Thursday, December 18, 2008

Having Rick Warren perform the Invocation is an Outrage

Barack Obama's greatest skill is his ability to reach out to people and find common ground, but that does not mean you slap the people in the face who elected you, progressives and gay people who had a bittersweet night on November 4, 2008. Barack Obama was elected President yes, but gay marriage was voted down by a small margin in what many consider to be the most progressive state in the nation.

But, here is the truth about Rick Warren. He has compared legal abortion to the Holocaust, and gay marriage to incest and pedophilia. He believes that Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and other non-Christians are going to spend eternity burning in hell. He doesn't believe in evolution. When you actually read some of Warren's statements it becomes highly objectionable, troubling and down right offensive.

Today, in defending Rick Warren Obama talked about how Warren has been an instrument for good and has worked in a ministry for HIV/AIDS in Africa, but even that is a bit of a misnomer. Read Michelle Goldberg's experience: In fact, though, Warren has taken the standard Christian conservative approach to the epidemic, which favors abstinence and prayer over condoms and sex education. I once attended Sunday services at the church of Martin Ssempa, one of Warren's protégés in Uganda and a major force in that country's devastating move away from safe-sex campaigns. It is a heartbreaking thing to watch a tongue-speaking faith-healer promise a room full of sobbing people - many of them poor, many infected with HIV - that Jesus can cure them, if only they believe in him unconditionally (belief demonstrated, of course, in part by tithing generously).

Warren also sent out an email to his congregation about voting (can someone please investigate these tax cheats?) and what to consider while voting. It is instructive. "In order to live a purpose-driven life - to affirm what God has clearly stated about his purpose for every person he creates - we must take a stand by finding out what the candidBoldates believe about these five issues, and then vote accordingly," he wrote. The issues were abortion, stem-cell research, gay marriage, cloning and euthanasia.

As Michelle Goldberg points out (the article which this post is based on) says I guess Rick Warren doesn't believe torture is a christian issue. Euthanasia and stem-cell research are to be considered, but not torture of another human soul.

This choice is very troubling to me. I have given Obama the benefit of the doubt on several of his Cabinet choices and will wait to see what happens with policy, but this is strike one for me. In 1992 Bill Clinton had strike three by the time he was inaugurated. First, it was "don't ask don't tell" then it was Lani Guinier and then it was Haiti. I knew he was not going to change the way we do business. We'll see about Obama.

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