Pastor Louie Giglio, whose Passion Movement has raised millions of dollars toward ending sex trafficking, removed himself from offering the benediction at President Obama’s second inauguration after previous statements on biblical sexual ethics came to light.
On January 9, the liberal political blog Think Progress brought attention to a sermon from the 1990s in which Giglio talked about biblical teaching on sexual ethics, including homosexuality, that are shared by millions of other evangelical Christians.
The New York Times reported that Giglio’s removal originated with officials in the Obama Administration.
Giglio, pastor of Atlanta’s Passion City Church, is a popular speaker and author whose ministry has been dedicated to renewing Christianity among America’s youth and bringing attention to issues of social injustice. But as of this week, Giglio was labeled an “anti-gay bigot” and vilified on numerous websites, subjected to slurs for simply for holding to the tenets of his faith.
Jonathan Capehart, a columnist at The Washington Post, wrote that “it is our right not to have an unrepentant bigot be given such a high honor on Inauguration Day.”
Presidents are free to invite (or disinvite) whomever they choose to participate in inaugural festivities, but the outpouring of such invectives against Giglio echoes a troubling trend of hostility toward those who have religious objections to same-sex marriage.
As Heritage’s Tom Messner has written, “As this ideology seeps into the culture, belief in marriage as the union of husband and wife will likely come to be viewed as an unacceptable form of discrimination that should be purged from society through legal, cultural, and economic pressure.”
Theologian Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary writes:
The Presidential Inaugural Committee and the White House have now declared historic, biblical Christianity to be out of bounds, casting it off the inaugural program as an embarrassment. By its newly articulated standard, any preacher who holds to the faith of the church for the last 2,000 years is persona non grata. By this standard, no Roman Catholic prelate or priest can participate in the ceremony. No Evangelical who holds to biblical orthodoxy is welcome. The vast majority of Christians around the world have been disinvited. Mormons and the rabbis of Orthodox Judaism are out. Any Muslim imam who could walk freely in Cairo would be denied a place on the inaugural program. Billy Graham, who participated in at least 10 presidential inaugurations is welcome no more. Rick Warren, who incited a similar controversy when he prayed at President Obama’s first inauguration, is way out of bounds. In the span of just four years, the rules are fully changed.
As Heritage has pointed out, the redefinition of marriage and expansive non-discrimination laws will be used to marginalize those with dissenting viewpoints. In Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., and Illinois, Catholic Charities and other religious social service agencies have been forced to shut down adoption and foster care services for refusing to place children with same-sex couples. A New Mexico photographer was punished for declining, for religious reasons, to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony. As Illinois considers its same-sex marriage bill, supporters of traditional marriage have voiced concerns about its religious liberty implications.
As the Supreme Court considers cases involving the federal Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 and states consider redefining marriage, citizens should carefully consider what it means for the future of free speech and religious liberty.