UPDATE: Rev. Louie Giglio has withdrawn from the inauguration amid questions about an anti-gay sermon he gave in the mid-1990s. He gave this statement: "Clearly, speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities in the past fifteen years. Instead, my aim has been to call people to ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ."
The Rev. Louie Giglio, the Atlanta pastor of Passion City Church who will deliver the benediction at President Barack Obama's inauguration, is under fire for anti-gay preaching and for calling Christians to respond to the gay-rights movement's "aggressive agenda."
In a sermon, "In Search of a Standard – Christian Response to Homosexuality," posted on Discipleship Library, a Christian website that archives sermons, Giglio tells listeners that being gay is a sinful choice and that gay people will be prevented from "entering the Kingdom of God."
The "only way out of a homosexual lifestyle ... is through the healing power of Jesus," he says. "We’ve got to say to the homosexuals, the same thing that I say to you and that you would say to me … it’s not easy to change, but it is possible to change."
The sermon, which lasts just under an hour, echoes similar comments four years ago by Rick Warren, the California megachurch pastor who gave the invocation at Obama's first inauguration. Obama, who was widely supported by the gay community and gay-rights advocates, was strongly criticized for his choice.
It's unclear when the sermon was recorded, but the political blog Think Progress, which first reported on the sermon, cited it as being from the mid-1990s. It's also unclear what Giglio's current views on homosexuality are.
A phone call and an email to Giglio's spokeswoman were not returned on Wednesday. A request for comment from the Presidential Inaugural Committee also was not returned.
In his sermon, Giglio says that his words are "not intended to be a homophobic attack to those who are in a homosexual lifestyle that would maybe foster fear or intolerance in our lives."
Nonetheless, the sermon quickly spread via social media and blogs, such as Towleroad.
Giglio's words show how his interpretation of Christianity contrasts with Obama's. The president in May cited his Christian faith as one of the reasons he came to support same-sex marriage rights.
Aside from pastoring a church, Giglio, 54, is the founder of the Passion Conferences, a student-centered Christian movement that raises awareness about human trafficking. The most recent conference this month at the Georgia Dome gathered 60,000 Christian youth to worship, pray and strategize ways to combat modern-day slavery.
"During these days it is essential for our nation to stand together as one ... May we all look up to our God, from whom we can receive mercy, grace and truth to strengthen our lives, our families and our nation," Giglio said in a statement released Tuesday upon his selection to give the benediction. "I am honored to be invited by the President to lead our nation as we look up to God, and as we look ahead to a future that honors and reflects the One who has given us every good and perfect gift."
ZeBarney Thorne Phillips
At the inaugurations of Franklin D. Roosevelt on Jan. 20, 1937 and Jan. 20, 1941, the invocation was delivered by ZeBarney Thorne Phillips, an Episcopalian and the Chaplain of the United States Senate. Photo: Chaplain of the United States Senate ZeBarney Thorne Phillips delivering prayer to open the session, 1939.
Bishop Angus Dun
At the fourth inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, on Jan. 20, 1945, the invocation was delivered by Bishop Angus Dun, an Episcopalian and then Bishop of Washington. Photo: A crowd gathers outside the south portico of the White House to attend Franklin D. Roosevelt's 4th Inaugural speech January 20, 1945 in Washington D.C. (Photo by National Archive/Newsmakers)
Rev. Edward Hughes Pruden
On January 20, 1949, Rev. Edward Hughes Pruden, a Baptist of the First Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., delivered the invocation for the inauguration of Harry S. Truman. Photo: The inaugural stand in from the the Capitol before the inauguration of Harry S. Truman.
Patrick A. O’Boyle
On Jan. 20, 1953 at the inaugural of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the invocation was delivered by Patrick A. O’Boyle, the Catholic Archbishop of Washington. Photo: Dwight D. Eisenhower takes the Oath of Office as the President of the United States during his Inauguration January 20, 1953 in Washington D.C. Also pictured is former president Harry S. Truman, left, and Richard M. Nixon, right. (Photo by National Archive/Newsmakers)
Rev. Edward L. R. Elson
On Jan. 21, 1957, at the second inaugural of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the invocation was delivered by Rev. Edward L. R. Elson, a Presbyterian and then the Chaplain of the United States Senate. Photo: Reverend Edward L. R. Elson, former Chaplain of the United States Senate. He is shown wearing military ribbons reflecting U.S. Army chaplain service.
