We're in the phase of the Rick Warren scandal where people dutifully collect all the soundbites of things he's said over the years. And while sometimes this tends to take people out of context, I don't think the media had a problem applying that standard to Jeremiah Wright, so here goes. Warren thinks that gay people are just immature and lack character and if they could only sublimate their desire like, say, a rapist who doesn't assault every woman who walks down the street (which he compares to HIMSELF), or a violent man who doesn't punch everyone he sees, then they could join civil society. As a result, Warren BANS unrepentant gays from membership at his church. And he's apparently sponsored ex-gay "recovery" sessions at Saddleback. And there are probably a dozen other things, but these are the ones that struck me.
Now, the idea that liberals have to accommodate someone like this at the inauguration because we have to be "inclusive," but Rick Warren doesn't need to accommodate a damn thing, is obviously disappointing and maybe shows you where the Obama campaign's head is at. I also understand that this is that thing called politics, and plenty of other execrable fellows are going to be traipsing in and out of Obama's White House, although unlike The Editors, I think you can answer the question of whether this will help Obama with white evangelicals (hell to the no; he got 25% in 2008 after appearing with Warren on stage, offering expanded faith-based initiatives and creating a whole "Matthew 25" movement. This is tribal. It ain't happening).
However, the comment over the last couple days with which I identify the most is clearly from bmaz.
Why is any of this, Warren, Lowery, or any other religious figure, an official part of the inauguration? If a religious aspect is desired for private parties later etc., fine, but why should overt religion be sanctioned as part of the official initiation of a Presidency? No matter how it is configured, it is going to be offensive to many groups inherently; i.e. those whose religions are snubbed, and those such as the LGBT community, for instance in relation to Warren. Probably some groups somewhere will be similarly put off by Joe Lowery; and, of course, the non-believers and/or atheists don't like any of it.
"America" should not have a preacher. If individuals wish to consider religion vis a vis their government, that is most excellent, but it should be and by individual choice only. God is not for a nation to possess, nor claim the mantle of; that is the province of the individuals in the nation to do, or not do, on their own.
Seven percent of the country does not believe in God. They aren't organized or a political force by any means, but they are Americans, and they are certainly not "included" in this civil ceremony inaugurating a President. What's more, 17% of Americans say that religion is "not very important" in their life, and 57% don't attend church weekly. Are they factored into this inclusive inauguration, with its opening invocation and closing benediction? I see absolutely no reason for this to be part of a Constitutional handover of power.
But I'm probably in the minority. However, doesn't that mean that I should be given a platform and that others will have to "agree to disagree" with me?
Meanwhile, the Courage Campaign is proposing a debate between Warren and Reverend Eric Lee of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Todd Beeton has the details:
We can not ignore Rick Warren's fervent support for Proposition 8 or his mobilization of thousands of evangelical Christians to enshrine discrimination into our state constitution.
Harvey Milk did not ignore John Briggs in 1978, when Briggs sought to pass Proposition 6 -- the infamous "Briggs Initiative" that attempted to ban gay and lesbian teachers, and anyone who supported them, from our California's public schools. Milk challenged Briggs to debates across the state.
Sign the petition. Let's have a debate. Maybe they'll even put an atheist on the stage!