Now that the Rev. Louie Giglio, the Atlanta pastor who was going to pray at President Barack Obama's inauguration but came under fire for an anti-gay sermon he gave in the mid-1990s, has bowed out, some conservative Christians and evangelicals have began to ask: are they welcome in the public square?
Over at Lifeway Research, Ed Stetzer pens a blog on the topic. "This Louie Giglio moment, and the Chick-Fil-A moment that preceded it, and the Rick Warren moment which preceded that, raise the question: Where do people of faith with long-standing traditional religious/scriptural convictions go from here?," he writes.
Some are wondering if those who hold to traditional evangelical beliefs on homosexuality are no longer welcome in the public square...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 know 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.
Stetzer is talking about the reason Presidential Inaugural Committee says it -- and Obama -- initially picked Giglio, which was because of his work fighting human trafficking. Until this week, Giglio was best known for his series Passion Conferences that focus on gathering Christian students to combat modern-day slavery. The most recent conference at the Georgie Dome gathered 60,000 people.
This can be an important moment as America, the media, and President Obama's administration to consider a simple question. Are people of faith no longer welcome as they continue to hold the beliefs they have held since their foundation? Must they jettison their sacred texts and adopt new views to be accepted as part of society? If they do not, will they be marginalized and demonized even as they serve the poor, care for the orphan, or speak against injustice?
In a statement, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council asks similar questions:
This is another example of intolerance from the Obama administration toward those who hold to biblical views on sexuality. Why is the president surprised that an evangelical pastor would teach from Scripture on homosexuality? One would be hard pressed to find an Evangelical pastor who hasn't preached on what the Bible teaches about human sexuality.
Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, and Orthodox churches all actively proclaim that sexual intimacy within the marriage of one man and one woman is the only biblically-sanctioned human sexual behavior. Are the scores of millions of Americans who affirm these teachings no longer welcome at the inauguration of our president?
So does Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. The "administration's inclusivity only goes so far. It's not inclusive of those who disagree with them," he says.
On his church blog, Giglio writes that "the issue of homosexuality (which a particular message of mine some 20 years ago addressed) is one of the most difficult our nation will navigate. However, individuals’ rights of freedom, and the collective right to hold differing views on any subject is a critical balance we, as a people, must recover and preserve."
The inaugural committee says that Giglio's comments on gay people "don't reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country at this Inaugural" and is seeking someone else to deliver the benediction. Who should it choose?
HuffPost Religion asked readers on Facebook and Twitter. Some of the responses included Sr. Simone Campbell (Nuns on the Bus), Rev. Jim Wallis (Sojourners), Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori (Episcopal Church) and various atheist and secular speakers. Think Progress suggests Rev. Otis Moss III (Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ -- Obama's former church), among others, while Salon suggests Bishop Minerva Carcaño (United Methodist Church) and several others.
What do you think?