The musical addition of Carrie Underwood at the Passion 2017 religious conference angered some attendees due to her open acceptance of gay rights. Rev. Louie Giglio, pastor and organizer of the gathering, received a letter from an angry Christian who was upset about Underwood leading congregation into worship on Jan. 2 in Atlanta, Ga.
Passion 2017 Conference was geared for 18- to 25- year-olds, and is an event that begun in 1997 to glorify God by uniting students in worship, prayer and justice for spiritual awakening in the Millennial generation. It is rooted in the confession of Isaiah 26:8. The Passion movement launched in 1995 to call college students to "live for what matters most."
According to the Passion website, since 2007, students involved with the movement have donated more than $18 million to 70 partner organizations around the world.
Underwood wasn't one of the scheduled performers for the conference, reports WRN. She surprised Passion 2017 attendees by pairing up with David Crowder on stage to sing Grammy-winning "Something in the Water." The song was a hit on country radio, and spent 26 weeks on Christian music charts. The performance was the first day of the three-day event, reports Rolling Stone. After she lead the congregation into prayer at such a large religious gathering, her public support for gay rights drew extra attention.
The writer of the open letter to Giglio, Wesley Wildmon, stated Underwood's performance sends a message to young Christians that homosexuality is acceptable, pointing to 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 as a reminder the Bible does not support homosexuality.
Wildmon stated when the Word of God itself has declared homosexuality to be a sin, there is absolutely no question of Christians accepting gay rights. As such, allowing a celebrity who is so publicly in favor of gay rights shows support of such views, according to the letter.
As the American Family Association outreach director, Wildmon said he is opposed to gay marriage as it's opposed to traditional norms of a Christian family.
His letter was published in Engage Magazine, a publication by the American Family Association, a Christian nonprofit organization.
In the letter, he reminded Giglio, who is pastor of Atlanta's Passion City Church, there are a number of Christian artists who he said "are true to the Bible," and demanded to know why none of them were considered for the performance.
Wildmon also warned the pastor, saying it was God who gave him such a large platform from where he could reach out to people, and that the same God could take away that platform from him if he didn't remain true to the principles of the Bible.
Underwood has been criticized for supporting gay rights so openly. Underwood first expressed her views on gay marriage to the Independent in 2012, saying, "As a married person myself, I don't know what it's like to be told I can't marry somebody I love, and want to marry. I can't imagine how that must feel ... I definitely think we should all have the right to love, and love publicly, the people that we want to love."
However, in an interview about opposition to her views about same-sex marriage she said, "If someone won't like me because of that, then maybe they were looking for a reason not to like me."
Wildmon stated his greatest fear is that this type of development would give the "unsaved or weak Millennials" the wrong idea of what the Bible teaches about marriage.
He stated the Word of God calls for Christians to flee from homosexuality and other sexual sins, reports Taste of Country. "Why would you choose one who publicly states homosexuality is not a sin," he adds. "Would you invite a well-known artist who stated publicly that using porn is honoring to God to speak or sing at Passion?"