Friday, December 19, 2008

On Rick Warren

I agree with Joe Solmonese of Human Rights Campaign, that Barack Obama's choice of Rick Warren to give the invocation at the presidential inauguration, is insensitive and insulting to the GLBT community. In affect, insulting to any of us who support inclusion and equal rights for all Americans.

Rick Warren, a right-wing religious fundamentalist has attacked GLBT people, putting their sexuality in the same category as pedophilia and incest. Further, "non-believers" have been attacked by Warren as having no place in public office. Does he also mean unless they worship a Christian god?

When Obama strives to "reach across the isle" to include many points of view, I wish that he would do so with a little more tact. If Warren was on record as having made racist comments about blacks or Asians, he certainly would have been disqualified from taking on this role. As one pundit on MSNBC stated earlier this evening, gays and "non-believers" are still fair game for attack.

That a President-elect would overlook this homophobia and divisiveness at a time when we need him to bring us together is truly disappointing. It reinforces for me that while Obama is willing to say he supports GLBT rights, he is not really committed to this issue. It's a reflection too of the many Obama supporters who voted for Prop 8 and the evident lack of regard Obama is showing for the many gay Americans who voted for him, in hopes that he would embrace their community as part of his over-all desire for unity.

Further, I don't understand why the separation of church and state doesn't apply to this religious invocation ritual to begin with. If Obama wants a blessing for his presidency he should do it in the privacy of his church. Since his decision to invite Warren to proceed appears largely to be a political move, it lends an especially phony and hallow tone to the whole inauguration.


  1. Thanks for the post on this. You are way insightful- I'm always so impressed by you!

    I am truly irritated at Obama, however; not disappointed, mind you, because I totally saw this coming, but irritated, because I would like to believe that Obama is better than this. I would love nothing more in the world than for him to stand up to the challenge of being a truly progressive or even progressive-minded [I don't categorize him as even remotely progressive but rather as a pretty solid moderate], but after his whole deal with Donnie McClurkin back in the campaign days I couldn't expect anything less.

    The entire thing is patently offensive, beginning with--as you so awesomely pointed out!--the fact that there even IS a religious invocation at the damn inauguration, and not even remotely ending with the offensiveness of selling out one in 10 Americans who overwhelmingly supported him. He can take gay money but he will NOT walk the walk. Hell, he'll barely talk the talk.

    Rick Warren was INSTRUMENTAL in passing prop 8 in California, which Obama [supposedly] opposed. Rick Warren is an irrational, hateful bigot who babbles in ignorance at every chance he gets. Couldn't they have found a single religious figure who hadn't said such freaking stupid things? I mean, there are religious leaders in very conservative religious circles who at least stay low profile enough that they don't make public comments the way that Warren does. Even a bigot by affiliation only or a QUIET bigot would have been better than this guy!

    Obama can excuse this stunt until he is blue in the face, but he's willfully ignoring the point. It's not that he necessarily agrees with this guy that is offensive [although I don't pretend to know where he ACTUALLY stands on the issue of LGBTQ equality, since he is so fickle], but that he is giving this guy a podium at a historic inauguration. In the same celebration in which there are explicit ceremonies for Martin Luther King Jr., a man who fought for freaking equality; in the same celebration where we inaugurate the first black president of the United States--about time!!--we have this guy visibly showing that we haven't begun to address yet another important civil rights issue. This is pretty par for the course for Obama, but still maddening to me.

    There are a lot of various viewpoints that exist in this country, but he's hardly inviting an anti-semetic or white supremacist to the inauguration. "Wide range of viewpoints" is code for viewpoints which are still open to debate and public acceptance, even though they are still blatantly offensive.

    Oh, and having a gay band to represent "the other side" of this issue, as Obama supporters claim is the "balanced" nature of this stunt... unacceptable. Unless the gay band thinks Rick Warren doesn't deserve basic human rights, which I doubt.

    Sorry for the novel.

  2. I strongly agree with your points about heterosexism and state/church separation. One thing that really bothers me about the corporate media's coverage of Warren is their censorship of the issue of his misogyny. (With its dependency on advertising, PBS is very corporate these days.)

