Rick Warren Will Deliver Obama’s Inauguration Invocation: Is This Really a Big Deal?

Rev. Rick Warren — pastor of Saddleback Church — has been tapped to deliver the invocation at Barack Obama‘s inauguration in January.

The reaction has been swift and negative:

Obama had a chance to set a non-sectarian, progressive tone at this event, and he has chosen to kow-tow to the wretched evangelical movement.

It is a grave disappointment to learn that pastor Rick Warren will give the invocation at the inauguration of Barack Obama… Rick Warren gets plenty of attention through his books and media appearances. He doesn’t need or deserve this position of honor. There is no shortage of religious leaders who reflect the values on which President-elect Obama campaigned and who are working to advance the common good.

… by inviting Rick Warren to your inauguration, you have tarnished the view that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have a place at your table.

[Obama] 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.

Sorry, Mr. President, this will NOT be an inclusive event. If you are to dismiss the 16% of the population by INSISTING on preaching about God, you are not being inclusive. The prayer at the nomination was bad enough, and you’re making it worse for your inauguration by employing Rick Warren to preach.

My message to the critics:

Chill. The. Fuck. Out.

I’m not happy with the pick, either. Warren isn’t a “moderate” Christian by any means. Most Christians who are famous enough to have any name recognition are not. But you can’t expect Obama to shun all Evangelical Christians because of their absurd views. He’s going to need their support in the future. Putting Warren in the spotlight during his inauguration is an easy way to show Christian America that he has a connection to their world.

The Obama camp has tried to respond to these charges by essentially saying, yes, Warren is a bigot, but he and Obama have quite a bit else in common. It won’t make a difference. Rick Warren might have a stellar record in some areas, but his anti-gay views are self-inflicted stains on his own reputation.

I don’t buy for a second that this is Obama’s way of shunning all GLBT or atheist Americans. (He already has one gay woman in his Cabinet, he may choose another for a more prominent post, and his new Secretary of Education proposed a gay-friendly high school in Chicago.) I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an atheist in the bunch, either. But true to form, they’re not being open about that.

Anyway, you can be angry about Warren’s views. I am. They’re misguided and they cause a lot of emotional pain for our gay friends. He’s even said that he could not vote for an atheist for public office.

But Warren is not preaching hatred against homosexuals and atheists on Inauguration Day. He’ll say a few words about God and that’ll be it. He’ll save his delusions about gay marriage and other Religious Right issues for Saddleback.

Look: Obama’s a Christian. We can’t get pissed off every time he reminds us of that. He wants a Christian pastor to deliver the invocation — as is tradition for a new President. He’s not trying to say this is a Christian nation or that he doesn’t care about the non-Christians in this country. He also has a close bond with Warren, who helped him make inroads with many Evangelical Christians over two years ago when Warren invited him to speak at his church.

If anything, let Obama appease Warren now by letting him be a part of the inauguration.

Then cut him loose.

We don’t need Warren’s ignorant opinions seeping into an Obama administration over the next eight years.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be upset with the choice, but let’s keep it in perspective. This isn’t a big deal in the long run:

Quick: Who delivered George W. Bush’s Invocations in 2001 and 2005?

.
.
.

Correct answers:

Rev. Franklin Graham (2001)
Rev. Luis Leon (2005)

Remember those historic invocations?! Remember how they divided our country and played to the Christian Right?

No?

Me neither.

Warren’s invocation, like those others, won’t be remembered for very long. It’s a quick prayer. It shouldn’t be there in the first place, but it is. (That we have an invocation in the first place should be the point of argument, not Warren’s selection to deliver it. Atheist Michael Newdow tried to put a stop to the prayer in 2005 but lost his case.)

All that said, perhaps Bush should get some credit for having chosen Rev. Leon a few years back. He was obviously a Christian, but a far more inclusive and equality-minded than his replacement:

The Rev. Luis Leon’s flock describes him as a liberal thinker who preaches inclusiveness in his sermons, furthers social justice in his work and welcomes same-sex couples in his congregation.

Obama could’ve done better if he wanted a Christian representative; he did just this a couple months ago when he chose Christian author (and a person who actually voted for Obama) Don Miller to give the benediction at the Democratic National Convention.

But Warren’s more famous and Obama’s still trying to win the Purpose-Driven crowd over.

