Obama inauguration pastor choice: war or peace?

December 19, 2008

NEWYORK-SUMMIT/CLINTONPresident-elect Barack Obama is seeking peace at his inauguration, but gay and lesbians see his choice of pastor as a nakedly political continuation of war.

“It is important for America to come together, even though we may have disagreements on certain social issues,” the prez-elect said, defending his choice of Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren — a same-sex marriage opponent. Obama said he personally would continue be a fierce advocate for equality for gay and lesbian Americans.

Equality California chief Geoff Kors said the decision amounted to choosing someone who ‘declared war on one minority community’.

Warren’s evangelical ministry is known more for its focus on social issues than many other evangelical pastors seen as strong political conservatives.

He calls his grand plan PEACE: Promote reconciliation, Equip leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick, Educate the next generation.

So is it war or peace?

Obama says the expression of diverse views was the spirit of his campaign that he hopes to carry over to his administration, starting on Jan 20 with his inauguration, where others who disagree with Pastor Warren will also speak.

“And that’s how it should be, because that’s what America is about,” Obama told reporters. “That’s part of the magic of this country — that we are diverse and noisy and opinionated.” 

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Chip East (Pastor Rick Warren speaks at Clinton Global Initiative in New York on Sept. 26, 2008)


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Welcome to the culture wars, part 2. This time the gays and libs are attacking the Christians. Maybe it’s time to stop blaming the religious right for the culture wars?

Posted by David | Report as abusive

Typical hostile reaction from the hypocrites of the left wing. Obama has demonstrated more diplomacy in a few days than his predecessor did in eight years. Too bad the left is too moronic and hateful to realize that.

Posted by JoeQCanadian | Report as abusive

The protest boils down to the notion that only ministers who endorse gay marriage are eligible to speak at the inauguration. If that were the case, then B. Obama would be the President of only a minority of Americans. The majority, even in ueber-liberal California, do not view “marriage” as being a relationship between bride and bride, or groom and groom, but only between a man and a woman. If the concept of marriage that has prevailed for thousands of years becomes Forbidden Thought in America, this nation will have destroyed itself.

Posted by Lucius | Report as abusive

brave choice by obama, the gay movement are a bunch of bullies, they are not bothered about marriage, it is irrelevant to them, they just begrudge the fact that other people are.fact is they live in a world that revolves around their own self interest and are totally intolerant to people who value the sanctity of marriage.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

I have a question for those opposed to gay marriage. How does gay and lesbian couples getting married affect you or your marriage? Not one iota is the answer. Freedom of religion also includes freedom from religion. People opposed to gay marriage are denying gay couples rights based on their own religious beliefs. News flash-not everyone believes what you do and your small mindedness is a very un-Christ-like view.
I would remind you to “judge not lest you be judged”.

Posted by Rev. Eric Hopkins | Report as abusive

This is exactly why we can’t have organized prayer in the public school system. Who will administer or lead it? The atheist teacher? The lesbian? The Southern Baptist teacher that feels girls should not wear pants? C’mon people, if we are going to turn cartwheels over who prays with our president, what kind of fuss are we going to have about who prays over our children. Raise your hand if you are Christian and have no problem with the Wiccan teacher leading it?

I’m a Barack liberal, but we elected the man to be all inclusive…not Sean Hannity or Limbaugh, not someone who takes the ball away When the conservatives come to play. Getting Ellen Degeneres or Clay Aiken to pray at the inauguration does not make our country better.

Posted by Nat Turner | Report as abusive

Oh, it’s war. It’s the Sista Souljah moment for gay people. These Christian ministers have gay blood on their hands, and Obama’s “disagree without being disagreeable” rhetoric only pours salt on very deep wounds. These ministers have given aid, comfort and a rallying ideology to those who have taken our jobs, our lives, our personal security and our ability to feel safe in society. Warren has no business blessing anyone.