    Warren's opposition to the basic right of women to choose on abortion shows a desire to control women's sexuality and punish women who don't go along. Also, his church's view that women should be subservient to men deserves a lot more attention.

  3. I do agree with you, basically, and am disappointed in Obama's choice. But I agree most strongly with your last paragraph. I do not understand the double standard re church/state that exists everywhere we look. Church and State simply should not hold hands as they do in the U.S.

  4. it is unfortunate that so many things that are supposed to change-- aren't.

  5. I agree with you. Why is there an invocation? And Warren is a dismal choice. There are plenty of progressive ministers who could have served in this role if it's necessary to have it.

  6. I was in the midst of doing some research for a post of my own about this - you have said everything so perfectly I think I'll change my post to eliminate any duplication and then just link you.

    I wasn't going to post at all about this - I was telling myself 'oh it's the holiday' and 'oh just post pretty pictures' and then I smacked myself in my own head!!

    if not now then when!! what the hell was I thinking!!?

    this is unacceptable

    I have had a hard time with Obama's lack of balls when it comes to gay rights from day one and yet I pushed on and campaigned for him and donated to him

    I am so angry at him for this - I have written him a letter telling him how let down I feel

    I'm sorry I faltered for even a moment - now is not the time to let even a moment go by

    off to re-work my post

    love to you and SG1 and her wife

  7. i guess he's trying to show that he's the better man. not sure, but what pisses me off more was a teeny article in today's paper.

    it seems the united states(at a u.n. vote) was the ONLY major nation to vote down decriminalising homosexuality worldwide.

    THAT upsets me far more.

    plus the fact that it was in an article buried in the paper.

  8. I had gone to earlier on another topic. I just had to go back and get this one off my chest too. Do you think it could help if a whole lot of us did that? is supposed to be a place for everyone's "story and thoughts".

  9. You are correct... and I am also upset about this.

    And it isn't just the LGBT community.. Warren is pretty far to the right on other matters aws well.

    This whole thing tarnishes what was such a good thing.


  10. What everyone else said. I knew Obama was weak when it came to gay rights. Hell, can't we just have human rights and be done with it! Everyone deserves dignity and respect, what's so hard to understand about that?

  11. Thanks all, for responding.

    SG1: Right on! I love getting your comments!

    I guess it will be what it is but not without a little protest from the likes of us! :-)

  12. This is simply pandering to the radical religious wingnuts who have held this country hostage for the last 8 years.

    Nevertheless, we shouldn't forget whose giving the Benediction - the Rev. Joseph Lowery who is best known as a civil rights icon. He's a co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and in 2000, gave a speech calling for gay clergy during the general convention of the United Methodist Church, the nation's second largest Protestant denomination.

    Bible swearing is a tradition in this country that has more to do with affirming a principle rather than showing a particular religious belief. Let's just get what should be a happy occasion over with (I'm looking forward to Aretha) and see what the man does as president.

  13. Susan: I'm afraid that Obama's attempts to neutralize Warren's participation by asking Rev. Lowery to preside along with Warren is not really working to take the sting out of this for me. Warren will taint this happy occasion for me. My daughter's marriage and identity are marred by the attempts of Warren to take away her civil rights and put her in the same category as pedophiles and the incestuous. That hurts her and by extention, it hurts me. With this in mind, it's going to hard for me to enjoy the innaugeration.

    As I've said many times before, I'm happy to have Obama as our next president too but that doesn't mean I won't question what he does along the way.

  14. "Bible swearing is a tradition in this country that has more to do with affirming a principle rather than showing a particular religious belief."

    Just out of curiosity, and not a sarcastic comment at all [the joy of print-conversation...], but what principle is being affirmed by the presence of an invocation at the presidential inauguration? To me, the principle being affirmed seems to be that the United States is a Christian nation. I could be wrong, or perhaps it is merely subjective. What does it mean to you?

    And yes, Joseph Lowery is a much better choice,and someone who is vocal about civil rights, though he is far more moderate than I would prefer, and that I don't believe the invocation has a place at inauguration makes his presence there even less of an ideological balance to Warren.