I can let this slide. It’s just not worth getting worked up over right now. I’ll save my breath for when Obama takes office. You should, too. If he starts letting the Christian Right guide his policy-making at that time, we can be as critical as we need to be.

(Thanks to Greta Christina for the link!)

  • phlebas

    I understand your point, Hemant. And I didn’t spend last night lying in bed with clenched teeth, either.

    But I am leery of giving this bigot any credibility or the appearance of influence. Instead of this inclusiveness thing that Obama claims to want, we get “we will get to that later.”

    This is change we can believe in? This kow-towing is what we elected this man for? Is he trying to be passo-aggro with the people who think he’s a Muslim?

    No, I don’t remember the guys who have the prayer at Bush’s inaugurations, but Bush never even acted like he wanted non-Christians at his table.

    I’m not angry. But I am disappointed, and now I’m worried that Obama’s efforts at reform are going to be short-circuited by his desire not to offend.

  • http://candycolouredfrown.blogspot.com Jackie

    I agree with you. I understand how people feel it’s a slight, but sometimes I think some atheists won’t be satisfied unless it was an atheist pastor, which they don’t exist.

    To me it’s clearly trying to win the evangelical corner and as much as we hate and despise them, I can’t fault Obama for wanting to make a visible show of treating each side fairly. It’s not like he selected the guy for his cabinet.

  • PrimeNumbers

    Surely he could have picked a Christian that is practically acceptable to anyone, like the Arch Bishop of Canterbury?

  • JT

    I think you are wrong – Warren is a terrible, divisive choice and I let Obama know it at his change.gov site.

    I agree that the real issue is removing the invocation altogether, which I also mentioned in my comments at his site.

  • mkb

    I too am appalled that Warren is getting the free publicity. But at least we won’t have to wait long for the “we will get to that later” — the Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery is giving the benediction.

  • Lost Left Coaster

    Warren did, after all, recently endorse the idea of starting a war with Iran on Sean Hannity’s show. And he compares abortion to the Holocaust. And yes, he stands against our LGBT brothers and sisters. Very bad choice. The LGBT community already has plenty of reasons to be suspicious of Obama; he hasn’t done much to stand up for them, he doesn’t support marriage equality, and he was against Proposition 8 but barely said a word about it. So that’s why people are freaking out. They’re wondering, is Obama going to give the LGBT community a place at the table? Or is he going to be to busy pandering to the evangelicals? We don’t know the answer to that yet, but it is a legitimate question. Obama has not inspired confidence on this, and having Warren, an outspoken opponent of marriage equality who recently compared gay marriage to incest, inspires further distrust.

    We need to let Obama know when he does things that make us unhappy. With that said, I agree that in the big picture, the selection of who gives the invocation is not a huge deal. On the other hand, I fear that this is a sign of things to come. But only time will tell; in the meantime, we should speak out minds, because Obama is not automatically going to do what we want him to do; we have to let him know what we want him to do. That goes for gays, lesbians, atheists, secularists, peacemongers, trade unionists, civil libertarians, the whole lot of us.

    On a personal note, I am so sick of Rick Warren. I wish he would go away.

  • http://thedailyprofaner.com/ Chris Altarkation

    You’re right in saying in the long run that the invocation as an event isn’t a big deal.

    However, you’re dead wrong in saying that there’s something wrong with demanding a bigot free inauguration.

    Obama is validating his positions on LGBTQ Americans by giving him a huge forum. You can talk about inclusiveness but we don’t spend time including other bigots do we? Everyone should hop onto change.gov and tell Obama to leave Warren with the KKK – out of the inauguration.

    One more thing, don’t worry about saving your breath, I’m sure you’ve all got plenty to spare for later ;-)

  • http://www.thedailyprofaner.com Jacquie O’Godless

    I’m going to have to disagree with you Hemant – while I see exactly the game Obama is playing by making offerings to the Queer community (an open letter, Michelle writing a piece in the Advocate, these Cabinet appointments) I also see where he is throwing us under a bus to make nice with the religious left.

    While the Cabinet appointment(s) are of course much more important than who gives the inaugural prayer, there is no reason Obama could not have selected someone who would have pleased everyone.

    On a day that will be historical for Queer Americans, with Queers in the parade and Queers in the Cabinet, it is a slap in the face for Obama to share the stage with a man who sees gay love as “just not natural” and likens it to incest.

  • penn

    I’m sorry, but this is idiotic:

    But you can’t expect Obama to shun all Evangelical Christians because of their absurd views. He’s going to need their support in the future.

