What message is Obama sending with Rick Warren? How many more betrayals of the progressive project does he have in store, under the pretext of “uniting Americans” who, in actuality, hold incompatible values?
By Rowan Wolf
One has to wonder what message President-Elect Barack Obama is sending with his selection of Rick Warren to give the inaugural prayer. Warren is the head of the evangelical Saddleback Church (comprised of four “campuses”) in Lake Forest, California.
Obama’s selection of Warren is a slap in the face to those who support equality for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people, and recognition of same-sex relationships.
Warren, who has made it a practice not to endorse candidates or political parties, wrote in October that the issue of gay marriage is not a political issue, but instead “a moral issue that God has spoken clearly about.”
“For 5,000 years, every culture and every religion — not just Christianity — has defined marriage as a contract between men and women,” Warren wrote in a newsletter to his congregation. “There is no reason to change the universal, historical definition of marriage to appease 2 percent of our population.” (Mooney, CNN, 12/18/08)
While I would challenge Warren’s claim that only 2% of the population is not heterosexual, that shouldn’t matter when it comes to the rights of our population. Nor do I see extending equal rights to all of our citizens “appeasing” a minority population. One might argue that the political embrace of evangelical Christianity is also “appeasing,” but we wouldn’t want to go there would we?
In a June 2008 CounterPunch article, Jeff Sharlet says this of Rick Warren:
And yet, Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, and the business-friendly fundamentalism of the post-Christian Right era don’t set off liberal alarms the way the pulpit pounders such as John Hagee, Pat Robertson, and James Dobson do. The irony is that the agenda of this new lifestyle evangelicalism is more far-reaching than that of the traditional Christian Right: the Christian Right wanted a seat at the table; lifestyle evangelicalism wants to build the table. It wants to set the very terms in which we imagine what’s possible, and to that end it dispenses with terms that might scare off liberals. It’s big tent fundamentalism – everybody in.
But the ultimate goals remain the same. True, Osteen steers clear of abortion for the most part, and Warren, every bit as opposed to homosexuality as Jerry Falwell was, prefers to talk about AIDS relief. But both men — and the new evangelicalism as a movement — continue to preach the merger of Christianity and capitalism pioneered three quarters of a century ago. On the surface, it’s self-help; scratch, and it’s revealed as a profoundly conservative ideology that conflates church and state, scripture and currency, faith and finance. There’s a sense in which Buchman’s vision of “God-controlled supernationalism” thrives today more surely than it ever did in the 1930s, a period of radical economic upheaval. Only, today we call it globalism.
After having eight years of evangelical power mongers in the Bush White House, are we now to expect more of the same with Obama? Are we being informed that the Obama presidency will continue the goals of the Christian Right in its domestic and international policy? There has been a lot of concern among so-called “progressives” about Obama’s choices for leadership positions, but the tapping of Warren is perhaps the most disturbing decision so far.
Editor’s Note: We offer below a brief account of the way most of the mainstream media reported on this issue.
Obama’s invocation pick, Rev. Rick Warren, draws ire of left-wing
Updated Thursday, December 18th 2008, 12:26 PM