Thursday, January 17, 2013

Gay-friendly Cuban pastor to replace Louie Giglio at Obama’s inauguration

Rev. Luis Leon with President ObamaThe Presidential Inaugural Committee has chosen a replacement for Atlanta pastor, Rev. Louie Giglio, who pulled out of Obama’s inauguration ceremony last week, over an anti-gay sermon he delivered back in the mid-1990s, The Huffington Post reports.

The new pastor chosen to give the benediction at President Obama’s swearing-in ceremony on 21 January, is the Cuban Rev. Luis Leon who “ministers at St. John’s Church, an Episcopal parish near the White House and the one that Obama most frequently attends with his family,” the newspaper informs.
 
A source with close ties to the Presidential Inaugural Committee confirmed to The Huffington Post that Leon had been selected, via phone on Tuesday night.
 
Leon is quite a different choice from Giglio, a conservative evangelical who is renowned for his fight against human trafficking. Giglio lost credibility, however, when revelations were made about  a sermon he delivered, speaking out against ““the aggressive agenda” of the gay community”, saying that their sexual orientation could be changed “through the healing power of Jesus”, The Huffington Post recalls.
 
Leon’s parish, on the other hand, welcomes openly gay members, has “openly gay, non-celibate priests and has had a gay bishop,” the newspaper adds. It also “announced this summer that it would bless same-sex partnerships and ordain transgender priests.” 

The pastor “gave the invocation at Bush's 2005 Inaugural and his church, nicknamed the "church of the presidents," has had every president since James Madison attend its services, though not all have been members,” The Huffington Post goes on to say.
 
Leon was baptized into the Episcopal Church in Guantanamo, Cuba. In 1961, at the age of 12, he got on an "Operation Peter Pan" flight out of Cuba, heading for the U.S., where he received support from the Episcopal Church in Miami. 

He graduated from the University of the South in 1971 and obtained a Masters in Divinity degree from the Virginia Theological Seminary in 1977.   

He is a member of the Board of Regents of the University of the South where he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 1999. 

He is also a founding member of the Washington Interfaith Network and the Wilmington Interfaith Network.

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