Friday, December 19, 2008

Weighing in on Rick Warren

It's been a busy day in the neighborhood, getting halls decked and decks cleared -- all the usual "stuff of life" on a day off the week-before-Christmas ... including a trip to the UPS store to mail one last package. I did, however, pause to take a few minutes to weigh in on the sad business of Rick Warren being tapped by the President-elect to offer the invocation at the January 20th Inauguration.

I'm thinking there's more to say on this matter but for now, here's the press release that just went out:

Rick Warren Unqualified for “America’s Pastor” Role

December 19, 2008

Integrity joins with those expressing profound disappointment at President-elect Barack Obama’s choice of Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the upcoming inauguration. Mr. Obama’s effort to begin his administration by representing differences of opinion in the selection of a pastor whose theological perspectives are different than his own is commendable. The choice of Rick Warren is not.

“Rick Warren has become a recognizable pop culture religious voice but he is not qualified to be ‘America’s pastor,’” said Integrity President Susan Russell. “Warren is a not only a vocal opponent of LGBT equality who does not believe in evolution, he has compared abortion to the Holocaust and backed the assassination of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. His views are far outside the religious mainstream and his credentials are steeped in an “Old Time Religion” of narrow exclusionism that ill prepares us for the challenges of the 21st century.”

“This unfortunate choice is particularly painful to LGBT Americans who have experienced first-hand the destructive impact of pastors like Warren who preach “family values” while practicing discrimination against gay and lesbian families. But it should also be a cause for concern to any American concerned that the exclusionism represented by Rick Warren is antithetical to the President-elect’s core values of inclusion, tolerance and the celebration of difference.”

“We have found so much to be hopeful about in these days of anticipation of the beginning of a new era of “Yes We Can” including significant gay and lesbian appointments in the new administration. Regrettably, the selection of Rick Warren is a significant step back after many steps forward on that journey toward becoming a nation where “liberty and justice for all” is not just a pledge but a practice.”

(The Reverend) Susan Russell, President
620 Park Avenue #311 Rochester, NY 14607-2943


Jim of L-Town said...

Dear Rev. Russell:

I find it curious that people find the gay marriage issue the trigger for their anger at this choice.
Both President-elect Barack Obama and Vice-President-elect Joe Biden have both commented publicly that they oppose gay marriage.
With those public pronouncements they have shown they are aligned more with Pastor Rick than with the LGBT community.
And yet, that community enthusiastically supported the Obama-Biden ticket knowing that they did not support gay marriage.
I applaud Obama's choice of Pastor Rick for this wonderful honor and believe it may show he is serious about perhaps opening a new, more civil, and diverse conversation in the country.
It seems that some of the currently most intolerant folks in the country are the ones who are constantly pushing the rest of us to "be more tolerant."
Sometimes it's hard to hear what people are really saying when their actions are drowning out their message.
The abortion issue is stickier, but with the Supreme Court majority in line with Roe v. Wade perhaps abortion is not the overriding issue it once was. Although for we pro-life folks it certainly is.
The same right to a full and complete life that LGBT folks argue for is denied by death to literally millions of unborn children every year.

A sinner saved by God's grace.

Jim of Michigan

Fran said...

Amen sister- preach it!

This is great, I am going to add it a post I just put up.


Jim, I only have a minute to respond as I'm at my step-away-from-the-computer-its-your-day-off limit.

Obama & Biden both opposed Prop 8. Warren fundraised for it.

Obama & Biden support equal civil rights for LGBT Americans. Warren compares homosexuality to pedofilia and beastiality.

Obama & Biden support a woman's right to choose. Warren uses language like "Holocaust" regarding abortion.

Obama & Biden ran on a platform of peacemaking. Warren advocated "taking out' the President of Iran.

Sorry, Jim. Won't give you the "more aligned with Pastor Rick" argument.

And now I've got to go get dinner out of the oven.

Unknown said...

God bless Rachel Maddow! Have you been watching what she's been saying about Warren? The latest gem - the reverend thinks homosexuality is proof that evolutionary theory is wrong!

This is shaping up to be a RW Reverend Wright situation.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Preach it, Sister!

Bruce said...

Don't worry, even Limbaugh noted that as soon as Warren says "Amen," his number will get deleted from Obama's blackberry.

Jim of L-Town said...

