A couple notable responses to Barack Obama picking Rick Warren to deliver his Inauguration invocation:
The Secular Coalition for America has a problem with Obama claiming that his will be an inauguration (and administration) of inclusivity: “… the choice of two Protestants to open and close the ceremony suggests otherwise.”
They’ve sent this letter to Obama:
… Your spokesperson has said that yours will be “the most inclusive, open, accessible inauguration in American history.” How is opening the program with one Protestant Christian and closing it with another inclusive? You yourself said it would include a wide range of viewpoints. Who on your inaugural dais will express the viewpoints of not only the tens of millions of nontheistic Americans, but that majority of citizens who believe there is now too much religious influence in our politics and government?
By choosing an intolerant religious leader to open your presidency, you are not creating change, but rather following the dismal tradition of your predecessor.
Lori Lipman Brown
I have spent many mournful hours turning over the Rick Warren conundrum in my brain, and it all adds up to this: what makes Rick Warren a “moderate?”
HIS “FRIENDS” goatee?
HIS HAWAIIAN shirt?
THE FACT that he spoke at TED?
SOME have argued that it is his commitment to good works: his anti-hunger and anti-poverty initiatives. His work with AIDS and HIV patients. (Though some may call this the basic requirement of being a “Christian” in the first place).
SOME have argued as well that it is his willingness to reach out to those who do not agree with him. (Also known as “conversion”)
WHAT’S MORE: this not solely a question of being inclusive of different viewpoints. If Warren were merely a pro-life creationist, I would not be so bothered. It’s the question that Obama and Warren agree on that really troubles me.
BOTH WARREN AND OBAMA believe in a fallacy: that one can support equal rights for “everybody” (Warren) and for gay folks specifically (Obama), and yet not support a gay person having the same access as a straight person to the governmental special status known as “marriage.”
I HAVE CONFIDENCE that, in no short order, Prop 8 will be repealed, and the gay marriage debate will look as absurd at the miscegenation debates of the 20th century do now. I have confidence this will happen not because it is merely right, or because the electorate will suddenly love gayness, but because opposition to gay marriage has no logical foundation in a civil society that is premised on equality.
(CHURCHES can go ahead and ban it all they like. They have their own charters, and no obligation to logic.)
THOSE OF US, however, who foolishly refused to take Obama at his word when he told us he didn’t support gay marriage OVER AND OVER AGAIN must now take him at his deed. He really, really doesn’t want gays to get married. SRSLY.
LOOK: my gut tells me that Obama likes and respects gay people and wants them to thrive in this country. I think he is tolerant by nature, as his patience with Wright and his embrace of Warren shows.
BUT AFTER MCCLURKIN and now Warren, it is hard not to conclude that Barack Obama is somewhat tone deaf when it comes to gay issues. And at this point, if he is interested in convincing us otherwise (and I’m not presuming he is), it will take more than a few words or a second pastor or some other symbolic gesture. It will take deeds.*