In Place of Louie Giglio, a Pro-Gay Pastor Will Deliver the Inauguration Benediction

After the Louie Giglio controversy, in which an anti-gay evangelical Christian pastor was selected to give the benediction at President Obama‘s Inauguration ceremony, the team putting the event together was looking for someone who doesn’t take pride in his own bigotry.

Their decision will probably do the trick: Rev. Luis Leon, an Episcopal priest who also gave the benediction at President George W. Bush‘s second inaugural ceremony, has been chosen to take Giglio’s place:

Rev. Luis Leon

A source close to the inaugural committee confirmed León would be delivering the benediction and said a formal announcement would be coming later in the week.

President Barack Obama and his family have worshiped at the church numerous times during his first term. They have visited the church more times than any other during his presidency, and the president and León are said to have a good relationship.

The Episcopal Church, the American branch of the Anglican tradition, voted at their annual convention in July to approve the blessing of same-sex ceremonies. Such services are not considered marriage ceremonies, media affairs representative Nancy Davidge told CNN at the time.

“We have authorized a blessing, and a blessing is different than a marriage,” Davidge said. “A blessing is a theological response to a monogamous, committed relationship.”

It’s not a perfect choice, but it could be much worse. (In other words, a pretty appropriate selection for a ceremony honoring Obama…)

Now we can move on to more pressing questions, like why the hell we even need a benediction 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.

  • Anna

    See, that wasn’t so hard. The Christians get their Christian prayer, and the LGBT community gets to feel happy that the man who was picked isn’t a raging homophobe. Now it’s only secularists who get to be upset, but we’re used to that!

  • m6wg4bxw

    A guy with an opinion on an irrelevant topic, which offends a section of the population, was replaced by a guy with a different opinion on that irrelevant topic, which offends a different section of the population. Success?

  • Keulan

    Too bad Obama couldn’t just do away with the benediction entirely. Lots of Christians would go apeshit if he did that. I remember when they freaked out back in 2009, and that was just because he mentioned nonbelievers in his first inaugural address.

    Oh well. At least Obama chose someone who’s not a bigot, though he should have picked a pro-gay pastor the first time.

  • cipher

    The best thing about this is that is will really piss off the fundies and the neocons.

    I’m going to make popcorn.

  • Once Again

    WT? I thought Obama quit going to chuch after the election.
    So he isn’t an atheist? We’ve been had.

  • Trickster Goddess

    Yes, success. One guy has the opinion that a specific group of people should be denied their civil rights and the new guy has the opinion that all people should be treated equally.

    And I take umbrage that you consider my civil rights to be irrelevant.

  • m6wg4bxw

    You should promptly return the umbrage you obtained under false pretense because I said nothing about civil rights. What I find irrelevant is the opinion on sexual preference of a person delivering a benediction during the inauguration of the president of the United States of America.

  • Nate Frein

    I’m sorry, no. If Giglio had made the same unrepudiated statement about interracial marriage or women voting (that the people who wanted it were trying to “destroy America”) the outcry would have been even bigger.

    What Giglio said was more than just “an opinion on sexual preference”. What he said was hateful and bigoted, in a polite tone.

  • Trickster Goddess

    “Sexual preference”?? Really?

    The difference of opinion is a bit deeper than whether they think we are icky or not.

  • m6wg4bxw

    I guess I don’t see the relationship between the upcoming benediction and the civil rights of homosexuals.

  • m6wg4bxw

    Regardless of the issue, it seems like his competence to deliver a benediction has been judged by his opinions concerning homosexuality. Is he unable to deliver the benediction to the people, or are the people unwilling to accept it from him?

  • Trickster Goddess

    The benediction is for the ceremony where the leader of the country swears to uphold the constitution — which is the document that defines civil rights for all citizens, including homosexuals.

  • m6wg4bxw

    Which would make anti-gay words in the benediction inappropriate. Maybe Giglio would have included them… and maybe not. I grant you that excluding him eliminates that possibility. What concerns me is the president’s opinion on civil rights.

  • Kevin S.

    He didn’t quit going to church. He just never picked a regular church in DC to replace the church he attended in Chicago.

  • Trickster Goddess

    It’s not so much which words he might say (though it would cause great embarrassment to the president if he used that opportunity to say anti-gay things), it the symbolism of having someone who publicly espouses discrimination to deliver a blessing on the event that is about taking on the legal responsibility of upholding the constitution.

  • m6wg4bxw

    You’ve made good points, and I am convinced. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  • Edmond

    Can everyone please remember that Giglio VOLUNTARILY removed HIMSELF? “The president’s opinion on civil rights” did not lead him to FIRE Giglio. The president INVITED him, and Giglio declined.

  • rhodent

    Yes, and it’s vitally important that Obama avoid pissing off the Christians, partly because they have been such staunch allies of his so far and partly because he needs their support when he runs for re-election. :-/

  • Sven2547

    Are you saying Giglio’s opinion is irrelevant, or that the the subject Giglio opined on is irrelevant? There is a big difference here.

  • m6wg4bxw

    Each of the points you emphasize were always part of my considerations.

  • m6wg4bxw

    My focus was on the benediction and Giglio’s ability to deliver it. In that context, I considered both the subject and his opinion on it irrelevant.

  • roberthughmclean

    “benediction” Is that the pope?

  • Harriet Baber

    He is not a “PASTOR”–he is a priest. Or you could call him rector, or vicar, or Father. But not “pastor.”

  • Pseudonym

    This person’s “irrelevant” opinions align pretty closely with those of the person whose inauguration it is. So there’s that at least.

  • Sven2547

    I don’t think the terms “pastor” and “priest” are mutually exclusive.
    On a related note, I find it odd that many priests are called “father”. Didn’t Jesus explicitly tell people NOT to call other people “father” (on the grounds that your “father” is God in Heaven)?