Addie Whisenant of the Presidential Inaugural Committee stated “Pastor [Louie] Giglio was asked to deliver the benediction in large part because of his leadership in combating human trafficking around the world.” Human sex trafficking is the most common form of modern day slavery and is the second largest organized crime in the world.
Did you know the average cost of a slave around the world is $90? Dosomething.org reports some very disturbing facts about a modern day slave trade many people have never heard of. “Trafficking primarily involves exploitation which comes in many forms, including forcing victims into prostitution, subjecting victims to slavery or involuntary servitude, compelling victims to commit sex acts for the purpose of creating pornography, and misleading victims into debt bondage. It is estimated that there are approximately 27 million slaves around the world. 68% of female sex trafficking victims meet the clinical criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder. Around half of trafficking victims in the world are under the age of 18. Trafficking victims normally don’t get help because they think that they or their families will be hurt by their traffickers, or that they will be deported.”
It is not surprising that the first African-American president of the United States would look for opportunities to lift up those who oppose slavery in whatever form it is found. Perhaps the President sought to strengthen his connection with the eighteen to twenty-five year old demographic he courted so well during both of his presidential campaigns.
The likelihood, however indirect, that the President disinvited Pastor Giglio because of a sermon he preached twenty years ago is compelling. The sermon, “In Search of a Standard – Christian Response to Homosexuality,” tells a listener that being gay is a sinful choice and that gay people will be prevented from “entering the Kingdom of God.” Mr. Whisenant said, the Presidential Inaugural Committee was “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.” Chad Griffin, president of the largest LGBT equality-rights advocacy group and political lobbying organization in the United States, said, “”Participants in the Inaugural festivities should unite rather than divide.”
Reading Pastor Giglio’s statement withdrawing from the inauguration calls into question who is really seeking to divide. In it he says, “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.
Neither I, nor our team, feel it best serves the core message and goals we are seeking to accomplish to be in a fight on an issue not of our choosing, thus I respectfully withdraw my acceptance of the President’s invitation. I will continue to pray regularly for the President, and urge the nation to do so. I will most certainly pray for him on Inauguration Day.
Our nation is deeply divided and hurting, and more than ever need God’s grace and mercy in our time of need.”
The discussion is ongoing whether participation in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community is about civil liberty or morals. Genuine tolerance does not require a person who holds a different opinion to agree or be vanquished. Sometimes it should be enough to respect persons with differing opinions and applaud the work they do for others that all agree is honorable.