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The Rick Warren inauguration invocation thing …

I’ve been trying to [dispassionately] figure out how I feel about Rick Warren giving the invocation at Obama’s inauguration:

My 1st impulse:  Understanding —  OK, so Obama’s reaching out …

My 2nd impulse:  Disappointment & Disgust —  WHAT?!  How can Obama reach out to a church whose website basically states “no gays”?  What if instead the site said: “no African Americans” … “no American Indians” … “no Jews” … “no Muslims” … no _____.”  That’s the lowest form of discrimination, and there’s no excuse for Obama making any excuse!

My 3rd impulse:  Implausibility — If he wants to reach out, why not have a Jewish Rabbi, a Muslim Mullah, and other religious leaders along with a Christian. (There are two Christians actually, as Joseph Lowery, a co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King Jr., will be delivering the benediction.)

My son’s impulse:  Viability  You’re wrong on all counts.  Obama’s just pandering and trying to avoid getting shot by the far right …”

While pondering “pandering” (and whether it was valid), I was going through some op-eds on a different subject and came across  “A Natural Alliance” by David Brooks published in The New York Times on May 26, 2005.  Writing during a year of “the bubble” about the need to join forces to fight poverty, Brooks says things of a kind that still have meaning today:

” … we can have a culture war in this country, or we can have a war on poverty, but we can’t have both. That is to say, liberals and conservatives can go on bashing each other for being godless hedonists and primitive theocrats, or they can set those differences off to one side and work together to help the needy.

The natural alliance for antipoverty measures at home and abroad is between liberals and evangelical Christians. These are the only two groups that are really hyped up about these problems and willing to devote time and money to ameliorating them. If liberals and evangelicals don’t get together on antipoverty measures, then there will be no majority for them and they won’t get done …

Serious differences over life issues are not going to go away. But more liberals and evangelicals are realizing that you don’t have to convert people; sometimes you can just work with them. The world is suddenly crowded with people like Rick Warren and Bono who are trying to step out of the logic of the culture war so they can accomplish more in the poverty war.”

My fourth impulse:  Cynicism and Hope — Whatever the war is that we’re fighting, we can’t win by minimizing others; we can only win by building upon our efforts together.

I sure hope Obama knows what he’s doing 


Snoety symbol
Sidney says: December 23rd, 2008 at 11:56 am

I didn’t expect to like everything that Obama does, and I certainly don’t like this. But perhaps it’s a strategic move to make the Christian right less afraid of him. Obama wants the country to unite to work for common good. We’ll just have to trust him on this one….

Harriett says: December 25th, 2008 at 3:20 pm

Lenora says:
I agree with you about half the time…this is the other half. (However, after reading your article again, I’m not sure where you stand)

If you want an administration that is just as divisive and partisan as the last, and with the same results, BO should pick someone that is from the left. That crowd will stand shoulder to shoulder and throw rocks at those on the far right. And where will we be in 8 years? Not too far from where we are now. Remember, the country is predominately conservative…that’s who made him president. Even with the disgraces of the Bush Administration, MCCain still got 47% of the vote. If we are truly going to move forward, BO must get the support of those in the middle. That includes deeply religious christians. I think this is a smart move…counting the seconds till jan 20.

pam says: December 26th, 2008 at 2:50 am

I agree with no.2 and 3. I am appalled that, regardless of how politically expedient the Rick Warren invitation could be, that Obama would stoop to honor a man who has been not just opinionated, but bigoted toward gay people. It is one thing to have a difference of opinion, but it is quite another to say despicable things about any group of people. I’m not sure what’s worse– that Obama doesn’t think Warren’s statements are hateful, or that he doesn’t care, given the political capital he may get from some on the right. Yes, let’s reach out and offer public opportunities to deeply religious people on the right, but let’s not throw other minorities under the bus to do it.

Harriett says: December 26th, 2008 at 12:38 pm

I agree … there are many areas ripe for compromise and others that make sense politically — to “approve” bigotry is not one of them.

Lisa says: January 15th, 2009 at 7:25 pm

Surely, we can all find some love in our hearts for Rick Warren. Wake up America. Not only has Pastor Rick likened gays to pizza and pedophiles, but he is making up his own reality in Syria and Uganda as well. Please enlighten yourselves with the following articles:



I think we are now in need of a PR campaign from Sir Elton John who is one that really understands how to deal with the AIDS epidemic. Perhaps he can appear on Larry King Live again and elighten everyone out of their Rick Warren disillusionment.

I am afraid it only gets worse. He has deemed himself America’s new ambassador to the Middle East and Muslim world. For one, he would like to assassinate world leaders like Ahmadinejad who was elected by the Iranian people. Read the article:


Right now, Pastor Rick is taking a break from blamming the media for his grand faux pas,while Obama orchestrates a new red herring for the sake of his (Lincoln politics). Yes, that’s right folks enter the gay Bishop Gene Robinson to speak at the last minute at the inaugural ceremonies. That ought to fix things, and he’s not asking Bishop Robinson at the last minute he planned to ask him all along it just happens that the timing coincides with pissing off the gay and lesbian community. Hummm. Gosh I feel alot like Dorothy from the wizard of Oz going to see the wizard (Obama) on inauguration day. Wasn’t that during the great depression too, and that’s right the Wizard turned out to be a fraud. Why on earth in the geopolitical climate we live in (especially after the Bush Adminstration) would Obama choose a xenophobic, homophobic, bigot to pray over him at the inauguration. I know, so he can bring us all together, and its working right?

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