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Conservative evangelicals are asking whether they are welcome in public square

Conservative evangelicals are asking whether they are welcome in public square

“Now that the Rev. Louie Giglio, the Atlanta pastor who was going to pray at President Barack Obama’s inauguration but came under fire for an anti-gay sermon he gave in the mid-1990s, has bowed out, some conservative Christians and evangelicals have began to ask: are they welcome in the public square?”

So begins a story by Jaweed Kaleem, the enterprising religion reporter at the Huffington Post, about the the latest controversy that has flared up at the intersection of faith and politics.

Kaleem quotes a column by Ed Stetzer of LifeWay Research who wrote:

Some are wondering if those who hold to traditional evangelical beliefs on homosexuality are no longer welcome in the public square…what does this mean for Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, Orthodox Jews, and so many more who believe that their authoritative religious texts teach something the prevailing culture finds so unacceptable that they are no longer welcome within the mainstream context, even if they are (as Louie Giglio is know for) working to eradicate slavery? To some, they are no longer welcome because of disagreement over a single, yet specific, point of their sincerely held religious beliefs.

There is a distinction to be made between whether anti-gay views are permitted (a commitment for free speech would seem to demand as much) and whether those who hold such views should be selected for positions of honor by political leaders who are not in sympathy with those views. But Stetzer’s question is still worth asking. To what extent should the views of those who believe that same-sex relationships are immoral be accommodated “within the mainstream context”?


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Benedict Varnum

Thanks, Gary — I’m happy to speak to the question I posed to you; I meant it to be mostly rhetorical, and an expansion of your own statement that you would have been satisfied with Pastor Giglio if he had “only confined himself to spiritual advice.” My point is that rather than offering spiritual advice (or ANY opinion) on homosexuality, he’s been spending his life working (so far as I understand) on fighting human trafficking, which seems something noble, whether he’s right on other issues or not.

I find the idea that the persons or groups that contribute time and money to an election are the ones that “deserve” to guide the choices that representative makes thereafter. This seems particularly troubling when considering the office of the president, which, like the supreme court, should serve all Americans, including those with a diversity of religious opinion — a difficult task, no doubt, but that difficulty shouldn’t be resolved merely by the rubrics of “who was/is on my team?”

Gary Paul Gilbert

Benedict, How about you answer your own question?

My objection to Giglio being honored is that he offers bad psychological advice. He has no competence in psychology.

The LGBT community contributed money and time to the President’s reelection and deserved a better choice.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Benedict Varnum

I beg your pardon, Vicki — what I meant by my comment about “aggression” was that it seemed that your sense that the original comments here were “aggressive” moved you to a point where you did not want to continue reading comments.

What I draw from that is the lesson that — while there are certainly things that need to be voiced with our fullest passion — it is often in the interests of constructive conversation to be guided by the greatest charity we find possible.

(This was not a response to you, directly)

I confess that I’m not clear on your other comments about guffawing, disagreement, or what you’re perceiving “the fundamental issue” to be.


FWIW, Vicki: I find your response not “predictable” but incomprehensible. If your goal was that I would have no idea whatsoever where you stand, you’ve succeeded.

JC Fisher

Leslie Scoopmire

Archbishop Temple’s Paddock lectures are also available here (I like this format):

Now, as to the matter at hand, it’s one thing to have given a sermon in the 1990s. But has he disavowed any type of homophobia today?

And Vicki, I want to gently suggest that we will have to disagree about what the Bible says about homosexuality.

I had a conversation a while back with a guy who was claiming that he lived according to Biblical rules on everything, including sexuality, and that while he was “sympathetic” with gays, they needed to be celibate or they were committing sin every day. He quoted Leviticus and Romans, of course.

He then mentioned he was divorced and remarried. I very, very gently stated that I thought it was very sad that he would have to put away his new wife, since Jesus himself admonished against divorce and stated that one who remarries commits adultery. Straight out of the mouth of Christ… So, under his own rules, he is committing adultery every day.

Oh, but that’s not realistic? Why yes, thanks, just the point I was making, and choices about marriage are just that– choices– while being gay is NOT. Or could it be that once again, this literalist about the supposed verses on homosexuality was picking and choosing.

Or maybe, better yet, we could try to understand the CONTEXTS in which Biblical pronouncement were made. It’s really easy to condemn people according to isolated, contextually-stripped verses that we think do not apply to us.

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