Four years ago President Barack Obama invited notable and popular conservative evangelical pastor, Rick Warren to offer the invocation at his Inauguration. This year, Atlanta evangelical Louie Giglio was invited to offer the benediction- but he won’t be there.
Giglio is a conservative pastor known for his success in bringing thousands of college students to events about stopping human trafficking. However, after Giglio’s name was announced, gay rights groups protested the invitation. Fifteen years ago he gave an anti-homosexual speech, where he said people should, “lovingly but firmly respond to the aggressive agenda” of gay activists. He also warned that legal gay marriage would “run the risk of absolutely undermining the whole order of our society.” For this, the activists are angry.
A few days after his invitation, Giglio issued a statement withdrawing from the Inauguration. The Inaugural committee spokeswoman Addie Whisenant said in a statement that officials were unaware of the sermon when Giglio was picked and “they don’t reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country at this Inaugural. .?.?. As we now work to select someone to deliver the benediction, we will ensure their beliefs reflect this administration’s vision of inclusion and acceptance for all Americans.”
A gay rights advocate close to the Obama administration said the White House was particularly sensitive to the matter in light of recent controversy about anti-gay statements made by its nominee for defense secretary, Chuck Hagel.
Obama has made some symbolic efforts throughout his first term in office to include religious conservatives, particularly evangelicals. However, some now interpret Giglio’s withdrawal as a rejection of religious conservatives who don’t accept homosexuality – regardless of what other good works they do.
SOURCE: Washington Post, On Faith, “Conservative pastor drops out…”