After a firestorm of controversy, his name is now bouncing across the airwaves and filling editorial columns. It is being bandied about by activists on either side of the ongoing debate about homosexual politics.
Correctly identified as a “conservative evangelical pastor” the invitation of Giglio was seen as an inclusive gesture on the part of the Obama administration. The president said Giglio’s work to fight modern-day slavery and human trafficking reflect “the ideals that the Vice President and I continue to pursue for all Americans – justice, equality and opportunity.”
Well, it seems something has changed.
Giglio released a statement Thursday withdrawing from participation in the event, a decision the New York Times reports was initiated from the Obama Administration. The article quotes officials who said the White House viewed the selection as a problem for the President and reportedly told the panel on Wednesday night to quickly fix it. By Thursday morning, Giglio had withdrawn.
A spokesperson for the President’s inaugural celebration said the committee was not aware of past comments Giglio had made, some as far back as the mid-1990s. Giglio was chosen, the spokesman said, “in large part for his leadership in combating human trafficking around the world.” The committee now plans to find a replacement for Giglio, who “we will ensure their beliefs reflect this administration’s vision of inclusion and acceptance for all Americans.”
Here’s why this matters. The statements Giglio made that have caused the uproar in the president’s camp is essentially a near-direct quotation from the Bible. Not the sort of hyperbolic heresy that the radical wingnuts who protest soldiers’ funerals are well-known for, just basic and fundamental Christian doctrine that has been the mainstream for the last 2,000-odd years.
Unrepentant homosexuals, Giglio said (as with unrepentant sinners of all kinds) “will not inherit the kingdom of God.” That’s I Corinthians 6:9-10 for those of you keeping score at home.
Giglio said, “It’s not easy to change, but it is possible to change.” The Bible says God “commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30), the same gospel, Giglio says, “that I say to you and that you would say to me.”
The Christian faith in every expression has held for 2,000 years that sexual immorality is sinful. This same Christian faith has maintained, again in every branch, that sexual expression outside of conjugal marriage is sin. And the Christian faith has maintained universally that all persons are sinners and that no sinner can enter the kingdom without repentance. This is hardly new.
The “shock” with which this so-called “anti-gay” stance is articulated by the Left is akin to the Pork Producers Association denouncing a Muslim Imam’s invitation because he is “anti-agriculture” due to Koranic dietary restrictions. In fact, by the standards of this controversy, no Muslim imam or Orthodox Jewish rabbi alive can pray at a presidential inauguration.
By implication, the Presidential Inaugural Committee and the White House have now declared historic, biblical Christianity to be “out of bounds,” casting it off the inaugural program as an embarrassing oversight to be hastily amended.
With this new precedent, any preacher who holds to the fundamental faith of The Church (across the denominations) for the last 2,000 years is now persona non grata.
By this standard, no Roman Catholic prelate or priest can participate in the ceremony. No Evangelical who holds to biblical orthodoxy is welcome. The vast majority of Christians around the world have been disinvited. Mormons, and the rabbis of Orthodox Judaism are out. Any Muslim imam who could walk freely in Cairo would be denied a place on the inaugural program. Billy Graham, who participated in at least 10 presidential inaugurations is welcome no more. Rick Warren, who incited a similar controversy when he prayed at President Obama’s first inauguration, is way out of bounds.
The philosopher Voltaire once wrote, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” That, my friends, is tolerance. Not necessarily a shared accord of agreement, but mutual respect during a disagreement. Refusing to silence differing viewpoints, but allowing them in an ongoing dialogue.
Of course, I’ve seen vague overtures to this during this administration, but this is a shot across the bow that I cannot abide.
In the span of just four years, and under the banner of “tolerance,” the rules are now fully changed.