The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

January 19, 2013

Obama reduces Pastor Giglio to second-class citizen

The Back Porch column

By Nerissa Young
Columnist

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Folks who tune in to Monday’s second inauguration for President Obama will hear the prayer that never was.

Atlanta evangelical pastor Louie Giglio withdrew from Obama’s invitation to give the benediction for the inaugural ceremony after gay rights groups protested his inclusion following an anti-gay sermon Giglio preached 15 years ago.

Obama invited Giglio to offer the prayer because of the latter’s work in creating awareness to end human trafficking, The Washington Post reported.

Giglio turned down the president’s invitation but did not retreat from the views he reportedly expressed that homosexuality is immoral and that legalizing gay marriage would undermine American society.

Inaugural committee spokeswoman Addie Whisenant released a statement published by The Post that the committee would “ensure their beliefs reflect this administration’s vision of inclusion and acceptance for all Americans.”

Acceptance for all unless they disagree with homosexuality. This sounds like a litmus test for any person who wants to engage in American public discourse. Aren’t “progressive” liberals against such litmus tests?

It’s an uncomfortable job to call the bigot bashers bigots themselves, but that is precisely what is happening here. Because of Giglio’s opinion on one issue, his work to eliminate human trafficking and anything else he’s ever done to help humankind suddenly has no worth. As he now has no worth, he certainly could not participate in something such as a presidential inauguration.

That narrow worldview is exactly what gay rights advocates have been claiming as their cross to bear and reason to need freedom and acceptance — because they differ from a lot of people on one thing — the right to love someone of the same gender.

If they want those who disagree to look aside at that one issue and treat them as human beings who have value, then they ought to be prepared to do the same to others.

History suggests that the moment a minority’s view becomes the majority, it seeks to oppress the former majority — simply because it can.

People can believe different things and still be friends. People can believe different things and still work together to accomplish something good. The ones who have been calling for that since the Stonewall riots are now leading the charge to draw lines and subdivide America.

Such attitudes relegate social and political discourse in this country to a schoolyard bully fight. One is either “fer” or “agin” and there’s no middle ground, no gray area, no circle of civility.

Christians who screamed the loudest against homosexuality and could do so because they were in the majority are now in the minority. The Post reports the percentage of all Americans who support same-sex marriage is 53. Americans who say homosexual relationships are morally acceptable is 54 percent.

One worrisome aspect of this discussion is the pendulum swinging dramatically to the other side in which Christians who espouse what they believe is the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality being targeted for persecution because they are practicing their religious freedom.

This is plainly a free speech, freedom of religion issue. The Constitution has a few things to say about that.

The ability to disagree but still respect one another in the morning is what made this country great. The ability to see value in someone who is different is what made this country great.

Obama has no qualms about subverting the legislative process to issue 23 executive orders limiting gun ownership, but he uttered nary a peep about tolerance for those in the minority in this case. He missed an opportunity to remind all Americans about the value of all Americans and why differences can still be celebrated.

No doubt that will be a central theme in his inauguration, but at this point, it’s just cheap rhetoric. He should contemplate that when he puts his hand on two Bibles and promises to uphold and defend the Constitution.

Obama was first elected under the slogan, “Yes, we can.” Heading into his second term, it’s apparent that no, we can’t.

— Young is a Register-Herald columnist. E-mail: ynerissa@frontier.com

© 2013 by Nerissa Young