Louie Giglio and Inauguration Day Prayer

Louie Giglio and Inauguration Day Prayer January 14, 2013

Louie Giglio did the right thing when he chose to back out of offering the Inauguration Day Prayer. He could have done the right-er thing by never accepting such an invitation.

The story is that Louie was invited to pray at Inauguration Day — he represents young, conservative evangelicals and the drive by the same crowd to eliminate trafficking in the world. When some discovered who was invited to give the prayer they investigated his past, they discovered some traditional statements about homosexuality and chose to protest the choice of Louie. Louie endured it for a very short time then backed out.

Some have given it right back to those who opposed Giglio’s giving the prayer, including Gabe Lyons and Tim Dalrymple. David Sessions has given Gabe, a friend of mine, an earful. Tim Dalrymple, another friend, brought this heated reaction to the sacking of Louie Giglio to a head with this set of lines:

So, a wry congratulations to the LGBT community. You just chased an evangelical pastor widely known and celebrated for his anti-trafficking efforts out of the President’s inaugural for the thought-crime of believing (or once believing) that homosexual sex is sinful, and homosexual desires can be controlled or cultivated in other ways. In so doing, however, you proved not only that you (unlike most oppressed minorities) wield immense political power, but you also proved that the oppressed can also be oppressors, the bullied bullies, and you proved too that evangelicals are right to have concerns that their religious conscience freedoms are in danger.

Was it worth it? It’s hard to claim the place of the oppressed when you wield power like this.

I have a different take, noted already in the top of this post. Any evangelical on the platform of any Inauguration, Democrat or Republican, is being used. No one’s prayer will be acceptable to specific faiths… and if you tailor your prayer to all you shift your theology.

This is what happens when you enter the political forum. When you enter politics you risk sullying the gospel. In DC everything is political. Who speaks, who stands where, who gets to be in the parameters of the photos, who speaks when and when one speaks where… To agree to the political space is to agree with the politics. It was noble of you to back off; it was good to say “This isn’t worth it to the gospel.” But who could have been surprised that the caucus for same-sex marriage would find Louie objectionable? Rick Warren experienced this four years back. The debate has increased, not decreased.

There were two approaches left once the opposition’s rhetoric got going: back down, which Giglio did, or endure it, which Warren did.

Neither approach is worth it. If you don’t agree up and down the platform of the Democrats, don’t pray on their platform. Evangelicals will give anything to get some power back, or to be seen with power, to be the leader of the nation. That’s not our job, friends.

What happened to Louie is what happens when pastors and Christian leaders become complicit in politics. Politics determines everything. Not one’s theology, not one’s noble efforts to bring down trafficking, not one’s capacity to pray or lead the nation in a prayer for all. Politics determines everything. And the pastor who stands on that platform makes the gospel complicit in that platform’s politics.

There are now some discussions about who should offer that prayer.

Christian leaders and pastors need to be at the Prayer Breakfast or the Easter Breakfast, but not on the Inauguration Day platform — unless they line up with that platform’s agendas, and the most political ones and the most vocal ones and the most inflammatory ones are the ones that will determine suitability.

Louie, you didn’t belong there.

May all of us learn the lesson that Caesar is Caesar and Jesus is not Caesar.

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  • Sher

    I understand and respect your point Scot. However, as a clinical counselor I have witnessed how traumatizing the kind of message Giglio preached years ago is for homosexuals…And how damaging the attempt of reparation therapy. No heterosexual will ever be able to fathom the impact of such words and messages.

  • Andy

    Seemingly, as al mohler noted, we have found the new McCarthyism.

    “Are you now or have you ever been one who believes that homosexuality (or bisexuality, or transsexualism, etc.) is anything less than morally acceptable and worthy of celebration?”


  • Bob

    No, we have not: “we have found the new McCarthyism…” We have found the new Anastasianism or new Arianism, whatever that is which the so-called righteous among us insist on using to drag government and power into our stupid religious power disputes.

    The Christian stance in our politics is not in accommodation but in witness.

  • Gloria

    (1) Sher,
    You are missing the point of this post.