    You're right that the inauguration should be a happy occasion, but for many of us it simply isn't. I had the opportunity to attend, and I am more and more glad that I declined. I would refuse to go at all, at this point. Obama's choices during inauguration should give us a preview of his administration-- one in which gay people play the role of entertainment [a gay band, perhaps?], and bigots like Warren get a podium to preach their bigotry from.

  15. You said this so beautifully my friend.

    Eloquently and simply.

    I have been one of Obamas most ardent supporters, but its blatently obvious to me that here, he has made a large and careless mistake...

    I pray that he will use his presidency to make amends for it...

    He seems a good man... Now he needs to be a good leader.

    With love, Maithri

  16. Hello, Maithri. Obama IS a good man. And I think he has the potential to be a great leader; more potential than I've seen in an American president for most of my life.

    I wish I could overwhelmingly support everything he is doing and I have gone lightly on him about most of the appointments that he's made because as Susan said above, I want to see what he will do as president. But this Warren thing upsets me a lot. I've gone from being outraged to just feeling really sad for my daughter and my gay brothers and sisters who have been disenfranchised by the words and actions of Rick Warren.

    Thank you for your supportive comment.

  17. Thanks for dropping by my blog , because it brought to my attention YOURS. I'm going to put this in my blog reader.. very information and spot on, in my opinion.

    I do want to say on Obama's behalf.. no one is perfect and he is going to make mistakes along the way... I feel this was a big mistake, but at least it wasn't a mistake such as starting a senseless war...

    I think it is still an uphill battle for the LGBT community but their time will arrive, no doubt about it. The younger generations are much more open and hopefully in the future there will be no more discrimination against anyone...

  18. Thank you for this post - and I totally agree with you (posted about it myself, in fact).

    The choice of Warren is disappointing to me - in part because I do like Obama, and yet by asking Warren, he is essentially endorsing that man's bigotry.

    Oh - and you made a great point when you questioned why there is even an invocation at the inauguration to begin with. I agree - its presence contradicts the whole notion of seperation of church and state.

  19. Ooops! I should have just left the original first sentence as my comment because that's the truest part of what I said about the situation. I apologize if the rest of my meandering thoughts confused that message.

    Please allow me to explain that we also have relatives and close friends who had no choice about their sexual orientation. My brother-in-law and his husband have been together nearly as long as Jerry and I (33 years) and are two of the most wonderful people I know.

    Since I began this I should at least clarify or expand on a couple of the remarks you both noted. I read a bit further about the history of invocations and benedictions at presidential inauguration events and learned that another well-known fundamentalist started the whole thing - Billy Graham in 1953 attended the first inauguration of Eisenhower. His participation became a regular event as the ceremonies themselves gained in pretentiousness. That's not much of a proud history. The history I was thinking about was that of swearing on the bible in a court of law which is something that's common but amounts to nothing more than a superficial ritual because it in itself can not be used as a means to assure that the person will tell the truth, nor can it be used as verification of the truth. Even if a supposed 85% of people in the country say they are Christians there's not one among them who's never told a lie. In fact, if you're not a Christian you don't have to swear on the bible because it would have no meaning whatever. It's habit and probably time it was done away with along with much of the inaugural ostentation that's gained a foothold.

    I think you're very right in questioning Obama and I'll continue to do so as well. He's trying to play both sides against the middle and isn't even president yet. I'm worried about his choice for Sec of the Treasury (Geithner) and about a hundred other things including his choice of Warren. What we don't need is a meaner and smaller minded version of Billy Graham assuming the stage at every inauguration until he passes it on to someone even nastier.. a scary thought.

    There's a bit of me still starry-eyed about what I saw in Grant Park on Election Night but I'm working on accepting that brief moment of inclusive vision into the reality of what's really happening and what's going to happen. Meanwhile, I wish for you that all your hopes and dreams come true. Love only gets deeper.

  20. Warren is a bigot and a liar. Very little offends me more than historical revisionism in the name of God.


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