After comments surfaced that he supported "ex-gay" therapy, Pastor Louie Giglio has withdrawn from performing the benediction at President Obama's inauguration on January 21 in the form of a bizarre, accusatory statement that suggests the administration might need better vetters. On Wednesday ThinkProgress uncovered past sermons in which Giglio appeared to endorse conversion therapy and biblical passages that could be interpreted as supporting the execution of gay people. On Thursday he backed away from the entire inauguration with a very strange statement, which certainly includes no apology. It starts off strange, and not just because he got the year wrong:
January 10, 2014 [sic]
I am honored to be invited by the President to give the benediction at the upcoming inaugural on January 21. Though the President and I do not agree on every issue, we have fashioned a friendship around common goals and ideals, most notably, ending slavery in all its forms.
A friendship formed through the abolishment of slavery? You can't stick the word "slavery" in there with the U.S.'s first black president and not clarify. But Giglio goes on:
Due to a message of mine that has surfaced from 15-20 years ago, it is likely that my participation, and the prayer I would offer, will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda the focal point of the inauguration. 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 inauguration may include a young gay poet, but the "agenda" and "dwarfed" parts are a bit bonkers, the Internet was quick to point out. And President Obama's inaugural was just as quick to clarify the weirdness: "Pastor Giglio was asked to deliver the benediction in large part for his leadership in combating human trafficking around the world," spokesperson Addie Whisenant said in a statement picked up by Talking Points Memo. The statement added: "We were not aware of Pastor Giglio’s past comments at the time of his selection and they don’t reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country at this Inaugural."
"Ex-gay" therapy, of course, is even more bonkers — and that's not anyone's opinion. In 2009 The American Psychological Association, the largest scientific and professional organization of psychologists in the country, issued a declaration that mental health professionals should not tell gay clients they can become straight through therapy or other treatments: "No solid evidence exists that such change is likely, says the resolution, adopted by a 125-to-4 vote. The association said some research suggested that efforts to produce change could be harmful, inducing depression and suicidal tendencies," reported the AP at the time.