  • Wyatt Roberts

    I think this kind of letter should be between you and him, not for public consumption. That paragraph about the Easter service, and the profile pic you used from it undermines the message. I think you’re awesome, Scot, but I don’t like this one bit.

  • Tom

    Maybe it’s just me, but I just don’t think Jesus would have been too concerned about whether or not he or any of his disciples had been invited to pray at Caesar’s inauguration. http://spiritualsidekick.com/2013/01/13/crying-foul/

  • Bob, Giglio didn’t drag government into anything. He was invited. He responded in accordance with his faith. When it became controversial, he backed out. He was right on all counts.

  • Dan

    I am a bit confused on this one, Scot. While I agree basically with your premise that if you don’t agree up and down the platform, don’t get on the platform, aren’t you the guy who regularly posts a picture of you shaking Obama’s hand in the White House as your Facebook profile picture?

    So, for Giglio… he shouldn’t have done it at all… but you? The message you might convey posting such a picture? Are you in agreement up and down the platform with Obama? Or should you have been in the room at all?

  • Keith Irwin

    I really like your take on this – but what’s done is done. So, I’m in Tim Dalrymple’s corner.

  • Chris

    Interesting, I would guess Rick Warren’s stated goal for staying in would be to shine a large light on Jesus in front of a huge audience. I don’t recall his prayer but assuming he gave a prayer that wasn’t affected theologically by the politics (which scot makes clear is an impossibility at least in the perception of even being on the stage), is it always wrong to turn down the invitation of a president with whom you don’t agree?

  • T


    Given that Scot said Giglio did the right thing by backing out and would have done even better by never accepting, I doubt Scot is saying anything that Giglio would find hard to hear; indeed he may wholeheartedly agree. When one bows out after accepting, it is usually implicit that the initial acceptance was a mistake, if even an innocent one with the best intentions.

  • Jerry S

    Scot, I disagree on this one. Isn’t being a follower of “King Jesus” a political statement (not necessarily a Republican or Democratic statement). Isn’t any prayer an essentially political statement. I think Giglio’s withdrawal was the right thing to do and actually helps this sort of conversation take place, but it sounds like you are advocating a complete retreat from the public square. That doesn’t sound like a King Jesus way of gospeling to me.

  • scotmcknight

    Dan, I hear you … the pic was from the East Room’s Easter Prayer breakfast. I will take the hit for the picture. While for me it was a celebration of meeting our President I do know that the picture symbolizes some kind of connection to the President, and I took it down from my FB page because I didn’t want it to look like some kind of political statement. (Louie was there and it was there that I met him.) Yet, isn’t a picture stated to be from the Easter Breakfast a long way from standing on the platform visible on this post…?

  • Rodney Reeves

    Jerry S,

    I don’t see how offering a politically-correct prayer (with all offensive qualities teased out–where is the gospel?) is entering the public square.

  • scotmcknight

    Jerry S, no that would not be accurate. I’m not advocating a complete retreat; I’m advocating the church as our politic in the public sector.

  • Phil Miller

    I don’t have strong feelings about who prays at the inauguration, nor do I particularly care if someone accepts an invitation to or not. The thing that gets me about this whole flap is the fact that modern politics is completely built on the notion of manufacturing outrage in people. I’m cynical enough to think that the people who dug Giglio’s statements up don’t themselves really give a rip what he believes, but they knew that it would be enough to get people angry.

    Politicians and their surrogates simply see the American public in varying degrees of being pawns.

  • Dan

    Scot, I sort of agree that a picture during the Easter Prayer Breakfast is different (it’s nice how you QUALIFY something that you show up to), but the picture did not have that context. I understood the picture at the time, and I didn’t mind it. But, as you say, it can be misconstrued. Giglio’s appearance for a prayer could be misconstrued.

    I do not fault you for putting the picture up or going to the White House. And I would not fault Giglio for offering a prayer at the inauguration. However, these are your words: “Evangelicals will give anything to get some power back, or to be seen with power, to be the leader of the nation. That’s not our job, friends.” Your picture, without context, just seems to be what you are saying about Giglio doing a prayer. You were seen with power. I’m just testing your words against your actions.

