Mid-major kerfluffle in the blogosphere after the Obama transition team’s announcement that Rick Warren, pastor at Saddleback Church in California and author of The Purpose-Driven Life, will give the invocation at President-Elect Obama’s inauguration on January 20.
Pastor Warren gets some props in the progressive movement for aiming to broaden the focus of the evangelical movement, beyond opposition to gay rights and abortion, to issues like environmental and poverty policy and charities. However, he still holds completely regressive opinions on the traditional evangelical issues, including making several speeches in favor of California’s Proposition 8, the anti-gay marriage amendment. And these views are the source of most of the criticism.
For what it’s worth, I’m pretty much with Steven Benen here:
I’m reluctant to make too big a deal about this. As I argued this morning, it’s a symbolic gesture, which will likely have no substantive effect whatsoever. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a mistake.
That’s spot-on. Look, I’m a completely non-militant atheist. I think that invocations have no business at government functions, whether it be the opening of Congress or the inauguration of a new President. However, I’m pragmatic enough to realize that if I want to live in that country, I better leave America, and that’s okay by me. And, yes – if President-Elect Obama is going to have an invocation, I sincerely wish that it was being given by someone who didn’t have the antediluvian social views that Warren shares with the Robertson/Falwell crowd.
However, this is politics, and we all know that politics is the art of the possible. The Obama team is trying to engage as many people as they can in the political discourse, and they feel that including Pastor Warren will help widen that field. So be it. So long as Pastor Warren isn’t writing administration policy, but is mostly trotted out as a token at major events, I can accept that the credibility this buys the administration with the evangelical crowd is worth the downside of raising the stature of someone I disagree with on a lot of issues.