Some high-profile Christians are alleging leftist bigotry is to blame for prominent evangelical pastor Louie Giglio being forced to back out from delivering the benediction at President Obama's upcoming inauguration.
The Presidential Inauguration Committee announced Giglio as part of the ceremony on Tuesday. Within hours, several sites advocating for same-sex "marriage" had uncovered a sermon Giglio delivered in the 1990s on the topic of homosexuality.
"If you look at the counsel of the word of God, Old Testament, New Testament, you come quickly to the the conclusion that homosexuality is not an alternate lifestyle. ... It is sin in the eyes of God, and it is sin according to the word of God," Giglio said in that sermon. "Our message is we know Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ is powerful enough to do anything and everything. And the only way out of a homosexual lifestyle ... is through the healing power of Jesus."
Most evangelical Christians are wondering what the uproar is all about.
"Louie Giglio was simply reflecting what the scriptures have taught for 2,000 years, what Christianity has believed and taught for 2,000 years," said Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis at the American Family Association and host of "Focal Point" on American Family Radio. "The viewpoint he expressed in his sermon is the viewpoint that was universally held in the United States from our founding, from Jamestown 1607 all the way up to the mid-1970s there was virtually unanimous consensus about the understanding of homosexual behavior."
"It's troublesome to me that he would be accused of being anti-gay," Fischer said. "If you listen to that sermon, he is for the homosexual. Here is a lifestyle that is self-destructive, and he's offering them hope, he's offering a way out and he's offering the possibility of change. That is not a message that is anti-gay. It is actually a message that offers hope and redemption to the homosexual. It's obviously just bigotry that he was bounced from the platform."
There have been inaugural prayer controversies before. After the 2001 inauguration of George W. Bush, both Rev. Franklin Graham and Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell were accused of not being inclusive because they prayed in the name of Jesus. However, Fischer believes the liberal outcry against Giglio takes the intolerance of the political left to another level.
"I think it does represent a watershed moment," he said. "This represents a significant shift in the Obama administration that Rick Warren was allowed to be a part of the inauguration in 2008 despite the fact that he was a supporter of natural marriage. Now someone who holds a virtually identical position to the one Rick Warren held has been banished from the program."
Fischer said the persistent scorn directed at anyone defending traditional marriage is reminiscent of another controversial chapter in American history, and he said a recent quote from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler sums up the attempt to marginalize Bible-believing Christians.
"We've got a new form of McCarthyism here," he said. "Do you now or have you ever believed that homosexuality is a sin?"
Rather than defend its selection of Giglio, the Presidential Inaugural Committee indicated concern over Giglio's words from the 1990s.
"They don't reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country at this Inaugural" said committee spokeswoman Addie Whisenant in a statement Thursday. "Pastor Giglio was asked to deliver the benediction in large part for his leadership in combating human trafficking around the world. As we now work to select someone to deliver the benediction, we will ensure their beliefs reflect this administration's vision of inclusion and acceptance for all Americans."
Fischer finds that statement laughable. He said while preaching tolerance, leftists are clearly intolerant toward someone who holds different beliefs.
"The inaugural committee does not believe in diversity at all," said Fischer. "If they believe in diversity, they would celebrate the presence of Louie Giglio on the platform. Here is the wonder of the American experiment, that we have room for a wide range of views on controversial topics."
Instead, he said a very different message is being sent.
"They don't believe in diversity at all. They believe in a 'monoversity.' 'If you don't think like we do, believe like we do, speak like we do you are going to be ostracized, marginalized and silenced," said Fischer.
And much like the Chick-fil-A flap last year, Fischer said Christians are fed up with the lectures from the left:
"More and more Christians and social conservatives are going to say, 'Look, I'm tired of us getting pushed around here. The values that we believe in this area are values that were shared by the Founding Fathers. They're the same set of moral values that built the United States into the greatest, strongest and most prosperous nation in the world.
"I'm tired of backing down on this issue. I'm tired of apologizing for this. I'm tired of Christian leaders who apologize for this. It's time for us to show some strength and some moxy. We're going to start to see some pushback against these bullying tactics from the left."