By Larry Jones

President-elect Barack Obama on December 17 announced that he had chosen fundamentalist pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation prayer at his inauguration. This is just one more of his many other moves toward the right of late. Immediate outrage broke out, most notably from the LGBT community.

“His presence on the inauguration stand is a slap in the faces of the millions of GLBT voters who so enthusiastically supported him,” said Kevin Naff, editor of the Washington Blade. “This tone-deafness to our concerns must not be tolerated. We have just endured eight years of endless assaults on our dignity and equality from a president beholden to bigoted conservative Christians. The election was supposed to have ended that era. It appears otherwise.”
Warren, pastor to a conservative congregation of 20,000 in Orange Country, California, preaches that god opposes same-sex relationships. He gave strong public support to the state’s Proposition 8 which overturned California’s Supreme Court ruling which made same-sex marriage legal, saying “there are about 2 percent of Americans who are homosexual, gay, lesbian people. We should not let 2 percent of the population…change the definition of marriage that has been supported by every single culture and every single religion for 5,000 years.”
He has made the outrageous claim that if marriage is redefined to include same-sex couples, it would lead to the legalization of incest, child, abuse, polygamy, and bestiality. He went along with the lies before election day that Proposition 8 would bring sanctions against churches which would not perform same-sex marriages.
An open letter to Obama on his selection of Warren by the president of the LGBT group Human Rights Campaign stated, “Your invitation to Rev. Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at your inauguration is a genuine blow to LGBT Americans. … By inviting Rick Warren to your inauguration, you have tarnished the view that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have a place at your table.”
Warren has claimed that he is tolerant even while he adopts the backward anti-gay stand of the Bible by saying, “I have many gay friends.” That’s disgustingly like many liberals who oppose Black’s expressing outrage over their oppression yet claim not to be prejudiced by saying, “Some of my best friends are Black.”
This kind of anger directed at Obama by the LGBT community is not entirely new. In the summer such groups were enraged when Obama picked an “ex-gay” (one supposedly “cured” by fundamentalist retraining) singer to lead his rallies in South Carolina.
Many AIDS activists have also be unhappy with Obama’s endorsement of Warren, who recently bestowed on George W. Bush the first “International Medal of P.E.A.C.E.” from the Global PEACE Coalition in recognition of his “unprecedented contribution to the fight against HIV/AIDS and other diseases.” The sad fact is, however, that Bush’s AIDS policies have included a totally unrealistic abstinence-only regulation. As Michelle Goldberg of The American Prospect wrote last year, “the White House's AIDS prevention mantra -- which prescribes abstinence and marital fidelity, with condoms only for "high risk" groups like prostitutes and truck drivers -- is a sick joke.”
Pro-choice folks, both women and men, both activists and supporters, have also opposed Warren for his right wing stand on abortion. In one interview about faith and politics, Warren said if evangelicals like he “think that life begins at conception, then that means that there are 40 million Americans who are not here [because they were aborted] that could have voted. They would call that a holocaust, and for them it would like if I'm Jewish and a Holocaust denier is running for office. I don't care how right he is on everything else, it's a deal breaker for me. I'm not going to vote for a Holocaust denier....”
So that means that Warren, Obama’s buddy, believes that being pro-choice and understanding that human life begins at birth, not conception, is like being a holocaust denier. This is clearly a non- sequitur, for the premise that life begins at conception has nothing to do with having the knowledge that millions of people were killed by the Nazis. In any event, however, being pro-choice puts one on the other side of Warren’s dividing line and makes her or him not worthy of a vote for public office. Guess who Warren voted for and who he slyly advised his followers to vote for?
Furthermore, it should be noted that on a number of other interesting points Warren is an ideological brother of none other than Sean Hannity of Fox “News.” In an interview with Hannity, Warren was asked if expressing the need to “take out” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was “advocating something dark, evil or something righteous.”
“Well, actually, the Bible says that evil cannot be negotiated with. It has to be stopped,” said Warren. “By force?” Hannity asked.
“Well, if necessary. In fact that’s the legitimate role of government. The Bible says that God puts government of earth to punish evildoers. Not good-doers. Evildoers, said Warren emphatically, referring to the 13th chapter of the Book of Romans in the New Testament.
If the U.S. imperialists need a justification for CIA undercover assassinations, they can perhaps get Warren to write a John Yoo type biblical memo for them.
Just in time for the winter solstice, the pastor whose fundamentalism is hidden behind a goatee and flowered shirt has come out with his first book since his best-selling “Purpose Driven Life” entitled “The Purpose Driven Christmas.” If it’s as full of pabulum as his first book, which in the interests of research (really!!) I read, I wouldn’t buy it for anyone you truly love.




World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.