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Via multiple sources (Greta Christina, Pam Spaulding, Glenn Greenwald, Americans United, as well as others), this unpleasant news: President-elect Barack Obama has apparently chosen megachurch pastor Rick Warren to give a speech at his inauguration day.
If you’re not familiar with Rick Warren, or if you only know him as the author of The Purpose-Driven Life, here’s a few of his greatest hits:
• Warren has been a dedicated enemy of marriage equality, equating gay rights to incest and pedophilia (source), and was a fervent supporter of the pro-bigotry Proposition 8. He is against civil unions for gay couples. He has even, arguably, given his support to African Christians who want homosexuality to be illegal (source).
• He’s also rabidly anti-choice, comparing abortion to the Holocaust (source).
• Just for good measure, he’s said that atheists are not qualified for the presidency:
On the campaign trail, Obama insisted he was for civil unions, against gay marriage and that he supported a state’s right to make such decisions. But then he was against the State of California’s move to define marriage as a union solely between a man and a woman—a definition, which, in principle, he is for. Do you blame anyone for feeling confused?
I don’t know. I’m kinda on the side that see it as a symbolic gesture. After a few months Warren’s speech will be forgotten, and the religious right will still be saying hateful things about Obama. However, I am interested in hearing exactly what Warren will say. It could be an opportunity for him to spout his nutty beliefs. Maybe, he’ll say something that’ll make people say “Wait a sec, that can’t be right!”
Asking Warren to give the invocation is not sitting down and talking with Warren, it’s endorsing and legitimizing his views. Here is an example of letters to Obama:
Dear President-Elect Obama:
I was disappointed to learn that you have asked Mr. Warren to deliver the invocation for your inauguration. Mr. Warren holds many anti-progressive views; this was shown most recently by his endorsement of Proposition 8 in California, which removed the right to marry from gay and lesbian families.
By asking Mr. Warren to speak at your inauguration you are implicitly saying that the rights of non-heterosexuals are unimportant to you and your administration. Please reconsider your decision to have Mr. Warren speak for you and for the nation.
Wish I’d mentioned his anti-abortion and creationist views when I sent that letter. Those wishing to e-mail our President-Elect can do so here. I’ve heard some people argue that having Warren speak was up to an inaugural committee made up of Senators, but I’m sure that they wouldn’t’ve had Warren speak if Obama had asked them not to.
I’m not so sure whether this was directly Obama’s decision, or one by a congressional committee of some sort, and if it were made by someone else, I can see how it would be more difficult, politically speaking, for Obama to reject Warren after he’s chosen and the public is aware of it, than it would have been to have just chosen someone more reasonable to begin with. In any case, it is pretty ridiculous that Warren and his views are getting such an endorsement at the inaguration.
I don’t know why everybody’s so surprised. Obama never hid his religious views during the campaign.
Obama and blacks in general have a strong religious culture.
I believe after the Rev. Wright scandal, this is a very strategic move by the Obama camp.