Friday, January 18, 2013

A Reader Writes: "I Am Sympathetic to the . . . Choice of Giglio Based on His Work on Human Trafficking"

In response to my posting about the Louis Giglio controversy (and Bill Donohue's comments re: it), Wild Hair makes a valuable observation:

I am sympathetic to the inaugural committee's choice of Giglio based on his work on human trafficking as well as being a friend of the president. He’s also a Christian. Think of the reaction if he was Muslim. 
I do not doubt President Obama's commitment to GLBT rights. It seems that the president, through his inaugural committee, is highlighting another human abuse that should be addressed. So I trust his choice.

These are good points, and they're ones I  consider carefully, since I value Wild Hair's judgment. But here are my concerns, which ultimately make me come down on the side of those who are happy about the removal of Giglio from the inauguration program:

1. First, and to my mind most important of all, the struggle against human trafficking is a human rights struggle. And the struggle for LGBT rights is also a human rights struggle. As I've repeatedly argued on this blog, I don't see how one can credibly claim that one is struggling for human rights in one area, when one's prepared to deny and block human rights in another area.

As I've noted over and over, I think that the current leaders of the Catholic church, at its top levels, have seriously undermined their moral credibility when they address issues of human rights, through their  attacks on the human rights of LGBT persons. You can't have it both ways. You can't call people to concern about human trafficking as a human rights issue and refuse to accord human rights to a targeted minority, the gay community.

This is why, by the way, I long since stopped taking Jim Wallis and Sojourners and other fence-sitting "liberal" Christians of the soft center seriously when they refuse to stand in solidarity with LGBT people in our struggle for human rights. I stand with Sojourners in many respects--above all, in its advocacy for the poor--but I no longer listen with much respect to Wallis and Sojourners as they talk about human rights, when they continue to refuse to take a clear, unambiguous stand on behalf of gay and lesbian rights.

2. Second, as I say in my reply to Wild Hair, I find Giglio's response to his disinvitation troubling. I actually use the word "execrable." Instead of using what happened with the inaugural invitation as an occasion for meaningful dialogue with his critics--notably, the LGBT community--Giglio has gotten his back up and has sought to deflect attention from the stances he defended in the homophobic sermon he hasn't repudiated. See Fred Clarkson's outstanding commentary on this point.

Giglio's response gives me the distinct impression that he really meant the homophobia he vented in the sermon that came to light after it was announced he'd give the inaugural benediction. And I do think we're turning a moral corner in our society, such that those who openly display hateful attitudes towards gay and lesbian citizens no longer deserve the public platform they've richly enjoyed for a long time now, to further their attacks on the gay community and/or legitimate their deplorable prejudices.

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