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More Inaugural Sermons From Anti-Gay Preachers

[ 120 ] January 10, 2013 |

Why, Obama, why?

The Presidential Inauguration Committee announced Tuesday that the President Obama has selected Pastor Louie Giglio of the Georgia-based Passion City Church to deliver the benediction for his second inauguration. 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. Below are some of the most disturbing views in the sermon.

First, it’d be nice to have one of these sermons be by a non-Christian. Everyone who would be outraged by that didn’t vote for Obama anyway. Second, is it really that hard to find a minister to give a sermon who isn’t a gay-basher? First Rick Warren and now this guy. How about a nice Unitarian? Or a progressive-minded Lutheran? Or just someone who is nice and non-controversial on the matter?

Really unacceptable.


Comments (120)

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  1. Malaclypse says:

    How about a nice Unitarian?

    Are there non-nice Unitarians?

  2. Amanda in the South Bay says:

    If this was Balloon Juice, Loomis would be tarred as a closet racist just itching to drop the N word for daring to criticize Obama.

  3. ScottC says:

    On this topic I’ll never understand why people get outraged over a brief speech by an obscure figure who will immediately fade back into obscurity, yet have no issue at all with the former president of the United States who made DADT and DOMA the law of the land playing a major role in the campaign, and dominating a large part of the convention. What Bill Clinton did was far more harmful, but people save their outrage for this kind of piddly thing.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      First, that was 20 years ago and those were different times. Second, Clinton has admitted he was wrong.

      • sibusisodan says:

        that was 20 years ago and those were different times

        Are you referring to Clinton’s policies or the ‘mid-1990’s’ sermon here? Because it’s equally true of both. I take your point about the apology.

      • Marc says:

        Wasn’t the speech by the preacher in question also 20 years ago?

      • rea says:

        DADT, in particular, was a major improvement over what went before . . .

      • cpinva says:

        fair enough.

        Second, Clinton has admitted he was wrong.

        has giglio?

        the past, as they say, is a different country. things and people change. it’s possible giglio, like clinton, has changed. however, unlike clinton, we have no word from the man himself. that being the case, it can be reasonably assumed not. surely, out of the 1,000’s of religious leaders, in the 1,000’s of churches across the country, they could have picked someone else.

      • Darkrose says:

        I’m not happy with Obama’s choice on the optics, but who speaks for five minutes at the inauguration is largely irrelevant to me and won’t affect my life at all. On the other hand, when I go to do my taxes in a few weeks and play the dance of “Married in CA but not to the IRS” Clinton’s actions will have me cursing his name, as I have to do two separate federal returns and pay for my wife’s health care coverage as a taxable “fringe benefit”–something none of my married co-workers have to do.

        So great that Clinton’s apologized. Too bad he didn’t realize he was wrong at the time he signed the transparent pander to the right.

    • witless chum says:

      Because it’s a brief speech by an obscure figure, it’s all the more reason to be annoyed. Precisely no one will be pissed if Obama picked someone non-objectionable, but he chooses to pick someone who’ll annoy liberals.

      I think it’s much more sensible to complain about this than, say, the lack of a public option in the Affordable Care Act. Obama had to fight congress creatures in his own party to get that passed. He has to fight precisely no one to pick the guy giving the invocation.

      • DocAmazing says:

        It’s even worse. It’s a very clear message: “I reward my opponents and insult my supporters!” If there were money in it, DLC-style, it might be understandable, but it appears entirely gratuitous.

        • witless chum says:

          Yup. It’d also be one thing if it was a some kind of politically-active preacher who’d been a very public Obama supporter and/or advisor despite having shitty views about gay people. Not exactly unknown in the black church, for instance. Throwing the gays and liberals over for another important constituency in the Democratic Party is something that you should expect from a politician.

          Clicking the link, that doesn’t seem to be who this guy is. He’s more in the mold of Rick Warren, ie, he brings in an audience of people who are very likely to be hostile to Obama and won’t stop because he showed a little love to their favorite preacher.

    • Njorl says:

      There are reasons to tolerate Bill Clinton’s flaws. Are there any reasons at all to tolerate Giglio’s?

    • fwiw says:

      DADT was an improvement over existing policy and a compromise with a Congress that wanted to ban gays from the military via statute. DOMA on the other hand

  4. Tammany says:

    “First, it’d be nice to have one of these sermons be by a non-Christian. Everyone who would be outraged by that didn’t vote for Obama anyway.”

