When Barack Obama was inaugurated the first time, he had the invocation read by Pastor Rick Warren, who, among other things, is noted for not being terribly sympathetic to the rights of all people.
Those of us in the gay community were not happy, but we figured, hey, he’ll learn, and his attempt at being open to all points of view from the pulpit was well-intended if not well-handled.
So this time around, the invocation will be read by Myrlie Evers, the widow of Medgar Evers who was murdered 50 years ago for his work in civil rights in Mississippi. Well, that’s a nice move; it represents a historical connection with the modern times and reminds us how far we’ve come to be inaugurating our first African-American president for the second time.
But then the inauguration committee stepped on the rake by inviting Pastor Louie Giglio of the Georgia-based Passion City Church to deliver the benediction. Mr. Giglio is on the record as being vocally anti-gay.
In a mid-1990s sermon identified as Giglio’s, available online on a Christian training website, he preached rabidly anti-LGBT views. The 54-minute sermon, entitled “In Search of a Standard – Christian Response to Homosexuality,” advocates for dangerous “ex-gay” therapy for gay and lesbian people, references a biblical passage often interpreted to require gay people be executed, and impels Christians to “firmly respond to the aggressive agenda” and prevent the “homosexual lifestyle” from becoming accepted in society.
Here’s an idea: drop the invocation and the benediction altogether. It’s a political ceremony, not a church service, and exhortations to mythological beings really don’t belong there. After all, the oath being taken is to the Constitution, not to some god, and while taking it with the hand on the bible is tradition, it’s not required; John Quincy Adams used a law book.
Actually, the ceremony at the Capitol on Monday, January 21, will be just that; a ceremony. The actual inauguration will take place the day before in the White House because the Constitution requires it on January 20. But since that’s a Sunday, it will be done privately, presumably without Ms. Evers and Mr. Giglio. And that’s the inauguration that really matters.
Update: As Reader Julie noted in the comments, Mr. Giglio has backed out of the ceremony, leaving in a holy huff:
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.
The pastor demonized gays and then gets his tail all puffed up because people pointed it out to him. Well!