As part of their ongoing campaign to botch as many personnel decisions as possible, the Obama administration recently announced that the Reverend Louie Giglio, of Atlanta, would deliver the benediction at the forthcoming inaugural. They rescinded the invitation, however, when an anti-gay sermon preached by Giglio many years ago came to light. The administration should have thought to look for such things before inviting him, but at least they belatedly did the right thing.
Some of the mopier denizens of the religious right are less pleased, however. This article, over at HuffPo, rounds up some of the responses. The various blog posts they point to make for interesting reading.
For example. here is Ed Stetzer, of LifeWay Research:
Some are wondering if those who hold to traditional evangelical beliefs on homosexuality are no longer welcome in the public square. In a recent LifeWay Research study, 37% of American adults agreed that homosexuality is a sin. That number is declining (down from 44% according to a 2011 survey), but it is still a substantial minority. Yet, such views (which were mainstream just a few decades ago) are indeed now a minority position–and viewed as unacceptable by many in society find unacceptable.
So, what does this mean for Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, Orthodox Jews, and so many more who believe that their authoritative religious texts teach something the prevailing culture finds so unacceptable that they are no longer welcome within the mainstream context, even if they are (as Louie Giglio is known for) working to eradicate slavery? To some, they are no longer welcome because of disagreement over a single, yet specific, point of their sincerely held religious beliefs.
I am heartened that the percentage of people who think homosexuality is sinful is now so low, and is declining. As for Stetzer’s question, yes, those who allow their holy texts to dictate their morality on this question are no longer welcome in the public square, at least to the extent that they are publicly demonizing homosexuals.
This is nothing new, of course. There was a time when many adherents to conservative Christianity openly defended slavery and racism. It is trivial to find Biblical verses that allowed them to do that. It has been quite some time, however, since it has been socially acceptable for anyone to do that, and I don’t believe that Stetzer wants to return to those days. But now the zeitgeist is changing out from under him, and he is having trouble accepting that.
Stetzer shows he does not understand the magnitude of the harm done by the teaching that homosexuality is sinful. This is not some trivial point over which reasonable people can disagree. It is, rather, utterly indefensible on the merits and also responsible for enormous human suffering. So, yes, by holding such views you do cast a pall over whatever good works you do in other areas. You certainly forfeit your right to be given the most prestigious platform a preacher could ever hope to have, namely participating in a Presidential inaugural.
The HuffPo article also links to this essay, by Todd Starnes, over at the Fox News website. Starens writes:
The controversy has outraged Christian conservatives like Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Tex.
“It is the ultimate hypocrisy for the Obama administration to pretend it supports diversity and yet denounces anyone who dares to disagree with its radical homosexual agenda,” Jeffress told Fox News. “Rev Giglio’s comments about homosexuality from more than a decade ago were not hateful but represent the historical teachings of the world’s three major religions. Apparently the Obama administration’s definition of tolerance is only broad enough to include its own views.”
I just love the implication that, if a doctrine is an historical teaching of the world’s three major religions, it can not also be hateful.
It makes me very happy that these folks are feeling marginalized for their views on homosexuality. Considering the harm their hateful rhetoric has done over the years, not having a platform at the inaugural seems like a pretty small comeuppance. In a free country they are welcome to preach their hateful message to their dwindling flocks, but the rest of us are equally welcome to shun them for it.