  • Chris

    So true Phil.

    Scot, are you saying that the very best option cannot be one in which a Christian pastor gives a Christian prayer on a political stage such as this? Would this not be a good example of confronting idols?

    Further, Is it impossible on account of the task of staying true to theology or is it impossible on account of the visual politics/perception in such a display? Would it be an example of casting pearls before swine?

  • scotmcknight

    Dan, fair enough and that is why I said I’ll take a hit for it (from folks like you). I removed the picture during the election season … not much more for me to say about that. Now on to the post…

  • scotmcknight

    Chris, really good questions, and right on topic for the post.
    1. I don’t think in our politically charged environment that it is remotely possible to be the Inaugural Day person who prays and it not becoming political. (Notice, though few are making the analogy, what happened to Jeremiah Wright by the Right last time… had they not done that I suspect he’d have been the one who prayed. Agree?)
    2. No, I don’t think this is confronting the idols — Inaugural Day prayers have been (in my memory) washed and cleaned up for public airing.
    3. Both probably … the pearls before swine (too metaphorical here to be helpful).

  • Dan

    Fair enough. And it’s why I disagree with your post. I agree Giglio did the right thing by resigning the assignment. I disagree with your assessment as to when Giglio gets a platform. All of it has a the dangerous possibility of being misconstrued, but that is the arena in which we live.

  • MatthewS

    It’s good to be jarred into thought! Which I was by this post. The “scandal of the evangelical mind” was partly due to the attitude of “If I can’t agree in whole, I won’t participate in part”, and subsequent withdrawal from the public involvement in the life of the mind. Too many in my youth got drunk on all-or-nothing thinking, leaving a stinging hangover.

    I tend to think of third-way kind of thinking to include being engaged where possible. If a conservative pastor can find common ground with Obama on something like taking action against trafficking, it seems like a way to build a bridge.

    I read the premise of this post to be that “Any evangelical on the platform of any Inauguration, Democrat or Republican, is being used.” I think the reasoning is that being present for an Easter breakfast or a prayer breakfast is meant to convey support for Easter and prayer; being part of the public face of the inauguration conveys support for the administration being inaugurated. That makes sense, and given Scot’s Anabaptist thinking about politics, it makes sense to prefer being absent to politicizing the gospel.

    I don’t know – When the issue is gun control, it apparently is not sullying the gospel to join Democrat talking points with the gospel of King Jesus. That sounds snarky but I don’t mean it so, just thinking out loud, and that’s how I see some of the comments here…

    Regardless, after some initial feeling of dissonance, I can see where it is different to be present and in support of the Easter breakfast (including pictures of shaking the president’s hand) but not in support of offering the Inauguration prayer.

    Thanks for that uncomfortable feeling of being made to think, Scot! LOL

  • scotmcknight

    MatthewS, thanks for the comment.
    I don’t see any necessary problem to join hands in something like abortion control (with Repubs) or gun control (with Dems) on single issues. There’s something to all or nothing but that’s not my angle: my angle is that the Inaug Day pray-er will be politically scrutinized. Extensively. Why? Because it is such a powerful posture on a powerful platform on a powerful day in front of the symbols of power (look again at that image). So for me it’s not all or nothing on the Christian’s part but the political media’s part … so any place on that platform means political scrutiny. There was a day when that was not the case; those days are history.

  • scotmcknight

    And over all my strategy would not be to work through the channels of power in DC; the kingdom strategy is to work through your local church. If given a chance, I’d speak my mind on gun control, abortion, war, nuclear build up, drones, torture of prisoners, health care… but the focus needs to be the local church. And if not given a chance in DC, that would not discourage me one bit.

  • Ty

    Wonderful conversation, Scot and company. Thanks!