    Huh? You need to de-bubble. While I’d like the speech to be by a non-Christian, there are definitely plenty of Obama voters who’d be outraged. Maybe not in the liberal blogosphere, but in the inner city.

  5. Kurzleg says:

    My biggest problem with this sort of thing is that it reinforces the notion that conservative Christians are the only valid moral authorities.

  6. Alex says:

    The invocation is being given by a lay-person. Not exactly non-Christian, but it is somewhat not religions.

    As for Giglio, his anti-gay sermon was in the mid-90s. In the past ten years, there’s not much reference to him doing anything anti-gay (or pro-gay). He and his organization have also stayed out of gay marriage politics — all of which is kind of surprising for a conservative Southern evangelical megachurch. And they’ve denied the media’s requests for clarification on their current non-existent stance.

  7. Richard says:

    And it should be noted that the President chose Richard Blanco, an openly gay Latino, to be the poet for the inauguration

  8. Peter says:

    FWIW, I was pretty annoyed at the Rick Warren choice, but pretty amused when the resulting fla pushed Warren to claim to have not supported Prop 8, causing his flock to throw a shitfit.

    • TribalistMeathead says:

      I was also amused that the end result was Warren’s ego swelling to the point where he just assumed he’d be holding another forum with the two major Presidential candidates in 2012, only to discover neither one really wanted to do it after all.

  9. Joe says:

    As to these being done by a non-Christian, the President is a Christian, so it’s logical he would pick a Christian. I can see the point of this being an event for the nation, but I think it’s reasonable the person getting inaugurated would pick a member of his own general faith. Which like his old controversial pastor shows is a sort of evangelical Christianity many here might not like.

    As last time, he also is using someone less upsetting … Myrlie Evers-Williams will also deliver a prayer. I don’t know if she is a “gay basher” though I think the liberal leaning clergy member used along with Warren last time wasn’t one. Obama is trying to be inclusive here, including a member of evangelical traditions of a different type as a gesture. If he used a Catholic priest, it would be anti-gay too, I guess.

    As with the prayer service for Newtown, Obama has honored other religious faiths (and those with none) and this is a way for him to respect some that include many who strongly oppose him. Given his overall record on gay rights, it is a pretty minor symbolic gesture and should be taken in context.

    • sharculese says:

      Why are we supposed to respect the sort of faith that leads one to conclude that your cowardly prejudices are moral imperatives? What’s inclusive about that?

      • Joe says:

        You don’t have to “respect” the faith that much but a chunk of society has the faith and as POTUS he can’t just ignore them. Having a preacher some of them ALONG WITH SOMEONE ELSE TOO give a short prayer is not really the same as endorsing the faith in question. You have to respect the millions in some small way and finding some common ground is possible.

    • John says:

      The president is a liberal mainline protestant. Isn’t it just as logical that he would pick a liberal mainline protestant pastor to do this kind of thing, rather than a conservative evangelical? Why does your logic hold and mine does not?

      • Joe says:

        Sure. First, however, I was responding to the desire that he pick a non-Christian. Second, he all the time by his words and actions acts like a LMP. Here, he provides a symbolic means to nod to views of others whose views he disagrees with. It is a small gesture and I’m fine with those who don’t like it because of his bigoted views on gays.

  10. Thomas Jefferson says:

    First, it’d be nice to have one of these sermons be by a non-Christian not have sermons.

    • Richard says:

      It’s not a sermon. Its a benediction. And this guy was disinvited as soon as the administration became aware of his speech/sermon from the 90s.

      • Dilan Esper says:

        I don’t care if it’s a sermon or a benediction. It’s religious BS that not only has no place in a public ceremony in a country that has a separation of church and state, but should be treated as the superstitious nonsense that it is. It makes no more sense to have a benediction than it does to have an astrologer or a shaman up there. Or why not let Tom Cruise hook Obama up to an e-meter before the oath to make sure he’s Clear?

        • Richard says:

          I’m a nonbeliever. But I have no problem with benedictions at public ceremonies as long as I am not forced to join in. And I’m not so certain about everything in this world that I want to brand the beliefs of people I like, that I support and of many of my friends and loved ones as “superstitious nonsense”.

          • Dilan Esper says:


            Whether something is superstitious or nonsense has nothing to do with how many people believe it. Indeed, great masses of people have been wrong about some very important questions, such as slavery, sexism, homosexuality, and the like. You can choose not to offend religious people by pointing out that they espouse belief in things that clearly did not happen and are not true, but people who espouse false claims shouldn’t get an intellectual free pass just because they whine loud enough when someone points it out.

