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Pastor bows out of Obama's inauguration over anti-gay sermons

President Obama’s second inauguration is not without scandal.
Louie Giglio  (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images/File)
Louie Giglio

President Obama’s second inauguration is not without scandal.

Louie Giglio, the Atlanta pastor initially slated to deliver the benediction at Obama’s second inauguration later this month, has withdrawn from the event after coming under fire for anti-gay preaching.

In a statement on Thursday, Giglio said he was bowing out “due to a message of mine that has surfaced from 15-20 years ago” because it’s likely that his participation would 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 15 years.”

The president’s inaugural committee released a statement condemning the sermons, insisting they “were not aware of Pastor Giglio’s past comments at the time of his selection.”

Addie Whisenant, the committee’s spokesperson, added the sermons “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”

Think Progress first  reported Wednesday on the audio sermons of Giglio-–a pastor at Passion City Church in Georgia-–in the 1990s, in which he pushed for the controversial “ex-gay therapy” which claims to turn gay people straight. He is also heard saying homosexuality is a “sin.”

In one sermon titled, “In Search of a Standard-Christian Response to Homosexuality,” Giglio says

We must lovingly but firmly respond to the aggressive agenda of not all, but of many in the homosexual community…Underneath this issue is a very powerful and aggressive moment. That movement is not a benevolent movement, it is a movement to seize by any means necessary the feeling and the mood of the day, to the point where the homosexual lifestyle becomes accepted as a norm in our society and is given full standing as any other lifestyle, as it relates to family.

The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart weighed in on msnbc, pointing out that the White House and the president’s inaugural committee  are two separate entities. The inaugural committee “maybe should have used Google to do a more throughout search of Pastor Giglio’s past," said Capehart.

Similarly, Rev. Warren delivered the benediction at Obama’s 2009 inaugural ceremony and came under fire for his opposition to gay marriage.

Obama, of course, has been an outspoken proponent of gay rights during his term, having repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and has refused to back the Defense of Marriage Act, and insisting he has “evolved” on gay marriage.

It is not clear who will deliver the benediction on Jan. 21.