President Obama’s second inauguration is right around the corner–January 21st, to be exact. You’ll recall that at Obama’s first inauguration there was a minor stink over his selection of bestselling bloviating homophobe Rick Warren to deliver the invocation. Presumably Warren’s presence was a fig leaf to religious conservatives, but we all know how that turned out: liberals were dismayed and conservatives were unmoved (having decided beforehand that Obama should never get credit for anything).
And so, you would think Obama had learned his lesson, and that this time he’d pick a somebody safer to deliver the invocation. You would be wrong.
Louie Giglio (Who? Yeah, me neither…) is the pastor of Atlanta’s Passion City Church. Watch five minutes of any Giglio video on YouTube and tell me he doesn’t come across as a shyster and a con man. He’s yet another “hip” megachurch founder who wears denims, untucked shirts and moussed hair while delivering Osteen-esque inspirational “sermons” set to an uplifting soundtrack.
Giglio has supposedly been involved in fighting global human trafficking, which is certainly a laudable goal, and reportedly why he got invited in the first place. But what got Giglio uninvited was a sermon from the 90s in which he cast the gay rights movement as “not benevolent” and “would run the risk of absolutely undermining the whole order of our society.” While it may not be entirely fair to blackball somebody over something he said 15 or 20 years ago, Giglio hasn’t issued a retraction. So, mere days after he was announced as the official 2nd inaugural invoker he has now become a Trivial Pursuit answer.
Why is it that Obama, a man who by all accounts is thought and well-read (dare I say intellectual?) loves to associate with vapid bullshit artists like Warren, Giglio and T.D. Jakes?
And while I think the idea of an inaugural invocation has always been a bad idea–annoying at least, unconstitutional at worst, and divisive at best–IF there’s going to be one, Obama ought to make it count. Â Might I suggest three possible candidates (and I’m sticking to established clergy here):
Bishop John Shelby Spong–This retired Episcopal minister has for decades been a leading voice in liberalizing Christianity, seeking to move it beyond the stagnation of Biblical literacy and to focus more on the aspects of “God” as a personal force for love and toleration. And with books like Jesus for the Non-Religious and Why Christianity Must Change or Die, what’s not to like?
Bishop V. Gene Robinson–I know, another retired Episcopal bishop, but this guy has been at the very center of the fight to get the church to accept homosexuals as normal, loving, spiritual people. Heck, he himself is gay, so you can’t say he isn’t walking the walk. Robinson did deliver a pre-inaugural invocation in 2008 at the Lincoln Memorial, so picking him for the main event wouldn’t be such a stretch. Plus he was born in Kentucky so it’s hard to go wrong there.
R. Kirby Godsey–How many Baptists do you know who’ve been labelled heretics? Godsey is the former president of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia (my graduate alma mater), and during his tenure Mercer broke off with the conservative Georgia Baptist Convention and now affiliates with the liberal Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. His recent book Is God a Christian? continued his call to his fellow Christians to abandon fundamentalism, exclusivism and absolutism.
Or if any of these guys isn’t acceptable, I’m available, Mister President.