18 December 2008

Pastor Rick Warren for invocation in January: hard nut to crack

Like just about every other bleeding-heart, filthy hippie liberal I've talked to or read today, I'm finding it hard to square President-elect Obama's message of tolerance and meaningful, constructive dialogue with his invitation to celebrity pastor Rick Warren to deliver the inauguration invocation. Whereas Obama has been talking about meeting on a common ground on all kinds of issues, Warren is an anti-contraception religious extremist. Whereas Obama has promised to "always be honest with [the nation] about the challenges we face," Warren used inflammatory and misleading words when he supported Prop 8, using "activist judges" language, and still falsely portrays the controversy as "really a free speech issue."

Today, Obama reasserted his stance as "a fierce advocate" for gay rights. But Warren has famously equated any version of marriage outside of the Christian heterosexual norm with incest, forced marriages of children to adults, and polygamy (video: start at 2:00 and continue to Interviewer: "Do you think those are equivalent to -- gays -- getting married?" Warren: "Oh, I do!") Note that that's two different things, though. The other examples were centrism vs. extremism, honesty vs. dishonesty. Advocating for gay rights vs. opposing gay marriage is apples vs. oranges, not apples vs. applesauce.

Of course, the next step in the conversation is to argue that a gay person can't have the full complement of a citizen's rights if she's statutorily barred from getting married. So what's a centrist, pragmatist to do? You work it so that a civilly united person can get the full complement of a married person's rights, and then make it the law that no one can be barred from getting a civil union on the ground that she's gay. Put another way, you get rid of any distinction between a couple united by marriage or united by civil union. Taxes, health insurance, inheritance laws, medical confidentiality rules, whatever -- you make the religious ceremony and church sanction completely irrelevant to whether a couple is legally united.

The only signature on the marriage/union certificate that would matter, then, is that of the state official, whether officiant (e.g., justice of the peace) or functionary (e.g., marriage/union registrar).

It's very French. Or very Soviet. But in any event, I doubt that it's one of the seven signs.

Rationalizing the invitation by offering "worse" choices --"At least he didn't pick Reverend Wright or James Dobson or Joel Osteen" -- is only a race to the bottom. It's like arguing that unionized workers should be happy to accept a cut in benefits or pay because everybody else who isn't in a union gets less.

Noz has posted some thoughtful comments, concluding with the observation that Warren wouldn't have been chosen if his hateful rhetoric had been aimed at other oppressed groups of people.

The pick is a hard nut to crack. I almost wonder if Obama didn't jokingly say, "Hey, well, if I win, you can do the invocation at the inauguration next January, how's that sound!" at the Saddleback Forum. Oops.

A big gripe of mine, personally, is that the fuss is all fine and good but it all begs the question that having a religious invocation before the inauguration is appropriate to begin with.


Frank said...

Stray thought:

The custom of an invocation is as much a social as a religious thing.

It's there because it's always been there. It really has no religious meaning. It's strictly ceremony.

It's like grace before a meal. Everyone is already thinking about the food anyway.

This is really not worth all the keystrokes that have been wasted on it.

What matters is Mr. Obama's actions. Not the ceremony.

If Mr. Obama wants to throw a sop to the wingnut Christianists, what's the big deal? If he can succeed in bringing them into the fold, more power to him.

After all, he did run as a uniter. Give him a bleedin' chance to unite.

Or, in other words, Jesus H. Christ, lighten up, for God's sake. Speakers at the inauguration are not important. And they are not ipso facto the nation's anything

Actions in office are important. And, so far, the man seems to be doing something unprecedented.

Keeping his campaign promises.

Hard to deal with that, ain't it?

I am so frustrated by my fellow Lefties' ability to get lost in side issues that I am speechless.

Sorry for going off in a tirade, but, as my mother would have said, "Honestly!"

Sir Thomas of Hand said...


See, I thought when they were praying to their gah-wad, that kinda made it religious. I'd think praying to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr- although a religious figure- would be social. Though, ancestor worship might force that back into the religious category, we'll ignore derived meanings for who's-getting-asked-for-things.

But let's just ask Doctor King what he thinks about ignoring things. He tells us, in his letter form a Birmingham Jail, that it is the moderates, who want to ignore the small everyday problems, that are the most responsible for the continuation of the status quo.

Social? Not even a little bit. President-elect Obama's actions are such things as who he's picked to speak at his inauguration. Why not start a new tradition of foregoing the invocation?

Maybe it is uniting, this kowtowing to the religious right that's held sway for the last eight years. Or maybe, continuing to ignore the "gay" and "non-theist" minorities is, to borrow a phrase, deja vu all over again.

Let us not forget that President-elect Obama also ran on a message of Change.