    Can we apply “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” well here? What I mean is should we pray because Obama asks us to or because God asks us to? That may seem loaded, but I mean it sincerely. This is definitely the push back point I get from people who are heavily invested in the culture wars. They say, “Am I supposed to ignore the 1.2 million abortions/year in the US?” I usually ask if they’re as outraged about the 1.8 million abortions in Russia by half as many population as the US. That seems to me a fair litmus test from where the outrage is flowing. From a heart for God or a heart for the US. The problem is, most of the time I can’t get myself nearly as worked up about the Russian stats…

    I can’t get past the fact that I’d have loved it if Giglio prayed. I think I’d have loved it for all the wrong reasons.

  • Jeff Hyatt

    I have no beef with Louie Giglio, so my comments are not intended to reflect such.

    I see this as an issue of evangelical Christians, once again, being pushed out of the public square because of the litmus test of embracing/affirming/celebrating homosexuality. The same people who lobby for inclusion are the same in this situation who refuse to extend it.

    In a pluralistic society, Christians have just as much of a right to the public arena as do Atheists, Hindus or Christian Scientists. We should not have to apologize for teaching/affirming what our sacred texts communicate in order to be allowed a voice. Gabe and Tim are correct, I think.

    Scot, you have reminded us well in your book One.Life, that “American Christians have wobbled, are wobbling, and will wobble….American Christians can worry themselves in a lather about the gay marriage debate and do nothing for the 26,500 who die daily from preventable disease.” (p. 58-59) But isn’t Giglio and example of a Christian who is not wobbling? Isn’t he a follower of Jesus who is actively living out the Justice.Life? Do we really have to reject the unpopular issues of the day in order not to wobble?

    I would like to have seen Christians (the President included) stand up for Giglio and insist that he has the right (according to our Constitution/Bill of Rights) to hold and speak his position in regards to homosexuality and doing so does not negate all of the other work that he is doing in regards to human trafficking.

    Likewise, as Christians living in a pulralist society (not a Christian society), we need to allow Rev. Wright, the LBTQ community, and whoever else is in our society to hold and speak their thoughts about life. If we back away or refuse to allow others to the table, then we will not be able to live as salt and light in the world.

    Hail, King Jesus! Come quickly!

  • Jerry S

    As a military chaplain, I pray in the public square all the time. It’s all about boundaries and knowing your audience. One can be inclusive and prophetic at the same time if you know how.

  • scotmcknight

    Jeff, Loui’s not a wobbler! But he doesn’t need DC not to wobble nor would DC make his walk any straighter or stronger.

    When “they” don’t include us do we call them on it or do we show another way?

  • Jeff Hyatt

    Scot, I don’t mean to call Loui a wobbler. I can’t imagine the pressure he was under by all sides. I’m more concerned with “us” being the wobblers!

    How do we show them another way if we are withdrawn or pushed out? Does the King Jesus way mean that we are disengaged from the systems of the world or that we are engaged in them with different loyalties?

    Didn’t Paul engage with the philosophers of his day, as well as ‘speaking truth to power.’ He also invoked the privileges of Roman citizenship which gave him even more opportunities to engage the system. As I recall, this also led to his eventual execution by those same powers, but he didn’t back down.

    What, then, is the politic of the way of Jesus?

  • Jeff Hyatt

    Scot, we just had the marriage amendment debate here in Minnesota. The amendment for traditional marriage failed, but the debate brought up all kinds of issues in regards to the appropriateness of Christians speaking about this particular social issue. Is gay marriage an issue of justice which Christians should support? Is gay marriage addressed in the ‘applicable’ portions of the Bible – ruling out the OT and Paul? Should pastors, like myself, keep our mouths shut about the amendment because we are supposed to stay out of politics?

    How does the King Jesus Gospel direct us on these issues where the Bible speaks in one direction and the culture demands the other?

  • Ray

    Scot (or anyone else knowledgeable on the process),

    Before an individual is officially selected by the administration to lead such a prayer (i.e. before the announcement is publicized), is the individual(s) who is being considered required to submit a transcript of the prayer that would be said? Or does the administration just go on faith that nothing “politically inappropriate” would be said by the individual during the prayer?

    I ask this based on one of the points Scot raised in his post:
    “Any evangelical on the platform of any Inauguration, Democrat or Republican, is being used. No one’s prayer will be acceptable to specific faiths… and if you tailor your prayer to all you shift your theology.”