Posted by Mike Karpa | Report as abusive

Mr. Warren’s view are clearly mainstream for the vast majority of Americans (and clearly Biblically based). It’s a shame that a relatively small group of “open minded” individuals would try to hi-jack Mr. Obama’s choice to redefine what extreme is. Mr. Bush allowed the extreme right to define his policies….let’s hope that Mr. Obama will continue to avoid this trap.

Posted by Tim | Report as abusive

I think Rick Warren is a good choice although, after the cowardly “above my pay grade comment by Obama at the debate at Saddlebrook, I wonder if this is just another attempt to give an open minded face to a radical abortion and gay marriage agenda. Remember Obama opposes gay marriage and Prop 8 at the same time. That translates as let the Courts impose gay marriage and don’t let the public have a say.

Posted by Paul Fisher | Report as abusive

Don’t you love how the right-wingers love to obscure the real point by talking as if anyone fighting for equal treatment is somehow a whining liberal. This isn’t an issue of religion or faith or morality. It’s a matter of equity. As long as we have a social security system which offers benefits to “survivors” and as long as an entire class of people are unable to opt out of paying into the system and are unable to designate who should be their “survivor” than the system is unconstitutional. And once the argument is framed that way before the Supreme Court (and it will be) equal CIVIL treatment for gay couples will be a reality here as it is in other enlightened nations. Any religion that so chooses may exclude those couples from their midst. But the civil administration of the government may not. Warren is a red-herring on this issue. It’s not about religion.

Posted by Tell The Truth | Report as abusive

Oops-hit button before I was done. As I was saying, I absolutely detest that fat creep, Rick Warren. He and his “church” put out a children’s video that had the user KILLLING people, and it was OKAY to kill non-christians, and also okay to kill christians who didn’t “behave” properly. What kind of message is that?? I find this behavior worse than any behavior by anyone that Warren doesn’t agree with. He wants to teach YOUR children that it is okay to kill people. Rick Warren is the abomination, no one else.

Posted by Frit | Report as abusive

Imagine (granted, it takes some imagination) that a gay person had been elected President and at his or her inauguration that President-elect had a pastor that served the KKK give the invocation. And then excused that as showing tolerance for a diversity of ideas.

I wonder how Obama would feel about that?

Would Obama embrace that diversity ?

At least Obama is consistent in his religious associations: Rev. Wright become a millionaire selling anti-Semitism and other hate speech, now with Wright out of favor, Obama turns to a religious facist who uses hate of gays and liberals to build his power and wields that power as club.

If you like this move, wait until Obama takes our tax money to expand Bush’s religious hand outs to $500 Million, as Obama promised during the campaign (what, did you miss that one?)


Posted by JimF | Report as abusive

I supported the President-elect but this week he and his whole administration lost my support. I had planned to take the day off and participate by watching and being involved in this historic inauguration. Now that the President-elect has decided that Rick Warren will deliver the invocation at his inauguration I will treat it as any other day. Actually I treat it just like Bush’s two inaugurations I will ignore them completely. Rick Warren is a wolf in sheep’s clothing he talks softly but has a big stick ready to bash other Americans he feels are not worthy of his values. Well I do not feel that the Christian Values that Rick Warren espouses represent Christ or the tenants of Christianity. Don’t believe me just listen to his statements on Youtube and the interview released today with Ann Curry.

The President-elect needs to remember who voted for him. It was not Rick Warren or even a large percentage of the people he influences with his lies and false love. On the other hand, I like millions of other Gay Americans believed in what Mr. Obama promised and voted for him. However if Rick Warren has any part in this inauguration I will no longer support anything that comes from this administration. I know that this seems petty but you have to understand that Rick Warren has made a career and a fortune out of bashing Gay Americans who in many cases are much more of a Christian than Warren will ever be.

This issue has taught this 50 year old a valuable lesson. In the future I will be open to support the Republicans and the right wingers going forward because I know where I stand with them. I know I’m screwed from the beginning. The President-elect’s campaign promises are starting to sound like the compassionate conservatism that was promised from the last administration. How long after Bush was elected did we see what compassionate conservatism really meant? I guess Obama decided to make his true feeling know before he takes office.