    Are you serious? Obama needs the support of a group that he lost by 50% in the general election? He is pro-choice and moderately pro-gay. Obama cannot win their support. Would he have really turned off the 25% of white evangelicals that support him by choosing a non-bigot? That’s just absurd.

    I frankly find no point in saving my breath. There’ll be plenty of time for that when I’m dead.

  • http://cyberlizard.com CyberLizard

    I gotta disagree. We atheists have been “letting it slide” for too long. Now, as the “new atheist” movement grows and real attention is starting to be paid to atheists, is the perfect time to voice our concerns.

    And I think that it does not bode well, in the big scheme of things, that BO is choosing to give credibility to Warren by including him, even in the admittedly small role of giving the inaugural prayer. It makes the statement that the old political games are still in full effect. Screw treating each side fairly. Did our side get treated fairly during the last 8 years of a Republican administration? Is the religious right treating us fairly by demonizing atheists and claiming that we are destroying civilization? The “fair” thing to do would be to ostracize the right wing and ignore their demands for bigotry in the name of jebus. I’m not saying vindictively go after them, the way they have gone after us and others, but rather cut them out of the equation and eliminate them as players that all politicians seem to feel the need to bow to.

  • http://cupcakesinhell.blogspot.com jynnan_tonnyx

    THANK YOU.

    Am I the only one who thinks it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to throw the Christofascists a bone so they don’t flip out when they hear the inaugural oath open with “I, Barack Hussein Obama…”?

    There are still citizens in this country who honestly believe that Obama is a terrorist-loving socialist Muslim tyrant. Is it really so terrible to try to get them to chill the f*** out a little bit so that we, as a nation, can enter the next administration with something that at least vaguely resembles unity? Do we really want to provoke gun-owning religious fanatics into feeling any more threatened or persecuted or angry than they already are?!

    I’m willing to fight when it comes down to actual policy, but compromise is important, and a token prayer isn’t really such a huge concession to make.

  • penn

    There are still citizens in this country who honestly believe that Obama is a terrorist-loving socialist Muslim tyrant. Is it really so terrible to try to get them to chill the f*** out a little bit so that we, as a nation, can enter the next administration with something that at least vaguely resembles unity?

    Except, there is no evidence this will appease them at all. From the Freeper quotes I’ve read on this they still think he’s a Muslim Manchurian candidate, but they love how he’s pissing off the left wing.

    I don’t know what the obsession is with Democrats trying to win over unwinnable groups. We can and will continue to have a governing majority without the support of white Envangelical Christians, who will make up a smaller and smaller share of the electorate in the future.

  • Aj

    Anti-evolution, anti-homosexual, anti-abortion, should exclude him from any support, but that ship has already sailed, Obama has already gone to his church. Change I have never believed in.

  • Catherine

    Personally, I have no interest in trying to appease people who think that I do not deserve equal rights.

  • Polly

    I’m surprised at you, Hemant.

    I had no expectations from this most mainstream of all candidates. Nevertheless, he’s even managing to disappoint ME!

    This is political naivete in the extreme.

    No matter what he does, he will NEVER win over the hardcore fundie crowd – and that’s who Warren represents for the most part despite his laid-back persona and Hawaiian shirts.

    Obama could kiss the cross every day, burn gays at the stake in the public square, and execute abortion doctors and they’d still say, “He’s just trying to fool us into thinking he’s on our side. But, the moment we belive him, he’ll unleash Armageddon.”

    My mother, and a few others, still believe he is a secret Muslim in spite of the fact that they KNOW he’s attended a church for 20 years.

    That he’s pandering to this group of idiots is nothing but a foreshadow of what we can expect from him for the next 4 years.

  • Luther Weeks

    Sadly, expect more faith based initiatives, just as Obama promised during the election.

    I supported him. He was the best choice. I support him still. However, to the extent that he may be progressive, he is also very cautious.