            Further, however, I would also add this– I don’t actually think a lot of people really believe these things. Most professed religious believers are just engaging in a vulgar form of Pascal’s Wager where they go to heaven if the vain, immature, malevolent, petty God presented in the Christian Bible exists and they are no worse off if She doesn’t. You can tell this not only from the fact that they protest too much when it is pointed out that their professed beliefs are false (true believers would not be made uncomfortable by criticism) but also by the fact that they make no real effort to actually abide by the commands of their religion. They don’t forsake worldly wealth, don’t honor the Sabbath, don’t abstain from all sex outside of marriage, don’t go to church, etc.

            If someone really, really, really believed that there was a God who was going to torture them for eternity if they did not conduct their life in a certain way, and they further believed that it was worth avoiding that eternal torture (personally, I would tell such a God to GFY), they would assiduously comply with religious restrictions.

            People don’t believe, they say they believe in the wishful hope of avoiding certain death, and they don’t like it when the wishful thinking is identified for what it is.

            • Richard says:


              As I said before, I’m a nonbeliever. I dont believe in the god of the Old or New testament. I dont believe in any god. But I dont go around insulting the views of those people who disagree with me on this issue (although I am happy to debate the point). I dont think insulting religious beliefs accomplishes much and seems to be a sort of childish intellectual hubris which I got over by the time I graduated from college.

              And I have friends and relatives who are believing Jews, even orthodox Jews. I have friends and relatives who are practicing Catholics. The President, who I generally support, is a practicing Protestant. Many of my friends and relatives believe in a God who interferes with the actions of humans on earth, answers prayers, etc. Good for them. Unless they couple that belief with belief on social issues that I find repulsive (that people are predestined for heaven or hell, that being gay dooms one to hell, etc), I don’t find the belief in God to be harmful so I dont rail against it. There are people who are as smart as I am who have been ardent believers and/or deists.

              • Dilan Esper says:

                Untruth is harmful in itself, and liberal believers actually legitimize the bigots and science deniers.

                Further, it isn’t an insult to say someone is wrong. The fact that they take it as one is evidence they know deep in their hearts it isn’t true

                • Richard says:

                  Nonsense. The fact is I value my friendships with my believing friends and relatives a lot more than I value my right to engage in arguments with them over the falsity of their beliefs (and which will never convince them anyway).
                  Unless we both agree to amicably debate the existence of god, there is simply no reason for me to tell them they are wrong. It wouldn’t be insulting for me to do so (I dont think they would be insulted) but it certainly would be impolite and rude.

                  If they want to believe in a god, so be it. It doesn’t hurt me, or society, in the least bit for them to harbor that belief. An untruth is NOT harmful in itself. When my kids were very little, they believed in Santa Claus. That was an untruth. You think they were hurt by that? You think that my mother was somehow hurt by believing that there was a benevolent god? I dont think so.

        • Uncle Ebeneezer says:

          Exactly, why is there a benediction at all?

            • Dilan Esper says:

              Ceremonial deism is fine as a legal matter, if only because it’s stupid to bring federal cases over meaningless invocations of superstition in public ceremonies.

              But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t hold politicians to a higher standard. Especially since it doesn’t actually class up the joint to bring some usually ignorant homophobe who thinks the earth is 6,000 years old or whatever to make a short speech addressing a being that either doesn’t exist or isn’t anything like what that person thinks. Truly respecting a separation of church and state means eliminating this crap.

              • Uncle Ebeneezer says:

                Exactly. People often claim that prayers at public ceremonies are not any sort of favoritism or endorsement of a religion because it’s just tradition. As if the words spoken on the stage will have no connection or association to the President/government/organization playing host. But at the same time they (rightly, imo) are very attentive to what words are spoken because the wrong statements (or even past statements like in the case of Giglio) will absolutely be associated with the President/government/organization that allows them. I don’t understand why benedictions and such are the only statements that apparently don’t count, in that fashion. If the religious statements are so trivial, why not replace them with a secular equivalent.

                • I don’t understand why benedictions and such are the only statements that apparently don’t count, in that fashion.

                  Because, like every other use of language, their meaning is constructed based on a common understanding, and the common understanding is that benedictions at public events are ceremonial deism.

                  If the religious statements are so trivial, why not replace them with a secular equivalent.

                  Because while the words themselves are so trivial, the tradition, the ceremonial action, of having a cleric say a few words (regardless of what those words might be) while we all respectfully quiet down has its own understood meaning, which contributes to the character and impact of the occasion.

                • Dilan Esper says:

                  No Joe. What it actually does is privilege members of powerful religions.

