Despite the Louie Giglio Controversy, Christianity Is (Unfortunately) Doing Just Fine

Yesterday, Christian pastor Louie Giglio withdrew his acceptance of President Obama‘s invitation to deliver the Inauguration benediction.

Louis Giglio

The statement on his website is a pretty clear indication that he still holds the abhorrent views on homosexuality that he delivered in a sermon nearly 20 years ago and which resurfaced this week (my own comments are in red):

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. (No, it’s not.) 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. (No one’s taking your rights away from you… unlike what you’re doing to gay people.)

As a pastor, my mission is to love people (unless they’re gay and want the same rights as you), and lead them well (away from homosexuality…), 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 (Your sermon is evidence to the contrary, and silence on the subject since then doesn’t equate to love and respect). 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. (If you cared at all about understanding us, you wouldn’t waste our time pointing to Jesus.)

What’s really incredible about all this is the way some Christians are reacting to the news. The Martyr Complex is in full swing on this one:

Theologian Russell Moore gave us proof that he probably failed the SAT’s analogy section:

The “shock” with which this so-called “anti-gay” stance is articulated by the Left is akin to the Pork Producers Association denouncing a Muslim Imam’s invitation because he is “anti-agriculture” due to Koranic dietary restrictions.

In fact, by the standards of this controversy, no Muslim imam or Orthodox Jewish rabbi alive can pray at a presidential inauguration.

Except no imam or rabbi is fighting to remove the “scourge of agriculture” from this country or trying to pass laws against eating pork despite their personal dietary traditions.

Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, takes his usual “The sky is falling” approach on Christianity:

… a Christian pastor has been effectively disinvited from delivering an inaugural prayer because he believes and teaches Christian truth.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee and the White House have now declared historic, biblical Christianity to be out of bounds, casting it off the inaugural program as an embarrassment. By its newly articulated standard, any preacher who holds to the faith of the church for the last 2,000 years is persona non grata. By this standard, no Roman Catholic prelate or priest can participate in the ceremony. No Evangelical who holds to biblical orthodoxy is welcome. The vast majority of Christians around the world have been disinvited. Mormons, and the rabbis of Orthodox Judaism are out. Any Muslim imam who could walk freely in Cairo would be denied a place on the inaugural program. Billy Graham, who participated in at least ten presidential inaugurations is welcome no more. Rick Warren, who incited a similar controversy when he prayed at President Obama’s first inauguration, is way out of bounds. In the span of just four years, the rules are fully changed.

Holy shit, when Obama finds out that he himself is a practicing Christian, I think he’s going to resign from the Presidency!

No one’s declaring Christianity out of bounds.

Keep in mind: This will be an Inauguration where Myrlie Evers-Williams will deliver an invocation prayer, another pastor will probably end up delivering the benediction, Obama will be sworn in with his hand on top of two Bibles (“one stacked atop the other”), and he will likely end his recitation of the Oath of Office by saying “So Help Me God.”

Christianity ain’t going nowhere.

Joe Carter of The Gospel Coalition says that Obama disinvited Giglio — even though Giglio took himself out of the running — and argues that we should let the whole “homosexuality” thing slide because Giglio does a lot of other good things (“Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”):

For the past several decades voices inside and outside the church have said that Christians have hurt our witness by focusing on issues that challenge individualistic sexual permissiveness. They say that if we would only focus on actions that show how much we love our neighbor, actions like ending human trafficking, we would be welcomed in the public square. But as the Giglio incident reveals, no amount of good works can atone for committing the secular sin of subscribing to the biblical view of sexuality.

No one can truly love their neighbor and affirm their sin. For us to remain silent about homosexuality would show that we hate the world as much as the world hates us.

Aww, isn’t sweet? If Carter doesn’t loudly condemn gay people and work his damndest to strip away their rights, then the terrorists win!

Carter says we’re all so focused on Giglio’s “biblical view of sexuality” (which is a pretty euphemistic term for bigotry) that we ignore all the good he does. I actually think he’s right about that, but I defend it.

Focus on the Family, under the leadership of Jim Daly, has shifted its focus to getting kids adopted instead of preaching against homosexuality. That’s great news. But it doesn’t mean they’ve changed their minds or lessened their animosity toward progressives. It just means they’re trying to hide their true feelings so everyone stops demonizing them (including younger Christians).

Popular pastor Joel Osteen does the same thing. He doesn’t talk about homosexuality at his church — only in interviews, where he always ends up putting his foot in his mouth — but his silence on the issue is just evidence that he is no more enlightened on this subject than Jerry Falwell.

Should we judge these people by their views on homosexuality? Absolutely. It tells us far more about their character than anything they say to reporters, or in front of large crowds, or while on camera. It tells us we can’t look to them as beacons of morality. It tells us they only care about other people to an extent, not unconditionally. It tells us they would rather prevent people from visiting loved ones in hospitals or adopting children who need parents because the “definition of marriage” is something only they are allowed to change.

If these pastors really loved gay people like they say (and think) they do, they would tell their congregations something like this:

I know the Bible promotes unions between a man and a woman, but our government and our church are not one and the same. Even though our church will never sanctify gay or lesbian marriages, we will also not stand in the way of those who fight for equality in the eyes of our government.

It’ll never happen.

Giglio may do some great things, but all of that is, in my mind, outweighed by his inability to support those in our country who are treated as second-class citizens, in large part, thanks to him and the people who share his faith.

At least Giglio was invited. I doubt the Inaugural committee had any Secular Humanists, Muslim imams, or Hindu priests on their Delivering-the-Benediction shortlist. Most people didn’t even blink when it was announced Giglio would be delivering the benediction. It was just assumed that a Christian pastor would handle this task.

These conservatives are freaking out because the pastor who was chosen to be a part of one of our nation’s most important ceremonies stepped down from the role.

Meanwhile, the rest of us won’t get to freak out like that because our representatives were never invited in the first place.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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