WASHINGTON, January 10, 2013 — Following the controversy about his anti-gay preaching, Christian minister Rev. Louie Giglio, founder of the Passion Conferences in Atlanta, stepped down just two days after being selected by President Obama to deliver the benediction at his Jan. 21 Inauguration.
In the 1990s, Rev. Giglio had called on Christians to battle what he termed the “aggressive” agenda of the gay rights movement, saying that the only escape to being gay is the “healing power of Jesus.” His 54-minute sermon, called “In Search of a Standard-Christian Response to Homosexuality,” promotes the controversial “gay therapy” to “cure” gays and lesbians, using the Bible as its source. He also said in the sermon that “People aren’t born gay, but even if they are, it’s still a choice like giving into alcoholism, addiction and overeating.”
Following a storm of angry responses from the gay community and the revelation of the pastor’s teachings by Think Progress, the ensuing controversy erupted overnight and the pastor quickly withdrew his name. Giglio, who was to have delivered the benediction, issued this statement:
“I am honored to be invited by the President to give the benediction at the upcoming inaugural on January 21. 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 the 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.
“Neither I, nor our team, 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.
“Our nation is deeply divided and hurting, and more than ever need God’s grace and mercy in our time of need.”
What is perhaps most shocking about this incident is that no one in the White House had vetted Pastor Giglio, especially in light of the Inauguration brouhaha four years ago, when President Obama offended supporters of gay rights with the selection of Rev. Rick Warren, author of the best selling “The Purpose Driven Life” and a major opponent of same sex marriage, to deliver the invocation. However, at that time Rev. Warren did not withdraw his name nor was he asked to do so, probably because he was seen as a more mainstream minister than Giglio.
But Obama pleased many in his gay constituency on Wednesday, when his committee announced that he had selected Latino Richard Blanco, who is gay, to be the 2013 inaugural poet. Blanco, who was born to Cuban exiles in Spain and raised in Miami, has written “Directions to the Beach of the Dead” and “Looking for the Gulf Motel.”
Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of Medgar Evers, who was killed in 1963 in his driveway for his Civil Rights activities in Mississippi, will offer the invocation at the Inauguration, the first woman and non-clergy member to ever to do so.
Evers-Williams expressed her gratitude at being called upon, saying, “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.”
Evers-Williams spent more than 30 years following the death of her husband making sure that her husband’s murderer was finally brought to trial and convicted.
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.