              • I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the fellow who cannot discuss this issue without throwing around words like “ignorant,” “stupid,” “superstitious,” “crap,” and “nonsense” is a poor arbiter of class.

              • LeeEsq says:

                Dilan, while the Constitution calls for seperation of religion and state, the American political tradition never included 100% seperation. A majority of the American people believe are monotheists of some sort and public life always reflected it.

                I see no harm in minor reflections of this in public ceremonies.

            • commie atheist says:

              Professor Martha Nussbaum at the University of Chicago Law school stated, “‘Ceremonial Deism’ is an odd name for a ritual affirmation that a Deist would be very reluctant to endorse, since Deists think of God as a rational causal principle but not as a personal judge and father.

          • Richard says:

            Because Presidents have chosen to include one. Not necessary but not forbidden.

            • Uncle Ebeneezer says:

              But you would understand how someone could view something like this:

              Oh Lord God Almighty, the supply and supplier of faith and freedom, how excellent is Your name in all the earth. You are great and greatly to be praised. God, as we conclude this 55th inaugural ceremony, we conclude it with an attitude of thanksgiving. Thank You for protecting America’s borders. After all, the Psalmist reminds us, unless You, O God, guard the territory, our efforts will be in vain.
              Thank You for our armed service personnel. And it is with unswerving thanksgiving that we pause to remember the persons who have made the ultimate sacrifice to help ensure America’s safety. Thank You, O God, for surrounding our personnel, their families, their friends and our allies with Your favor and Your faithfulness.
              Deploy Your hosts from heaven so that Your will for America will be performed on earth as it is already perfected in heaven. I confess that Your face will shine upon the United States of America, granting us social peace and economic prosperity, particularly for the weary and the poor.
              I also confess, God, that each American’s latter days will be better than their former days. Let it be unto us according to Your Word.
              Rally the Republicans, the Democrats and the independents around Your common good so that America will truly become one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty, justice and equal opportunity for all—including the least, the last and the lost.
              Bless every elected official right now. God, I declare Your blessings to shower upon our President, George W. Bush. Bless him, his family and his administration. I once again declare that no weapon formed against them shall prosper.
              God, forgive us for becoming so ensnarled in petty partisan politics that we miss Your glory and block our purpose. Deliver us from the evil one, from evil itself and from the mere appearance of evil.
              Give us clean hearts, so that we might have clean agendas, clean priorities and programs and even clean financial statements.
              Now, unto You, O God, the One who always has been and always will be, the one King of kings and the true power broker, we glorify and honor You.
              Respecting persons of all faiths, I humbly submit this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

              As being government-funded proselytizing, no? Or at the very least being an endorsement of belief vs. non-belief?

  11. sibusisodan says:

    Actually, musing on this a little further, I’m more surprised that Giglio accepted than anything else. Which, for someone of his faith tradition and geographical background is a touch surprising.

    After all, he’ll be standing up there with a known Marxist Socialist (TM), who only last year came out in support of gay marriage. It’s not like he can use Warren’s excuse that Obama wasn’t known at that point.

    Which kinda implies that the existence of one sermon a man preached 20 years ago may not be the best grounds on which to judge his actual current beliefs. I’d appreciate a more rounded and up to date picture of those, if it’s really going to be an issue.

  12. Eric says:

    The invitation has been revoked. Giglio won’t be part of the inauguration ceremonies.

  13. db says:

    He’s already been dropped from the Inauguration, according to Alex Seitz-Wald.

  14. catclub says:

    The update on thinkprogress says he is backing out of the inaugural.

  15. StevenAttewell says:

    And he’s outta there! That was quick.

    • mds says:

      See? All you proggier-than-thou types were so quick to complain about this, and it turns out to not be happening after all! Now we can focus on the laudable choice of inauguration poet, which sends a stronger message than who is or isn’t delivering the sectarian benediction at a presidential inauguration anyway.

  16. RedSquareBear says:


  17. rea says:

    I gather the reason the guy was chosen was that he’s done good work agains human trafficing, which is a worthy cause.

  18. I know of a nice atheist zombie architect who would absolutely RIP IT UP.

  19. […] Huffington Post, Good As You, The Caucus, Shakesville, AMERICAblog, Towleroad News #gay, Advocate, Lawyers, Guns & Money, NPR, Pharyngula and The Hill […]

  20. wengler says:

    I wish they’d stop praying before every federal government function. I wish the establishment clause meant we’d have a secular government instead of one that bends over backwards to cater to religious institutions at every opportunity.

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