Dear Rev. Russell:

A lot of us who are opposed to gay marriage fully support equal civil rights for the LGBT community. Count me among them. I believe gays should have the right to civil unions and the protections that would give.
Marriage, in my opinion, is a long standing cultural institution, as Rick Warren says, that has been recognized for the last 5000 years as a union between men and women. But I don't want to debate that with you, because I know where you stand and I respect that.
But my beliefs on gay marriage are more aligned with Barack Obama's than yours.
I don't live in California, so I never posted about the Prop 8 issue as it was not a matter of direct concern for me. Michigan already dealt with the issue by the ballot. But is support or oppositiong to California's Proposition 8 now the new litmus test for being allowed to participate or being involved in the conversation?
President-elect Barack Obama has taken the high road, brought Rick Warren to his table. Is there any possibility for your side to change Rick Warren's mind, or mine for that matter, by keeping us out on the fringe?
If every decision or appointment has to be focused through the prism of LGBT issues Barack will certainly put a majority of the country outside his sphere of influence.
Again, I respect our differences, I love the blog, even though my visits have dropped off in recent weeks, but we are a deeply polarized country and it is because neither side is willing to open the door to the other and really listen. It appears Barack and Rick are willing to listen to each other across the divide.
No one's mind may ever change, but the conversation can be civil.
As to Rick Warren's holocaust remark, if you believed (which I understand and respect that you don't) that the death of every unborn child was an act of murder, what you would call the deaths of millions of children?
I'm not asking you to ever agree with Rick Warren, I'm not asking you to change any opinion that you hold, but should the President of the United States be open to all or simply shut out a significant portion of opinion because it is politically expedient to do so? We've recently seen what that model is like, have we not?
So at this point, I will simply say, "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year."
What we should both be able to agree on is that the future leadership of this country looks to greatly improve as of Jan. 20. I just dislike seeing every decision or appointment fly specked through that one prism.

A sinner saved by God's Grace

Jim of Michigan

Brother David said...

Forgive my need to voice an opinion, even though an outsider to US politics.

Jim of L-Town, it jumps off the page to me that you would consider Rick Warren a move to "a new, more civil, and diverse conversation in the country." The viewpoints of RW quoted in the variety of topics contributed by participants here show his to be far from a civil approach. The comparisons he makes are violent in their very nature, stirring the most vile feelings possible in others. He compares the positions of fellow citizens to; bestiality, pedophilia, sexual violation and the Holocaust. Those are not accidental analogies!

On the other hand, just a quick perusal of the findings of a Google of RW shows that he equally earns the ire of fellow Evangelicals just for his small association with Mr. Obama. He has teamed with the Devil himself from their castigating rhetoric.

Perhaps RW's sun soon sets!

uffda51 said...

There will only one “first inauguration of the first African-American president in our history.” It will happen next January 20. Rick Warren will deliver the invocation.

By all means, include Rick Warren at the table. Invite him for breakfast on January 21st.

But first, buy him a calendar. Then present him with a university library card. His knowledge of human sexuality comes from the Bronze Age, a perspective he shares with Mike Huckabee and Pat Boone.

Just as the evolution/creationism “controversy” is not a controversy, the issue of the full inclusion of the LGBT community in our nation and churches is not a controversy. In both cases, one side has the facts on their side and the other side relies on something other than the facts.

From Rock Warren’s web site: He opposes “egocentric leadership.” He wants to restore “credibility in churches, and civility in culture.” He “is passionate about attacking . . . illiteracy/poor education.”

But he feels no need to educate himself, nor his flock.

Again, from the web site: “Dr. Warren says he teaches theology without using theological terms and telling people it is theology.” He obviously uses the same approach when “teaching” about human sexuality.

In the same week we learn that our new president will, thankfully, listen to scientists, he puts Rick Warren front and center. Terribly disappointing. Not because the decision was made without being filtered through the LGBT prism, but because the decision is tantamount to selecting a Holocaust denier to give the invocation. Or the president of the Flat Earth Society.

Bateau Master said...

This was a total political calculation. Obama only has to worry about 2012 and the LGBT community has no other place to turn. The calculation is that in 4 years you will have forgotten or forgiven. Its not like the voting block will suddenly turn red.

He can't count on the evangelicals in four years, so this is a very smart move.

I don't anticipate a boycott of the inauguration and whole bunch of hotel rooms opening up ... too much cool-aide has been consumed.

Unknown said...

Jim of L-Town, Rick Warren is the kinder, gentler voice of hate and I have read that Hermann Goering was a charming host. Same thing in my book.

Bateau Master said...

Godwin's Law has been engaged - thus Jim of L-Town wins the argument. Thanks for playing!