  • TNCBG

    Assuming you are correct in saying 16% of the population is atheist, why would you expect the invocation to be removed from the inauguration? Sixteen percent is not a small number of people but it is not even close to the size of Christian population. Why do people who believe in nothing get so worked up over people who believe in something? You are just as free to ignore the prayer as Christians are to embrace it. There is no law requiring you to participate in any such activities nor do you have to listen, look or believe anything you choose not to. So religious symbols annoy you…get over it and live your life. The problem for atheists and gays is that they want approval from the rest of us. You want everyone else to agree that there is no God because it feels good to get such confirmation. Why not just agree to disagree and learn to deal with the fact that 16% does not merit special treatment. The gay community can’t seem to understand the heterosexual view. To the average hetero, gay means deviant sexual behavior…period. The human species, whether created, evolved or dropped here by aliens, is equipped to perpetuate the species via the meeting of male sperm and female eggs. The male, therefore, has equipment that is inserted into the equipment of the female so that sperm can be delivered to the appropriate place. If this process does not take place, we cease to exist. We clearly were not designed to be gay so those who choose that path should expect some resistance. To try and frame their “struggle” as a civil rights movement is an insult to the blacks and women who suffered through the real movement. Gays have not been denied the right to vote or own property. They are not made to sit at the back of the bus or excluded from hotels and restaurants. They are not denied education and certainly were not brought here by force, bought and sold like cattle and enslaved. They simply choose to live and have sex with people of the same gender. Sure there are people who hate gays for being gay, but most people probably don’t care one way or another. I’m not gay but I could care less if you choose that lifestyle. Just don’t ask for me to take a position one way or another. In other words, don’t ask me to vote one way or the other on your lifestyle. I am happy not giving a damn and they should be satisfied with that. If you want to be gay, however, I recommend atheism as well. Trying to be gay while believing in a God that created you to do the exact opposite of what you are doing seems to be a recipe for disaster. Merry thereisnogodmas.

  • Siamang

    I have to say that I think I should be allowed to be deeply disappointed in this selection. Hemant, I’m chilled the fuck out, to be sure. But this seems like politics, and only politics on the part of Obama,and frankly I expected better of him.

    Personally, I can’t stand Rick Warren. He’s the goofball surfer slacker who Jimmy Buffeted himself into one of the wealthiest gigs in all of Jesusdom. I see him as a man of small inclusiveness and huge ambitions.

    I also think that this is a shameful missed opportunity to highlight some thinkers within the religious left in America. You know. Those believers that we’re told by Fox News don’t exist, and we’re told by people like Rick Warren that they are Marxists in Christian clothing.

    I’m not going to storm the gates over this one. I’m not “up in arms”.

    But I am diminished in my enthusiasm for Barack Obama. I am thinking of him as more of a politician for this move.

  • Polly

    I am thinking of him as more of a politician for this move.

    Welcome to the dark side, young Skywalker. ;)

  • Siamang

    Yeah, well, duh, I guess. Some moves he make are less politician-y. This one is more politician-y.

  • stephanie

    Funny, I thought Obama was a *politician* and not an *activist*. In my world, those are two very different things. As a politician, it’s his job to remain diplomatic with groups that special interests (which, sadly, we are- but so are the fundies) do not find acceptable. I admire Obama for being able to hold positions I agree with despite his detractors. I think I’d admire him less if he caved to detractors I happen to agree with on many points.

  • Eliza

    I agree with stephanie. Obama is a politician, with well-honed political instincts. He wouldn’t be where he is if he weren’t. He’s also more willing than most (by far) to make pragmatic choices & embrace his rivals, if not his enemies. He’s showing signs of governing from the middle, not the left; in this country, the “middle” sometimes means veer a bit to the right, veer a bit to the left.

    He’s also (by all reasonable accounts including his self-description) a Christian (and, interestingly, seems to model Jesus’ behavior of accepting people who disagree with him much better than do many Christians in the public eye – c.f. Sarah Palin). Rick Warren is a prominent evangelical. He, Obama, and lefties of many stripes do share some values, including fighting poverty and HIV/AIDS in Africa. How many other Christian leaders have spoken about, and worked on, this type of social justice issue so prominently?

    Jackie wrote:

    I agree with you. I understand how people feel it’s a slight, but sometimes I think some atheists won’t be satisfied unless it was an atheist pastor, which they don’t exist.

    “Atheist pastors” do exist, though they’re less numerous & mostly less well known than the other kind. “Humanist ministers” (most UU) and non-theistic Buddhists would be the main examples. (Or, how about a former pastor, now atheist? Dan Barker, for example?)

  • Varda

    I gotta disagree. We atheists have been “letting it slide” for too long. Now, as the “new atheist” movement grows and real attention is starting to be paid to atheists, is the perfect time to voice our concerns.

    I agree!
    I also went to Change.gov and told them my opinion.

