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December 18, 2008

Obama Defends Rick Warren's Inaugural Invocation Plans

Barack Obama defended his choice of California megapastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at next month's Inauguration, responding to severe outcry from gay rights advocates and liberals.

"I am a fierce advocate of equality for gay and lesbian Americans. It is something that I have been consistent on and something that I intend to continue to be consistent on in my presidency," Obama said at a news conference this morning. "What I've also said is that it is important for American to come together even though we may have disagreements on certain social issues."

Gay rights advocates angrily denounced Obama's choice of Warren, who is an opponent of abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

"Your invitation to Reverend Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at your inauguration is a genuine blow to LGBT Americans," the president of Human Rights Campaign, Joe Solomonese, wrote to Obama yesterday. "[W]e feel a deep level of disrespect when one of architects and promoters of an anti-gay agenda is given the prominence and the pulpit of your historic nomination."

To my knowledge, these groups didn't make a fuss when Florida megachurch pastor Joel Hunter, who also opposes abortion and same-sex marriage, prayed with Obama on Election Day and prayed at the Democratic National Convention. However, these groups are still stinging from California's decision to ban gay marriage, which Warren vocally supported.

Comments

Very interesting. I think just goes to show that "advocating" for gay and lesbian equality means a whole lot more than just rights, because it's not about "equality." It means a rejection and silencing of anyone who disagrees with the "agenda" that Joe Solomonese is talking about. That's not equality, at least not in the first amendment's definition.

I think it's very important to remember that these people (GBLT groups) have been very hurt by religious groups. Loud religious groups and leaders (like Rick Warren) who have worked so hard to prevent GLBT groups from having the same rights as heterosexual couples in the name of religion are very hurtful/hateful, not to mention terrible witnesses. While it does seem like The GLBT groups are whining and being very partisan and annoying now, I think we should consider where they are coming from. Perhaps Obama is like their champion, and it would certainly hurt to not only lose hard-won rights in California but also to have your MVP choose an enemy to welcome him into office. Injustice always creates outrage, and the losers will never walk away happy, even if Obama's decision is right.

I think it just goes to show you that LBGT is a political coalition... like every other coalition/social movement... and they'll cry bloody murder when they don't get their way, regardless of the benefits of "dialogue" or some such high-minded idea.

The question is whether evangelicals can rise above such partisan name-calling... and not exclude and ignore people who support gay marriage from the public space simply because the majority of evangelicals have a policy disagreement with them. God is not afraid of what our govt. can do/become, and neither should we.

Obama's playing smart again, playing the unifier - and paying back Rick Warren for not backing McCain and for treating Obama with extraordinary graciousness in the Saddleback Forum. And congrats to Rick Warren, for hosting the Saddleback Forum and showing the world that being Evangelical informs our politics, but does not necessarily make us a slave to any one party.

Re to Lindsey Philips: standing up for man-woman marriage is just common sense. It is neither denying anyone their rights, nor harmful, nor hateful, nor unjust, nor a terrible witness; and frankly I resent it when well-meaning folks like you besmirch anyone who stands up for man-woman marriage with such demeaning and false talk. Regarding rights, everyone has the right to be married, so long as it's between a man and a woman.

Why is everyone so anxious to re-ignite the culture wars between "us" and "them?" The extremes on both the left and right thrive on this type of polarization and divisiveness.

We're now seeing a backlash by the GLBT community against conservative evangelicals who recently backlashed against mainline Protestants' accommodation of the GLBT movement, which was a backlash against intolerance on the part of Christian conservatives. Depending on how far you want to go back, we can point the finger in all directions here.

Warren's invocation is not an endorsement of Obama's pro-choice views. Obama's selection of Warren is not an endorsement of Warren's conservatism on gay marriage. If we could just agree on that much, it would be a good start.

Rick Warren's presence at Obama's inauguration is a slap in the face to the LGBT community and their allies. Rick Warren along with many fundamentalist evangelical christians do not understand the damage they have done to thousands of LGBT people. The suicide rate is highest amongst LGBT youth, why? Not because there is anything innately wrong with being gay but because the church has done a good job of condemning, ostracizing, demonizing LGBT people. We are people, humans, first and foremost. Yet, when it comes to OUR rights, we are the last minority (as in numbers) that people are allowed to be bigoted towards.

