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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Atlanta pastor drops out of Obama inauguration over anti-gay comments (Update)

The Rev. Louie Giglio
  • Wikimedia Commons/jesario
  • The Rev. Louie Giglio
That was quick.

The pastor of a Buckhead church and founder of the Passion Conferences that that have attracted thousands of young Christians has dropped out of President Barack Obama's inauguration after anti-gay comments he made came under scrutiny.

The Rev. Louie Giglio of Passion City Church near Lindbergh City Center was selected on Tuesday to deliver the benediction at the president's second inauguration. Last night, however, Think Progress, a liberal blog affiliated with the Center for American Progress Action Fund, pointed to a sermon Giglio delivered in the mid-1990s that "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." One of the comments attributed to Giglio on the sermon reported by TP:

(2:40) We must not just sit quietly by and stick our heads in the sand and let whatever happens happen in our country. We've got to respond to the world that we live in. That is the mandate that comes to us as people of God. And this issue is coming more and more to the forefront every day.
(31:45) We must lovingly but firmly respond to the aggressive agenda of not all, but of many in the homosexual community. ... Underneath this issue is a very powerful and aggressive moment. That 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.

Think Progress reported last night that Giglio's spokesperson was unable to say whether the influential pastor still held those views. No word yet from Giglio on his Twitter feed or the church's Facebook page or website.

UPDATE, 2:50 p.m. In a blog post titled "Change of plans," Giglio writes:

Though I was invited by the President of the United States to pray at his upcoming inauguration, after conversations between our team and the White House I am no longer serving in that role. I sent the following statement to the White House today:

Read the rest after the jump.

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 we need God's grace and mercy in our time of need.

The issue of homosexuality (which a particular message of mine some 20 years ago addressed) is one of the most difficult our nation will navigate. However, individuals' rights of freedom, and the collective right to hold differing views on any subject is a critical balance we, as a people, must recover and preserve.

As a pastor, my mission is to love people, and lead them well, while lifting up the name of Jesus above anything else. I'm confident that anyone who knows me or has listened to the multitude of messages I have given in the last decade would most likely conclude that I am not easily characterized as being opposed to people - any people. Rather, I am constantly seeking to understand where all people are coming from and how to best serve them as I point them to Jesus.

In all things, the most helpful thing I can do is to invite each of us to wrestle with scripture and its implications for our lives. God's words trump all opinions, including mine, and in the end, I believe God's words lead to life.
My greatest desire is that we not be distracted from the things we are focused on... seeing people in our city come to know Jesus, and speaking up for the last and least of these throughout the world.

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