    So back to my question above – if Louie had to submit a transcript before being approved, was his prayer already “theologically compromised” (as some evangelicals might think). Or did he have license to voice his own particular theology within the prayer (which he of course never got a chance to)?

  • Jeff

    Dr. McKnight,

    I disagree with you that a public prayer has to inevitably be watered down in today’s society from the prayer’s perspective. Have you ever prayed the Lord’s prayer? When I pray the Lord’s prayer it just so happens to sound ecumenical but in reality it is not. It has a background in Scripture and in history. So when I pray as an Army Chaplain I pray to God in the Spirit of the Lord’s Prayer. All my descriptions of God are those found in the pages of the history of Israel and as well in the New Testament. I do have to leave out “in Jesus’ name”, but what Jesus did, is all in there. It is a witness, albeit a subtle one. Paul did something similar in Acts 17 by qouting from their own poets

  • scotmcknight

    We can be engaged without it having to be on their turf. We can be engaged by praying for the President. Here’s a point I almost chose to focus on in the post but chose not to. Whether Louie is on the platform or not for his prayer, he can pray for the President. And God hears our prayers whether we are on that platform or not. Which leads to this: the only reason there is a discussion is not because someone was told they couldn’t pray but because the one person was not permitted to pray on that platform. In other words, many saw this opportunity to pray in political power terms and are mad that power was stripped. See the point?
    So, our way is to pray… what if we all covenanted to pray at that very time?
    Paul did engage the powers… and Acts 17 does not appear to me to be a story of success.

  • scotmcknight

    Ray, I don’t know the process. I suspect he was chosen, not on the basis of the prayer but because of who he was and what he has done. I suspect, too, the prayer itself might need some vetting. But I don’t know.

  • Helpful, Scot. And Amen! I think though that it wouldn’t matter if one agreed with the poltical platform entirely or not. Isn’t it a matter of the kingdom of God in Jesus not being complicit with any government or political entity of this world?

  • David Dollins

    In my reading of the New Testament, I don’t think the Apostle Paul would ever have retreated from the opportunity to share and bring glory to Jesus Christ. He was constantly put in front of high officials in the last half of the book of Acts (albeit sometimes without choice). He saw his mission as bringing Christ to everyone. I don’t think Louie should have pulled out, unless…he was told WHAT to pray. If he was influenced (i.e., directed) in WHAT or WHAT NOT to say, then it was right to back out. I just think he missed a golden opportunity to shine the light on Jesus Christ. Obviously, Paul never backed down from Nero. Louie shouldn’t have back down from Obama. How are we going to share Christ in the world if we withdraw from it?

  • scotmcknight

    David, Withdraw is an inaccurate interpretation. Engage through ecclesia is what I am saying. Paul was on trial; that’s not the same at all. Do you see either Jesus, Paul, or Peter seeking an audience with Caesar in order to influence the Empire?

  • Matt Edwards

    Great post all around, Scot.

    This event has been jarring to me because Giglio was targeted for something he said in his church. It is one thing to disagree with the choice of someone who made a public statement for or against a political issue (like Warren with California prop 8), but it seems like something else to target someone who made a religious claim in a religious context.

    My church is in Washington State, and we intentionally stayed out of the recent vote on changing the definition of marriage. We want to be about the gospel, not politics. But we don’t shy away from the ethical teaching of the Bible, including sexual ethics regarding homosexuality. To think that I could be marginalized and silenced for explaining to people the teachings of their faith, just kind of leaves me feeling sick and sad.

    But then again, part of being a grown up is realizing that not everyone is going to approve of your beliefs or lifestyle. You press on.

    I don’t fault Giglio for accepting the invitation. He’s an American and he wanted to serve his country. But he made the right decision and showed a lot of class by bowing out graciously.

  • Jeff

    Dr. McKnight, (#33)

    I get your point and I agree with it (the power hungry aspect of it), but you said that if it is an inauguaration of a Democrat and you do not agree with everything they agree with you should not pray. With which I disagree. Regardless he or she is the President and I see no reason to not do it.

