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article imagePastor withdraws from Obama inauguration over anti-gay remarks

By JohnThomas Didymus     Jan 10, 2013 in Lifestyle
Pastor Louie Giglio, who was set to deliver the benediction at the inauguration of President Barack Obama, has withdrawn from the ceremony amid controversy over anti-gay remarks he made more than a decade ago.
Giglio, announcing his decision to withdraw, said his participation would distract from the inauguration.
The choice of Reverend Louie Giglio was announced by the presidential inauguration committee (PIC) on Thursday. A day later, Think Progress reported that Giglio, pastor of the Georgia-based Passion City Church in Atlanta, had delivered a "rabidly anti-LGBT sermon" in the 1990s in which he called on fellow Christians to resist the "aggressive agenda" of the gay rights movement. He said that the "healing power of Jesus" was only way to overcome homosexuality.
According to Think Progress, the sermon urged Christians to fight to prevent the “homosexual lifestyle” from gaining acceptance. He quoted a biblical passage that is understood as an injunction to execute gay people and argued that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice. In the 54-minute sermon, titled "In Search of a Standard- Christian Response to Homosexuality," he said: "People aren't born gay – but even if they are, it’s still a choice like giving into alcoholism, addiction and overeating."
Think Progress quotes parts of the sermon:
(2:40) We must not just sit quietly by and stick our heads in the sand and let whatever happens happen in our country. We’ve got to respond to the world that we live in. That is the mandate that comes to us as people of God. And this issue is coming more and more to the forefront every day.
(31:45) We must lovingly but firmly respond to the aggressive agenda of not all, but of many in the homosexual community. … Underneath this issue is a very powerful and aggressive moment. That movement is not a benevolent movement, it is a movement to seize by any means necessary the feeling and the mood of the day, to the point where the homosexual lifestyle becomes accepted as a norm in our society and is given full standing as any other lifestyle, as it relates to family.
Homosexuality is a sin:
(9:20) [God] says very clearly in [Leviticus], verse 22, after he talks about a lot of different kinds of relationships, he says in verse 22: “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female. It is an abomination.” Now if you would look forward into the New Testament context, to the passage that most of us know most commonly with this issue, into chapter one of the book of Romans, let’s read a few verses together beginning in verse 18. If you’re taking notes tonight, you might make this the note of Leviticus 20:13 and the book of Jude, we won’t look at those passages but there is some support and encouragement there to this topic.
NBC News reports that the Presidential Inaugural Committee has issued a statement in response to Giglio's withdrawal. Addie Whisenant, a spokesperson for the committee, said: “We were not aware of Pastor Giglio’s past comments at the time of his selection 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.”
Buzz Feed reports that National Gay & Lesbian Task Force deputy executive director Darlene Nipper, said, "We are hopeful that Obama will now choose a faith leader who embraces fairness, equality and the ideals the president himself has called the nation to uphold."
According to NBC News, Giglio said he was withdrawing from the inaugural because staying would "not best serve his core message." He said: “Due to a message of mine that has surfaced from 15-20 years ago, 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. Clearly, speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities in the past fifteen years. Instead, my aim has been to call people to ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ.”
The Guardian reports he added: "Neither I, nor our team, feel it best serves the core message and goals we are seeking to accomplish to be in a fight on an issue not of our choosing, thus I respectfully withdraw my acceptance of the President's invitation."
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, has spoken in favor of Giglio’s removal, The Guardian reports. In an email on Thursday, he said: "It was the right decision. Participants in the Inaugural festivities should unite rather than divide. Choosing an affirming and fair-minded voice as his replacement would be in keeping with the tone the president wants to set for his Inaugural."
Think Progress reports that a spokesman for Giglio was not available to answer questions about Giglio's current views on LGBT issues.
In 2009, when Obama chose Rev. Rick Warren to deliver the benediction, gay activists protested, citing Warren's opposition to same-sex marriage.
The Guardian reports that on Wednesday, Wayne Besen, founder of Truth Wins Out, a pro-gay activist group, said: "It would be a shame to send a preacher with backward views on LGBT people at a moment when the nation is rapidly moving forward on our issues."
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