Megachurch pastor Louie Giglio has apologised for a series of remarks he made during a roundtable discussion about race on Sunday. Giglio, who pastors Passion City Church in Atlanta, Georgia, was talking with African-American rapper Lecrae about racial reconciliation when he appeared to suggest that people were "missing the blessing of slavery."
Here's exactly what he said in the now widely shared video clip:
"I feel like on the inside of the church we are fighting this historical context you talk about. In other words, we love the blessing of the cross, but we don't love to sit in it and realise that this is what God's asking me to do.. to die to myself and to live for him, whatever context that is going to look like for me.
"But I want to flip that upside down, cos' I think the other side of it is true with our nation's history. We understand the curse that was slavery, white people do, and we say 'that was bad.' But we miss the blessing of slavery, that it actually built up the framework for the world that white people live in and lived in. A lot of people call this 'white privilege'... when you say those two words it just is like a fuse goes off for a lot of white people, because they don't want somebody to tell them to check their privilege."
Giglio then suggested an alternative to the phrase 'white privilege' by remarking:
"I know that you and I both have struggle in these days like, 'hey, if the phrase is the trip up, let's get over the phrase and let's get down to the heart. What then do you want to call it? A great thing for me is to call it 'white blessing' -- that I'm living in the curse that happened generationally that allowed me to grow up in Atlanta."
Responding to a Washington Post reporter who brought attention to the clip, Giglio tweeted that he was "not seeking to refer to slavery as a blessing" but instead intended to highlight "that we are privileged because of the curse of slavery."
Adding further clarification and issuing an apology for the way his message was communicated, Giglio admitted that his "word choice wasn’t great" when referring to slavery as "privilege/benefit/blessing."
He added: "Trying to help us see society is built on the dehumanization of others. My apology, I failed."
On Facebook, Giglio issued a similar apology, writing: "Not a great choice of words. I failed. Trying to help my demographic move forward. But failed."
Many pastors and commentators have expressed outrage at Giglio's remarks, with activist and author Shane Claiborne sharing the clip with the caption, "I don't even have words for how messed up this is."
In a lengthy Twitter thread, Christian author and activist Lisa Sharon Harper responded:
"Dear @louiegiglio, with this thread I follow the example of Paul, who publicly rebuked Peter in book of Galatians when Peter tried to placate the faction called judaizers by practicing segregation. Your championing of the term #whiteblessing in reference to #slavery is SIN.
"Your sin against Black people, especially women, was public. Therefore, your rebuke must also be public. For, you are an international leader. People of European descent and BIPOC in your network will follow your lead into sin, if you are not corrected publicly.
"I intend to do 3 things in this thread: 1) correct your thinking on white privilege and white “blessing,” 2) suggest a 3rd term that is the essence of this entire set-up: #WhitePatriarchy, 3) reflect for a moment on the impact of your sin.
"First, slavery was neither white blessing, nor #whiteprivilege. To call it either term is to imagine God as the one who mysteriously bestowed said “blessing” and/or “privilege” onto His benevolent, innocent White race. #whiteblessing
"Both blessings and privileges are given. They do not magically appear out of thin air. God gives blessings. In scripture, God blesses those who do what is just and good. Parents give privileges to children who do well.
"By calling slavery #whiteblessing or #whiteprivilege, you attempt to conscript God as a co-conspirator in the abhoration of human hierarchy. You attempt to make #whiteness God’s responsibility; aligning God with the very setup that wages war against God’s image on earth.
"It was not blessing that built the foundations for your empire, sir. It was serial murder, rape, breeding farms, mass family separation, mass lynchings, exploitation of labor/ land, thumbs on the scales of law, redlining and gerrymandering.
"SIN bore your “whiteblessings”—your money, your houses, your private jets, your banks, your universities, your political power, your two-car garages, your stucco homes, your CEO positions and salaries. SIN bore the shirt on your back. God had NOTHING to do with it.
"The word you are looking for is #whitepatriarchy. It imagines a world designed by God where white men are created to rule all else. Then it builds, protects and enforces that world through military and police force, rape, law, money and lots of golf.
"Mr.@louiegiglio, the impact of your unwillingness to call a thing a thing, is that SIN is given the cover of sanitized language. What will it take for you to do what you claim to do? What will it take for you to lead—Into true repentance?"
Responding to Giglio's remarks, North Carolina pastor and author, Rev. Robert Lee, added that "the notion that enslavement is a blessing is nothing short of white supremacy."
The Atlanta-based author and opinion writer, Goldie Taylor, added: "Slavery was not a blessing. It was the manifestation of evil. It did not spawn white privilege. It was born of it. This isn’t poor phrasing. It’s an damningly inadequate grasp of history."
You can watch the full discussion with Giglio, Lecrae, and Chick-fil-A CEO, Dan Cathy, below: