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It just goes to show, both the Republican Party (at least its vestigial secular-leaning segment) and the Democratic Party alike can have problems vetting pastors and politicians associated with more exotic segments of the religious right.

In 2008, John McCain suffered through the John Hagee "God sent Hitler" fiasco, then picked as a running mate Sarah Palin, she who was friend to two professed witch-hunters, apostles in the New Apostolic Reformation.  

Then, in 2009, Barack Obama picked, to give the opening prayer at his presidential inauguration, megachurch pastor Rick Warren. Things got rough for Warren quite rapidly, especially after an acerbic take-down of Warren's "man in Uganda", Martin Ssempa, by journalist Max Blumenthal. By early 2010 pastor Warren was reduced to making a public statement, that Warren distributed worldwide, in which the Purpose-Driven pastor declared he was not "conspiring" with (NAR guru) C. Peter Wagner to "rid the world of homosexuals" and protested,

"the event chronicled at Angels Stadium in 2005 has been grossly misrepresented. I was simply arguing that Christians could have a tremendous effect for good in the world if they had the same dedication as the followers of Mao. I would never argue that anyone should emulate or espouse the views of Mao, Hitler or Lenin."
And I can assure you, I am really not trying to raise up a dread army of flesh eating zombies, either. Wait... what ?

Moving along, yesterday the Obama Administration wisely decided to cut its losses quickly and bump conservative evangelical megachurch pastor Louie Giglio from Obama's 2013 presidential inauguration schedule, during which Giglio was slated to give the benediction.

No longer. On January 9th, Thinkprogress revealed some rather antigay statements Giglio had made in a 1990s sermon. Less than twenty four hours later, Giglio was flying out the back door, into the proverbial alley.

Good thing too.

Giglio's antigay associations weren't just in the past. As I outline in a new story, which I was in the middle of writing while the news on Giglio's ouster from the inauguration schedule rolled in, pastor Giglio has ties to "a key church that supports an eliminationist bill, looming before Uganda's parliament since 2009, that would virtually legislate Uganda's gay community out of existence."

Yes, its the "kill the gays" bill again. Bad thing to bring up at an inauguration, so I'm very glad we've passed that looming disaster. How did it happen in the first place? Frederick Clarskon and Sarah Posner venture a few thoughts.

Opines Clarkson,

" To have made such a spectacularly avoidable error demonstrates the narrowness of some people's thinking and is a dramatic example of the unintended consequences of the political commodification of faith that so informed elements of the Democratic Party for a number of years.

...it not really a matter of prayers and no prayers.  What really matters is how we respect religious differences and embrace pluralism for people who are religious and non-religious; Christians and non-Christians -- as a lasting value of constitutional democracy.

[...]

 No matter who the people offering the prayers may be, the opening prayer is formally called an "invocation" and the closing prayer is a "benediction."  The use of the terms implies that the entire event is kinda like a Christian church service.  

So once again, we have crass political operatives hijacking the trappings and structure of sacred ceremonies to graft elements of majoritarian religion onto a ceremonial high point of constitutional democracy.  Such opportunism not only exploits and demeans religious traditions, but fails to properly exalt the values of constitutional democracy itself.  Its the political and religious equivalent of the kinds of junk food that do not even taste good.

In this case, the Obama inaugural committee's effort to pander to conservative evangelicals blew up in their faces -- and I believe for the above-mentioned reasons -- which are a feature of the ongoing problem of creeping Religious Rightism in the Democratic Party."

And Posner,
"I'm not excusing it, I'm just saying this seems sort of inevitable if Obama is going to pick a conservative evangelical. The question is why he does.

Whether this will cause the same uproar that Obama's selection of Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his first inauguration remains to be seen, but already one can sense some the outcry brewing. But unlike with Warren, whose anti-gay comments were recent and pertained to the still-fresh Proposition 8 fight in his home state of California, Giglio's comments were unearthed from an archive of old sermons, and there hasn't been any evidence, so far, of anything more recent."

Well, my case against Giglio doesn't concern his statements but, rather, his studied indifference.

As I describe in my story, just as a prominent leader at Uganda's Watoto Church (Stephen Langa) was playing a starring role (along with David Bahati, Martin Ssempa, Julius Oyet and other notables) in launching and raising popular support for the "kill the gays" bill that has loomed before Uganda's parliament since 2009, Louie Giglio was promoting the Watoto Church as a model for compassionate church philanthropy.

And so it goes.

   

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