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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