Evangelicals, prayer, and the inauguration
The Kansas City Star
The Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) invited Evangelical pastor Louie Giglio to give the benediction at President Obama’s second inauguration. As is par for the course in public life these days, people poked around in his past and found something they didn’t like, in this case a sermon Giglio preached on homosexuality 17 years ago. Since his statements in the sermon were in opposition to the PIC’s “vision of inclusion,” Giglio withdrew (voluntarily?) because he had been deemed unfit to pray in that public setting.
The response of the Evangelical community has been mixed. Some suggest that in his response Giglio missed an opportunity to speak words of grace to homosexuals and their supporters. I’m in that camp. Other Evangelicals argue that this action by the PIC demonstrates that Evangelicals have been shut out of the public forum.
Interestingly, strident voices objected when popular Evangelical writer Donald Miller accepted an invitation to pray at the 2008 Democratic National Convention (DNC). The critics of Miller’s praying deemed it inappropriate since they disagree with Obama’s positions on various issues. Evidently an Evangelical at the DNC was enough of a curiosity to prompt Christianity Today, the preeminent Evangelical magazine, to ask Miller why he accepted the invitation. Miller said, “Somebody calls you and asks you to pray, you do.”
I find it ironic that some in the Evangelical community complain about their perceived exclusion in 2013 when they had qualms about even being in that type of context in 2008. You can’t cry about not being in the game if you refuse to leave the dugout.
Both Evangelicals and their critics seem to have forgotten (or ignored) the transcendent nature of prayer. An invocation invokes God’s presence. A benediction speaks words of divine blessing: “The Lord bless you and keep you,” for example. Both types of prayer seek God’s intervention in human affairs. It is silly to stoop to petty politics when invited to reach toward the Eternal. Why slug it out when we could soar?