    I don’t get the connection you made between Paul not having success at Athens and his technique of trying to reach them. That reminds me of a professor I had who asked me who led more people to Christ – John Wesley or George Whitfield. As far as actual numbers during their lifetime it probably was Whitfield I replied. “See!” he said, “that means that God must approve more of Calvinism!

    In any event, if you read the passage the result is no less successful than other places he went. At least he didn’t get dragged out and beat up!

  • David Dollins

    Scot- I don’t see Paul trying to influence an empire by appearing before Caeser. But I also don’t see Louie appearing on the platform to influence this empire. But being there and praying just may have influenced some. I also believe that a ‘faith-filled’ prayer and move God’s hand in any situation. I don’t agree that he should have backed away, again, unless he was told what or what not to say.

  • David Dollins

    to correct a typo – I also believe that a ‘faith-filled’ prayer can move God’s hand in any situation.

  • scotmcknight

    Jeff, what I mean is that if you aren’t a true-blue Dem you will no doubt get in trouble.

    David, what is the difference for Louie praying at home the same prayer and praying it in public at the Inauguration?

  • David Dollins

    Scot – I would ask anyone this same question back. Is knowing someone is praying at home the same as (or different) than listening to that person pray aloud in the hearing of the people? Is that really what we are asking? It may not be different for the person who prays, but it IS different for those who are hearing the prayer. I think we see this all the time. To agree with someone else in prayer while they are praying aloud does raise the level of people’s faith who are a part of it. I think we all see this all the time. I just believe there is a difference. It could create faith in the hearers that would not have otherwise been there. I just truly believe that faith-filled prayer can still move mountains and the power of the Holy Spirit could descend into the middle of any situation. Anyway, just my thoughts.

  • metanoia

    Had it been me instead of Giglio (fat chance), I would have kept my commitment and let the administration make the statement (if they chose) of dis-inviting me. Giglio was invited primarily in recognition of his work against human trafficking. His prayer would have been screened (and he’d pay the price if he went off script) and as long as he didn’t make it a political platform of his own, his participation would have been benign as the presence of most clergy at political events is. How many people can remember who prayed at the last inauguration without Googling?

    All of us have pecadillos, skeletons in the closet, things we said we shouldn’t have said, things we said and meant but are not politically correct etc. If we were held to a standard of perfection, Jesus’ simple response would have been, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

  • Robin

    This might be late Scot, but I was wondering how far you would expand a prohibition on praying in situations like the one Louie was asked to.

    I work for the State of Kentucky and literally every day that our legislature is in session there is an opening prayer in both the house and senate by a minister of some sort. I am sure it is the same in most states and at the Federal level.

    On the one hand it seems like a smaller issue because the scale is smaller, but on the other hand it seems like a bigger issue because they are asking an actual blessing on the nitty gritty work of legislation, not just a ceremonial blessing on our President like Louie would have done.

    Do you have any opinions about something like this, because this is happening thousands of times more than inauguration prayers.

  • Perry Stepp

    Shouldn’t we who decry the polarization of our country do our best to refuse to be polarized? SO WHAT if the politicians intend to use you? SO WHAT if there’s no political party you agree with 100% of the time. SO WHAT if accepting an invitation to pray will be misconstrued by partisans on both sides?

    Refuse to be polarized.

  • In the heat of debate about whether an averred believer can “stand on the platform” and still maintain his/her integrity as he or she prays, does anyone remember how positive the buzz was when the young Anglican (‘evangelical’) Jena Lee Nardella closed the first night of the Democratic Convention in September?
    Here are her words, if you wanna refresh your memory and reconsider your opinion:


  • Joey Elliott


    Amen to comment in #24!

    “The kingdom strategy is to work through your local church.”

