The news that anti-gay bigot Rick Warren will be delivering the invocation at the inauguration of Barack Obama really sucks. Not necessarily because I think the invocation is such a powerful platform – quick, name the last ten people to do it! – but because of the likelihood that Warren will be tapped for other responsibilities when Obama becomes President, and will subsequently become the “bipartisan” face of religion in America. And while I don’t have a problem with Democrats working with pastors, even those in the evangelical movement, on the common ground issues like AIDS prevention and poverty, Warren is not the one that they should be elevating. He’s a snake charmer who is just as extreme as a Falwell or a Robertson in many ways. Here’s PFAW’s release:
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. He has recently compared marriage by loving and committed same-sex couples to incest and pedophilia. 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.
I’m sure that Warren’s supporters will portray his selection as an appeal to unity by a president who is committed to reaching across traditional divides. Others may explain it as a response to Warren inviting then-Senator Obama to speak on AIDS and candidate Obama to appear at a forum, both at his church. But the sad truth is that this decision further elevates someone who has in recent weeks actively promoted legalized discrimination and denigrated the lives and relationships of millions of Americans.
Liberals just aren’t going to see eye to eye with Rick Warren. There’s no compromise to be made. This is a guy who recently agreed that Iran needs to be “taken out” in language that is not discernible from a mullah. And he supported Prop. 8, calling it a free speech issue and lying about its effects.
This guy does not need to be made the kinder, gentler face of the evangelical movement, in a cynical play for support that will not be forthcoming. It’s a big mistake.