Monday, December 22, 2008

FOX News Follow up

Well, no video clip but we've managed a transcript of Sunday's Fox News Sunday segment on the controversy over President-elect Obama's invitation to Pastor Rick Warren to offer the invocation at the January 20th Inauguration. The segment was subtitled “President-elect Obama under fire for inviting Rick Warren to speak at Inauguration.”

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 !:)


Unknown said...

I admire your courage to stand up week after week and proclaim the Gospel.May God bring you peace and joy as we celebrate, once again, the One who comes to us as the voice against oppression and intolerance.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

That 'Old time religion' and politics have always made strange bedfellows.

You were right on point, my dear, as always. And, Saddleback Church has removed most of the most offensive stuff from their web site.

I'm not thinking Warren has had a change of heart. I'm thinking that bigotry and prejudice never look good under the harsh glare of public scrutiny.

Fr Craig said...

Susan - thank you and God bless you for putting up with that evil garbage. May God guard your heart and soul as you fight for truth with integrity.

susankay said...

How VERY strange they are.

Unknown said...

Thank you Susan for standing up. I think Obama could redeem himself if he invites Bishop Robinson to stand at the (left!) shoulder of Rick Warren. In full regalia, of course, including miter. What a photo that would make?
Carol Gerard
Breckenridge, CO

Amie said...

It is sign of how far we have gone. We're not even actually listening to each other any more. The responses show that what is being said is being overlayed with the writer's perceptions and the reaction is to the perception rather than the reality. It is a truly sad and broken state. Only when we come to the table truly open and free of past baggage will we be able to journey forward together. Then we may be able to hear what each other is actually saying without certain words triggering immediate and traditional reactions. This holds for all spaces on the spectrum.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Unknown said...

Ann Marie, I agree with the jist of your post, but I honestly don't believe that WE aren't listening to each other. The messages Susan+ received reflect very clearly what we on this side of the table all know to be the case - that the other side have no interest in listening, much less in understanding.

I don't know what more can be said.

Brian R said...

Susan, For me you speak the Gospel of Love and I do appreciate that you are willing to speak out for all of us who have been oppressed by our churches.

Leonard said...

You did great, clean as whistle, clear as a bell.

Perry Lee said...

"...And, Saddleback Church has removed most of the most offensive stuff from their web site..."

No, the website went through a major upgrade, and the same statement - expanded as well - is still there.

If you really want to see the part where Pastor Rick says that people who are actively engaged in ANY sin cannot be full members of the Church until they repent, it is right here:

MarkBrunson said...

Ann Marie, John has it right.

We get what you're saying. We're surrounded by it. It is the dominant culture!

What happens is this, we tell you that what you are telling us is not the reality of our situation - from actual, direct experience combined with long, intensive introspection - and you tell us that our experience doesn't matter. We tell you you're hurting us, you tell us we just think that's what you're doing. When we tell you our relationships make us stronger and healthier and do us no harm, you tell us we just think that.

There's no listening when one side - your side - refuses to own up to reality, including the reality that you are quite possibly wrong and the reality that you treat us with a contempt you would find unbearable.

We are not children. You are not listening.

MarkBrunson said...

Ann Marie,

I apologize - I was not listening and made an assumption. You didn't state which side you are on in this debate, just that you see neither side listening.

To that end, let me clarify that what I was saying was that, as John suggested, the anti-gay movement, whether religious or secular, has not listened at all, while we have had no choice but to listen, to be indoctrinated, and go through the long, painful process of recovering from that indoctrination and finding worth in ourselves despite that prevailing view.

Not all do. They're usually become "ex-gays" or the promiscuous, drug-and-booze-addled gays held up by the anti-gays as examples, carefully ignoring the fact it was the anti-gay view that created these people.

Amie said...

Actually Mark,

I fully support full inclusion, which would mean that I fully support same-sex marriage and ordination and consecration of non-celibate GLBTs. I am outspoken in my own diocese. I am chaplain for our diocesan Integrity.

I wasn't pointing fingers at anyone in particular. Maybe at myself - because there are times that I have missed something that one of my colleagues has said because I figure that I have heard it all before.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Amie said...


I realize that my original comment was open to interpretation for anyone who does not know me.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

MarkBrunson said...

I understand, Ann Marie, and apologize again for my knee-jerk reaction - it's a sign of how heartily sick I am of justifying myself. Not even myself, really, as I have no interest in a relationship! lol

I agree that you probably see us on our side not listening. The reason for that, I think, is that after a couple of decades of trying to set forth our position clearly and logically while receiving bizarre, irrational, irrelevant, even violent responses, we're tired of beating our heads against that wall.

Sometimes, ya gotta shake the dust from your sandals.