  • Barb A

    It honors God to pray for those in authority…and loosely – the LGBT platform is not a voted-in ‘authority’ but as noted in earlier comments certainly took some power in their pressuring. May we all pray earnestly for the President, the DC political arena, the LGBT arena…that God would be glorified and that we would follw HIS bidding as 1 Tim chapter 2 tells us.
    This is my first time at this post as suggested by Matt Dabbs who appreciates and referenced the link here in his post. I appreciate the mature loving gentleness of the discourse!
    I pray that whoever leads public prayer is anointed to pray from the heart to glorify God.
    I had a friend who was a missionary in China at an orphanage for many years. We were not allowed to openly write her from teh Bible or use Jesus’ name…but I could lace a letter with “dad loves you so much”. Knowing otherwise the letter would be burned I did not feel it watered down the message of encouragement. The power of God did quite a work and still is working…

  • Merv Olsen

    Tim Dalrymple said it all as far as I’m concerned.

    I appreciate most of Jeff Hyatt’s comments too.

    And though many Jesus Creed readers look down on Al Mohler, I do believe he’s right on target as Andy (2) quoted him … “Are you now or have you ever been one who believes that homosexuality (or bisexuality, or transsexualism, etc.) is anything less than morally acceptable and worthy of celebration?”

    We Australians don’t have the US problem this bad YET but it’s heading our way.

  • scotmcknight

    Merv, let me encourage you to avoid the culture war that drives most of this discussion.

  • Disagree. Yes, Jesus is not Caesar, but America is not Rome, or Ancient Israel, or even Babylon. Christians have moral authority in this nation whether we like it or not. And while our dealings with power will do nothing to advance the Kingdom directly, leaving our allotted seats in the throne room of power open to false teachers can lead to disaster. If Louie wasn’t our guy, we need to ask who is, because there are millions of us out there and somebody should have the time and creativity to give a decent, civil prayer on the inauguration platform.

  • Jeannette

    Have we forgotten that for many, many years Billy Graham offered these prayers? It never sullied the gospel. But now, of course, we have fallen so far from any kind of government that looks to God for direction. That being siad, if someone of this gentleman’s integrity is asked to pray in front of millions of people, I say “YES”! How often does that happen? Shine your light on the “hill”! Once the whole event became about his views and statements about homosexuality over and above all else, he was correct to back out. You should not criticize him for accepting an opportunity (wherever it comes from) to represent Jesus Christ.

  • BradK

    Scot #37, “Do you see either Jesus, Paul, or Peter seeking an audience with Caesar in order to influence the Empire?”

    The question here seems to be less about seeking an audience and more whether Jesus, Paul, or Peter would respond to a request from Caesar for an audience in order to influence the Empire, since that is what Giglio was doing in agreeing to give the prayer. And don’t we see Paul (and Barnabus) doing this very thing in Acts 13?

    “They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God.” After Paul confronted Elymas, we are told that “When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.” So every indication is that Sergius Paulus became a follower of Christ. Are we to believe that he immediately resigned his post and left public office? If not, didn’t Paul and Barnabus not only agree to meeting with (a representative of) Caesar, but also have a very great influence on the Empire? How is what these apostles did so different from Giglio? I can’t help but believe that what you seem to advocate, a complete divorce of Christianity from the political arena, would be an utterly foreign concept to Jesus, Paul, and Peter.

  • scotmcknight

    BradK, this thread has probably worn thin but praying in order to have an influence is precisely the issue: that politicizes the prayer.

  • BradK

    Scot, that is clearly a deflection. Why blatantly ignore the passage in Acts 13? Do you not see it as relevant to the discussion at hand? Were Paul and Barnabas politicizing the gospel in agreeing to share (likely in public since the false prophet Elymas was present) the word of God with him? Wouldn’t they be risking people associating them (and Christ and his kingdom) with the politics of Caesar by agreeing to speak with him using your logic?

  • Well said, Scot. When you mix politics and religion, you always get politics.

  • scotmcknight

    BradK, I don’t think so at all… the opposite. Most NT scholars today would see Acts 13 not as influencing empire but subverting and challenging it by announcing an alternative Lord.

  • Chas

    “…and you proved too that evangelicals are right to have concerns that their religious conscience freedoms are in danger.”
    IMO this comment by Tim Dalrymple is the most telling of where it appears we are headed in our country. Whatever one thinks of the appropriateness of Giglio, as a Christian minister simply offering a prayer at the inauguration, it seems to me that evangelicals in particular are being slowly marginalized and unwelcome in the public square. Scot, you may be right in your take on this though I have my doubts. Either way, the whole situation is a saddening commentary on our society with respect to freedom and true tolerance.

