Christianity,  Politics

Louie Giglio withdraws from the inaugural program

Louie Giglio has released a statement saying that he has withdrawn himself from participation in President Obama’s inaugural program (see at bottom). Nevertheless, The New York Times reports that the Obama administration initiated his ouster.

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 Giglio said he had withdrawn.

The spokesperson for the president’s inaugural celebration said this in a statement:

We were not aware of Pastor Giglio’s past comments at the time of his selection and they don’t reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country at this Inaugural. Pastor Giglio was asked to deliver the benediction in large part for his leadership in combating human trafficking around the world. 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.

All of this seems to indicate that Giglio’s departure was not a unilateral move on his part. The Obama administration said to “fix it,” and apparently they did. Reading between the lines, my own hunch is that the inaugural committee asked Giglio to step aside quietly, and Giglio acquiesced (not unlike the Susan Rice situation).

Yesterday I pointed out that homosexuality/gay marriage is the great litmus test of our day. For some people, your views on the matter determine whether or not you should be allowed to participate in public life. After today’s announcement, Jonathan Capehart of The Washington Post made that very point. He writes,

[Giglio] got on the radar because of his work and leadership against human trafficking… But whatever good works Giglio has done in that arena are marred by his anti-gay statements… It is our right not to have an unrepentant bigot be given such a high honor on Inauguration Day.

Ever since Giglio’s inclusion on the program was announced, there has been a steady stream of criticism (as I noted yesterday). Just this morning, Sheryl Gay Stolberg wrote a story that appeared on page A16 of the New York Times. It was supposed to be a straight news report, but let’s just say it was less than balanced. The headline was, “Pastor Chosen for Inaugural Was Criticized as Antigay.” The report itself was one-sided and only quoted critics of Giglio, one of whom charged him with “backward views” and another calling him an “antigay bigot.”


[Here’s the statement that Giglio released today on his church’s website.]

Change of Plans

Dear PCC Family,

Though I was invited by the President of the United States to pray at his upcoming inauguration, after conversations between our team and the White House I am no longer serving in that role. I sent the following statement to the White House today:

I am honored to be invited by the President to give the benediction at the upcoming inaugural on January 21. Though the President and I do not agree on every issue, we have fashioned a friendship around common goals and ideals, most notably, ending slavery in all its forms.

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. Clearly, speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities in the past fifteen years. Instead, my aim has been to call people to ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ.

Neither I, nor our team, 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, thus I respectfully withdraw my acceptance of the President’s invitation. I will continue to pray regularly for the President, and urge the nation to do so. I will most certainly pray for him on Inauguration Day.

Our nation is deeply divided and hurting, and more than ever we need God’s grace and mercy in our time of need.

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.

As a pastor, my mission is to love people, and lead them well, while lifting up the name of Jesus above anything else. I’m confident that anyone who knows me or has listened to the multitude of messages I have given in the last decade would most likely conclude that I am not easily characterized as being opposed to people—any people. Rather, I am constantly seeking to understand where all people are coming from and how to best serve them as I point them to Jesus.

In all things, the most helpful thing I can do is to invite each of us to wrestle with scripture and its implications for our lives. God’s words trump all opinions, including mine, and in the end, I believe God’s words lead to life.

My greatest desire is that we not be distracted from the things we are focused on…seeing people in our city come to know Jesus, and speaking up for the last and least of these throughout the world.

Honored to be your pastor,


  • Brian Beal

    This is really historically remarkable. What is being communicated here is wildly radical; all acceptable public religion is pro-homosexual.

  • David Thomas

    Denny, this comment may seem to be a loaded question, but between friend it really isn’t. I am conflicted on this and want to know if you (or others) feel the same way:

    How would you feel if you were invited to give the bendiction for the inauguration of the most pro-abortion, pro-homosexual rights, anti-religious freedom president in American history?

    I know Jesus foretold we would be summoned into the presence of kings to testify before them, but the phenomenology of the circumstances the Lord foresees (which manifested in Acts 25:23 ff, among other places in Scripture and church history) are significantly different than what Giglio was being considered for, and what Rick Warren in fact accepted at Barack Obama’s first inaugural.