If Rick Warren invitation is only about inclusion then where is the speaker who believes that a African American should not be elected President of the Untied States. They exist, lots of them why should they not have a place at the inauguration table. The reason is it would be an insult to the President-elect and every other African American. This is exactly why Gay Americans feel that giving Rick Warren any role in this inauguration is an insult and strikes at the dignity of their person. Count on my vote going to whoever runs against you in 2012 if you go forward with this slap in the face to me and millions of other Americans.

Posted by Michael P. | Report as abusive

We are talking about religion here. It’s hard to take Mr. Warren seriously when he claims to believe in talking snakes. And sure there’s bigotry there, but religion has always been sprinkled with bigotry. So this is not surprising. It is sad however, that President-Elect Obama would pander to these guys.

No matter how positive Obama may be for the country, he’s still a politician at the end of the day.

Posted by Spaceman3 | Report as abusive

Dialogue is neede with reasonable people who have divergent views. But Warren for the invocation? C’mon Barack – this a boneheaded move. Schedule a conference in April 2009 “Religion in Public Policy” or something. Not this charade of diversity. Also, we need to marginalize people who do not hold rational viewpoints. A reasonable policy disagreement is “single payor healthcare or employer provided insurance.” It is not a reasonable policy position to say “we don’t like gays and lesbians, so they shouldn’t have access to civil rights.” Civil rights are not debatable. Abortion is not up to public policy, because there are no societal implications – only religious ones. Why can’t we all just see that as the truth that it is and move on with important discussions about poverty, education, healthcare and the environment?

Posted by Larry Glass | Report as abusive

Come on folks. You voted for change and now you scream bloody murder because it looks like that might actually happen??? I feel certain that our new president will remember who voted for him but that doesn’t mean that he has to completely ignore those who didn’t. Although I disagree with Rev. Warren’s position on the issue of the rights of gays and lesbians, I know that you can’t dismiss the opinions of those who disagree with you and expect everything to go your way. I’m no Pollyanna, I just lived thru Jim Crow.

Posted by Toni | Report as abusive

Obama isnt gay and should have the opttion of having whover he wants at his inaugreation.Half of all marriages end up in divorce why make 100% as in the case of gay marriages. Its all about money and legality its not as if they can actually mate.

Posted by Douglas White | Report as abusive

This IS about religion. Every single christian I know, including my father, who is a christian minister, believes that Marriage is between two committed, loving souls, regardless of their gender. He has been performing CHRISTIAN gay marriages for YEARS, because he believes that is the path of Christ – the path of love. People like Rick Warren want to use government to force their bigoted religion on the rest of us. He is attacking not just gays, but liberal, moderate, and enlightened christians everywhere who believe we can have a future free from hate.

I appreciate any attempt to engender dialogue in the culture war – but this choice comes very close to glorifying the oppressor while claiming to support the oppressed.

Posted by jonathan | Report as abusive

the bible, christians believe is the written word of god and we try to live by its teachings.rev 22;18.19 warns about adding or taking away and the consequences if we do.there is also a particular reference as a warning to men who make their living by preaching this word,and the responsibility this entails.and yet we have two involved in these postings, one suggest that jesus today would be opposed to what he came to endorse,gods word,absolutely dreadful compromise shame on you.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

To me it simply seems a problem of crass intolerance.

Posted by Andy Mald | Report as abusive

No president even Jesus can have 100% approval rating…and the world will go on. What if Obama asks Pope Benedict to give the invocation? Will there be less of an outrage? FYI… The pope and Rick Warren share the exact views on gay marriage as the majority of CA voters. R. Warren could do himself a big favor by apologizing for his demagogic statements but at the same time reiterate his position against gay-marriage. This is what Obama expects of him and I think thats what will happen. So relax everybody…Obama wants civil unions with social protections for gays. “Marriage” is a “religious tradition” recognized by governments to establish social order.

Posted by George E | Report as abusive