Rev. Louie Giglio, the pastor of Atlanta's Passion City Church who was selected to deliver the benediction at President Obama's inauguration and subsequently backed out after a recording surfaced of an anti-gay sermon he'd delivered in the mid-1990s, wants his message to reach young people, and he needs funding to get that message to large numbers of youth. That may be the reason that his sermons today are void of condemnation of LGBT people; he knows that that doesn't sell to youth. And it may also be the reason that he refused to publicly say that he no longer preaches condemnation toward gay people; stating that publicly could cost him funding from socially conservative donors.
Young people do not like the politics of religion. Much to their credit, they like their spiritual connections pure, without hidden agendas or hypocrisy. I'm sure that Rev. Louie Giglio knows this too, and he is probably feeling a little guilty for letting those young people down. They've seen the harm that anti-gay messages do to their gay friends and family members, and they embrace a new perspective: that faith and equality are one ideal. But Giglio refused to acknowledge that new perspective, and his young audience can spot his dishonest silence a mile away. But Giglio is far from the only member of the clergy who is less than forthcoming about where his heart and mind are on the issue. A 2007 study of clergy found that a remarkable 70 percent of those interviewed were "uncertain about some aspect of their opinions or actions regarding homosexuality."
After Giglio's past anti-gay messaging was exposed, the anti-gay religious industry was quick to sound the alarm: A Christian pastor had been forced out of the inauguration because he believed a certain interpretation of biblical teaching! But they didn't say it that way. They actually said that Giglio had been shunned because of his religious belief. Talk about dishonesty.
Take Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, whom many conservative Christians look to for guidance because of his supposed years of study devoted to homosexuality. Yet Mohler is pretty much clueless when it comes to the most important issue surrounding sexual orientation: the harm caused when certain religious teachings are used to justify stigma and hostility. Instead of engaging in worthwhile dialogue, Mohler instead said that the Giglio incident was an example of a new "moral McCarthyism" in which Bible-believing Christians are silenced by the gays. Mr. Mohler, that is just -- pardon my language -- pure horseshit, and you know it.
What actually is going on here is this: The White House and most of the general public deemed moral condemnation of LGBT people unfit for the public square. No one is suggesting that Giglio doesn't have the right to believe a particular interpretation of a certain set of scriptures, or to preach that particular interpretation as the only interpretation backed by God's understanding and wisdom. Rather, the Giglio incident is indeed an exciting example of what is unfolding in the minds of many people of faith, a new perspective premised on a self-defined truth: Any interpretation of scripture that causes innocent people harm is actually void of God's understanding and wisdom.
Giglio's interpretation of certain scriptures that allegedly reference homosexuality is one that indeed has caused immense harm to LGBT individuals, especially youth and families. That outdated and ill-intentioned perspective deserves no respect in the public square. Rev. Giglio most likely knows in his heart that it is time for a new perspective, one that his young audience has held for some time. Whether he'll be honest with them is really his imbroglio, not theirs, but such is the dilemma that many faith communities must face: Either embrace a new perspective on LGBT people or lose the respect of future generations.