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The virulently homophobic American Family Association is denouncing an Atlanta minister for allowing LGBT-friendly country music star Carrie Underwood to perform at an evangelical conference.
Underwood, who has gone on to country superstardom after winning on American Idol in 2005, made a surprise appearance at Passion 2017 on its opening night Monday in Atlanta, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. She sang with Christian music star Crowder (who goes by a single name) and then soloed on her award-winning 2014 hit "Something in the Water," which has a theme of religious redemption.
That did not please Wesley Wildmon, director of outreach for the AFA. He wrote an open letter to the Rev. Louie Giglio, the conference's organizer and pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta, The Tennessean of Nashville reports.
"I was very frustrated that you would allow her to help lead thousands of people in worship," he wrote in the letter, posted Wednesday on Engage, an online magazine run by the AFA. "My frustration quickly turned to disappointment and then to sadness. Carrie Underwood encourages and supports homosexual marriage which the Word of God does not (1 Corinthians 6:12-20). ... With the many Christian artists who believe and teach the full counsel of God's Word available to lead worship at Passion, why would you choose one who publicly states homosexuality is not a sin?"
Underwood indeed voiced her support for marriage equality as far back as 2012, and her home church, GracePointe in Franklin, Tenn., near Nashville, is an evangelical congregation that fully accepts LGBT people.
Giglio and his church are not so accepting, however. He was initially slated to give the benediction, or closing prayer, at President Obama's second inauguration, in 2013, but his appearance was canceled because of his opposition to marriage equality.
Underwood has not responded to the controversy, Rolling Stone reports. There is no record of a response from Giglio either. Giglio has been running the conference since 1997; it is geared toward young adults.
The American Family Association is designated a hate group by the progressive Southern Poverty Law Center because of the damaging lies it spreads about LGBT people. It is also anti-Muslim and antichoice. In one of its more recent campaigns, it has urged a boycott of Target due to the retailer's policy of allowing transgender employees and customers to use the restroom corresponding with their gender identity. Wesley Wildmon is the grandson of AFA founder Donald Wildmon and the son of its current president, Tim Wildmon.
In 2015 the AFA tried to disassociate itself from one if its particularly outrageous anti-LGBT commentators, Bryan Fischer, stripping him of the title of director of issues analysis. But Fischer, who has said Adolf Hitler's most savage enforcers were gay men and predicted that "flaming homosexuals" will storm Christian bookstores and demand jobs if anti-LGBT discrimination is banned nationwide, still hosts an AFA talk show and posts columns on its website, with one even running today. It isn't specifically anti-LGBT but does denounce hate-crimes laws.