Carrie Underwood's surprise performance during an evangelical conference for young people at Atlanta's Georgia Dome on January 2nd has come under fire from the Christian nonprofit organization American Family Association.
On the first day of the three-day event, marking its 20th year, Underwood took the stage with scheduled performer David Crowder to perform her hit "Something in the Water," a Number One country song that also topped the Christian Songs chart in 2014. (Watch the performance above.) In an open letter to Atlanta pastor Louie Giglio, who founded the event in 1997, American Family Association's outreach director Wesley Wildmon questioned the country superstar's presence because of Underwood's public stance in support of gay marriage.
"I was very frustrated that you would allow her to help lead thousands of people in worship. My frustration quickly turned to disappointment and then to sadness. Carrie Underwood encourages and supports homosexual marriage which the Word of God does not," Wildmon said in the letter published January 4th by the AFA publication Engage Magazine. "The Word of God is not a preference, but principles God has spoken. God is right about marriage and Carrie Underwood is wrong."
A rep for Underwood did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Giglio is the pastor of Atlanta's Passion City Church and began the conferences as a way to reach 18 to 25-year-olds. He was chosen to lead the benediction prayer at President Barack Obama's second swearing-in ceremony in 2013, but his participation was eventually nixed after a 1990s sermon in which he compared gays to alcoholics surfaced.
In a 2012 interview with British newspaper The Independent, Underwood, who wed hockey player Mike Fisher in 2010, said, "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."
Underwood, who has yet to respond to the controversy, is set to be a presenter at Sunday night's Golden Globe Awards, airing on NBC.