The guests were Bishop Harry Jackson ... and me.
Bishop Jackson: This controversy is a clear example of just how intolerant the gay community is about anyone they disagree with. They’ve mischaracterized what they’ve said about Rick Warren. He was not calling gay people pedophiles or anything of that nature and they’ve been putting out a false story for PR purposes.
Moderator: Joining us now on the phone is the Reverend Susan Russell, a priest at All Saints Episcopal Church in California where Prop 8 has been a hotly contested issue. What say you about the invitation to Pastor Warren to speak?
Reverend Russell: Thanks for giving me the opportunity. I think it’s an unfortunate choice, I think it’s a disappointing choice. As I said in my open letter to the President-elect, I applaud -- I applaud! -- his efforts to bring the evangelicals back to the table.—I think that’s exactly the sort of post-partisan leadership we’re looking for in our president-elect, but we could have done better than Rick Warren.
And I want to rebut your other guest. This is not about gay intolerance. This about pointing out that Rick Warren as a pastor has compared a woman’s right to choose to the Holocaust, who doesn’t believe in evolution, he has said that the Bible would condone the assassination of the President of Iran. These are ideas that are way outside the mainstream of American religious thought.
What I’m saying is rather than seeing gays as being “intolerant,” we’re serving as the canary in the coal mine saying we deserve better – the American people deserve better – and if you’re going to ask someone to pray a blessing on America on Inauguration Day, please select someone who speaks for all Americans.
Moderator: Bishop Jackson?
Bishop Jackson: Well, I think this is part of the PR spin. Your other guest is mischaracterizing the statements of Rick Warren. He is the new Billy Graham. He represents American. The Purpose Driven Life … everybody knows …has sold multiple millions of copies … and he’s given millions of dollars to help people who are HIV/AIDS … he is not intolerant … he’s helped the gay community. I just resent that they’re slandering his name to advance their cause and their PR and they want to sound tolerant about being so aggressive.
Moderator: Let me point something out to both of you. Last night, Rick Warren spoke for a gathering of Muslims in Southern California – about 800 there. Melissa Etheridge opened up the event, performing there as well, and she of course is openly gay. She went on to say that Pastor Rick Warren is a great guy, someone that she enjoys talking to despite their differences. President-elect Barack Obama has said the same thing.
And then [Warren] also gave a quote here. He said, “Let me just get this over very quickly. I love Muslims, and for the media’s purposes I happen to love gays and straights." He said people ask him what he prays for when it comes to the President-elect Obama and he said (quote): “I pray for the president the same things I pray for myself: integrity, humility and compassion.” Reverend Russell, what’s wrong with that?
Reverend Russell: There’s nothing wrong with that. Our issue is, we want to see the actions meet the words. This is a person, Pastor Warren, who preaches family values and practices discrimination against gay and lesbian families. This is someone who fundraised and advocated to take civil rights away from California regarding civil marriage. We want to see the actions that meet the words and what we’re asking is that rather than Rick Warren, the President-elect should look at evangelicals like Tony Campolo or …
Moderator: Reverend Russell, we’re running out of time here. I understand your point -- point well taken. Bishop Jackson, I understand your point as well and of course it’s up to the President-elect, he can choose who he wants to for the Invocation, and he says his choice is Rick Warren.
So that was it. I'll admit, seeing it in black-and-white (or "white-and-green") it seems an unlikely source to inspire the emails I got in response:
You are doing this country a dis-service by preaching the evil filth that I heard come out of your mouth this morning. Obviously Satan has you firmly in his grip. Please take the time to read your Bible and get off your high horse and humbly ask for God's forgiveness. It is not fair to the people who listen to you to teach them LIES. You alone will be responsible for sending souls to hell. How can you look at yourself in the mirror morning??
[My, my, my!]
You shouldn't be a reverened or a pastor. Those are people I always thought, should be set aside to teach us the very words of God. He has a lot to say about homosexualaty, did you know that? Its not good. You, as a representative of God, or so you call yourself, will stand before Him someday, and be judged. If I were you, I would be worried.
[I'm worried about a lot of things, but this isn't one of them.]
And then there was this one from the Kentucky contingent:
Just heard what Susan had to say about Rick Warren on Fox News and I couldn't believe what came out of her hatred mouth. I don't mean to say anything bad about anyone, but that just flabbergasted me! How can she preach the Gospel with the hatred she carries??? Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest.
Well, I hope she feels better now. (And it kind of makes you wonder what she'd say if she did mean to say something bad about someone !:)