After the news broke yesterday that Louie Giglio would not be included in the President’s inauguration, there were conflicting reports about how Giglio’s removal came about. Many news outlets were saying that Giglio was forced out by President Obama’s inaugural committee. Others were saying that Giglio had removed himself in response to the public outcry about his sermon on homosexuality. As the day wore on and Giglio and the inaugural committee began releasing statements, many of the initial reports were updated to include the new information that Giglio had apparently removed himself.
In all the reports I read yesterday, however, there was only one that included a source confirming that the White House had initiated Giglio’s ouster. It was Sheryl Gay Stolberg’s report for The New York Times. Here’s how the fourth paragraph of her report appeared on The New York Times website early yesterday afternoon.
An official with Mr. Obama’s Presidential Inaugural Committee said the committee, which operates separately from the White House, vetted Mr. Giglio. People familiar with internal discussions between administration and committee officials said the White House viewed the selection as a problem for Mr. Obama, and told the panel on Wednesday night to quickly fix it. By Thursday morning, Mr. Giglio said he had withdrawn.
This paragraph was one of the most significant that I read yesterday because it confirmed that the White House had initiated pulling Giglio from the inaugural program. Yet by yesterday evening and in today’ print edition, this part had been removed from Stolberg’s report. The new paragraph has nothing about the White House’s involvement in removing Giglio. Did the White House tell the inaugural committee to “fix it” or not?
I think that all people of faith are rightly concerned that the White House might have initiated Giglio’s removal. It would be very significant for religious liberty in this country if a sitting President pressured/persuaded/forced the removal of a Christian pastor for his view on sexuality. If that didn’t happen, Americans need to know that. If it did happen, Americans deserve to know that as well.
Giglio has been rather hush about how the whole thing happened. He did say on his website yesterday that his decision to withdraw happened only “after conversations between our team and the White House.” Perhaps he could allay everyone’s concerns by telling what influence the White House had on his decision to withdraw.
The murkiness surrounding the whole matter is disconcerting. At the very least, it’s a question that some enterprising reporter needs to get to the bottom of. If the President or someone close to him was involved, that’s a significant precedent—one that every person of faith in this country has a stake in.