Reverend out of Obama inaugural ceremony due to anti-gay prayer
One day after the Presidential Inaugural Committee announced the names of the participants in the inaugural ceremony, one of them withdrew over criticism of comments he made more than a decade ago about gays.
The Reverend Louie Giglio, founder of a Christian ministry in Atlanta, Georgia, withdrew from the programme, reports said. He was to deliver the closing prayer, according to a programme released Wednesday by the committee.
Giglio is the founder of a ministry that brings college students together in prayer and worship. In a sermon that came to light after he was chosen for the inaugural programme, Giglio called on fellow Christians to fight the "aggressive agenda" of the gay-rights movement, according to the Huffington Post.
Giglio's sermon, reportedly from the mid-1990s, advocated "the healing power of Jesus" as the only way out of a homosexual lifestyle. Some gay-rights advocates interpreted this as an endorsement of the belief that people can be converted into heterosexuality or cured of homosexuality.
"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," said Addie Whisenant, spokeswoman for the committee.
The committee said Obama helped choose the speakers and entertainers who will participate in the programme.
Had Giglio stayed in the lineup, he would have appeared with Cuban-American gay poet Richard Blanco, who has been selected as the 2013 inaugural poet at the US president's public swearing-in ceremony on January 21.
The January 21 ceremony will follow by one day Obama's legal oath of office on January 20, the constitutionally required inauguration day. Because January 20 is a Sunday, only a few people will attend the low-key ceremony, and the swearing-in will be re-enacted at noon the next day on the steps of the Capitol.