    I am extremely disgusted by this choice.
    If Obama thought that he really needed a pastor to do this he could have picked someone who wasn’t a total scumbag.

  • http://cupcakesinhell.blogspot.com jynnan_tonnyx

    I don’t know what the obsession is with Democrats trying to win over unwinnable groups.

    He’s not trying to “win over” anyone. He’s just trying to let them know that they are still recognized as citizens of this country, and won’t be steam-rolled over by the secular-progressives they’re so afraid of. He’s trying to create something vaguely resembling an atmosphere of healing and maybe, just maybe, bring an end to the constant divisiveness that is destroying this country.

    If we ignore or antagonize the Evangelicals, they’ll only fight that much harder, moderates will be turned off, the country will become more divided, and that won’t be good for anybody except maybe a 2012 Huckabee/Palin ticket.

    Some of us voted for Obama because we wanted less antagonism and demonization of opponents in politics, and more attempts at unity and finding common ground; NOT because we wanted a left-wing version of Dubya.

  • http://avertyoureye.blogspot.com/ Teleprompter

    I agree with Hemant on this one, and also I agree with jynnan_tonnyx. I voted for Obama because I wanted “less antagonization and demonization of opponents in politics”.

    I don’t care if Rick Warren gives an invocation or not: well, obviously I would prefer if he didn’t give it, but Obama is a politician just like all the other ones and knows that he needs to unify the diverse elements of his coalition. You do remember that he did win 5% more of the evangelical vote than Kerry, and much more of the Catholic vote, too? Obama will do what he needs to do to maintain political support.

    That doesn’t excuse Warren, but I’m willing to live with it at least until we can see Obama’s policies. Seriously, do you all think conservatives were complaining in 2001 that Bush was going to have a liberal government because he appointed Norman Mineta? Obama isn’t George W. Bush – get over yourselves, please.

  • http://www.sheeptoshawl.com writerdd

    Randall Balmer would have been a great choice.

  • Siamang

    The male, therefore, has equipment that is inserted into the equipment of the female so that sperm can be delivered to the appropriate place. If this process does not take place, we cease to exist.

    TNGBC seems to think that if we “allow” some people to be gay, then EVERYONE will have to be gay. And then the human race will cease to exist.

    Dumb post is STUUUUPID.

  • penn

    If we ignore or antagonize the Evangelicals, they’ll only fight that much harder, moderates will be turned off, the country will become more divided, and that won’t be good for anybody except maybe a 2012 Huckabee/Palin ticket.

    This doesn’t make any sense. They were already out in full force against Obama and they will be again in 2012. Does anyone seriously deny this? They still think he is a Muslim Manchurian candidate for crying out loud. These are not people who are arguing in good faith. They can’t be placated by this BS pandering. And, I love to see a single “moderate” in that camp who would be lost if Rick Warren wasn’t picked.

  • mikespeir

    Actually, what should have been TNCBG’s first paragraph ain’t a bad reason to let this go.

    The rest, though, reminded me immediately of me years ago arguing on Chuck Girard’s now defunct Mars Hill Forum (You should still check out his joke page: http://www.chuck.org/jokes.htm ) My reasoning then, as a Christian, was just as bad as TNCBG’s is now.

  • http://blueollie.wordpress.com ollie

    Warren is a horrible example of bigotry gone mainstream and my fear is that this helps give this clown credibility.

    Nevertheless, Obama hit it out of the park when he chose Chu for Secretary of Energy…imagine a world class scientist in charge of energy policy.

    That pick alone made my work for Obama worthwhile.

    Still, I don’t like this pick.

    Nevertheless, F. A. makes an excellent point.

  • PrimeNumbers

    Warren is a moron. Associate with Morons and you’ll be thought of as one. Asking him to perform your invocation makes you look the fool. I thought better of Obama…

  • Aj

    TNCBG,

    Double spaced paragraphs, use them.

    If it shouldn’t be such a big deal for atheists then why is it such a big deal for Christians to have this and other religion in government? This is the same argument used against the separation of church and state for other things. Yet if these numerous encroachments shouldn’t be something to worry about, why are Christians so adamant in keeping them?

    Look up naturalistic fallacy, read how homosexuality could have evolved and stop the nonsense about things beings “designed” for male/female reproduction. Even if you want to believe foolishly that people “choose” to be homosexual, that still doesn’t mean you should stop people from doing what they want consensually with other adults.