    When I see this,

    When I consider the personal friends I have had that destroyed their lives (up to and including suicide, though their families forgave, begged and pleaded that they live) through homosexuality and weigh the truth of that horror, not the sanitized, PC version of “love” that we hear,

    When I see what Hobby Lobby is going through…

    I wonder very much whether in good conscience I could stand and bless such a presidency and lend it credence through an inaugural prayer, which seems to me very different than standing before a king and prophetically declaring God’s truth in Christ.

    I haven’t been put in Warren or Giglio’s place, and I don’t condemn them for a moment. I just wonder what I should do, would do, what I would be able to do if it happened.

  • rachel hood

    it seems almost deliberate that he was chosen then dismissed. was the white house unaware until yesterday of the views of Christian pastors concerning homosexuality?

    • Stephen Beck

      They probably listened to the last 5 years of his sermons and only heard magnanimous talks about stars and proteins and stadiums and concert halls filled with cheering young people.

      (Not meant to be a lot of snark against Louie)

  • David Thomas

    I tried to post and somehow my post was lost…

    My question is this: Why would a sincere Christian /want/ to bless the inauguration of the most pro-abortion, pro-Sodomy, anti-religious freedom president in America? Such a prayer would NOT fit the category of Matthew 10:18/Acts 25:33ff–it is clearly an expression of approval and God’s blessing.

    Aren’t we kind of past that point? In other words, the issue for me is not whether Obama approves of Giglio, but of whether Giglio approves of Obama!

      • James Stanton

        Is it really a great point? Ask yourself if there are things for which you believe America deserves damnation from God.

        I feel bad for Louie Giglio. I think its right to pray for our leaders and the future of the nation even if there are disagreements with the leadership.

        Instead of turning the other cheek we respond with invective against Muslims and homosexuals. I don’t know that it comes from a good place. Get used to this treatment from America. It will only become a more inhospitable place for evangelicals.

        • Jason Ruzek

          It is a great point because that’s the way our President’s pastor for 20 years speaks regularly. You missed the reference, that’s all.

  • Greg Baggett

    Why is this seemingly a surprise to anyone? Is it really a surprise that standing on what is stated in scripture disqualifies someone from participating in a national event in this day of deception in our country? Frankly, I was more surprised when I read that Louie was invited to begin with.

  • Stephanie Miller

    “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.”

    Interesting. Didn’t they just NOT include and accept Giglio’s beliefs?

    • Heather McMillan

      Yep. You nailed it on the head. The intolerance of the “tolerant”. It seems that those on the left are not able to see that while they claim to include and promote diversity, they are really only promoting their own view point and excluding all who disagree with it.

  • Shana Olinger

    It would be interesting to see how many people we could get to sign a petition agreeing with Giglio’s very Biblical stance on freedom for all people, including freedom from the bondage of homosexualilty!

  • Shannon Lewis

    Good job, Giglio. Solid Bible preaching – and he’s a loving dude, doing his best to serve people. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the truth, especially since others will politicize it.

  • Rachel Gebremichael

    If anything, it more of an honour to be dismissed for his biblical views than to take part in an inauguration that promotes hate. Praying for President Obama.

  • E. heimbach

    Really sad day. The homosexual community is always so quick to speak of exclusion, intolerance, and bigotry. Now, who’s intolerant? The problem that the homosexual community has is not with statements made by Louie Giglio, but with the Word of God.

  • Don Johnson

    Quote from above.

    “Neither I, nor our team, 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, thus I respectfully withdraw my acceptance of the President’s invitation,” Giglio wrote. “I will continue to pray regularly for the President, and urge the nation to do so. I will most certainly pray for him on Inauguration Day.”

  • Brian Beal

    Also, even in the video title above, Louie is referred to as a “anti-gay pastor.” What does that even mean? As if that is a job title or type of pastor. The way the media even gets to label Louie is massively manipulative and wrong.

  • Patrick Duncan

    Louie seems a little embarrassed about his sermon in the 90s. Seems like he wouldn’t give that message again today.

  • Pastor Michael John Beasley

    A Once Private, but now Public Letter to Louie Giglio –

    Dear Mr. Giglio

    I write to you as a pastor who has ministered for over twenty years. I hope that you can read this with an understanding of my desire to magnify Christ above everything.

