Atlanta megachurch pastor apologizes for saying that people might find 'white blessing' more palatable than 'white privilege'

rmahbubani@businessinsider.com (Rhea Mahbubani)
·4 min read
  • Atlanta pastor Louie Giglio caught flak for a conversation about racism and slavery with rapper Lecrae and Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy.

  • In the online church service, Giglio said that people "miss the blessing of slavery that it actually built up the framework for the world that white people live in and lived in."

  • Since the term "white privilege" tends to push white people away, Giglio suggested referring to it as "white blessing."

  • Giglio later apologized for his comments, saying he was "not seeking to refer to slavery as blessing — but that we are privileged because of the curse of slavery."

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Louie Giglio Atlanta Megachurch Pastor
Louie Giglio, speaking here in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2016, has been criticized for comments that refer to slavery as a "white blessing."

Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Louie Giglio, a megachurch pastor from Atlanta, has apologized for comments he made at an online church service Sunday where he recommended using the phrase "white blessing" instead of "white privilege."

Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy and rapper Lecrae joined Giglio for an "open and honest conversation around how racism has plagued our city for generations, and the steps we can all take to confront it head-on in our church, our neighborhoods, and our hearts," according to Newsweek.

Giglio, the head of Passion City Church, said that white people regret slavery, but also recognize that they benefited from it.

"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," Giglio said.

However, Giglio said, the phrase "white privilege" is too abrasive to discuss the phenomenon.

"When you say those two words, it's like a fuse goes off for a lot of white people because they don't want somebody telling them to check their privilege," he said.

So Giglio suggested a new phrase.

"I know that you and I both have struggled in these days with 'Hey, if the phrase is the trip up, let's get over the phrase and let's get down to the heart, let's get down to what then do you want to call it,'" he told Lecrae. "And I think maybe a great thing for me is to call it 'white blessing.'"

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

Giglio's comments received backlash online.

Giglio responded by trying to walk back his comments and clarify what he meant.

He wrote on Twitter Monday that he was "not seeking to refer to slavery as blessing — but that we are privileged because of the curse of slavery. In calling it a privilege/benefit/blessing — word choice wasn't great. Trying to help us see society is built on the dehumanization of others. My apology, I failed."

In a subsequent video posted on Twitter Tuesday, Giglio issued an apology to everyone watching and particularly to his "Black brothers and sisters."

"I like so many and am so burdened by what is happening in our nation right now, and I'm heartbroken about where we are as a nation," he said. Something that's critical, Giglio said, is for him and other white people to continue learning about the fact that "white privilege is real."

Reiterating that deeming it a "white blessing" was a "horrible choice of words," Giglio said, "It does not reflect my heart at all." The point he was trying to make is that he and other white people "sit in large part where we are today because of the centuries of gross injustice done" to generations of Black Americans, he said.

The issue of racism has reverberated across the globe after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. Tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter protesters have rallied for the end of police violence, particularly toward minority communities and people of color.

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