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The burning question over the Presidential Inaugural Benediction

Today’s bus reading included an interesting piece on the GLAAD blog about who should deliver the benediction at the Presidential Inauguration Jan. 21. Apparently the pastor first invited by the White House has backed out after an anti-gay sermon he delivered 15 years ago surfaced.

It would be awkward, to say the least, for Obama to have someone who is against gay rights give the benediction after the President has so very recently come out in support of these rights. But what is even more odd is that GLAAD apparently can accept that the President can change his mind on gay rights but rejects that a preacher can. And that’s what stood out for me reading the story.

The sermon given in mid-90s called being gay a “malfunction”, referred to the “gay agenda” and revealed that the Rev. Louie Giglio believed in “ex-gay” therapy, according to the GLAAD blog. The group that dug up the sermon couldn’t find anything recent that confirmed that Giglio still preached these things.

I don’t know if Giglio still believes those things – but apparently he doesn’t preach them anymore. Indeed, in the past 15 years Giglio hasn’t been working against the LGBT community; instead, he’s been doing what got him invited to the White House in the first place – mobilizing college students to oppose slavery and sex trafficking.

The GLAAD blog was written by the director of religion, faith and values for GLAAD and it seems that such a person would be on board with the fact that faith can – and does – change people. Has it changed Giglio? I can’t say (and neither, apparently, can ThinkProgress, the group that found the original sermon). But I can say that actions usually speak louder than words, so it seems that perhaps Giglio’s beliefs around LGBT issues have changed.

Do people in the LGBT community ever grow and change their minds? I bet they do – because all humans grow and change. But are they willing to allow that others might grow and change over the course of 15 years?

Apparently not in Giglio’s case. It is moot, since Giglio withdrew his acceptance of the White House’s invitation and the WH demonstrated its absolute hypocrisy by saying through a spokesperson that past comments essentially = present belief. Except in the case of the president because we all know how he had to “evolve” in his thinking around gay marriage and had previously said he supported only traditional marriage

As believers, we either take conversion for what it is – change of belief demonstrated primarily by action – or we don’t. Giglio believed a certain way 15 years ago and it was evident by his action of preaching against the gay community. If that were still his belief and priority, one would think there would be evidence. Instead, he’s shifted his focus and priorities to ending human trafficking. Could he have had a change of heart around issues of concern to the gay community? Could he have “evolved” much like the President? Maybe someone from ThinkProgress of the GLAAD blog should ask him.

If GLAAD and other voices of the LGBT community can accept Obama’s change where gay rights are concerned, they ought to believe that others can too. Otherwise, maybe they’ve got a little evolving to do themselves. While they’re working on that, they’ve offered up a slate of really fine possible candidates for the Inaugural benediction, including Catholic favorite Jesuit Father James Martin, he of many interesting and humorous books and a regular on the Colbert Report.

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