    If you’re going to say that “black” and gay experience can’t be compared you can’t include all “black” experience from slave ships to the present day, while only including the present day in gay experience. For the majority of the 20th century homosexuality was illegal with severe penalty (long term imprisonment, meaning no vote, no property, no freedom). Before, the punishment was death, or sometimes torture, an example being castration.

  • Autumnal Harvest

    Ditto to all those who say that trying to appease lunatics is pointless at best, and disasterous at worst. I’m all for unity, but not if it means pretending that bigotry is OK. Are Obama supporter’s really imagining the following conversation?

    Evangelical: Obama is a terrorist-loving socialist Muslim tyrant.

    Obama supporter: Actually, he’s a Christian. He’s said that many times.

    Evangelical: He’s lying. He’s hiding the fact that he’s a Muslim because he wants Al Qaeda to win.

    Obama supporter: Did you hear that he asked a well-known bigot to speak at his inauguration.

    Evangelical: Really? Maybe I had this guy all wrong. Maybe he really is one of us.

  • http://virtualityforreal.blogspot.com Allytude

    Hemant, when I read your views in response to something like this, they are very exactly what I want to say.

    I think the question of whether an invocation should be there at all is more important than who is doing it. And even that debate is not too important right now- it will be in awhile, but we do have more important things than whether “god is on our money” ( and our mouths).
    Sometimes we do get very carried away by our causes- so much that we go into the opposite extreme.

  • http://bornagainblog.wordpress.com Justin

    Why would anyone be surprised that Obama supports and calls on the support of bigoted religious leaders?

    I find it deeply amusing that progressives who thought this man would be their champion get surprised and outraged when he acts like the left-wing Republican he is and always has been.

    Quit whining. If you’d wanted real inclusivity you’d have voted for Kucinich.

  • http://mypantstheatre.blogspot.com bullet

    But Warren is not preaching hatred against homosexuals and atheists on Inauguration Day.

    Giving Warren the national stage at such an important (historic!) official event implies acceptance and promotion of his beliefs and agenda, regardless of the topic of his address.

    No one could put Fred Phelps on that stage and pretend it wasn’t a validation of hatred. Except for intensity, I fail to see the difference between the two.

  • http://cupcakesinhell.blogspot.com jynnan_tonnyx

    What do we want here? I voted for Obama, as I said, because I am sick of the country growing more and more divided (and hostile) and I would at least like somebody to make an effort to bridge the gap. If progressives aren’t even willing to pick their battles and make such a minor concession as this (and it is minor: this is an invocation, not a leadership position or input on official policy) then where are we headed? The Evangelicals certainly aren’t going to go away OR change their beliefs any time soon. If neither side is willing to at least TRY to START the process of reaching across the aisle, where are we headed? How long until a full-on civil war? 50 years? 30? 10? No one wants to compromise their values, no one wants to surrender any freedoms, but surely we REALLY don’t want our country to be destroyed by conflicts like this. Right? If we’re going to try to unify this country, we have to start somewhere. It’s a process. No one has said we’re completely surrendering all hope of gay equality. We’re not bending over backwards to put the Christofascists in charge. We’re just letting a minister say a few words as a starting point in the process of showing that Obama acknowledges that we are ALL Americans who deserve to be acknowledged and heard. It’s not going to work over night. Maybe it won’t work at all. But if we don’t even try, what do we have to look forward to?

  • http://www.doublesingledouble.com amanda

    I don’t care if Jesus himself is giving the invocation, WHY IS THERE AN INVOCATION to begin with? Millions of people start new jobs every day without having to be “prayed in.”

  • Aaron

    More evidence that Obama will not bring any real and lasting change to the White House. Sorry folks, nothing to see here. Move along.

  • Aj

    jynnan_tonnyx,

    Are you two separate personalities? It looks from here as if you’re writing two contradictory view points, this is no big deal on the one hand, but on the other it’s of monumental importance, to stop the destruction of the United States. This isn’t going to win over Warren’s herd, he’s just going to benefit from the publicity.

    No one, not even Obama is going to acknowledge and hear every whackjob, it’s an insult to many that he’s giving this to that particular whackjob. For example, he wouldn’t give this to a Mormon racist, or a Protestant who said the Roman Catholic Church was a conspiracy directed by the devil. Yet an anti-evolution, anti-abortion, anti-gay moron gets the job, sending out a message who Obama doesn’t give a shit about.

