Update: Evangelical Pastor Removed From Inauguration Proceedings Due To Preaching on Homosexuality
Update: Despite my willingness to be charitable to the Obama administration in this post, it appears that the president agrees with Raushenbush. Pastor Giglio will no longer give the benediction at the president’s inauguration. According to the Presidential Inaugural Committee:
“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,” committee spokeswoman Addie Whisenant said in a statement. “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.”
It’s one thing for the administration to advance its convictions regarding same-sex marriage. It’s a whole other matter for it to signal, in the most embarrassing and bumbling of ways, that its “desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country” does not extend to respect for pastors who teach the New Testament. What does this tell us about the implications of same-sex marriage for religious liberty? Time will tell.
At the Huffington Post Senior Religion Editor Paul Brandeis Raushenbush (and great-grandson of the famous social gospel preacher Walter Rauschenbusch) vents his anger that President Obama has once again chosen an evangelical to offer prayer at his inauguration. Obama has chartered a new path by choosing a woman (and a layperson) to offer the invocation, Raushenbush notes, but for the benediction he has selected Rev. Louie Giglio, pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta. Like Obama’s choice for the invocation in 2008, Rick Warren, Giglio is on record as having preached against homosexuality.
What is bizarre is that for all of his appeals to treating people with respect and dignity, Raushenbush uncharitably characterizes the position of preachers like Warren and Giglio as attacks on gay people. He writes,
Yet today a sermon by Rev. Giglio has surfaced, apparently from the ’90s, in which Obama’s choice for the “final good word” attacks gay people, saying they will be prevented from “entering the Kingdom of God’ and also that the “only way out of a homosexual lifestyle… is
through the healing power of Jesus.’
Why does Raushenbush characterize a warning about the coming judgment taken directly from Scripture – the authority for Christian life and practice, as Raushenbush is well aware – accompanied by a clear presentation of the loving gospel promise, as an attack on people? It’s not that Giglio has used excessive rhetoric, mistaking the legitimate condemnation of sinful practices for the hatred of human beings, of which no doubt many pastors over the years have been guilty. On the contrary, Raushenbush portrays all conservative evangelical preaching against homosexuality as preaching against gay people.
It would be hard to find an evangelical in America who didn’t preach against gay people, especially as far back as the ’90s.
I beg to differ. In all my years of attending Reformed and Presbyterian churches I don’t believe I have ever heard a pastor do what Raushenbush describes.
Photo: Pastor Louie Giglio
Yet he goes on to suggest that only those who advocate gay marriage recognize and honor the full humanity and dignity of LGBT people:
At the same time, those who did support the president, and who, like the president have evolved in their faith enough to support the full humanity and dignity of LGBT people, again feel slighted by the president’s choice.
I don’t think Raushenbush is unaware that his characterization of evangelicals – as those who hate gay people and deny their full humanity and dignity – is uncharitable. I fear he knows exactly what he is doing. He concludes his article by acknowledging that he is angry, while offering a nod to President Obama for seeking to unify the country by reaching out to evangelicals.
I know that for us to have a future as a nation we need to come together across differences, recognizing that the arc of the universe really does bend towards justice.
Too bad Raushenbush’s own slanderous rhetoric, in contrast to the grace of the president, makes such coming together all the less likely.