I am deeply troubled that President-elect Obama has invited Rick Warren to offer the invocation at the inauguration. Warren stands opposed to the progressive agenda and to many of the core values that Barack Obama campaigned on. The symbolism of offering such as prodigious place in history to a figure such as Warren is upsetting.
What is Warren's record? People for the American Way reports:
As we've pointed out several times before, in 2004 Warren declared that marriage, reproductive choice, and stem cell research were "non-negotiable" issues for Christian voters and has admitted that the main difference between himself and James Dobson is a matter of tone. He criticized Obama's answers at the Faith Forum he hosted before the election and vowed to continue to pressure him to change his views on the issue of reproductive choice. He came out strongly in support of Prop 8, saying "there is no need to change the universal, historical definition of marriage to appease 2 percent of our population ... This is not a political issue -- it is a moral issue that God has spoken clearly about." He's declared that those who do not believe in God should not be allowed to hold public office.
Warren is a good spokesman for the Religious Right but does not represent mainstream Christianity.
Update: I'm delighted, however, to learn that The Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery will provide the benediction. Rev. Lowery is an American hero whose ministry of tolerance and justice stands in stark contrast to those who have used religion as a tool to divide Americans.
Update: The Huffington Post has picked up the story...
On Wednesday, the transition team announced that Rick Warren, pastor of the powerful Saddleback Church, would give the invocation on January 20th. The selection may not have been incredibly surprising. Obama and Warren are reportedly close -- Obama praised the Megachurch leader in his second book "The Audacity of Hope." Warren, meanwhile, hosted a values forum between Obama and McCain during the general election. Nevertheless, the announcement is being greeted with deep skepticism in progressive religious and political circles.
"My blood pressure is really high right now," said Rev. Chuck Currie, minister at Parkrose Community United Church of Christ in Portland, Oregon. "Rick Warren does some really good stuff and there are some areas that I have admired his ability to build bridges between evangelicals and mainline religious and political figures... but he is also very established in the religious right and his position on social issues like gay rights, stem cell research and women's rights are all out of the mainstream and are very much opposed to the progressive agenda that Obama ran on. I think that he is very much the wrong person to put on the stage with the president that day."
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