GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation – who, I hasten to point out, have a name that excludes both Bisexual and Transgender folk and that strikes me as very problematic – screamed loud and long about the choice for the pastor to give the Benediction at President Obama’s inauguration, The Rev. Louie Gilgio. Here’s an except from their blog:
The White House invited Rev. Louie Giglio, an Evangelical pastor of the Passion City Church, in Atlanta, to lead the benediction at President Obama’s inauguration. However, once Rev. Giglio’s past anti-gay sermon surfaced, the White House has decided that he is not the right person to be praying for a blessing on the people of the United States.
Georgia. Rev. Giglio was selected because of his work in mobilizing college students to oppose slavery and sex trafficking. However, when ThinkProgress discovered that he referred to the “aggressive agenda” of the LGBT community, advocated for so-called “ex-gay” therapy, and called being gay a “malfunction,” the White House realizes that his presence does not reflect the LGBT-inclusive record of the Obama administration, or of the American people.
Rev. Giglio released a statement that acknowledged that his anti-gay messages of the past has become a stumbling block to his effectiveness in the inauguration:
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.
Addie Whisenant, the Presidential Inauguration Committee Spokesperson, agreed:
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. Pastor Giglio was asked to deliver the benediction in large part for his leadership in combating human trafficking around the world. 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.
Now they have set about trying to control “who can pray for America.” It’s narcissistic, unforgiving nonsense, and here is why: the sermon in question was preached 15-20 years ago – nobody is contesting that. Since then, nada. Since then, The Rev. Gilgio has been doing some excellent work in addressing sex trafficing around the world. There isn’t any indication that he has made any anti-LGBT statements in the last decade and a half. To the professional gays – that is, those members of the LGBT community who earn their living by advocating on behalf of the community and creating fictional issues when there is a shortage of real ones – there apparently isn’t any forgiveness. One sin, disqualified forever. One misstep, cast into the pile of demons. Really? Even more curious is the fact that some of their suggestions for a replacement are Roman Catholic, and the Roman Catholic Church still maintains that gay folk are “intrinsically disordered.” How is anyone affiliated with that organization acceptable – unless this is more about control that any real issue.
I have been an ally of and advocate for the gay community for decades, but the idea that the gay community is the litmus test of who may acceptably pray for America is delusional nonsense. While we should seek to find someone to do the benediction at inauguration who, as much as humanly possible, represents a cross-section of the diversity that is America no single group should be allowed either to choose or veto a chosen cleric. What’s more, the list of GLAAD approved alternatives includes the following:
Jay Bakker has been ministering to young adults and those on the margins after growing up the son of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. His church and all his writing place a heavy emphasis on grace. He is theologically quite conservative, even while being outspoken in his advocacy for inclusiveness of all people.
Jacqui Lewis is Senior Minister of Middle Church and Executive Director of The Middle Project, a not for profit institute that trains progressive ethical leaders for a just society.
Andrew Marin learned from his own anti-gay history to become a better ally. He now runs a ministry to build bridges between the evangelical and LGBT community.
Rabbi Denise Eger, vice president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and has been recognized as a LGBT advocate.
Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, the pastor of Obama’s former church, Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, has been a strong voice of unity for all Americans, resisting wedge issues at the voting box.
Rachel Held Evans has been a voice to challenge the notion of “biblical living, ” as well as building an authentically Christian and inclusive community.
Seven people – four males and three females, five Christians and one Jew, two African Americans, one Roman Catholic (see my comments about that above). No Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Arab Americans, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, or any other religious or ethic groups. Given that the fastest growing group of believers are the spiritual but not religious “Nones,” they should certainly be represented in any potential list of pray-ers for the inauguration. When it comes to diversity, apparently the only diversity that matters to GLAAD is sexual orientation. That’s not representative of anything but narcissism and arrogance.
Get over yourselves, professional gays, you aren’t all that. You also could stand to learn about forgiveness and spend some time learning that true diversity extends way beyond your own self-interest or you run the risk of become even more irrelevant than you already are. A bully is a bully, no matter who they sleep with.