Joho the BlogWhy I'm glad Rick Warren's going to the Inauguration - Joho the Blog

Why I’m glad Rick Warren’s going to the Inauguration is featuring a piece I wrote (intending it as an on-air commentary) about why I, as a liberal, am glad that Obama invited Rick Warren to the Inaugural platform. Here’s how it begins:

I’m a liberal. Free the whales, tax the rich, I swear to you that not only do I drive a Prius, I turned in our Volvo for it. If you know any one of my political positions, you know them all. That’s how embarrassingly stereotyped I am. So pardon me if I take a moment to give some advice to my fellow liberals and progressives: Chill out, will you?

You’re already out criticizing our president-elect for betraying our side. He’s gone soft on wiretapping, on raising taxes on the wealthy, and now you’re having conniptions because Barack Obama has invited Pastor Rick Warren onto the Inaugural podium. The shame! The horror!

Rick Warren believes things that are anathema to liberals like me.

Rick Warren is against abortion choice and totally against gay marriage. I’m from Massachusetts. I’m totally for both those things.

But personally I’m delighted that Rick Warren was asked and he agreed to participate in the inauguration.

My lefty friends, you’re not listening…[more]

If you have comments about this, could you please post them on the NPR site? It’d be a personal favor. Thanks!

12 Responses to “Why I’m glad Rick Warren’s going to the Inauguration”

  1. Sorry, didn’t want to have to register at NPR.

    The reference to an older person marrying a child is in Time. One only has to glance at some of things Warren has said to understand why his choice was a slap in the face to gays.

    The man is a bigot. Does Obama’s “open government” mean we have to accept bigotry? Why stop at bigotry–shouldn’t we also embrace the white supremacist movement, too?

    Sorry, I refuse, I’m unhappy at the choice, and frankly offended. Condemn me for being an unthinking liberal.

  2. I didn’t want to register at NPR, either.

    I share practically all of your lefty values, David (“I see you the whales, and raise you socialism”), and I utterly repudiate the kind of anti-gay claims Rick Warren makes in the venues Shelley cites. Still, I’m with David on this one: the best chance to attain a reasoned, shared, settled future relative to the nature of marriage and common life rests with developing stronger relationships across the disagreements we have. As long as resisters feel, or “know,” that gay marriage (and other initiatives) have been rammed down their throats by a heedless secularist conspiracy, they’ll be digging in their heels and fighting back as much because of the process as because of the outcome.

    As I understand it, Obama wants the US to move out of a phase where rival ideologies cobble together ephemeral majorities and try to parlay them into “mandates” to impose the convictions of a few onto the unwilling majority. Whatever one thinks of Warren — and again, I think that both his reasoning and his conclusions are quite wrong — Obama is showing respect to a large portion of his constituency by inviting Warren to perform a function for which he’s widely acclaimed. That makes sense to me.

    I was more concerned that Warren might scandalize Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, neo-pagans, and such atheists as aren’t already provoked by the mere involvement of a clergyperson in the inaugural goings-on.

  3. AKMA, there are other conservative ministers who might have represented those people “across the aisle” other than Warren. Warren is particularly offensive because of his stated bigotry.

    If we stretch a hand across the aisle, then should Obama invite members of the KKK to his inauguration? No? Then ae we saying that racism is not acceptable, but bigotry against gays and lesbians is?

    Are gays to be sacrificed at the alter of the new vision of “togetherness” that Obama represents? This following on a largely black majority voting for Proposition 8 in California?

    Are they the group that must be patient, and must accept that they are second class citizens until such time as Obama deems they may take their place at the same table as those who are not gay?

    This isn’t a question of “rival ideologies”–this is a question of condoning bigotry.

    As for the lumping together of non-Christians who might be offended at a clergy member in the inauguration, sorry if our desire to have separation of church and state offends you, AKMA.

    And so much for “bringing together the people”.