You guys really don't know how negatively you effect people spiritually and emotionally. It is painful. I myself was suicidal for many years because I believed God did not love me because of my sexual orientation. And all I wanted to do was please God and yet, from as early as Junior High I knew that I was not like the other girls who were interested in boys. I was not molested, I don't have major father image issues, I just was attracted to girls. So, for 10 years I tried to change, went to ex-gay ministries, christian counseling, prayer ministries, and to no avail I was still lesbian. I eventually took time out from it all, and sought God through prayer and reading the Word, and over time God showed me that I did not have to change. That he loved me just as I am. I read the bible from a non-literalist point of view, which many theologians do, because not to do so would actually mean that we would not be able to eat shellfish, could keep slaves, and treat women as second-class citizens...to name a few things. That is when the skies opened up and I saw God for the first time in a wonderfully loving way. Thank God for the many gay christians out there that embraced me, and I was able to discover God's love for the first time, in a real way.

Well, that's just one story, but there are thousands of others. I thank God he showed me the way to His love, and it did not include trying to change my sexual orientation. Otherwise, I would not be here.

Very thoughtful comment, Lindsey. As a gay man, I appreciate your ability to think about walking in someone else's shoes. Obama is pro-gay rights on virtually everything - employment non-discrimination, repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, civil unions - with the exception of marriage. This led many gays and lesbians to see him as an imperfect ally. Inviting Rick Warren, who so vocally supported Prop 8 (which Obama opposed) and made derogatory comments about gay and lesbian couples in the process, comparing our relationships to brother/sister relationships and pedophilia, is a slap in the face from Obama. If Rick Warren had made similar comments about Jews, or blacks, or women, he wouldn't have even been considered for the honor of delivering the invocation. But insulting gays and crusading to remove their rights? A-okay. That's the message supposed ally Obama is sending with this choice.

Yes, there is an air of typical cable-news show whiney-ness around the Rick Warren issue. Hopefully things will simmer down and return to a more level-headed discourse soon.

Lindsey's comments are typical of what we now see from the left.If you express what you believe and stand by the bible you are being "hurtful/hateful". I don't hate gays, but I do believe that their behavior is sin and it's acceptance is wrong for society as a whole. The LGBT lobby's goal is not to win tolerance, they want to silence anyone who disagrees with them and to totally remake society. This is why they only hate bibical christianity and seek to debase and ridicule it every chance they get. Their intolerance is the sticking point in this debate.

Can someone please call a ceasefire in the culture wars? Those on the extreme ends of both the left and right thrive on anything that will add fuel to the polarization between "us" and "them."

We're now seeing a GLBT backlash against evangelical Proposition 8 supporters like Warren who were backlashing against the accommodation of the GLBT agenda by mainline protestants who were backlashing against the hateful treatment of gay/lesbians by conservative Christians. Depending on how far back you want to go, we can point the finger in all directions here.

Warren's invocation is not an endorsement of Obama's liberal position on abortion and Obama's invitation to him is not an endorsement of Warren's conservative position on gay marriage. If we could at least agree on that much, it would be a good place to start.

I have enormous respect for Pastor Warren so I think its great. God knows his heart-- but watching him -he seems genuinely to trying to steer clear of carnality at the same time exhorting Christians to walk the walk.
Re homosexuality etc..clearly there is division in our nation, and many churches...
the verse that came to mind is if you love me- keep my commandments ( my word) and that seems to be the crux of it.
am I to be led by what society may think/want
or by what God says..God ( and His son) have enormous compassion and love- but love has standards and boundaries..
it's each man/woman's walk-- am I living/doing the word..and its up to me to read it learn it( this covers all areas of our lives including our marriage partners)
am I encouraging others
regardless of what society may chose( and it chooses some interestng things-- look at the mess around us)
Society will be offended and hate the word and word carriers-- nothing is new under the sun
People will try to re-invent the church in their own image-- that's not new either ( Garden of Eden comes to mind-- pride is always an issue isn't it?)
as for me and my house we will serve the Lord
I pray for President elect Obama, his family, cabinet, our nation
aren't we here to win the unsaved? let's get busy with the Lords work!
Merry Christmas Happy New Year to all

I am a male who has acted out sexually with men over many years. However the closer I grow to Christ, seek his heart and love, the more my sexual dis-orientation is transformed. Homosex is estrangement from God's love (sin). I simply chose not to sin. It is not the easiest of choices, but that is what following Christ is all about - choices in every facet of my life that are not about me, but him.

