After some controversy over who would give the benediction at the inauguration, Obama went for the hometown priest: Rev. Luis León was chosen for the honor. León presides over St. John’s Church, the episcopal house of worship in Washington, D.C. colloquially labeled “the church of the presidents,” as it stands across from the White House and has been visited by every president since James Madison. The priest will deliver the final prayer of the ceremony, intended for both the President and the nation as a whole.
León was chosen by Obama to reflect the president’s religious as well as his social beliefs — but he was the Obama’s second choice. A row arose with Obama’s original choice for the benediction, Conservative Episcopal pastor Rev. Louie Giglio, who ministers at Passion City Church, an Atlanta megachurch. Giglio bowed out of giving the inaugural benediction last week amid controversy over an anti-gay sermon he gave in the 1990s. In that sermon, Giglio charged that gay marriage “would run the risk of absolutely undermining the whole order of our society.”
St. John’s Church is known for welcoming openly gay members and priests. The president and his family have attended services at St. John’s several times, and the Bush family often went there as well.
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