  4. Marriage is a legal contractual agreement between two consenting adults. I was married by a justice of the peace in the small Vermont town of Grafton. Marriage as defined by a specific church should be a definition to guide its own parishioners. Morality as defined by a church is also a definition to guide the morality of its own parishioners. The problem occurs when any Church tries to expand both its membership and its moral agenda through a missionary zeal to transform the beliefs and morals of others so that they conform with their own. Wars are being fought all over the planet in the name of BELIEF. To avoid Theocracy, which is merely a theological form of political imperialism, each religion must define its own moral stance but social morality must be defined by civil law. For an evangelical, there is no moral conflict when abortion or gay marriage is an issue. They choose to define marriage and morality FOR THEMSELVES which is fine. Society, however, must use a social standard that is wider than the beliefs of one religion. That social standard must respect the rights and privileges of Buddhists, Christians, Agnostics, Muslims and others to define their own standards of conduct while simultaneously protecting the rights of all to define their moral beliefs. Religions are vertical structures which define a relationship between a human being and a divine world. Society is a horizontal structure which delineates relationships between its members without regard to spiritual belief. This is the natural separation between church and state. State is public and horizontal, while church is private and vertical. (Or it should be) When the federal government begins to delineate how to pray or believe, they are overstepping their bounds. When the Church is asked to sanctify a President, it also is overstepping its bounds. The next step is that the church will strive to make all civil unions, like my own, illegal because not sanctified by a pastor, priest, rabbi, etc. And so the problem here is not with who is chosen but with the very fact of invocation and benediction itself. The inauguration of a President is a civil, not a spiritual ceremony. No religious figures should be asked to participate. As soon as you define the United States as a Christian Nation, you have already lost religious freedom and the separation of church and state. If we truly were a nation that separates church and state, our money would read “In the US Treasury We Trust”.

  5. Shelley, I recognize your point, and I doubt I can characterize my different take on the situation in a way that doesn’t seem wrong to you. I do not in the least suppose that gay and lesbian citizens should be excluded, snubbed, stifled, or anything else. I take Obama’s gesture as a move toward the end of building a culture that acknowledges difference without succumbing to suppressing dissent — but I could be wrong, and I especially grant that my standing as someone not directly affected by that stands calls my perspective into question.

    As to your later point — “As for the lumping together of non-Christians who might be offended at a clergy member in the inauguration, sorry if our desire to have separation of church and state offends you, AKMA” — I am quite comfortable with separating church and state, for exactly the reason you adduce here. It’s problematic for both state and church when politicians and clergy cross the streams (as it were). At the inauguration, no one should be at risk of getting the message that the state favors one particular expression of religion — or any. So not only does your hesitancy not offend me, I share it; and I don’t “lump together” various grounds for questioning the ecclesiastical privilege of Christian clergy at this event, I explicitly cited particular distinct bodies who might have serious grounds for taking offense; “non-Christian” was your term for these dissenters, not mine.

  6. Sorry for that last run-on sentence. If I had an “edit” option, I’d restructure it.

  7. And this is why I don’t agree with Obama’s move:

    I’m tired of being the side that tries to reach out and is met with unrepentant bigotry. No, I’m not compromising my principles just to play nice. You want inclusiveness? Great… but make sure the other side does too. If they just want to use us to get their hateful message out, screw them.

    Your post on NPR (where I’m not going to register to leave a single comment – I thought they got it?) misses the point that WE WON. I’ve tolerated Warren’s ilk for 8 years. If they want to work with us, fine… but we should not compromise our core principles in the name of being nice.

  8. Fair enough, AKMA. Though I am still unhappy you weren’t selected Education Secretary ;-)

    David, I also wrote on this, and referenced your post, at my place.

  9. On a side note… why aren’t “Purpose” and “Driven” hyphenated on the cover of his book? Every copy editor in the country would add the hyphen whenever the thing showed up on a bestseller list, but no hyphens to be found on the cover of the book itself.

  10. I finally thought of the best rebuttal to this:

    Where was all the “finding what’s best in all your fellow citizens?” when the topic was Reverend Jeremiah Wright? Oh no, that’s different – he doesn’t have a constituency that Obama needs to appease.

    As a political matter, I can see the logic. But let’s not pretend this is anything other than a political deal.

  11. “But let’s not pretend this is anything other than a political deal.”


    Earlier, rick linked the Saddleback Church’s FAQ. Since then, the site has been taken down and replaced.

    if the church was so proud of its beliefs, why hide them? Warren founded this church–established the rules on which it is founded and displayed them proudly in a FAQ. Until the light is shown on the Church.

    Reminds me of the KKK.

    This is supposed to build bridges?

  12. thanks

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