Rick Warren and the Inauguration

Many of you have heard that President elect Obama has invited Rick Warren, pastor of the conservative Saddleback Church of California, to pray at the inauguration. Now, I do not agree with Pastor Warren on much, I suspect. We approach our faith from very different places. And I completely disagree with him on his support for Proposition 8 in California.
I think it is unfortunate when Christ’s message of radical and inclusive love is co-opted to support narrow minded and bigoted legislation and policies.
But, let me be one of the few (or perhaps only) progressive Christian to speak out in favor of Obama’s selection of Warren as a participant in the inauguration.

I have been very unhappy the past 8 years in our political world. At no point have I felt that my views were heard, respected, or in any way important to the president or his appointees. Under Bush, (and Clinton before him, quite frankly), all we have heard from Washington are voices proclaiming the party line. We have turned our political arena into a “winner takes all” place. You can win an election with 50% of the vote, and once you are in office, the other 50% of the population has lost their voice for the next four years.

So, while I don’t agree with much that Rick Warren has to say, I do applaud President elect Obama’s decision to give him voice. We all, conservative and liberal alike, need to get back into the habit of listening to other voices. We need to drop the “winner takes all” attitude and realize that we only win when we respect and hear each other.

I also recognize that it might be easier for me to make this claim than it might be for any of my GLBT friends. I recognize that there are many people who are hurt because Rev Warren’s voice is speaking against them.

I hope the President elect will also invite more progressive Christian voices to join in his inauguration as well.

But we all have to hope that by modeling government that allows voices to be heard, we can live into hope.

5 thoughts on “Rick Warren and the Inauguration

  1. I was disappointed when I heard this, too. For me some of it comes from the fact that Rick Warren is the flavor of the moment. Yes, he is generally considered a conservative speaker, but many conservatives who I respect see him as frosting, religion lite. And I tend to agree with them…Even so, I think your general point is a good one.


  2. I appreciate your thoughts on this. I rolled my eyes at the choice originally–but have since perhaps changed my mind since reading your thoughts. Thanks for making me think again!Blessings,Kim


  3. When I heard who he chose I thought…well that was smart. I think you are right, Obama is really trying to bring unity by hearing both sides and I really respected him for that…even if I do think Rick Warren is an idiot:)


  4. Well, I applaud your well-rounded view on this. But I wonder. I agree that a plurality of voices must be heard for democracy to work. But I worry about offering “equal time” to fringe opinions, as if they are legitimate. There is a balance to be had, but equal time to the unequal is not equal time.It has become an American obsession to give all points of view on any given matter a say. But this implies, and is oft taken to indicate, that there is no truth to the matter, that it’s just opinions. But a plurality of views does not make reality and truth relative.It isn’t the giving every voice equal time that is needed. It isn’t giving every view a voice that is needed. It is, rather, giving considered views, educated views, and the like, equal voice.Yes, each has a right to his opinion. Unfortunately, Warren opines that I am no different than a child molestor. Is this the sort of view our president elect, who garnered considerable fiscal and physical support from Christians like me wants to respond with?It seems, rather, that giving this sort of stamp only serves an insidious position of clamping a large number of us into denigration and forced silence.I understand his wanting to reach out to the fearful conservatives. But what sort of change does this promise to us LGBT who have yet to be given human rights in the United States? It feels much more like a hard slap across the face, reminding us to shut up, than a step into equal voice for minority groups and those not in political power.


  5. Thank you, everyone, for your comments. Hypatia–I recognize that while this is an important issue for me, it is much more than an issue for you. It is your very life. And I completely agree with you that Mr. Warren is wrong. But it is probably not accurate to refer to his beliefs as “fringe”. Many people agree with him. I believe those many people are wrong. I am not a moral relativist. But, when you start dealing with moral absolutes in public life, you end up having to decide whose morals are the correct ones. For the past 8 years, George W Bush and his appointees have made it clear that their way is the ONLY way. And if you don’t go along with them, you are unpatriotic and/or a terrorist. As a result of his disastrous approach to the political realm, there has been zero dialogue. The US doesn’t talk with terrorists, even if they happen to be heads of state. And the flip side of that is that those of us whose voices have not been heard in the past 8 years have had no reason to engage in the process. In order for our country to change, I really believe that we need to come together and hear each other’s stories. And, for President elect Obama to only put forward a liberal voice would be just as bad as what we’ve just made it through in the past 8 years. I don’t think Obama is just trying to reach out to the right with this pick. I think he’s trying to bring people to the table so that we can work for change.


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