Why shouldn't Rick Warren pray at the request of our newly elected President? That's what is wrong with America today - jellyback Christians not standing on the Word of God. God's Word is VERY clear and precise, no room for doubt or question. God clearly states that marriage is btween man and woman, and from this UNION, shall they (the femal and male) reproduce and multiply on the Earth. Can men and men and men reproduce for the Earth? God created us (male/gender) where the organs on each gender's body would fit together as HE (God) wanted. Why do we (people) try to fix EVERYTHING except ourselves? Everyone has an opinion - but God's Word is TRUTH, not an opinion. God's Word is SURE, CERTAIN, FACT, AND ABSOLUTE. Heaven and Earth will pass away, but God's WORD is forever STAND and contine to be TRUTH!

Rich Warren has been asked to pray. He is not expected to endorse the candidate or his position. We are called to pray for those in authority over us. Hopefully Rick Warren will make a special effort not to offend those that oppose him on the day he prays. He is asking God for wisdom and direction, he is not called at this time to give direction.

Dale

Anytime we begin to discuss a person's personal choices we can always expect to strike sensitive nerves. Each of us has a choice to make each day over how to respond to our sinful nature(s). We were each born to an enslaved and sinful body full of imperfections that we must choose daily how to respond to. Whether your sinful thorn is chronic lying, gossip or sexual orientation, the choice is up to each individual on how they respond. I appreciate and rejoice with Robert's Biblical perspective on how he chose to respond to his sinful desires. I am certain is was not easy, but through Christ we can adjust to anything. It can become so easy to give in to our imperfections and simply say "I give up, I am what I am."

As for Reverend Rick Warren I support him and will be praying for the opportunity he has been given to share the love of Christ with millions who will be watching. Any time we have the opportunity to persuade the hearts of world leaders we should go and be ready to give an answer to the hope that is within us.

People are fools to think Obama is completely GLBT friendly. His line through the whole campaign was "they should be able to visit their partner in the hospital" and "marriage should be between a man and a woman". For as much as people have gone on about Reverend Wright's sermons Trinity is a theologically conservative congregation. Obama came to know Christ in this environment. Despite his pro-Choice politics, I think we are going to find that Rick Warren and our new President have more in common than we realize.

The Christianity Today poll gives only 4 choices to the question of "Should Rick Warren have accepted Barack Obama's invitation to give the invocation at the inauguration?"

Why wouldn't a true Christian magazine also offer a choice of "No, I believe that Rick Warren should not pray at the inaugural because it appears he is sanctioning abortion and homosexuality as does Obama"?

Christianity Today didn't give believers a choice to take a stand for the Lord.

BO recognizes the enormity of the task of leading the nation. He knows he cannot lead the nation by simply advancing everything his voters want. If he is to be president both for those who voted for him and those who did not, he must demonstrate that in every way from day one. Inviting Rick Warren for the invocation maybe BO's way of assuring the social-moral conservatives that he listens to them. I don't know. But that's besides the point. We need God especially today. If BO would take his oath by placing his hand on the Bible, it is just right to have someone whose conviction is not dictated neither by the democrat's nor by the republican's agenda but by the truth of God's Word. LGBT's use of the Word of God, His attributes,loving nature, etc., reflects its selective and preconceived understanding of the Scripture. They look to it for something they thought would justify their cause. Instead, they should look into the Bible as a whole and examine their positions in light of God's truth. If LGBTs have their way, the next thing they would do is not to to allow printing of Bible that keeps Romans 1:18-32 as it is. They would consider passages like that as hate speech or intolerance. LGBT's agenda is not all about their rights. They are not just asking for respect, acceptance, recognition or their rights. They already have their civil rights. They want to impose on people a lifestyle that is so "unnatural" in every sense of the word for the overwhelming majority of peoples, cultures, of the generations past. Why are they so intolerant and hateful of people who remain true to their convictions and values? May be they got so upset with Rick Warren, because he represents the overwhelming majority even those who do not agree with him with the other positions he holds.