    According to your own admission, you were not removed from the task of praying at the Presidential Inauguration, instead you withdrew as a matter of choice: “…I respectfully withdraw my acceptance of the President’s invitation.” The reasoning which you supplied is as follows: “Neither I, nor our team, 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…”

    As a pastor myself, I would like for you to consider the nationwide, even worldwide, message that you have just dispatched by your words and actions. In writing this note to you, I write as one who is no stranger to hostility in the Gospel ministry. As well, I write as one who is a mere man, fraught with human frailty and imperfection; yet I write as one who continues to learn of the need to face the contests of life as a means of exalting Christ in everything. I think you would agree that the Apostle Paul, for example, was drawn into a great number of fights which were “not of his choosing,” and yet his willingness to stand in the face of these contests provided multiple opportunities for the Gospel. As Paul himself said:

    Acts 20:24 “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.”

    Paul rightly understood that the external conflicts which he experienced in this world only served the greater purpose of magnifying the name of Jesus in the message of Christ and Him crucified. Contrarily, if his priority had been that of self-preservation, or conflict avoidance, he would not have been able to finish the course of his ministry. A simple reading of the book of Acts should remind us all that the sparks of conflict often spread the flames of the Gospel whenever the Savior’s Lordship is magnified over all aspects of life. In fact, it was precisely when Paul suffered as a prisoner in Philippi, singing praises to God from that musty cell of his, that his true emancipation in Christ was made evident to the Philippian jailer. The Philippian jailer knew that, though he was free, he was a slave to sin; and that though Paul was a prisoner, he was the true freedman of Christ (1 Cor. 7:22). When the watching world sees Christian’s stand unflinchingly in the face of ungodly opposition, they are beholding a power that is truly supernatural. But when they see men fleeing contests in order to appease others or avoid unwanted controversy, they are seeing what all men do by their common, fallen nature. As Paul said: “…If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” (Gal 1:10). Indeed, we will either be the slaves of men, or the slaves of Christ – the choice is simple, but quite grave. We will either preach the whole counsel of God for the glory of our Master (Acts 20:27), or we will cherry pick messages which appeal to the desires of men. Should we find ourselves among that latter category, we will have the shameful bloodguilt of men on our hands (Acts 20:26).

    I should further ask: is it not the case that the homosexual (just like any sinner) needs to hear of the superior emancipation that Christ can bring to the slaves of sin (John 8:31-36)?; that their bondage to sin is serious (just as any sin is to any sinner) 1 Cor 6:9-10, and that they deserve to be warned of their lost condition, just as any other sinner deserves?

    As pastors, we have an important and continual choice to make. Imagine redacting the book of Acts such that every contest which Paul faced, not of his choosing, ended with his preemptive flight from such controversy. Such an approach to conflict would have resulted in the stifling of his preaching and living the Gospel (1 Thess 1:5-13) in the presence of men. Of course, he would have been spared from the “beatings, imprisonments, and tumults” (2 Cor 6:5); afflictions which gave his physical appearance the mutilating “brand-marks of Jesus” (Gal 6:17). Yet, neither would he have carried the fragrant aroma of Christ as one who could say: “…indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead” (2 Cor 1:9).

    Such an emancipated life as this preaches a Messiah who is the true emancipator of every kind of sinner – even homosexuals too.

    I fear that the modern culture of Christendom is more caught up with mere form and fashion than it is with the brutal realities of a life that is fully dedicated to the Gospel ministry (2 Tim. 3:12). It would appear that men today are more preoccupied with cool appearances, hip haircuts, while wondering if their conference T-shirt makes them look fat. As Spurgeon once said, “…we need soldiers, not fops, earnest laborers, not genteel loiterers.” (Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students). Simply put, any shepherd who wishes to emulate the Good Shepherd in this harsh battle of life must remember that it is not an option to flee at the sight of encroaching wolves. The habit of hirelings has no place in public ministry – and what I share here with you is the very exhortation that my own soul needs on a daily basis.

    Michael John Beasley
    Pastor, Grace Redeemer Fellowship

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