The most LGBT-friendly president in U.S. history will once again have a minister with a history of antigay statements deliver a prayer at his inauguration ceremony.
Pastor Louie Giglio of the Passion City Church in Atlanta, chosen to give the benediction, or closing prayer, January 21 at President Obama’s second inauguration, gave a sermon in the mid 1990s in which he said being gay is a choice and a sin that merits eternal damnation and that Christianity can help gays can become straight, ThinkProgress reports.
In the sermon, available on a Christian website, Giglio says the Bible clearly teaches that “homosexuality is not just a sexual preference, homosexuality is not gay, but homosexuality is sin,” and it is among the factors that “prevent people from entering the Kingdom of God.” He also says, “The only way out of a homosexual lifestyle, the only way out of a relationship that has been ingrained over years of time, is through the healing power of Jesus.”
When the item was posted, Giglio had yet to respond to a ThinkProgress inquiry about whether the sermon represents his current thinking. The Advocate has also asked the Presidential Inaugural Committee, which plans the ceremony, for comment on the choice of Giglio, but there has been no response so far. A “Beliefs” section on Passion City Church’s website describes the church as “conservative and evangelical,” apparently with a literal view of the Bible, as it says, “We believe in the accuracy, truth, authority and power of the Holy Scriptures as the Word of God.”
Four years ago, at Obama’s first inauguration, antigay minister Rick Warren, pastor of a California megachurch, delivered the invocation, or opening prayer. The choice of Warren was much criticized, although his prayer received some praise as a “message of unity.”
Some other news about the second inauguration was more welcome to LGBT audiences: Gay poet Richard Blanco will read one of his works there. He is the youngest inaugural poet, the first gay one, and the first Latino.