A greater concern is why would Obama want to have a man would gave George Bush a peace award pray at his Inaugural? The only difference between Rich Warren and James Dobson is "tone".

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE...LET US LOVE ONE ANOTHER AND BE GRATEFUL AND FULL OF PRAISE TO OUR GREAT GOD AND LORD OF ALL. LET US QUIT THIS NONSENSE AND EVEN THESE RIDICULES SURVEYS THAT CAUSE MORE DIVISION AND MORE SIN FROM HIS CHILDREN. AS FOR MY ANSWER...WHO WOULD BE ACCEPTABLE TO EVERYONE? WHY ARE WE QUESTIONING THIS? IS EACH OF US SO PERFECT AND KNOW ALL MYSTERIES, THAT OUR PRESIDENT ELECT CAN'T CHOOSE THIS WONDERFUL, IMPERFECT MINISTER TO SAY A PRAYER?
WHO ON THIS EARTH WOULD BE ACCEPTABLE? (i am not a fan of any minister or guru. i did not vote for mr. obama, and i am adamently against abortion. i love learning from God's word. i try not to compromise what God has taught me, but i do need to learn to love more as our Savior does. i pray each day and think. what do we all need to do? what does God want for me to do this day? leave each individual to prayer and let God grow him/her, as i reach out to anyone and everyone in my path. just continue to do what i know to do that is right! we were all born into a fallen dark world...we all do not know everything...only God knows each person individually, so judge yourself according to your own knowledge, and love others as commanded to DO! give people Good News, that God Loves them...SOMETIMES THEY JUST FORGET. DON'T WE ALL? HE LOVES FIRST! HE IS FIRST! HE BEARS THE SCARS OF LIVING ON THIS EARTH! WE ARE SCARRED, TOO. GIVE THANKS TO THE SAVIOR AND STOP HURTING PEOPLE.

If God allowed men with men and women with women, there would be no procreation. How would the earth be populated? No homosexual, lesbian, gay lifestyle is sin according to the good book the Bible. God did not intend for a man to lie with another man as he would with a woman. And the same for a woman. God did not make a woman to lie with a another woman as she would with a man. That is one of many reasons why God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. See Ezekiel 16:49-50. Also see Genesis 19:1-5 Sodomy is forbidden by God. Yes it is am abomination. Does God still love you? YES, but He hates the sin. Homosexual lifestyle is a sin. The remedy REPENT turn from this your wickedness and be born again (John 3:1-8).! It is a CHOICE!

That Rick Warren campaigns for religious and legal discrimination against gays and lesbians is offensive enough; that he equates them with pedophiles and incestors is absolutely intolerable.

Hi

I'm from UK, and not fond of Rick Warren's views antway. Neither do I hold to the view that Obama is the answer to the problems of the US. I also find it difficult when I agree that as Christians we are not to indulge in sinful sexual practices including opposite sex, adultery or fornication (pre marital sex), I can find nowher in the bible where I'm to enforce this, give my views yes, hold to my views yes.

I find this a slightly problematic argument and on ethat the US christians as we in the UK have to deal with, that we are not christian countries in the biblical sense of the word, we may be nominal but biblical christians I doubt it. I hope black christians in the US can help diffuse the hysteria about Obama, and pray he makes good laws, for all the people of the US, and hopefully others will learn, whether he is achristian or not is questionable, you already got stung once as did we!

Frankly, I do not think God cares what your sexual orientation is. We are all born into a broken world that is not as God originally made. We all were conceived in sin and all now have the right to become 'sons of God' because of the Savior. I receive that salvation by His grace through faith. I am a new creation, who happens to still be heterosexual. This now does NOT mean I ignore what God says about sin. I am no longer married, so I no longer have sexual relations with ANYONE. This would be sin to me, and I strive to no longer practice sin. As I grow in my love for God in Christ, as I am more and more aware of His Holy Spirit within me, and desire to DO His will and walk in the spirit, He shows His desire for me. I desire to overcome evil with good, and I desire to present my life ( and my body) to the Lord of my life. I desire to LEARN to LOVE as Christ does. It is no longer MY life. I think we really need to understand that IF ONE REALLY KNOWS GOD LOVES THEM, then ask yourself, "What is MY RESPONSE?" OUR FATHER, who is HOLY, HOW can I love unselfishly, self-less-ly, like JESUS does? What will help bring YOUR KINGDOM COME? Let it be unto me as you say...
I guess JESUS' question..."Will I find faith...?" is something to think about.

