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Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Warren Controversey - It's Still Got Traction!


I was surprised to see this segment on Rachel Maddow's show earlier this week. I'm surprised because I really thought the whole story would be "old news" by now.

I mean, Melissa Etheridge, the soulful guitar-jamming diva of 'The Lesbian Nation', wrote "The Choice is Ours Now" on Huffington Post, asking us to keep our hearts and our minds open about Rick Warren.

That was on December 22nd, when all are hearts were starting to get 'merry and bright.' That ought to have done it, right?

Apparently, not so much.

The comments are still rolling in over at Skeptical Brotha's place. He calls Warren an "assclown."

One of my friends pointed me to a site that's new to me. It's "Kitchen Table," the blog of two amazing African American women, which features conversations with Dr. Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Associate Professor of Politics and African American Studies at Princeton University and Dr. Yolanda Pierce, Associate Professor of African American Religion and Literature at Princeton Theological Seminary.

Even though they are on Winter Break, they are having a very lively discussion about the Warren Controversy and are taking Mr. Obama to task for a very bad choice.

One of the interesting alternatives they mention is having an "alternative invocation" written and circulating it widely around the Internet to be read by everyone as Warren is delivering his invocation. I've suggested Joan Chittister's "Prayer for Leadership" which I've posted there but you can also find here.

Kevin Eckstrom of RNS (Religion News Service) has an interview with Bishop Gene Robinson on the issue. Bishop Gene was asked:

Q: So let's cut to the chase. What's wrong with Rick Warren offering the invocation at the inauguration?

A: I actually have a lot of respect for Rick Warren; amongst evangelicals, he's taken a hit for his compassionate response to AIDS, his commitment to alleviating poverty. He's done some good things. The difficult thing is that he's said, and continues to affirm, some horrendous things about homosexuality -- comparing it to incest, bestiality, that kind of thing. This is not a choice that really represents everyone. This choice was just really, really unfortunate.

Okay, so I thought, We're really done with this now. They've let the Gay Man have the last word on this. They'll be moving on.

Apparently, not so much.

This morning's New York Times has an op ed piece, You're Likable Enough, Gay People, by Frank Rich.

Here's the "money quote" for me: "Timothy McCarthy, a historian who teaches at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and an unabashed Obama enthusiast who served on his campaign’s National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Leadership Council. He responded via e-mail on Christmas Eve.

"After noting that Warren’s role at the inauguration is, in the end, symbolic, McCarthy concluded that “it’s now time to move from symbol to substance.” This means Warren should “recant his previous statements about gays and lesbians, and start acting like a Christian.”

"McCarthy added that it’s also time “for President-elect Obama to start acting on the promises he made to the LGBT community during his campaign so that he doesn’t go down in history as another Bill Clinton, a sweet-talking swindler who would throw us under the bus for the sake of political expediency.” And “for LGBT folks to choose their battles wisely, to judge Obama on the content of his policy-making, not on the character of his ministers.”

I'm not thinking that BHO will rescind his invitation. And, Warren's ego is waaaayyyy too big for him to decline.

But none of McCarthy's suggested course of action will take place unless we keep the pressure on both Warren and Mr. Obama.

What's fascinating - absolutely fascinating - is how the media is letting the LGBT issue take the lead on the Warren Controversy. That's only one of his heinous theological positions. He's equally odious on the issue of reproductive rights, the status and role of women and assassination as a tool of political expedience in Iran.

That's okay. We could use a little more time in the spotlight if we want to have LGBT marriage taken seriously. The only way we're going to make headway in this uphill battle is to keep the issue front and center.

Hey, if straight people want to take the lead on that for awhile, we should not complain. Indeed, this is a reason to rejoice. A similar thing happened when Caucasian people began to join and then lead the fight against racism.

No oppressed people or people who are the object of prejudice and bigotry should have to bear alone the additional burden of responsibility for social change.

And, yes, I think we should write our own 'alternative invocation' and circulate it widely before the inauguration.

Let's take a page from the Obama Campaign Trail: Be the change you seek.

Somebody give me an "Amen."

And, pass the paper and pencils. We've got more letter writing to do.

UPDATE: This just in from the Chicago Sun Times, "Why Rick Warren hasn't got a prayer." (hat tip to Doug):

"I think we are all entitled to ask and to keep asking every member of the Obama transition team until we receive a satisfactory answer, the following questions:

• • Will Warren be invited to the solemn ceremony of inauguration without being asked to repudiate what he has directly said to deny salvation to Jews?

• • Will he be giving a national invocation without disowning what his mentor once said about civil rights and what his leading supporter says about Mormons?

• • Will the American people be prayed into the next administration, which will be confronted by a possible nuclear Iran and an already nuclear Pakistan, by a half-educated pulpit-pounder raised in the belief that the Armageddon solution is one to be anticipated with positive glee?"


