So the second Inaugural benediction for Obama turns out to be another clusterfuck. First, they had the fatuous Rick Warren, whose campaign against marriage equality was deemed irrelevant to the cause of uniting the country. Now we have Louie Giglio, a preacher who has done sterling work in preventing human trafficking – an extraordinarily important and admirable thing – but who, like most evangelicals, still believes that gay relationships, let alone marriages, are anathema.
The sermon in question, which I listened to, is not full of hatred. It has all the caveats about not hating gay people, not promoting intolerance. But it is quite clear that Giglio has never stopped believing that what he calls "the gay lifestyle" is a terrible crime against God. He also calls it one of the most important issues of the time. He proposes the horrifying abuse of "ex-gay therapy." He cites Leviticus, which mandates the death penalty for gays, and says it is the lynchpin of the teaching against homosexuality. In fact, he doesn't just cite Leviticus; he goes on for ever about it. He describes gay people as living a "lie," a term my born-again uncle accused me of doing when he found out I was gay. He calls us engaged in "depraved, lustful behavior" and being haters of God. He calls for his congregation to "firmly respond to the aggressive agenda" of gay equality.
Now, people evolve. And we should be happy to welcome those who have evolved and no longer find homosexual relationships sinful or poisonous. But Giglio shows no sign of having changed. His defense is that "clearly, speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities in the past fifteen years." But in that sermon, he described it as possibly the most important moral battle of the time. And get a load of this: "Those who practice such things are worthy of death." And this:
Homosexuality is not an alternate lifestyle. Homosexuality is not just a sexual preference. Homosexuality is not gay. But homosexuality is sin.
He does not seem to me to be a hateful person. He makes a distinction between homosexual behavior and homosexuals. Read his statement if you doubt me. Or listen to his full sermon here. He takes pains not to demonize gay individuals in fire and brimstone terms. But he is adamant that gay relationships are an attack on God. That's his religious prerogative. But what clueless administration official did not do due diligence on this figure? After the Rick Warren mess, could no one in the White House do the same research as Think Progress? The sermon is sitting online, for Pete's sake. I'm tempted to paraphrase Lady Bracknell's line in Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest":
To bollix up one Inaugural Benediction, President Obama, may be regarded as a misfortune. To bollix up both looks like carelessness.
There's only way forward on this and that is to choose as his replacement a minister who endorses gay unions and full gay inclusion in the Christian community. Why would Obama object to that? He has "evolved" now, hasn't he?