Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rick Warren and Obama

Like many people, I was dismayed to learn that Obama has asked Rick Warren to give the invocation at the Inauguration next month. Here's something published in The Guardian about that:

If nothing else, Rick Warren is a miracle worker in the realm of public relations. He is a man who compares legal abortion to the Holocaust and gay marriage to incest and pedophilia. He believes that Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and other non-Christians are going to spend eternity burning in hell. He doesn't believe in evolution. He recently dismissed the social gospel - the late 19th- and early 20th-century Protestant movement that led a religious crusade against poverty and inequality - as "Marxism in Christian clothing". Yet thanks to his amiable attitude and jocular tone, he has managed to create a popular image for himself as a moderate, even progressive force in American life, a reasonable, compassionate alternative to the punitive, sex-obsessed inquisitors of the religious right. And Barack Obama, who should know better, has helped him do it.

Yesterday brought the news that
Warren would be giving the invocation at Obama's inauguration. For Warren, this is a bit of a coup, since he seems to aspire to be the country's unofficial national pastor, a role once occupied by Billy Graham. He already played an unprecedented role in the 2008 presidential election when he conducted
back-to-back interviews with John McCain and Obama, which essentially made him the moderator, and his church the stage, for the first joint event of the campaign season. By participating in that exercise, Obama lent Warren undeserved legitimacy as a kind of national moral arbiter.
One doesn't expect Obama to surround himself only with spiritual advisers that meet some liberal litmus test. It is savvy to try and co-opt Warren, who seems to love proximity to power and who might otherwise be a strong critic. Nevertheless, further elevating this terribly powerful man necessarily comes at the expense of gay people, secularists, religious minorities and feminists. Rick Warren is a deeply polarizing figure, and has said things far more offensive than anything that ever passed the lips of Jeremiah Wright. He has every right to preach as he pleases and to build his fortune, but he does not belong at the center of American civic life, and Obama shouldn't put him there.

Personally I think it's pandering. And I don't like it one little bit.


  1. I don't like it one bit either. I actually shed tears when I first heard this. wtf can he be thinking?
    I consider this his first major fuck up, and it's a whopper.
    I just don't get it... and I don't know that I want to. (chances are good that I don't)

  2. Anonymous11:00 AM

    I think Obama will regret this decision...he has offended those of us who got him elected.
    annie c

  3. I'm stymied about Obama's choice. He (Obama) strikes me as a pragmatic and complex person who is very deliberate in his choices and actions. If so ... WTF?!

    Warren and his ilk give me the creeps. I would think that some people of Christian faith are as creeped out as the rest of us. Mega-pastors make all kinds of noise about Jesus, but how much do they really follow the example of that great heart?


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