Pro-family pastor withdraws from Obama inauguration after backlash from gay activists
WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 10, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Rev. Louie Giglio, the pro-family pastor picked by President Obama to deliver the benediction at his Jan. 21st inauguration, has backed out after a pressure campaign by homosexual activists.
Rev. Giglio, who heads Atlanta’s Passion City Church, said he did not want the inauguration to “be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda the focal point.”
Immediately after Giglio announced his withdrawal, Fox News political analyst Kirsten Powers tweeted: “The intolerant Left claims another scalp.”
Obama’s choice of Giglio on Tuesday quickly came under attack by activists who highlighted a sermon the pastor delivered in the 1990s offering a “Christian response to homosexuality.”
In the sermon, the pastor expressed Christian teaching that homosexuality is a sin and that it is possible to leave the homosexual lifestyle “through the healing power of Jesus.” He said Christians must “lovingly but firmly respond” to an “aggressive agenda” by some in the homosexual community.
“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,” the pastor said.
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According to Obama’s Presidential Inauguration Committee, they were unaware of the sermon when they selected Giglio. They said he was chosen for his work in combatting human trafficking.
“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 spokesperson Addie Whisenant.
Giglio’s acceptance of Obama’s invitation had been the cause of some concern from pro-family Christians. Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association, said on his radio show that he would have declined, according to OneNewsNow.
“Louie Giglio did not say I endorse or embrace President Obama’s political agenda—[but] if I were Louie Giglio, I would say ‘This could hurt my credibility within the Christian community because it seems to be an implicit endorsement of President Obama by participating,’” said Wildmon.
In his statement, Giglio explains that speaking on homosexuality “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.”
Giglio is perhaps best known for his involvement in the Passion Conferences, which annually attract tens of thousands of university students. The conferences have been heavily focused around opposition to human trafficking and slavery, with the most recent event drawing over 60,000 to Atlanta’s Georgia Dome and raising millions of dollars towards combating trafficking.
“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,” he said. “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,” he added.
“Are all orthodox clergy now to be banished from civic life if they openly affirm their faith’s teachings about marriage and sexual ethics?” asked Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “Are only clergy from declining liberal denominations now acceptable according to hyper political correctness? Will the same standard also apply to Muslims and members of other faiths who don’t subscribe to the views of western secular elites?”