His Eminence Cardinal Richard Cushing
At the Jan. 20, 1961 inaugural of John F. Kennedy, the invocation was given by His Eminence Cardinal Richard Cushing, a Catholic. Photo: John F. Kennedy gives his inauguration address after being sworn in.
Archbishop Robert E. Lucey
At the Jan. 20, 1965 inaugural of Lyndon B. Johnson, Archbishop Robert E. Lucey, a Catholic, delivered the invocation. Photo: Archibishop Robert E. Lucey Co Rentmeester//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images).
Rev. Charles Ewbank Tucker
On Jan. 20, 1969, at the inaugural of Richard Nixon, the invocation was given by Rev. Charles Ewbank Tucker, bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. Photo: Richard Nixon being inaugurated.
Rev. E. V. Hill
At the Jan. 20, 1973 inaugural of Richard M. Nixon, the invocation was delivered by the Rev. E. V. Hill, pastor of the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Photo: Archbishop Iakovos greets Richard M. Nixon at his second inauguration. The Greek Orthodox leader gave a prayer at the ceremony.
Rev. William Cannon
Rev. William Cannon, a United Methodist, delivered the invocation at the Jan. 20, 1977 inaugural of Jimmy Carter. Photo: Jimmy Carter at his inauguration.
Rev. Donn Moomaw
At the Jan. 20, 1981 inaugural of Ronald Reagan, the invocation (and benediction) was delivered by Rev. Donn Moomaw, a Presbyterian and pastor of Bel Air Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles. Photo: Rev. Donn Moomaw gives the invocation at the 1981 inauguration of President Ronald Reagan. Also pictured are House Speaker Tip O'Neill, Vice President George H. W. Bush, President Reagan, Barbara Bush and Nancy Reagan.
Rev. Timothy S. Healy
On January 21, 1985, at the second inaugural of Ronald Reagan, the invocation was given by Rev. Timothy S. Healy, a Catholic and then-president of Georgetown University. Photo: Ronald Reagan's 1985 presidential inauguration.
On Jan. 20, 1989, at the inauguration of George H. W. Bush, the Rev. Billy Graham, a Southern Baptist leader, delivered the invocation. (Here is the <a href="http://www2.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/inaugural03.htm">full text</a>.) Photo: George H. W. Bush, with his wife, Barbara, and the Rev. Billy Graham at his inauguration.
On Jan. 20, 1993 and Jan. 20, 1997, at both of Bill Clinton's inaugurations, the Rev. Billy Graham, a Southern Baptist leader, delivered the invocation. (Here is the <a href="http://www2.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/inaugural04.htm">full text from 1993</a> and <a href="http://www2.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/inaugural08.htm">1997</a>.) Photo: US President Bill Clinton bows his head as Reverend Billy Graham gives the invocation at the beginning of the inaugural ceremony 20 January on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Clinton was sworn in for a second term as U.S. President. (LUKE FRAZZA/AFP/Getty Images)
Rev. Franklin Graham
At the Jan. 20, 2001 inaugural of George W. Bush, the invocation was given by Rev. Franklin Graham, a Southern Baptist. (Here is the <a href="http://www.angelfire.com/in/HisName/invocationbenediction.html">full text</a>.) Photo: George W. Bush delivers his inaugural address.
Rev. Luis León
At the Jan. 20, 2005 inauguration of George W. Bush, Rev. Luis León, an Episcopalian and rector of St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square (Washington, D.C.), delivered the invocation. (Here is the <a href="http://www.angelfire.com/in/HisName/inauguration2005.html#invocation">full text</a>.) Photo: With his left hand resting on a family Bible, President George W. Bush takes the oath of office.
Rev. Dr. Rick Warren
Rev. Dr. Rick Warren, a Baptist and pastor of the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., gave the invocation at the Jan. 20, 2009 inauguration of Barack Obama. (Here is the <a href="http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles_of_faith/2009/01/rick_warrens_in.html">full text</a>.) Photo: Barack Obama bows his head during the invocation by Rev. Rick Warren at his inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America on the West Front of the Capitol January 20, 2009 in Washington, DC. Obama becomes the first African-American to be elected to the office of President in the history of the United States. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)