The pastor chosen to deliver the benediction at President Barack Obama‘s inauguration has withdrawn from the ceremony after a recording surfaced Wednesday of a vehemently anti-gay sermon he delivered in the mid-1990’s.
The Rev. Louie Giglio of Passion City Church in Atlanta said in a statement he withdrew because it was likely that the “prayer I would offer will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda the focal point of the inauguration.”
Giglio — whose selection was announced Tuesday by the Presidential Inauguration Committee — came under fire Wednesday after Think Progress published audio of an anti-gay sermon in which Giglio advocated for “ex-gay” therapy, and made references to biblical passages often interpreted as advocating for the execution of gays.
“The 54-minute sermon, entitled ‘In Search of a Standard – Christian Response to Homosexuality,’ advocates for dangerous ‘ex-gay’ therapy for gay and lesbian people, references a biblical passage often interpreted to require gay people be executed, and impels Christians to ‘firmly respond to the aggressive agenda’ and prevent the ‘homosexual lifestyle’ from becoming accepted in society,” reported Think Progress.
Addie Whisenant, a spokeswoman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, said the committee had chosen Giglio because of his work to end human trafficking.
“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,” Whisenant said in a statement.
The committee said it was considering others to deliver the benediction at the Jan. 21 event.