The Rev. Louie Giglio of Passion City Church in Atlanta said in a statement he withdrew because it was likely that the “prayer I would offer will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda the focal point of the inauguration.”
Addie Whisenant, a spokeswoman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, said the committee had chosen Giglio because of his work to end human trafficking.
“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 in a statement.
The sermon, in which he spoke against the “aggressive agenda” of the gay rights movement, would make his inaugural prayer “dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda the focal point of the inauguration,” Giglio said in a statement. “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.”
The sermon, “In Search of a Standard – Christian Response to Homosexuality,” is posted on Discipleship Library, a Christian website that archives sermons. In it, Giglio tells listeners that being gay is a sinful choice and that gay people will be prevented from “entering the Kingdom of God.”
Rev. Louie Giglio’s full statement is below:
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.
Do you think he was right to decline?