ATLANTA (AP) — A white pastor for an Atlanta megachurch has tearfully apologized for referring to the “blessing of slavery” and for suggesting that the phrase “white privilege” could be better understood as a “white blessing.”
Louie Giglio, the founder of Passion City Church and related Christian conferences, made the comments in a recorded conversation with Christian hip-hop artist Lecrae Moore and evangelist Dan Cathy, the CEO of fast-food chain Chick-fil-A.
The three men sat down for a panel discussion on race in America that was streamed online Sunday amid nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, just two days after Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed by Atlanta police during an altercation at a Wendy’s drive-thru.
At one point during the hour-long discussion, Giglio suggested that people who may be reluctant to accept the term “white privilege” might better understand the idea if it’s called a “white blessing.”
“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 lived in and live in. And so a lot of people call this white privilege,” Giglio said to the panelists.
The pastor later added: “Maybe, a great thing for me, is to call it ‘white blessing.’”
The online backlash was swift, and Giglio apologized in a video message posted to Twitter on Tuesday, his voice audibly shaking as he called it a “horrible choice of words.”
“To be clear, I don’t believe there’s any blessing in slavery, to the contrary,” he said. “What I am 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 centuries of gross injustice done to our black brothers and sisters.”
Moore, meanwhile, was criticized by some who said he failed to speak out against the words in the moment. The recording artist could be seen nodding his head up and down, and appeared to let out a laugh when Giglio used the words “white blessing.”
In his own tweet on Tuesday, Moore apologized to “anyone who was let down” and said he was attempting to be diplomatic during an uncomfortable exchange. He said he has spent “years battling racism within the evangelical church,” and that while he spoke to Giglio afterward, he “missed an opportunity to care for the very people I came to represent.”
Cathy, for his part, has not publicly addressed the comments.