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  • Kyle

    My problem is the prayer in general. Are Jews getting a blessing in? Muslims? FSM? Hindus?

    It’s exactly the same fight as the signs on capitol grounds in Washington. You can’t just limit it arbitrarily. If someone was to sue, I bet it’d be done away with.

  • tncbg

    AJ: I used to believe in double spacing but I now feel it is intellectually dishonest. Double spacing inhibits my creativity and I find people who double space to be intolerant of diverse viewpoints. I feel that we should all be free to space any way we please without heavy handed rules of morality based on foolish custom. I single space and I am damn proud of it! The Roman Catholic Church had far too much control in merry old England so our founders made it clear that church and state should be separate. The same founders included the references to God that so infuriate atheists. I want these references left alone because they continue to reflect the beliefs of most Americans. Are we really expected to remove every reference to God because 16% of the population chooses to look, listen and be offended? Do a better job of growing your constituency and you might be able to make some changes. For now, ignore the “misguided” references to God and take comfort in your imagined intellecutual superiority. Next….I am not interested in how homosexuality could have evolved. Even the apes that you proudly claim as your anscestors knew enough to procreate. Had they not, you and your unevolved cousins at the zoo would not be here. I don’t believe all gay people choose to be gay. I also do not believe that some gay leads to all gay. The point is that it will not ever be mainstream to be gay and all of the parades, marriages and protests will not change that. Say what you will regarding the design of the human species but I can absolutely guarantee you that two men diddling one another will not result in either of them becoming pregnant. Forgive me for struggling with the belief that the big bang or some other random event resulted in a bunch of apes that somehow figured out how to create more apes that eventually evolved into humans who think its a good idea to mate with the same gender. As for the illegality of homosexuality, you cannot compare that to being black. Being gay can be hidden with just a little effort but you can’t hide the color of your skin. Blacks never had the option of staying “in the closet”. Are you gay if you prefer the same gender but do not engage in the sex act? Is it not the sex act that makes one gay and isn’t the sex act a choice? If I prefer the company of other men but choose not to diddle them in the arse, am I really gay or just potentially gay? On the other hand, you can’t choose not to be black nor can you be potentially black. Black people were sent to the back of the bus while gay white people sat up front. The master of the plantation could diddle his male companion in private but the slaves were slaves because of their skin color. The taxi driver passes the black guy because he is black but picks up the gay white guy having no knowledge of his sexual preference. If you tell me I am going to prison for being gay, I have the chance to avoid prison by keeping it in my pants. The black guy has no choice and no opportunity to avoid racism. No comparison…period.

  • Siamang

    Hemant, you’re not in California right now. Do you have any real clue how whipped up the gay community is right now about prop 8?

    I don’t think you are. I also don’t think Obama’s people are. I honestly think we’re *this* close to seeing riots. People are really, REALLY fucking upset here in California.

    To choose Rick Warren…. I’m not talking about choosing a conservative. I mean to SPECIFICALLY CHOOSE Rick Warren, a man who is very, VERY visibly tied to Prop 8 is mind-numbingly stupid.

    It’s a dumb choice. It’s politically tone-deaf.

    The gay community is a tinder-box right now. Obama should have known that.

  • Maria

    I agree Hemant

  • Seth C.

    Well, you also have to understand what kind of status Warren has with the Religious Right…he’ll say a few words and step down.

    Obama will continue in his policies and if things go awry, we can take action, like people tend to and should do.

    Plus, if any one has seen the “session” between Obama, McCain, and Warren, you’ll understand the money and faith connection, even if they don’t agree in every area. I think that Obama has a level-fair-minded enough head on his shoulders that he will do the right thing regarding homosexual marriages.

    I believe the following maxim applies to this situation the best:

    “In the essential things, unity. In the nonessential things, liberty. In all things, charity.”

  • http://www.atheistrev.com vjack

    It sounds like we’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one. It may not be a big deal to you, but it certainly is to many of us.

    But you can’t expect Obama to shun all Evangelical Christians because of their absurd views.

    I don’t think anybody is expecting this. What we would hope for is that Obama shuns this particular bigot.

  • http://cupcakesinhell.blogspot.com jynnan_tonnyx

    Are you two separate personalities? It looks from here as if you’re writing two contradictory view points, this is no big deal on the one hand, but on the other it’s of monumental importance, to stop the destruction of the United States.

