Atlanta pastor who suggested slavery was a 'blessing' to white people apologizes

Pastor Louie Giglio with Passion City Church said in a video message Tuesday that he used a "horrible choice of words."
Louie Giglio speaks onstage at the 4th Annual KLOVE Fan Awards at Grand Ole Opry House on June 5, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Louie Giglio speaks onstage at the 4th Annual KLOVE Fan Awards at Grand Ole Opry House on June 5, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.Rick Diamond / Getty Images for KLOVE file
/ Source: NBC News

The evangelical pastor of an Atlanta megachurch is apologizing following outrage on social media after he suggested that slavery should be viewed as a "blessing" to white people.

Pastor Louie Giglio with the Passion City Church made the comments Sunday during a recorded conversation with Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy and Christian hip-hop artist Lecrae.

"We understand the curse that was slavery, white people do," Giglio said. "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."

He went on to say that instead of using the term white privilege, he prefers "white blessing."

"I'm living in the blessing of the curse that happened generationally that allowed me to grow up in Atlanta," the pastor said.

Lecrae, who is Black, nodded his head as the pastor spoke. The rapper told Giglio that the idea of being able to dismiss the term white privilege is a privilege in and of itself.

"You have the ability to not think about it. I cannot change my skin tone," Lecrae explained. "I cannot live another day without recognizing my blackness."

The pastor's comments were quickly condemned on Twitter and Lecrae also came under fire after some people on social media criticized his response.

"LOL @louiegiglio what is more white privilege than saying 'I don't like this term so change it so I am not offended and might listen to you' This is some 'all lives matter' bulls---," one user wrote.

Goldie Taylor, the editor-at-large of The Daily Beast, said Giglio has a "damningly inadequate grasp of history."

"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," she tweeted.

Giglio released a video apology on Tuesday, saying using the phrase "white blessing" was a "horrible choice of words."

"I don't, to be clear, believe there is any blessing in slavery," he said. "To the contrary, what I'm trying to understand and help people see is that I, my white brothers and sisters, we sit in large part where we are today because of the centuries of gross injustice done to our black brothers and sisters."

Lecrae also released a video statement saying he was not okay with Giglio's use of "white blessing."

"In that moment, I was processing, like, 'Man what do I do?' " he said, adding that he subsequently expressed his concerns to Giglio. "Obviously, I'm not ok with changing white privilege to white blessing. That's a privilege in and of itself."

Chick-fil-A and Cathy did not immediately return a request for comment on Wednesday.

This isn't the first time Giglio's comments have sparked outrage. In 2013, he withdrew from giving the benediction at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration following criticism over a sermon he gave in the 1990s, pushing for a controversial therapy that claimed to turn gay people straight and for saying homosexuality was a "sin."

Cathy has also come under fire for his stance against same-sex marriage. In 2019, Chick-fil-A said it was going to stop supporting anti-LGBTQ organizations.