Conservative religious leaders across the nation suspect there is more to the decision by evangelical pastor Louie Giglio to back out of delivering the benediction at President Obama’s inauguration.
Giglio, the pastor of Passion City Church in Georgia, said he would no longer deliver the prayer after gay rights activists became enraged over a sermon he delivered in the 1990s — a sermon they considered to be anti-gay.
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. “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.
The New York Times reported that people familiar with internal discussions between administration and committee officials said the White House viewed the selection as a problem for Mr. Obama, and told the panel on Wednesday night to quickly fix it.
The controversy has outraged Christian conservatives like Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Tex.
“It is the ultimate hypocrisy for the Obama administration to pretend it supports diversity and yet denounces anyone who dares to disagree with its radical homosexual agenda,” Jeffress told Fox News. “Rev Giglio’s comments about homosexuality from more than a decade ago were not hateful but represent the historical teachings of the world’s three major religions. Apparently the Obama administration’s definition of tolerance is only broad enough to include its own views.”
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told Fox News that he was shocked at the attacks from homosexual activists.
“What’s becoming ever so clear to those who thought homosexual activists could be appeased is that their ultimate goal is to sanitize the public space of anyone who holds to a biblical view of morality,” Perkins said. “It pulls back the curtain and shows us the true agenda here. It’s not about tolerance. It’s about forced acceptance.”
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission questioned President Obama’s definition of diversity and inclusion.
The administration’s inclusivity only goes so far,” Land said. “It’s not inclusive of those who disagree with them.”
Bryan Fischer, who hosts a popular national show on American Family Radio, said Giglio was banished in a “naked display of bigotry.”
“It’s clear from the statement from the inaugural committee that Giglio was bounced from the program. It clearly wasn’t his idea,” Fischer told Fox News. “The banishment of Giglio is a naked display of bigotry and hatred directed at the last safe target in America for angry intolerance: Americans who believe what the Scriptures teach about human sexuality. Truth about homosexuality has now become hate speech, and speaking the truth about homosexuality has now become a hate crime.”
Fischer said the bottom line is that “bullies and bigots have won a major victory.”
“The inauguration committee says their ‘vision’ is one of ‘inclusion and acceptance for all Americans,’” he said. “Why doesn’t somebody ask Pastor Giglio just how “included” and “accepted” he feels right now?”