    Let me be clear: I don’t think this specific issue is major. But the political tone that I see this choice as being a part of: a bipartisan attempt at unity and finding common ground, etc, is, in my view, an important consideration. I think an unapologetic radical progressive president, while probably being correct (in my opinion) on most issues, would ultimately be bad for the country as a whole. I think moderation and unity are important, and I think those are the first things to be forgotten by extremists on either end of the political spectrum, when they insist that their agenda is the only acceptable course of action, and to hell with their counterparts on the opposite end of the political spectrum.

    Also, I must stress that this is, I think, the best possible way of reaching out to the evangelical crowd. It’s a brief ceremonial speech. No authority. No influence on policy. No lasting impression. No tangible results. An entirely symbolic gesture. Maybe, rather than throwing a tantrum because Obama doesn’t do every single thing exactly the way we want him to from Day One, we should step back, look at the big picture, and focus on the decisions and actions that really matter in The Long Run. If Obama defers to The Religious Right when it comes to actually governing (i.e., anything that will have any actual effect on anyone’s life), I will be just as pissed as anyone else. But I’m saving that for when it’s really needed.

  • Siamang

    jynnan_tonnyx,

    Unfortunately right now the gay community is dealing with its own problems. Problems that people like Rick Warren were instrumental in while Barack Obama was mostly silent on the issue.

    It’s clear, in the actual governing department that gays and their families are getting steamrolled, codified in the actual constitution of the state as less than family.

    This message from Barack Obama is clear: gay families are on their own.

    Further, picking this incendiary figure will CAUSE a larger divide than it will bridge. Because of the politically stupid move, it will CAUSE gay people to protest, very, very loudly.

    This will cause Fox News to bray about the gays, and “liberal intolerance”. And America will see more footage of screaming, angry gays. It will not win anyone from the right over, but it will fan the flames of those who fight against gays… here they’ll be seeing lots of footage of angry gays. And they’ll say “wow, if THAT’s what liberalism is, leave me out!”

    This could have all been avoided if Obama had merely picked a different ultra-right-wing prosperity-theology moneybags evangelical.

  • Lost Left Coaster

    I don’t entirely understand why Obama would be an “unapologetic radical progressive” if he shunned a right-wing, anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-choice, pro-war evangelical preacher from his inauguration. Trust me, Obama may take steps towards moderation and unity, but Rick Warren will not. Obama appeared at Saddleback in August, and a month later Warren was implying in a video to his followers that Obama supported Proposition 8, which was a total lie. He compares same-sex marriage to pedophilia. He is a dangerous extremist, and he is perpetuating hateful and backwards ideas in this country.

    This doesn’t make me give up on Obama or stop supporting him by any means. But it is important that we are having this conversation now. Because we need to ensure that Warren is thoroughly discredited, hopefully in order to ensure that we don’t have to hear the words “Obama” and “Warren” in the same sentence ever again after January 20th.

    I agree with you, jynnan_tonnyx, the real test is how the right wing agenda plays out in the Obama administration after January 20th. Then, our voices will be more important than ever. I suspect we will be able to count on Obama as an ally on important issues, but we will need to push him to do the right thing, just as we would need to push any politician, and as we are trying to push him to do the right thing now and disassociate himself from a dangerous extremist like Warren.

    One last thought: call me an extremist, but I do insist that respect for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people is, in fact, the only acceptable course of action. And I do say to hell with anyone that thinks otherwise. Metaphorically, of course!

  • Anonymous Postman

    Chill. The. Fuck. Out.

    I’m going to have to agree with this. People need to remain calm. The emergency exits are still on both sides and the back, but there’s no need to pull the release so soon.

    (Quote taken after a play by play of disaster.)

    This could have all been avoided if Obama had merely picked a different ultra-right-wing prosperity-theology moneybags evangelical.

    This can still be avoided by not letting anger irrationalize your actions. It’s 2008. We don’t need to take to the streets to communicate disgust at such a pragmatically small thing. Just take a step back, send emails to the cabinet-to-be, and blog about your opinions rather than taking actions that will lead to civil unrest and a bigot-supportive backlash.

  • Lisa

    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:

    http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2009/01/the_truth_about_rick_warren_an.php

    http://www.slate.com/id/2207554/

    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:

    http://iamjunius.wordpress.com/2008/12/06/rick-warren-supports-call-for-ahmadinejad-assassination/

    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?