I don’t want to dwell on the Louie Giglio thing, but tomorrow I am going to the mainland for a week with my friend Steve. It should be fun, but I’ll probably be MIA from this blog for about a week. I’ll have my phone with me so I’ll still be on Twitter, but I’ll be missing from all my other usual online haunts until such time as I’m back on Iona. I got some good feedback about yesterday’s post I wanted to share, so if it’s going to happen with any sense of timeliness it will have to be now.
One of the great challenges of blogging for the internet-at-large is you have to be as clear and specific in your language as possible so as not to be misunderstood, especially when you’re trying to describe complex thoughts on difficult issues involving real people. I like the challenge because it encourages me to become a better writer.
I feel like I did a pretty good job yesterday, but it wasn’t perfect by any means! I was both trying to talk about this situation in particular, but also bridge-building generally, and that’s difficult. Ben Gresham, who is the Vice President of Freedom2b, pointed out some things on Twitter I don’t think I made clear:
- Louie has now had the opportunity to talk about his position on homosexuality, but has declined to do so.
- “Ex-gay therapy” is damaging, dangerous and totally unacceptable.
- Considering the above points it was ultimately the right thing for Louie to withdraw.
What upset me initially was not particularly the fact that he withdrew. It looks to me like ThinkProgress (who broke the story) saw an evangelical who is otherwise engaged in positive, life-giving work and then did some digging and dredged up a 15 year-old sermon they could use to discredit him. This wasn’t regular background-check stuff, I mean the Whitehouse missed it — ThinkProgress were digging for dirt. According to the original post, they did ask for comment on Louie’s current views but, when it was not immediately received, they went ahead and published the story anyway. What if Louie’s views had changed but his staff didn’t feel able to speak for him on such a hot-button topic?
I hope I am making myself clear, as I said yesterday, I’m definitely not condoning what Louie said or trying to ignore it. I’m just sad that being evangelical has become such a cause for suspicion, and I’m even sadder that ThinkProgress’ suspicions were justified.
Having said that, it’s now more than a day later and Louie has not done himself any favours. Andrew Marin points out in his post on this series of events that there has been little response from Louie about this at all:
“I am friends with a few very well known mainstream media journalists who reached out to Giglio to get his side of the story about these accusations. They tell me he, nor his PR folks, ever responded. Silence is a problem.“
Indeed, Louie’s Twitter feed has been eerily silent about this whole mess. Louie’s statement on the Passion City blog is sparse. Although it does say he is “constantly seeking to understand where all people are coming from and how to best serve them” I haven’t seen any evidence of this since the withdrawal from the inauguration, and that is a shame.
Perhaps he is trying to stop making things worse by saying the wrong thing. I can get that, but I think he is missing the opportunity to genuinely seek understanding here and heal the wounds that have been caused by that original sermon. Maybe we will hear from him in the coming days or weeks once things have settled down a bit. I hope so, because now we have all expressed our hurt and confusion and the ball is definitely in Louie’s court.
My wild hope is this situation can become a way to open up the conversation rather than shut it down. As someone who is caught in the middle, I would like to see everyone come out of this better off, but maybe it’s too late for that. Anyway, I guess time will tell how we all move on from here.
EDIT: Other bloggers are beginning to post about this too. Here are some posts I particularly liked:
- Michael Kimpan on Red Letter Christians: “The Evangelical Reaction to Louie Giglio’s ‘Change of Plans’“
- Skye Jethani: “Farewell, Louie Giglio?“
- Andrew Marin (again!): “Why Gabe Lyons and Others are Wrong about the Louie Giglio Aftermath“
- Rachel Held Evans: “Four Myths about Louie Giglio’s Inauguration Prayer (or lack thereof)“