HuffPo and CNN are reporting that the Presidential Inaugural Committee has selected the longtime rector of the “Church of the Presidents” to give the benediction at President Obama’s inauguration next week.
The Cuban-born Rev. Luis Leon, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church on Lafayette Square near the White House, will take the place of Atlanta pastor Louie Giglio, who bowed out after a 1990s sermon against homosexuality angered gay priests.
Leon is a known quantity to both the White House and the president — the Obamas typically go to St. John’s (when they go to church), and Leon has also counted George W. Bush and Bill Clinton in his pews. Presumably, Leon will host the Obamas for the traditional morning-of inaugural prayer service at St. John’s.
As HuffPo notes, Leon and his parish are gay friendly, which should squelch that particular fire. But more importantly, we think, is that Leon would add a notable Hispanic voice to the inaugural line-up — a subtle nod to a minority that Obama won handily, and one that is expecting him to deliver on immigration reform.
While the news hasn’t been officially confirmed (or announced) by inauguration officials, remember where Leon’s name first appeared: on our list of possible subs to replace Giglio.
Tracy Simmons is an award-winning journalist specializing in religion reporting and digital entrepreneurship. In her approximate 20 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti. Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas, Connecticut and Washington. She is the executive director of SpokaneFāVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Washington. She also writes for The Spokesman-Review and national publications. She is a Scholarly Assistant Professor of Journalism at Washington State University.