The Obama Administration wants next week’s inauguration to be “a celebration of strength and diversity.” That’s apparently the reason that Pastor Louis Giglio, originally invited to offer a prayer at the Inauguration on January 21, is no longer on the program.
I was pleased to read of Giglio’s invitation to offer the prayer. Having a Christian leader in this role helped to ameliorate Obama’s surprise invitation to Myrlie Evers-Williams to offer the invocation (also a prayer) at his swearing-in ceremony.
Evers-Williams, the widow of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers, is the first woman and the first layperson to offer the invocation at a presidential inauguration; but her selection left me puzzled. Former chairman of the NAACP, she has been a tireless worker in the field of civil rights and equality; but unlike her predecessor, the Reverend Martin Luther King, she seemingly brought nothing to the table which would qualify her to pray on behalf of our nation. She has moved from one church community to another—worshipping as a Baptist, a Methodist, or a Presbyterian, depending on convenience. She explained her easy-peasy faith in an interview in the Washington Post:
I have never been shy in mentioning my relationship with what I call God, a Spirit, and there certainly have been times over the years that I have called on him — or her, if you wish — in public. I deeply believe that there is a Supreme Being that sees us through.
I have nothing against Evers-Williams; she seems a nice lady, and she has helped to move society toward greater inclusiveness, and this is good. However, her selection seems, I’m afraid, much more about “Look, black people are moving into power” than about invoking the blessing of almighty God upon our nation.
But Louie Giglio—That’s another story!
Pastor Giglio is the author of The Air I Breathe: Worship as a Way of Life and I Am Not But I Know I Am: Welcome to the Story Of God. He is pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and organizer of the popular Passion Conferences. He has been a tireless advocate in the fight against human trafficking; and it was in recognition of this humanitarian focus that the Obama Administration selected him on January 8 to offer a prayer at the inauguration.
However, after the announcement, a sermon Giglio delivered in the mid-1990s came to light. Wikipedia reports that in the sermon, Giglio called homosexuality a sin, declared that legalizing gay marriage would risk “absolutely undermining the whole order of our society”, and asked his listeners to “lovingly but firmly respond to the aggressive agenda” of gay activists.
Just two days later, on January 10, Giglio—either at his own initiative or at the urging of the Obama Administration, we aren’t sure which—withdrew from participation in the inaugural. In a statement, Giglio explained, “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.”
This is America’s loss. Giglio will be replaced on the program by a religious leader who parts with the longstanding teaching of the Catholic Church and most Christian denominations: that the homosexual person is a child of God, deserving of respect and love, but that the act of same-sex coupling is in conflict with God’s divine purpose for the body.
I wrote about Louie Giglio back in 2012, posting his popular talk on “Laminin” which has been viewed more than three million times on YouTube. I bring that clip back today, to give you an idea of the fervor and the faith of this man.