  • Bill

    Honestly, this whole thing is hard to follow. I am not too sure what the harm is in doing this prayer. We, as followers of Christ, are a nation of priests. What prohibits us from offering prayers for our nation and its leaders even in a public forum like this?

    Aren’t we under apostolic command to prayer for our leaders. I bet you anything less than half the people in this conversation do this even in private. So what’s all the grousing about doing it in public?

    Louie made his decision. Fine.

  • BradK

    Scot #58, “BradK, I don’t think so at all… the opposite. Most NT scholars today would see Acts 13 not as influencing empire but subverting and challenging it by announcing an alternative Lord.”

    Which is clearly political unless one considers regarding the lordship of Jesus as instead of Caesar as somehow not a real one but some kind of imaginary or strictly spiritual lordship. It is fairly certain that Paul understood the lordship of Christ as just as real as that of Caesar and in similar terms. Most NT scholars today would agree with that as well, no? N.T. Wright would almost certainly agree, right?

  • Dave


    Right on – keep sharing the truth that can set us free !


  • Jasrok

    When one is invited to such an ocassion, such invitation did not come in a vaccum. I would think, there must be something in you or in your ministry that was significant enough to cause them to invite you. Don’t change anything in it? Go up pray to Jesus as you always do, if people doesn’t like it, that’s their problem. If your being invited caused controversy, that’s also their problem. If the organizing body cancelled your invitation that’s their problem. If this is an opportunity to witness for Christ that’s your problem.

  • Dear Scot and Christian Community,
    The word says… “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” John 12:32 (NKJV) . It also says “And He said to them, “Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15 (NKJV). So to just feel satisfied (or justified) with staying in the church for prayer and other activities is NOT in line with scripture. Christians are mandated to “GO OUT INTO ALL THE WORLD.” We’re not called to agree with the places and people we go to, but we are called to go… Remember Jonah and Nineveh?

    I respect Rev. Giglio, but I must say that his withdrawal from the ceremony was a missed opportunity. I was there in DC at the inauguration, and there wasn’t much of a Christian witness aside from the spirit-filled choir from the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Did you see the faces of Obama, Biden and Clinton during their song?? All of them looked “moved” by the beauty of Christ as that choir was singing. Rev. Giglio’s prayer would have been a wonderful addition to that. He’s a clean, dedicated vessel, he would’ve had an “open heaven” – meaning God’s ear as he lifted up a prayer for our nation that’s in dire need of healing on a number of levels. So let’s forget politics for a moment and think about the lost and hurting people of this nation – they are God’s heart and who He has his eye on, not the political machinations of DC. There were non-believers in that the large gathering at the inauguration (some seeking Truth) and a spirit-filled prayer would have been a confirming word of truth to help guide them in their spiritual journey.

    And to say that it’s sufficient to just pray at church is not enough anyway… To be honest, Christians simply DON’T PRAY like we should. We really don’t. Let’s again be honest here, we love praise and worship, good speaking, scholarship, teaching, and preaching etc. but our commitment to consistent, fervent pray (both in church and in private) is often lazy and lacking…and that is why we have lost ground in our society and haven’t exhibited the power seen in previous Christian generations.

    We need to get out of our comfortable Christian ghetto that we have created for ourselves in the environment of safe churches and conferences, and go out into the world and lift up His name. The bible explicitly tells us this, and the “spreading of the gospel” on a public level can take many forms – even a Holy Spirit-filled prayer because it also is a witness.

    So come on people, let’s get on our knees, but then let’s get up and go out (even if it takes the form of a public prayer). This is indeed part of our calling. This in not my opinion, this mandate is found in the black and red letters of our bibles. We aren’t called to hide the light of Christ under a bushel, but to shine it openly for all the world to see (even in unconventional public spaces), and the Holy Spirit fulfills His part to shine light on, and exalt the beauty of our savior Jesus. Jesus ready and willing to do His part – I believe He is often waiting for us to do ours.