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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

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Comment Preferences

  •  Giglio had straight ties to the Kill the Bill folk (12+ / 0-)

    It was sort of derailed yesterday in Scott Wooledge's diary on this, but Giglio's ties to anti-gay Ugandan "Kill the Bill" evangelical churches is made clear as day by this article:

    Like Warren, Giglio has ties to the epicenter of anti-LGBTI activism in Uganda. For Warren, it was his partnership with Martin Ssempa and involvement with The Fellowship. For Giglio, it is an association with a key church that supports an eliminationist bill, looming before Uganda's parliament since 2009, that would virtually legislate Uganda's gay community out of existence


    Giglio might have plausibly claimed that his views on homosexuality had evolved since the 1990s sermon, except that his ministry has also, since 2008 (when the Watoto choir sang at Giglio's Passion conference in Kampala) or earlier, had an institutional relationship with a church in the vanguard of Uganda's mounting crusade against LGBTI rights, the Watoto Christian Church -- whose church elder Stephen Langa has played a central role in agitating for the so-called "Kill the Gays" bill that has loomed before Uganda's parliament since 2009.

    Langa is now one of four alleged co-conspirators named in lawsuit over a supposed plot to deprive Ugandan LGBTI citizens of their human rights.  


    Indeed, Giglio seems to have so utterly ignored the issue that even as the Watoto Church was emerging as a hotbed of anti-gay rights activism, the public relations apparatus of Giglio's rapidly growing "Passion" conference, whose 501(c)(3) nonprofit parent ministry was in 2010 was funded with over $12 million dollars, was presenting the Watoto church as an exemplar of philanthropic activism, for the church's efforts to help orphaned Ugandan children.


    The Watoto Church ties are detailed at length, but due to copyright issues, I can't repost more. The article goes on to explain that in 2012, the Watoto Church was on of four churches in Uganda which sold tickets for the most recent Giglio appearance there just under four months ago. It also talks about their ties with Musaveni.

    Just to connect the dots overtly here.

    Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

    by mahakali overdrive on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 01:26:18 PM PST

  •  So two times now with both (10+ / 0-)

    inaugurations, President Obama has gotten in some sort of sticky situation over the issue of religion and its relationship with what should be a strictly civic ceremony.  The last time it was Rick Warren and his arrogance in attempting to lead the nation in the Lord's Prayer.  Now it is this Giglio character.

    Religion and government don't mix and shouldn't mix. Certainly the Inauguration of a President who is required by the secular Constitution to affirm his support for that Constitution should not use this ceremony or any other to endorse his own religious sect or any other. Using the terms "invocation" and "benediction" certainly lends a government endorsement to strictly religious terms and sends a not so subtle message to the 15-20% of citizens who are non religious and watching their President's Inauguration.

    Someone is bound to be left out or insulted by the choices.  The very most that should be done is an invitation at the end of the ceremony for all present to have a moment of silent reflection. Then each citizen can choose to honor the President and our diverse democracy in their own way.

    •  I agree. (9+ / 0-)

      I would prefer not to have prayers at inaugurations.

      What is truth? -- Pontius Pilate

      by commonmass on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 01:42:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't care (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rogneid, irishwitch, sfbob, msmacgyver

        I don't think that the problem is really a matter of prayers and no prayers (although I certainly understand that some do.)

        What I think really matters is how we respect religious differences and embrace pluralism for people who are religious and non-religious; Christians and non-Christians -- as a lasting value of constitutional democracy.  Finding ways to profoundly represent the values of democratic pluralism in what we say and do in public life is a powerful way to inoculate our politics and government against theocratic interests while also honoring the rights of all. It is reasonable (and I think necessary) to insist that our elected and non-elected representatives embody these values. This would probably save at least some of them from the avoidable error of thinking that grafting ersatz elements of church services onto public events is actually a good idea.  

        Of course, both parties have viewed faith and "people of faith" as political commodities in ways that have been crass and demeaning to both religion and government. I am not so naive as to think that there were ever some halcyon good old days when politicians would never, ever think of exploiting the most sacred of religious traditions for political advantage.  But we can also be realistic about how we make our political culture to reflect our values, and to avoid pandering to the lowest common denominator.

        When pols get in the business of making the choice of who will give a public prayer based on crass political calculations -- the "message" that they wish to send is not always the one that is received, as we have seen in the cases of both Rick Warren and Giglio.  At the very least, relying on such personifications of superficial messages is risky. And the risk is not only to the passing political interests of a president, but to our most deeply held common values as a nation.

        The message that I received in the selection of Giglio is that the president and his team do not share the above mentioned common values as a nation. I would prefer to believe that they are out of their minds with overreaching political opportunism, but I can't quite persuade myself that that is so.

        •  Don't you think a prayer in and of itself, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          no matter how watered down or nondescript or "ceremonial deism"- like, still carries a message? How does one construct a prayer or find someone to recite that prayer that will not at the very least convey the message of endorsement of religion over non-religion by government?

          To me the only way to respect religious differences is not to wade into the topic at all in public civic ceremonies related to government.  Of course we do this all the time, but that has never made it right.  

          I can't read Obama on religion, but it certainly seems that he errs to often on the wrong side of the issue. For example, last year he not only attended the Family's Prayer Breakfast but stated he came as a representative of the American people. What WAS he thinking?

