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January 14, 2009

Rabbis, Muslim, Archbishop to Pray at Inaugural Service

A Muslim woman, rabbis and a Catholic archbishop will pray at the Jan. 21 National Prayer Service which closes the inauguration, according to the Associated Press.
The Inauguration Committee has said that the Rev. Sharon Watkins will deliver the sermon at the event, but no evangelicals have been announced for that particular service yet.

A prayer will be offered at the National Cathedral by Ingrid Mattson, the first woman president of the Islamic Society of North America, according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information. The Islamic Society, based in Indiana, is the nation's largest Muslim group.

Three rabbis, representing the three major branches of American Judaism, will also say a prayer at the service, according to officials familiar with the plans. The Jewish clergy are Reform Rabbi David Saperstein, Conservative Rabbi Jerome Epstein and Orthodox Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, sources said.

It is also traditional for the incoming administration to ask the Roman Catholic archbishop of Washington to lead a prayer. The Most Rev. Donald Wuerl leads the archdiocese.

Keep reading the story because Rachel Zoll frames the story in larger context. Some say Rick Warren could be the next Billy Graham, but Zoll writes, "No one has, or likely could, take [Graham's] place as 'America's pastor.'"


Both Rev. Warren's and Rev. Graham's appeal has usually been lost to me.

The Pastors come across to me as compulsively manipulative and unconscionable men selling a lifestyle product that's alleged to eventually solve all of one's problems and answer all of one's questions, and by giving them the alleged security code to that very exclusive, in every sense of the word "exclusive," Pearly Gated community of many mansions, antebellum style, no doubt.

What I think they're really selling, however, is what some other lifestyle salespeople sell, smug self-righteousness, a condescending sense of personal superiority, and addictive anxiety to keep the customers coming back for more.

They sell a weakness for dualistic conspiracy theories, inherited, sublimated, reworked for our age, from their pro-slavery/racist religious and American heritage. They sell a fear of authoritative sources that may say something different that from what they want to hear, for both the former reasons and to keep the customers from being critical of the soul improvement selling salespeople and their endless products, available for modest "love gifts."

They give an anti-intellectual, uncritical stamp of approval for dubious sources that claim to prove the so called experts wrong. Hence, all the nonsense about the alleged traits GLBT people and the "homosexual agenda," claims that Christians can't believe in evolution or that Islamics don't worship God.

They interpret the Golden Rule in a dangerously paternalistic, self centered and manipulative way, I think, if they talk about it at all.

There are enough actual deadly conspiracies in the world, like 9/11, that one doesn't need to fret about silly invented ones like the "homosexual agenda," which comes across like it was modeled on the racist ones of my childhood; only the villain's name has been changed. Indeed, with many of the same cast of supporting characters, such as "liberals" and judges allegedly subverting democracy by legislating from the bench, "special rights" for other people...special rights like having one's children go to school with students that look like all of America, equal access to polling places, shopping where everyone else shops if one wishes, getting the same service and goods for the same price, equal pay for equal work, being allowed to marry the consenting adult that one loves, and living where one wishes to live without harassment and capricious evictions, free speech, freedom of assembly, being allowed to petition one's government for redress of one's grievances, even about marriage...you know the drill, that evil conspiracy behind the Golden Rule Agenda.

In Warren's and Graham's work for the "great commission," they sell anxiety that one won't see one's loved ones in heaven if they don't do exactly as Warren and Graham say...and all they have to do to acquire the wonderful "free" lifestyle product that the Pastors are giving away, is just ask for it!

And, deep down, that maybe one's own soul isn't really saved, despite their salespeople's constant assurances that one is of the glorious, supernatural, born-again race. (As I remember Kenneth Copeland preaching once."

Hmmm, thanks for the insight on your level of perceptions and understanding of Christ. As for Rev. Graham and Warren, they preach the Gospel just as it's written -- in RED in HIS words. The most effective way for ALL people to understand Christ is to keep it at the Cross -- the simplicity of Christ, just as St. Paul said.

As for Obama's picks for prayer time -- it's progressive and all-inclusive.

I would hate to be in your shoes when your time to die arrives and you are standing in front of God looking into the face of eternity and try to give Him this well written gibberish as an excuse.

I pray you will see the error of your thinking before that time comes to pass.

I'm sorry that Gregory Peterson has this concept of Billy Graham and Rick Warren.
The message they have brought and still bring is NOT theirs as individuals but from the Word of God.
I believe it is not a message of fear to win the lost but one of LOVE...Christ's love with the invitation to everyone who believes in Him (Jesus Christ) shall have Eternal Life.
May God enlighten the message of the Scriptures to you.

Having actually listened to and read the presentations of Rev. Billy Graham and Pastor Warren and checked them against the Ultimate Authority (The Holy Bible), it seems that these two are faithful presenters of The Truth. Yes, it is true that there are some hucksters out there who prey upon the weak and uninformed. It is also true that there are counterfeit dollar bills in circulation. While I examine the bills that come my way I won't stop making the best use I can of the real ones I have received. Methinks you protest too much and have mingled the honest concerns of these men (and many good, intelligent people) with the foolish statements of a few.

Forget about Rick Warren and Billy Graham. Just listen to Jesus:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
John 14:6, NKJV

3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’"
John 3:3-7, NKJV

I agree with Kevin that Jesus said the only way to God was through him. But I think any public dialogue or legislation should acknowledge people's right not to believe that Jesus was correct in saying that. Most people I've met respect Jesus greatly (including Muslems, atheists, agnostics...), but not everyone accepts him as Lord, and that's their constitutional right. I very much appreciate president Obama's "extended hand" to all.