January 10, 2013 at 11:52 am EDT | by Chris Johnson
Anti-gay pastor withdraws from inauguration
Louie Giglio, Passion Movement, gay news, Washington Blade

Pastor Louie Giglio has been removed from Obama’s inaugural celebration (Photo by Jesario via wikimedia commons)

A Georgia-based pastor who came under fire for expressing vehemently anti-gay views in a 1990’s sermon has withdrawn from President Obama’s inaugural celebration, where he was previously scheduled to give the benediction.

In a statement delivered to the White House and Presidential Inaugural Committee, Rev. Louie Giglio of the Passion City Church announces his decision to “respectfully withdraw” participation from the Jan. 21 celebration in the wake of revelations of the anti-gay comments.

“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,” Giglio said. “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.”

Giglio added he doesn’t 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” and will “continue to pray regularly for the President.”

In a separate statement, Addie Whisenant, a spokesperson for the inaugural committee, said organizers of the event weren’t aware of the anti-gay sermon when the initial selection was made.

“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,” Whisenant said. “Pastor Giglio was asked to deliver the benediction in large part for his leadership in combating human trafficking around the world. 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.“

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl first tweeted out the news on Giglio Thursday morning, saying “Rev Gigilo, who had been selected to give the inaugural invocation, has been removed from the program.”

The news came after ThinkProgress, a blog for the liberal think-tank known as the Center for American Progress, reported Wednesday that in the 1990s, Giglio gave a 54-minute sermon — titled “In Search of a Standard – Christian Response to Homosexuality” — which backs widely discredited “ex-gay” therapy, references a biblical passage often interpreted to require gay people be executed, and calls on Christians to “firmly respond to the aggressive agenda” and prevent the “homosexual lifestyle” from becoming accepted in society.

On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney declined to comment when the Washington Blade asked him about the anti-gay sermon, saying he hadn’t yet seen the ThinkProgress report.

Darlene Nipper, deputy executive director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, said her organization applauds Giglio’s removal and had previously expressed concern about his participation to the White House.

“We let the White House know of our grave concerns about the choice of the Rev. Louie Giglio — a minister with a history of anti-gay statements who has engaged in spiritual abuse of LGBT people — to deliver a prayer at the inauguration ceremony. Having him deliver the benediction was a divisive choice, and we applaud his removal from the program,” Nipper said. “Furthermore, we commend Obama’s selection of Cuban-American gay poet Richard Blanco as inaugural poet, which had also served to magnify how out of step the choice of Giglio was. 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.”

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, also expressed satisfaction with the move.

“It was the right decision,” Griffin said. “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.”


The full statement from Giglio follows:

“I am honored to be invited by the President to give the benediction at the upcoming inaugural on January 21. Though the President and I do not agree on every issue, we have fashioned a friendship around common goals and ideals, most notably, ending slavery in all its forms.”

“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.”

“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. I will continue to pray regularly for the President, and urge the nation to do so. I will most certainly pray for him on Inauguration Day.”

“Our nation is deeply divided and hurting, and more than ever need God’s grace and mercy in our time of need.”

NOTE: This article has been edited for clarity.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • The Inaugural Committee has pleaded ignorance without explaining why their "vetting" of Giglio was so superficial. Yes, I WANT to believe that, in 2013, the same Obama who dug his heels in and refused to distance himself from rabidly homophobic Donnie McClurkin and Rick "Gay = Pedophila" Warren even when they were STILL very actively hatemongering, would have passed on Giglio if involved in the decision. BUT this is a manifestation of how skin deep any commitment is in this Administration to ENFORCING his lip service to a "vision of inclusion and acceptance for all Americans." If Good Christians are impelled to ask, “What would Jesus do?” then why haven’t the disciples of our self-anointed “Fierce Advocate” been forcefully told to ask how ANY decision affects the gay and lesbian community? “Vetting” is perhaps the Second Commandment in politics, right after “Don’t appoint KNOWN murderers to your Cabinet.” Bottom line: any let up on holding Mr. Obama’s feet to the fire only results in it going out.


