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Posts for January, 2013

Giglio’s Gone

Jim Burroway

January 10th, 2013

According to a series of Tweets posted by ABC news journalist Jonathan Karl, Rev. Louis Giglio has removed himself from President Barack Obama’s inaugural program:

Rev. Gigilo[sic], who had been selected to give the inaugural invocation, has been removed from the program.

Rev. Gigilo[sic] had come under fire for his harshly anti-gay comments. He will no longer be giving the invocation at the inauguraiton.

In the 90s, Gigilo promoted “ex-gay therapy” and denounced the “homosexual lifestyle” and “aggressive agenda” of the gay rights movement.

Inaugural source: “Gigilo pulled himself out when he realized this was going to be a distraction.

Giglio had actually been chosen to give the benediction, not the invocation. Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of slain civil rights worker Medgar Evers who was shot in his driveway in 1963 by a white supremacist, will give the invocation. Moments ago, Karl posted the corrected story at ABC News.

The New York Times confirms Giglio’s departure, citing ” a source close to the inaugural committee.”

Update: ThinkProgress, which broke the story yesterday of Giglio’s anti-gay comments, obtained a statement from the pastor’s spokesperson:

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.

ThinkProgress has also posted a statement from a spokesperson for the Presidential Inauguration Committee saying they were unaware of Giglio’s comments from the mid-90s and will work to find a replacement whose beliefs “reflect this administration’s vision of inclusion and acceptance for all Americans.”

Obama Selects Anti-Gay Pastor for Inaugural Benediction

Jim Burroway

January 9th, 2013

President Obama has named two individuals to offer the benediction at his January 21 swearing-in ceremony. The first is Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of slain civil rights worker Medgar Evers, who was shot in his driveway in 1963 by a white supremacist. She is believed to be the first woman and non-clergy member to be invited to deliver the invocation at a presidential inauguration.

Thats sounds to me like an excellent choice. It’s the second name which gives pause. The committee also announced that Pastor Louie Giglio, founder of the youth-oriented Passion Conferences, has been selected to offer the benediction. The Washington Post cites an unnamed inaugural official who said:

…Giglio was picked for the benediction in part because of his work raising awareness about modern-day slavery and human trafficking. Those were core issues at his most recent conference, Passion 2013, attended by more than 60,000 mostly young evangelicals in Atlanta.

But as ThinkProgress has discovered, Giglio has an anti-gay history:

In a mid-1990s sermon identified as Giglio’s, available online on a Christian training website, he preached rabidly anti-LGBT views. The 54-minute sermon, entitled “In Search of a Standard – Christian Response to Homosexuality,” advocates for dangerous “ex-gay” therapy for gay and lesbian people, references a biblical passage often interpreted to require gay people be executed, and impels Christians to “firmly respond to the aggressive agenda” and prevent the “homosexual lifestyle” from becoming accepted in society.

ThinkProgress has several choice excerpts from that sermon. This one is probably the worst:

[The homosexual] movement is not a benevolent movement, it is a movement to seize by any means necessary the feeling and the mood of the day, to the point where the homosexual lifestyle becomes accepted as a norm in our society and is given full standing as any other lifestyle, as it relates to family.

When I read that, I couldn’t help but recall that Scott Lively delivered almost those exact words at his infamous anti-gay conference in Uganda in 2009.

Giglio also compared being gay to alcoholism and drug addiction and eating disorders:

I would refer you maybe just to the article “Born gay?” by Joe Dallas, who is the president of a ministry that helps with homosexuals in “recovery.” … It really unfolds for us that the evidence that they say is there, that the media wants to tell us is there really isn’t there at all. But I want to tell you this tonight. How do you respond to the news reports that we’re hearing in the last few months that there is a genetic tendency to be an over-eater and it’s been supposedly proved by the scientists? That there is a genetic tendency to addictive behavior. Alcoholics by and large have a genetic tendency to addictive behavior. I predict in our lifetimes and not a very long period of time from now, scientists and geneticists will have found a way to prove a gene theory for every malfunction in sinful society. And do you know why? We talked about it the very first week—because we do not want responsibility for our choices.

(Joe Dallas at that time was president of Exodus International. More recenlty he has become involved with a more hardline breakaway group, the Restored Hope Network.)

That sermon was delivered in the 1990s. ThinkProgress says, “A spokesman for Giglio was not immediately available to respond to questions about whether this sermon represents Giglio’s current thinking.” If it doesn’t, then he really needs to speak up, loudly.

And if it does, then this is a reversion to the kinds actions which angered the LGBT community ahead of Obama’s first inaugural ceremony, when Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren was selected to deliver the invocation. The selection was announced just a day after comparing consensual, loving same-sex relationships to polygamy, incest and child rape. The inauguration committee tried to mollify the anger by asking openly gay Episcopal Bishop Eugene Robinson to give the invocation for a inauguration-eve concert at the Lincoln Memorial, only to have his prayers cut from the live broadcast.