Megachurch pastor Louie Giglio has apologized for what he calls a "horrible choice of words" during a church event Sunday. The Atlanta pastor with the Passion City Church described slavery as a "blessing" in a recorded conversation with Christian rapper Lecrae and Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy, NBC News reports. "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 "white privilege," he prefers the term "white blessing"—only to be told by Lecrae, who is black, that being able to dismiss the term as he chooses is an example of privilege.
Giglio's remarks caused an uproar, with critics noting that describing slavery as a gift from God was a line of thought slaveowners used to justify their actions. "It's a bad theology that has existed since the beginning of the slave trade," Anthea Butler, a professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania, tells the Washington Post. "Giglio said what was true to him and what’s true to a lot of evangelicals, but it doesn’t make it right." In his apology Tuesday, Giglio said he does not consider slavery to have been a blessing. "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," he said. (Read more pastor stories.)