Obama Picks Warren, Angers Gays
President-Elect Barack Obama has made the most controversial move thus far in his transition, naming far right televangelist Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration. While this initially struck me as a brilliant move on his part, winning points with Evangelical Christians with little downside, the announcement has sparked outrage in the gay community.
Ben Smith and Nia-Malika Henderson, Politico, “Gay leaders furious with Obama”
Barack Obama’s choice of a prominent evangelical minister to deliver the invocation at his inauguration is a conciliatory gesture toward social conservatives who opposed him in November, but it is drawing fierce challenges from a gay rights movement that — in the wake of a gay marriage ban in California — is looking for a fight.
Rick Warren, the senior pastor of Saddleback Church in southern California, opposes abortion rights but has taken more liberal stances on the government role in fighting poverty, and backed away from other evangelicals’ staunch support for economic conservatism. But it’s his support for the California constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage that drew the most heated criticism from Democrats Wednesday.
“Your invitation to Reverend Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at your inauguration is a genuine blow to LGBT Americans,” the president of Human Rights Campaign, Joe Solomonese, wrote Obama Wednesday. “[W]e feel a deep level of disrespect when one of architects and promoters of an anti-gay agenda is given the prominence and the pulpit of your historic nomination.”
Andrew Sullivan, Daily Dish, “Ugh”
Warren is a man who believes my marriage removes his freedom of speech and cannot say that authorizing torture is a moral failing. Shrewd politics, but if anyone is under any illusion that Obama is interested in advancing gay equality, they should probably sober up now. He won’t be as bad as the Clintons (who, among leading Democrats, could?), but pandering to Christianists at his inauguration is a depressing omen. More evidence that a civil rights movement needs to realize that no politician can deliver for us what we have to deliver on our own.
That, from a conservative Catholic who has been singing Obama’s praises for more than a year, including a glowing cover story for Atlantic Monthly.
John Aravosis, AmericaBlog, “Obama picks homophobe pro-‘Prop 8’ evangelical preacher to give the invocation at inaugural”
Gee, maybe Donnie McClurkin wasn’t a fluke. Picking Rick Warren to give THE invocation is abominable. I’m doing my research and will be updating this post in a minute.
He proceeds to do numerous updates, each more scathing than the last, pointing to things Warren has said that will be offensive to abortion supporters, gay rights proponents, and others. He includes this video:
Sam Stein, Huffington Post, “Rick Warren, Obama Invocation Choice, Causing First Real Rift With Progressives”
Ever since Barack Obama was elected president, the media has been pining to write a story about liberal dissatisfaction with his transition efforts. By and large, the meme has been blown out of proportion, as the press overestimated how divisive Obama’s cabinet choices were for progressives.
The press may now have its conflict moment. And it comes in the form of the spiritual leader chosen to launch Obama’s inauguration.
Warren does have a rather peculiar relationship with the incoming president. The two share a general ethos that political differences should not serve as impediments to progress. On topics like AIDS and poverty relief, they see eye-to-eye. But Warren’s domestic and social agendas are at odds with Obama’s. And for the gay and lesbian community in particular, the choice is a bitter pill to swallow.
“Pastor Warren, while enjoying a reputation as a moderate based on his affable personality and his church’s engagement on issues like AIDS in Africa, has said that the real difference between James Dobson and himself is one of tone rather than substance,” read a statement from People For the American Way President Kathryn Kolbert. “He has repeated the Religious Right’s big lie that supporters of equality for gay Americans are out to silence pastors. He has called Christians who advance a social gospel Marxists. He is adamantly opposed to women having a legal right to choose an abortion.”
In all honesty, I was only tangentially aware of Warren before he hosted the Saddleback forum featuring Obama and McCain. Indeed, other than being vaguely aware of his book The Purpose Driven Life, I don’t know that I’d heard of him.
Were this George W. Bush, I would have no doubt that he’d weather the storm of criticism rather than rebuke a loyal friend with whom he has had a close relationship for years. Obama, though, may well cut bait on Warren if he can’t fix this quickly. As we saw in the cases of Jeremiah Wright and Samantha Power, Obama isn’t one to let sentimentality get in the way of his agenda.