Controversy has come up regarding remarks of a pastor who led events for the National Day of Prayer at the Pentagon and Capitol Hill on Thursday. Pastor Greg Laurie, who was tapped to lead the events, has been accused of being anti-gay.
Human Rights Watch and Outserve-SLDN, a LGBT organization of actively serving military personnel, had both urged the Pentagon to withdraw their invitation to Laurie. Laurie has made several controversial comments regarding gay people in the past.
Laurie is senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in California. Human Rights Watch released a press release saying the Laurie "has a history of speaking out against LGBT Americans." The point to a statement on the website of his church Harvest Ministries that says:
"God does not create a person with homosexual desires. The Bible tells us that people become homosexuals because of sin (Romans 1:24-27) and ultimately because of their own choice. A person may be born with a greater susceptibility to homosexuality, just as some people are born with a tendency to violence and other sins. That does not excuse the person’s choosing to sin by giving in to sinful desires. If a person is born with a greater susceptibility to anger/rage, does that make it right for him to give into those desires? Of course not! The same is true with homosexuality."
Human Right Watch argues that the view that a person can just deny being gay as though it is just a choice is wrong and actively harmful to those who follow it. They refer to major medical organizations that say such practices are harmful to those who utilize them.
Laurie has said in the past that, "Satan hates the family so much and has effectively declared war on it," when commenting on the Fifth Commandment with regards to same-sex parents.
He has also said, "I hate the word 'homophobic' because I can just as easily come back and say 'well, you're biblophobic' (fearful of the Bible) to say I'm homophobic. Enough of the phobic already! I'm sinophobic. Sin is sin."
The Pentagon has said that Laurie's participation does not make for an endorsement of his views. They also point out that the National Day of Prayer is not a Pentagon event, but rather, was established by Congress in 1952. The day has come under legal challenge in court as a violation of the Establishment clause.
Laurie made a short post on his blog that seemed to address the controversy last Monday. In it, he ends with "The enemy will always attack when we seek to do God’s work, so let’s keep praying!"