Get your pencils sharpened, kids, and keep asking questions.

12 comments:

David said...

Amen sister
coming at you all the way from Montreal
I hope that counts


David@Montreal

Sherry said...

I have mixed feelings about this. While I am opposed to Rick Warren and much of what he espouses, I also see Obama's point. If we cannot find common cause on issues we can agree on, then we are making no progress at all. I don't think that in any manner Obama is giving credence to the reprehensible views of Mr. Warren regarding GLBT issues. I'd have rather seen him select someone else, yet, I think he is making a valuable point, one that will resonate with some evangelicals and will put Warren and others of his ilk in a difficult position later should they continue to refuse to work with the left on common issues. We shall see how it plays out.

it's margaret said...

Good post. Linking to you...

FranIAm said...

I must chime in now - I read this earlier. I am still very bothered by the Warren thing and it was validating to read your post Elizabeth.

Like you - while the LGBT matter weighs heavily for me, there are so many other issues that make Warren a poor choice.

There are other evangelicals, people on the right who would have been far less offensive.

I had one friend - who is a good person and very LGBT friendly say to me "we can't risk the whole inauguration over this!"

To which I reply "it is too easy for you as a straight white woman from Northern NJ to make that case."

And I say that as a straight white woman from upstate New York.

One of the things that really got under my skin a lot was Warren's demeanor during the Ann Curry interview on Dateline.

Well Margaret at Leave it Lay just posted a great video about that and linked to you.

So now I will post and link to both you and Margaret.

Ron Baird said...

Just a short correction. It would be difficult to call Rick Warren half educated. He has a Bachelor's degree, a Master of Divinity degree and a doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary.

LGMarshall said...

Strange that Obama would pick Rick Warren to pray at his inauguration. Rick Warren cost Obama many votes when he got Obama to say...'knowing when Life begins is above my pay grade'. Also, it's an odd pick because Obama states..."All moral men earn the right to eternal life in Heaven with God." Rick Warren (a Bible believer) teaches strongly against that sentiment. He knows that 'No one is Righteous, not one! You must be born-again to enter the Kingdom of God...You must know the Son (Jesus) to know the Father (God).' Rick Warren is clear that no other religion teaches that, Obama is unclear in his beliefs.

Paul said...

I second the Chicago Sun-times.

I was raised to believe the grace trumps works. I am a firm believer in grace. I also believe that grace trumps belief. if I don't get to heaven by right deeds (there is none that doeth righteousness....) can I really believe I get to heaven by right belief? Doesn't that turn belief into a form of works, a ticket without which I won't get in? Sorry, if God's heart is that cut and dried, we need a better God. But I am firmly convinced that the God Jesus tells us about it far more gracious than our wildest expectations.

I don't think anyone earns their way into heaven, so if Obama is accurately quoted, I disagree. But that doesn't make Obama unclear. It just means he holds a different opinion, one held by most people if discussions I have had over a lifetime are any indication. Warren may be clear, but that doesn't make him right.

I have said at my own blog that I hope he gives a good invocation. It's possible and with all the fuss he may work really hard at something worthwhile. While I don't believe religious exercises really have any place at state occasions, so long as they're there let us hope for the best. Nonetheless, I think it was a careless and callous choice, one I strongly disapprove of. The proof, however, will be in the pudding. It's Obama's policies I care about and they'd better be good!

Grandmère Mimi said...

Actually, I agree with Fran's friend, who said:

"we can't risk the whole inauguration over this!"

Rick's got to go. I thought that Obama was wrong to dump the Rev. Wright, but I allowed that he probably had to do it for political purposes. There are many more reasons to dump Rick - simple decency, being one.

VTcrone said...

Here's a commentary from the Huffington Post on Monday 12/29:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/adele-stan/transcendental-invocation_b_154080.html
In the comments section there is a link to Slate.com and an article by Christopher Hitchens. (Warren's got his fingers into everything.)

Lulu Maude said...

Not only is Rick Warren bigoted and obnoxious, but he's antithetical to the kind of values Obama has articulated as being central to his own faith.

I sure would have liked to see someone more in the trenches with people... dare I say it? More Christ-like.

I just can't take these megachurch pastors seriously.

I have always loved Obama, and in loving him have expected some disappointments. They're inevitable. But this???

Good post, and thanks.

Katie Schwartz said...

Excellent post, TELP. I can't figure out why he chose Warren. I want an explanation. The choice makes me wonder if I truly voted for hope and change. I was so excited when Obama won and the choices he'd made until he chose Warren. Now, I feel conflicted and weary about the next 4 years. Though, I am trying to stay open.

Katie Schwartz said...

HAPPY NEW YEAR, MY DEAR! I wish you the world. xo, Katie