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Construction work continues for US President Barack Obama’s second inauguration at the Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on January 5, 2013. Obama’s second inauguration will take place with a public ceremonial oath of office on January 21, 2013.
Atlanta pastor Louie Giglio has backed out of his planned benediction at President Obama’s upcoming inauguration, saying in a statement that the uproar over anti-gay comments he made over a decade ago would distract from the event.
“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,” Giglio said. “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.”
The Presidential Inaugural Committee said Thursday:
Here’s how it went down: 48 hours ago the White House announced that Giglio would be delivering the benediction at Obama’s inauguration, citing the pastor’s “work raising awareness about modern-day slavery and human trafficking.” Wednesday, ThinkProgress.org posted a link to a sermon Giglio gave in the mid-1990s warning about the mainstreaming of homosexuality and speaking out against changing the definition of marriage. Thursday morning, there’s a WhiteHouse.gov petition calling for the president to replace Giglio with a religious leader “with a history of supporting LGBT equality”and an A section story in the New York Times on the preacher, and a blogosphere ablaze.
And then God said, “Let there be controversy!” And there was controversy.
You can listen to Giglio’s teaching on homosexuality that’s getting so much attention here (H/T: ThinkProgress).
In the audio, Giglio calls Christians to “lovingly but firmly respond to the aggressive agenda” of gay activists.
Giglio also explains in the sermon that he believes that homosexuality is akin to an unwanted addiction; that even if there is a genetic predisposition to homosexual orientation, that does not change the fact that he sees it as sin.
He also spoke out against gay marriage (37:18), saying:
Giglio has been much more widely known in the Christian world recently for his work raising awareness and funds to combat human trafficking —including sex trafficking and what organizers call “modern day slavery.” According to a report by Christianity Today,
Giglio’s Passion Conference, held last week in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome, gathered 60,000 university-aged people for a four-day long worship event that raised $2.9 million to combat human trafficking worldwide.
In addition to his advocacy work, Giglio has become known for this kind of dynamic preaching and outreach to Christian college students.
He also runs the Passion City Church in Atlanta, opened in 2009. In many of his sermons, Giglio presents a vision of gender roles that reflects a traditional view of men, women and marriage, often known in Christian circles as complementarianism (as opposed to egalitarianism —debates rage). You can get a sense of this approach in the series Giglio gave on God’s plan for marriage in 2012 that is posted to his Web site. He prefaced his opening sermon in March titled ‘In the Beginning’ this way:
Then, after reading from the Book of Genesis, Giglio paraphrased the Scripture.
Buzzfeed also pointed to Giglio’s Nov 2012 convocation address to Liberty University, the largest Christian university in the world (including on-campus and online students), in which the pastor challenges the students to find and live their purpose. Giglio’s style is energetic and often self-effacing, speaking directly to the his audience and challenging them to deepen their relationships with God. In one exchange, Giglio uses the language of falling in love to talk about his spiritual story:
Giglio is only the latest religious leader associated with Obama to cause controversy. During Obama’s 2008 inauguration, he was also criticized by gay rights groups for his selection of Rick Warren,also seen as anti-gay. (Obama did invite then-New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop, to give a prayer at a 2008 inauguration event.) Obama has also continued to take heat for his relationship with Chicago Pastor Jeremiah Wright, who made controversial remarks about 9/11.. With a now-open spot for a benediction prayer, more scrutiny is likely to come.