Jeff Walton is Communications Manager for the Institute on Religion & Democracy and directs the Anglican program. He graduated in 2001 from Seattle Pacific University and is a member of Restoration Anglican Church in Arlington, VA.
Following the announcement and subsequent withdrawal of Evangelical pastor and Anti-Trafficking crusader Louie Giglio to offer a closing prayer at the Presidential Inauguration, several liberal groups have helpfully offered their own suggestions to replace Giglio. The lists, mostly featuring liberal clergy from rapidly declining Oldline denominations, seem to miss the point: according to Addie Whisenant, the Presidential Inauguration Committee spokesperson, “Pastor Giglio was asked to deliver the benediction in large part for his leadership in combating human trafficking around the world.”
Giglio was selected by the inaugural committee to close the ceremony not just because he was a clergyman (indeed, the services will be opened by a laywoman) but because he was responsible for a movement that had successfully inspired tens of thousands of young adults. Giglio’s most recent Passion conference drew 60,000 to the Georgia Dome, and reportedly over 170,000 watched online. Similarly, 2009’s Inaugural invocation by southern California Pastor Rick Warren was a nod to Warren’s leadership on combating HIV/AIDS in Africa.
The replacement names suggested – such as Washington National Cathedral Dean Gary R. Hall, or United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcaño – would probably struggle to round up 1,000 young adults in their own jurisdictions for an event, let alone the numbers Giglio represented. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation also posted their own list of 10 candidates, including Jay Bakker, son of former televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, and Rachel Held Evans, an author and blogger who refers to herself as an Evangelical, mostly for promotional reasons rather than theological.
These liberal groups seem to have little interest in locating a replacement that meets with the inaugural committee’s stated interest in combating human trafficking, or finding a young adult that represents a broad Evangelical movement doing good things. Because those criteria have gone out the window, IRD offers these replacements that would apparently meet with their new goal of unlimited affirmation:
1) Amy Delong: after her slap-on-the-wrist conviction for performing a same-sex wedding against her church’s discipline, the United Methodist clergywoman has been drawn to the spotlight like a moth to flame. Sure, she doesn’t even pastor a church, but DeLong would fully satisfy the LGBT crowd, and she could even wear a rainbow stole.
2) Bishop John Shelby Spong: long since retired from the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, which he effectively demolished by 40 percent during his tenure, the retired Episcopal Bishop will affirm anyone – except Christians holding orthodox “fundamentalist” beliefs. Since Spong now maintains that people can’t really know anything about God (who he now regards as a dispassionate distant force, rather than a knowable person) he can adjust his view of the deity to whatever cultural whims prevail at the moment.
3) Father Alberto Cutie: The Roman Catholic priest famously jettisoned his chastity vows on the beaches of Miami, only to be photographed by Mexican paparazzi. Cutie suddenly jumped to the Episcopal Church in a press conference before even renouncing his orders to his Roman Catholic Archbishop — he would be a great choice. Fully on-board with Episcopal Church mores, Cuban-born Cutie would also earn some diversity points – something none of our other inaugural clergy candidates could.
4) Bishop Gene Robinson: Well, why not? Robinson already offered a prayer that 2009 Inaugural planners quickly inserted before the Inaugural concert that year in a sort of mea culpa for selecting Rick Warren to give the Inaugural benediction. Plus, as Robinson regularly name-drops, the president and the now-retired homosexual bishop have already met to briefly converse about what it is like to be “the first” at something.
5) Anybody Wiccan: Louie Giglio got into trouble after a 1995 sermon basically quoted directly from the Bible. Since Christians, Jews and Muslims all draw from the Abrahamic tradition that declines to affirm homosexual practices, that rules them out entirely. Pagan groups, however, would be more than happy to wave a stick of driftwood over the Inaugural ceremony and announce the blessing of – well, nature, or something – over the first family.
6) Someone from the United Church of Christ: Just kidding. No one knows what the UCC even is anymore, and despite the President’s former membership in a UCC congregation, the only time “Barack Obama” and “UCC” have gone together in the same sentence, “Rev. Jeremiah Wright” has immediately followed.
What are your suggestions to replace Louie Giglio and satisfy the intolerant Left at the same time? The comments section awaits!
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