I must say, I find it rather amusing to see Rick Warren, who's been quite progressive on issues like the environment, poverty, and the like, be suddenly cast as some Fred Pehlps-like ultra-conservative fundamentalist. It just goes to show you that on rare occasions, when a politician says that he wants to reach out to those he disagrees with, he actually means it. Caveat emptor liberals! You really can't blame Obama for this - if his leftist supporters weren't fazed that he spent 20 years listening to the hate spewed by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, how could he have expected that they would get up in arms over a (not quite apparently) universally popular author like Warren?

Calling Rick Warren a bigot is unwarrented and unfair. He has done more for those inflicted with AIDS than maybe any other well known evangelical. And even in his statements (the belief.net interview) there was no words of "hate and bigotry" on his lips. He doesn't support gay marriage. He believes, as the Bible teaches, that homosexuality is a sin. He does not reject the homosexual..just their lifestyle.
I believe the same way. Am I a bigot because I believe that the bible teaches that homosexual acts are a sin? I don't think I qualify as a bigot. I have had many gay/lesbian friends over the years. I have had a gay man as a roomate. My daughter's godmother is a lesbian. And I have had gays in my family. I love them dearly. I don't agree with what they are doing to themselves but I do care deeply about them. So that makes me a bigot?
Though I am conservative on the issue as a Christian as an american living in a pluarlistic society I do believe it is not the business of the state to detirmine who can sleep with one another or be committed to one another as long as they are consenting adults. but I do disagree with the choice that people make. and that is my right too!
Also to take the argument that the bible teaches you can't eat shellfish and that slavery is justified is just ignorant of the cultural realites and context that the bible was written in.
i could go on and on...

"...many fundamentalist evangelical christians do not understand the damage they have done to thousands of LGBT people."

The damage is done by the choices one makes, not those who point out those bad choices.


How can so many, including Christians, fall for the clearly illogical argument to the effect that if we oppose putting the government stamp of approval on homosexual unions then we are being hateful? This tired argument to silence those who oppose gay "marriage" holds no water. If this argument is accepted, we really cannot oppose the government approving of any sort of behaviour. Don't like harmful drugs being allowed, you must hate drug addicts? Nonsense.

It is time that Christians and others realized that approval of homosexual "marriage" will result in demands for indoctrinating our children with that approval. In Canada it's already happening.

Re: Stephanie, who says: "Well, that's just one story, but there are thousands of others. I thank God he showed me the way to His love, and it did not include trying to change my sexual orientation. Otherwise, I would not be here."

Stephanie, you are "here", but you may not make it to heaven for eternity. You are so right when you claim that God loves you....He does very much! But there is no question that He hates sin, and homosexuality is sin. Just because you and thousands of others have chosen not to believe that truth doesn't make it any less true. For the record, my desire is the same as God's, that all people be saved. But He has given us the freedom to make our own choices, and, sadly, many will choose the wrong path. It's pretty safe to say that if the majority of the world believes something, it is most likely a lie and goes against God. Even if the theory that people are born with a proclivity towards homosexuality is true, that doesn't automatically mean it isn't a sin to choose homosexuality as a lifestyle. We live in a fallen and corrupt world, and many of us are born with "tendencies" that may not be good for us or for others. What about alcoholics, manic depressives, psychotics, etc.? Since they were "born" that way, should we just allow them to live lives that endanger themselves and others? It's all about making choices, and sometimes the choices are harder to make and live with than others, but it's still OUR choice and each one of us will eventually suffer or enjoy the consequences of the choices we make in this life. I sincerely hope and pray that all of us will diligently strive to make those right choices every day.

I predict that we will begin to see the demonization of Rick Warren by the press. We got a taste of it from the way he was treated on the Today Show interview.
Not that you have anything to hide but watch out, Rick. The press is beginning to turn their guns in your direcion and has you in their sights.From their perspective, you're dangerous. Caution your staff to watch who they talk to, and make sure nobody is going through Saddleback trash bins.