Louie Giglio, a prominent evangelical pastor, has decided not to deliver the benediction at President Obama’s inauguration after he came under fire for sermons he delivered years ago about homosexuality.
“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 in a statement to Fox News. “Clearly, speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities in the past 15 years. Instead, my aim has been to call people to ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ.”
Sources tell Fox News that he has come under a brutal attack by gay rights activists who demanded that he be removed from the inauguration ceremony.
“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,” wrote Giglio, the pastor of Passion City Church in Georgia.
At issue were comments Giglio made in the 1990s during a sermon and recently uncovered by the liberal website ThinkProgress:
“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.”
The White House quickly distanced itself from the evangelical leader – and said his participation would not have reflected their desire to have a diverse inaugural.
“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,” said Presidential Inaugural Committee spokesperson Addie Whisenant.
“Pastor Giglio was asked to deliver the benediction in large part for his leadership in combating human trafficking around the world,” she added. “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,” she added.
In spite of the uproar, Giglio said he will continue to pray for President Obama and urged the nation to do the same.
“I will most certainly pray for him on Inauguration Day,” he wrote. “Our nation is deeply divided and hurting, and more than ever need God’s grace and mercy in our time of need.”