that to be elected in office in America, you must pretend to believe to get a chance and that's what the man did and will continue doing but as an atheist myself I ask my fellow atheists to please chill, our President is sane.

    January 8, 2013 at 11:20 am |

      so, you acknowledge that Obama is a liar and a fake. And apparently that is okay with you. I would have some respect for him if he were truthful about his "secret" athiest/muslim beliefs. As a face and a liar, I have no respect for him – or you.

      January 8, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • Kianasmum

      For reasons which are my own, I believe in GOD. I believe that GOD chooses our birth parents and I thank GOD for my conscience and the freedom, joy, peace and love I experience each and every day. Others are born surrounded by violence, hatred, hunger, etc. and I'm sure, science will never be able to explain that one.

      January 8, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • Steve

      @REAL WHIRLED oh you hater, don't you see we don't care what you think about us or our President. Did you know he likes to eat fried chicken with watermelons while bathing naked with virgin teddy bears? loll Happy? I am.
      My President is Barack Hussein Obama!

      January 8, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • Free From Religion

      "Others are born surrounded by violence, hatred, hunger, etc. and I'm sure, science will never be able to explain that one"

      Psychology, sociology, and agriculture can be used to explain these subjects. No religion necessary. So why did you get special treatment from your god? Are you special? Does god love you more than those poor souls born surrounded by violence, hatred and hunger?

      January 8, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  16. Dr.Don Claybrook, Sr.

    "A new commandment give I unto you, that you love one another even as I have loved you. By THIS shall all men know that you are my disciples." Jesus Christ

    January 8, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • End Religion

      He must have very few disciples.

      January 8, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
  17. paul

    Obviously the president is a man of deep conviction that would never use a something so sacred as prayer to make a political statement. Oh yeah and pigs (I mean pork) can fly! Looking forward to missing another Obama abomination.

    January 8, 2013 at 11:18 am |
  18. sandalista

    Here is the text of the inauguration prayer. It has been leaked by the WH.

    Hocus pocus gorgonzola,
    Abra cadaver macabre
    Simsala bim thou Salami
    Shizzle the fizzle, tickle the pickle
    and savy the gravy.
    Mishly our fishly, ringeling the Leprichauns
    Though verily fasuken thy Unicorns.

    January 8, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • Old Enough


      January 8, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • Steve

      Amen! That prayer is my new Facebook profile pic. Oh God, you are going straight to hell for this loll

      January 8, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • End Religion

      May you heathens be touched by FSM's noodly appendage. R'Amen.

      January 8, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
  19. It is called

    Does not work
    Long-Awaited Medical Study Questions the Power of Prayer – New ...
    Mar 31, 2006 – Prayers by strangers had no effect on the recovery of people who were undergoing heart surgery, a large study has found.

    January 8, 2013 at 11:10 am |
  20. Sumsanity

    Wish I could be there to let Obama know what I think of his "Hope and Change" and his "laser focus on jobs, jobs, jobs" and Fast and Furious scandel, and Benghazi, and Solyndra, and appointing COMMUNISTS and his constant lies etc,etc

    January 8, 2013 at 11:07 am |
    • Brenda

      It might help if you actually read a jobs report.

      January 8, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • Old Enough

      It Might Help if you read anything.....

      January 8, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • Akira

      It might help if you turned off Fox.

      January 8, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • .

      Bureau of Labor stats.

      Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
      2002 -129 -146 -24 -84 -9 47 -100 -11 -55 121 8 -163
      2003 95 -159 -213 -49 -9 0 25 -45 109 197 14 119
      2004 162 44 337 249 310 81 46 122 161 348 63 134
      2005 137 240 141 360 170 243 374 193 66 80 334 160
      2006 283 316 283 181 14 76 209 183 157 -9 204 171
      2007 236 93 190 72 139 75 -40 -18 73 79 112 89
      2008 41 -84 -95 -208 -190 -198 -210 -274 -432 -489 -803 -661
      2009 -818 -724 -799 -692 -361 -482 -339 -231 -199 -202 -42 -171
      2010 -40 -35 189 239 516 -167 -58 -51 -27 220 121 120
      2011 110 220 246 251 54 84 96 85 202 112 157 223
      2012 275 259 143 68 87 45 181 192 132 137 161 155

      January 8, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • Rina

      Too bad you can't make it. I'm sure Obama will miss you. Not.

      January 8, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
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About this blog

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.