          •  I already answered your question (0+ / 0-)

            and the answer is no. I don't think a prayer in and of itself is a big deal and that far more important is the intention of the speaker and of the event organizers. I do agree that structuring the inauguration like a church service trivializes both sacred religious traditions and calls into question the integrity of the government as the unbiased guarantor of equal rights.

            That said, there are no perfect answers in a religious plural society based on equality. What matters most is that we all do our best. I don't detect that intention from the Obama White House and the inaugural committee.

            •  Then I respectfully disagree. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Just to give the point of view of an atheist watching the Inaugural on television, seeing their government use a religious activity (prayer) in the ceremony IS a "big deal".  It doesn't matter what the "intent" is of the person speaking the does one measure that anyway, and whose guidelines are used as to good or bad, ecumenical or political intent? It is another instance where government is explicitly or implicitly making the statement that it holds itself to the authority/approval of a deity and that this deity exists and must be addressed or acknowledged by what is supposed to be a secular institution during a public event.

              Thomas Jefferson addressed this quite well. Too bad we don't hold to his view as I think it clears up the "perfect answer" issue.

              •  There is a difference (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                between creating an inclusive society, and pretending that religious diversity( including those who do not have a religious point of view) does not exist.  

                Some atheists don't like prayers at all (others don't care). Some Christians think that the government goes all to hell without them (others don't).  And there are a whole lot of views in between.  Just saying no to inaugural prayers is a non-starter -- no many how many time some people say it, and no matter what arguments are made.

                One seemingly productive approach would be to try to make such events as inclusive as possible in style and substance. Unfortunately, Team Obama has a warped sensibility about religion and public life of which the Giglio and Warren episodes are symptoms. So much so, that I think they would say that they were, in fact, trying to be inclusive. Go figure.

                •  Like I said, I can't figure out Obama when (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  it comes to religion.  He says all the right things in certain speeches, and has certainly thrown bones to non-believers, but his actions are sometimes more blatantly in opposition to separation of church and state than George W. Bush's.   I would agree with the application of the word "warped" in his approach. I might add "dishonest" to that, especially in his lack of follow up on promises made about the hiring discrimination in faith based organizations receiving federal funds.

                  I think it is possible that we may someday have an atheist President, and at that point we may have a lovely Inaugural ceremony with music and poetry and readings about the meaning of our democracy, etc. with no prayers.

                  If Thomas Jefferson could write this in 1808, then anything is possible- right?

                  "Certainly no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the general government".  

                  •  I suspect (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    MichaelNY, Parthenia

                    (but can't prove) that there are lots of closet atheists in public life who misuse their position to pander to certain religious constituencies. People lie. Pols pander. Regardless of religious identity.

                    That said, I thought the former professor of constitutional law, and a (former) longtime member of the pro-separation United Church of Christ (in which Barry Lynn is an ordained minister) would do a lot better on church/state issues. But he hasn't. And I was wrong. I was hoping that that maybe Obama would do better in his second term. But with a start like this, it seems unlikely that my hopes will be realized.

                    I think that on these matters, just like just about every other issue, it is not so much who pols are or what they say that they believe. It is our capacity to hold them to account, instead of allowing them to become the captives of self interested (and often wrong) consultants and pundits, that will make the difference over time.  

                    I still think it is revealing that the inaugural committee claims that Giglio was chosen because of his work on human trafficking.  While he may (or may not) have done fine work in that area, after the Warren disaster it was not an adequate reason to pick someone for the role in which he was cast.

                    Apparently the eleven dimension chess people in the White House and the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Initiatives didn't know how to use the Google to see what else Giglio was all about.  You'd think after the Rick Warren debacle, they would have learned their lesson...

    •  so who suggested Giglio in the 1st place? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rogneid, suesue, ExStr8, MichaelNY

      I'd be curious to know.

      Yes, I noticed in his statement that he never said he was sorry or that he'd seen the light and changed his mind so it's clear he still believes it today, not just 15-20 years ago.

      But getting back to my question, who suggested Giglio, who suggested Warren?

    •  You'd think that "Southern Baptist preacher" (5+ / 0-)

      would ring all sorts of bells about "vet very carefully."

      Seriously, what was Obama thinking when he invited someone whose cult was literally founded upon slavery, white supremacy and misogyny?

      •  As I understand it (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MichaelNY, skrekk

        the details of the second inauguration were left to the inaugural committee; I doubt Obama had much to do with with the choice.

        The selection of Warren was very much Obama's responsibility and that made him look very bad to significant portions of his core constituency. It was a bad choice and he really ought to have owned that.

    •  I agree nt (0+ / 0-)

      When someone is impatient and says, "I haven't got all day," I always wonder, How can that be? How can you not have all day? George Carlin

      by msmacgyver on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 08:10:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I see I'm not the only one who noticed (4+ / 0-)

    that Giglio's statement wasn't anything other than an attempt to blame the LGBT rights movement and our supposed "agenda" (that nasty equality stuff; how AWFUL) rather than having to take any responsibility for his own remarks. I'm not sure that I entirely believe Chuck Hagel's apology for his previous statement regarding Ambassador-designate James Hormel (who incidentally has been far more gracious about the whole thing than he needed to be) but it was a damned sight better than anything Giglio said.

    One is free to say what one pleases, within very specific limits. That freedom does NOT however include the right not to be asked to account for what one says, asked whether one still believes what one said (be it last week or 16 years ago) and even WHY one still believes or does not believe what one previously stated.

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