The inaugural viewing stand under construction on Nov. 28.(Photo: J. Scott Applewhite, AP)
WASHINGTON -- The minister selected by President Obama to deliver the
benediction at his inauguration later this month has withdrawn himself
from the celebration after facing criticism for remarks he made about
homosexuality in a sermon in the mid-1990s.
Addie Whisenant, a
spokeswoman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, said organizers
were unaware of the comments when the Rev. Louie Giglio, founder of the
Passion Conferences in Atlanta, was selected.
She added that his
comments "don't reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and
diversity of our country at this Inaugural."
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"Pastor Giglio was
asked to deliver the benediction in large part for his leadership in
combating human trafficking around the world," Whisenant said. "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.
Giglio said in a statement that "the
president and I do not agree on every issue" and that he feared his
participation would overshadow the message of the prayer he planned to
"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," Giglio said. "Clearly, speaking on this
issue has not been in the range of my priorities in the past 15 years.
Instead, my aim has been to call people to ultimate significance as we
make much of Jesus Christ."
In an audio posting of the sermon
posted on the liberal website Think Progress, a voice identified as that
of Giglio's called homosexuality a sin.
"That's God's voice. If
you want to hear God's voice, that is his voice to this issue of
homosexuality. It is not ambiguous and unclear. It is very clear."