    • S.C. Gay, Black, Atheist Jew

      Dude. Seriously, you need to relax. I am fine accepting that the inaugural committee didn’t do the best job that it could of vetting this guy. (Hey, people are idiots.) Why aren’t you? Or does this whole thing provide just another opportunity for drama queens like you to thank President Obama for being the MOST GAY-FRIENDLY PRESIDENT EVER and for doing the most to advance our cause THAN ALL OTHER PRESIDENTS BEFORE HIM, COMBINED, by spitting in his face? Seriously, man, you need to grow up. Oh, and I have to ask: Were you this upset with Bill Clinton, who, you know, actually signed DOMA while claiming to be a friend to the LGBT community? Oh, and full disclosure: While I am a supporter of President Obama, I do not think that he is perfect (I’m far more left and quasi-socialist in my tendencies; he is not), but I do know that he is the very best thing that the LGBT community has EVER had in a president, and i applaud him for what he’s done for us so far..

    • I disagree. I think the problem here is that there are no gay people on the inauguration committee. If you were going to pick from a list of the 10 most popular pastors, every one of them have said something anti-gay. People forget Joel Osteen is anti-gay and also TD Jakes, who son was involved in a gay sex arrest.

      BTW. No American President has the power to force people to accept your lifestyle. Obama is pretty much the first Gay President at this point but winning the hearts of the average American will take time.

  • I am open to new information and research of course. But where is the evidence that Giglio is preaching anti-LGBT bigotry and hate to his young followers NOW? This year? Last year?? In the past 5 years???

    This is such a graceless way to celebrate our own LGBT successes.

    President Obama is president of all Americans. How do we continue to win hearts and minds against anti-LGBT discrimination and bigotry when we appear to discriminate and exclude whole religious groups on the basis of our own petty ignorances and bigotries?

    I fear the president and his dubious LGBT advisers have shot themselves in the foot again. In any event it appears we need to guard against the hate-mongering, hypocrisy and bigoted rhetoric in our own midst.

    This kind of nonsense is costing LGBT leaders precious ‘political capital’ and credibility too.

  • @Michael B….I agree with you 100%. It’s time for the President to stop all of the lip-service and actually stand up to what he says he believes. The only difference between Warren and Giglio, is that Warren was a little more elegant in spewing his venom than Giglio, and thus was more palatable to the president and inauguration committee. Trust me, Giglio would have been on the podium as well, we’re it not for intrepid reporters and the outcry of gay activists and our supporters, who overwhelmingly propelled President Obama into his second term.

  • Upon further news and commentary updates, I withdraw my previous comment re. Giglio’s removal from President Obama’s Inaugural benediction ceremonies. Giglio was rightly removed from the Inaugural ceremonies, and should have been better vetted in the first place.

    The fact that Giglio is unrepentant regarding his intentionally demonizing, homophobic and bigoted remarks in the mid-90s, certainly suggests he holds the same views today. Giglio’s rhetoric by way of a back-handed slap at the LGBT community in his withdrawal announcement also serves to confirm that, IMHO.

    The president was poorly served in this instance. But we should still guard against wacky, bigoted rhetoric of our own.

  • President Obama should invite Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the Metropolitan Community Church, to deliver prayer at the Inaugural.

  • Thank You President Obama for Exemplifying Real Christian Values… http://sonofabishop.blogspot.com

    Samuel Marcus Brown
    Decatur, GA

  • My understanding is that the description of Giglio’s 1990’s “sermon” was not as represented here, e.g. “vehemently”, and that it presented his views on Christian religious matters on the gay life style but was not judgmental other than expressing Christian views. People in the USA have a right to express themselves even if they disagree with you. Eliminating Giglio who has done so much good for people of weak circumstances is hypocritical and exclusive of this false statement that O will be include all. Some people are never going to agree with the gay life style, and that is not hate talk. It is a faith in God’s Word. It is not saying gays should be mistreated, just the contrary, and to say so is also hypocrical. Marriage is defined by a man and a woman. Something called a “civil union” is not marriage. God bless you all.

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