The national spotlight has moved on -- probably never to return to Rev. Louie Giglio. But before we forget him altogether, it is worth noting that Giglio's handling of the matter revealed a deeply disingenuous man who given the opportunity to clarify his views about homosexuality, engaged in a series of diversions in his letter to the president and in further explanation to his congregation on his blog. Here are a few brief points.
First, let's note that Giglio has not retreated from the hateful points of his sermon, which included, as Think Progress reported, his advocacy for “ex-gay” therapy, and "referenced a biblical passage often interpreted to require gay people be executed, and impelled Christians to 'firmly respond to the aggressive agenda' and prevent the 'homosexual lifestyle' from becoming accepted in society."
Instead, he is trying to deflect attention from his unambiguous views.
"Neither I, nor our team," he wrote in his withdrawal letter to president, "feel it best serves the core message and goals we are seeking to accomplish to be in a fight on an issue not of our choosing..."
Giglio chose to cast the issue as not about his sermon and what it meant, but that it is distraction to him -- a "fight not of our choosing." For Giglio, it is not about defending and advancing the dignity and worth of all people, its about protecting the brand.
Giglio further sought to distance himself from his own statements to avoid public accountability. He downplayed the significance of his sermon by characterizing it as a "message" and suggesting that it somehow didn't matter because it was "from 15-20 years ago." He did not say that he no longer holds, has modified or changed his views. He just wants us to only pay attention to the things he wants us to pay attention to.
He then tried to divert attention from his sermon to those who objected to what he said. Giglio claimed that his benediction would have been "dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda the focal point of the inauguration." He does not say who he is talking about, or exactly what the "agenda" might be, but his gay-baiting ambiguity is clear enough. The real problem you see, is not what he said and how he said it, but that others are taking offense and have the temerity to say so.
Beyond his widely reported letter to the president, he added in a note to his Atlanta church, on his blog:
The issue of homosexuality (which a particular message of mine some 20 years ago addressed) is one of the most difficult our nation will navigate. However, individuals’ rights of freedom, and the collective right to hold differing views on any subject is a critical balance we, as a people, must recover and preserve.That merits some unpacking. First let's observed that it only took three short blog paragraphs for his undated sermon of 15-20 years ago to drift in time to "some 20 years ago." But what is worse is his demagogic statement that "the collective right to hold differing views on any subject" is something we "must recover and preserve."
I am not aware that the right to hold different views on anything has been taken away by anyone, and therefore, that there is anything in need of recovery. But of course, Giglio is slyly implying that his right to hold and express a different view on homosexuality has been taken away -- presumably by those crafty LGTB people. In any case, Giglio has no more inherent right to offer a benediction at the inaugural than any of the rest of us. But he is free to say anything he wants about homosexuality and anything else. He just doesn't want to. And that is no one's fault but his own.
The presidential inauguration is a high ceremony of democracy -- a public acknowledgement of the results of the election and the transition to the new presidential term. Last time, the inauguration dramatically signified a peaceful transition of power, and this time it is a ceremonial recognition of the reaffirmation of the leadership of the sitting president. The inauguration is about many things to many people. It is an event that belongs to all of us. But one thing it has never been about, is Louis Giglio.
Crossposted from Talk to Action