Young Democrats of Harford County

For Democrats of all ages and other like-minded folks in Harford County, Maryland.

Archive for December, 2008

Right idea, wrong guy

Posted by trumanesque on December 19, 2008

The furor over President-elect Obama’s choice of Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration raises many interesting issues, but I’ll try to focus on only one.  When I first heard the news, I thought OK, this makes sense.  Mr. Obama has always tried to bring people together who don’t agree on many things, and to invite an “evangelical” opposed to reproductive choice and gay marriage to take part in his inauguration is a logical extension of his approach.  (I will put “evangelical” in quotes because I haven’t yet seen a decent definition of the term that properly distinguishes an “evangelical” from any Protestant denominations.)  Watch his 2004 and 2008 DNC speeches, and you will see this move is not a surprise.  The point is, we disagree on those issues, but there is much we can agree on that is also spiritually significant–fighting poverty and disease, climate change, social justice to name a few.  Mr. Warren has shown some breadth in extending his theology beyond the two hot-button issues, which is refreshing to say the least.  If he and Mr. Obama simply had a good-faith disagreement on where the Scripture leads each to his position on reproductive rights and gay marriage, I’d say the LGBT outrage was unwarranted.  If Mr. Obama ruled out somebody otherwise qualified because of these two issues without regard to their many other areas of agreement, he would not be practicing what he “preached” during his campaign. 

However, I had not heard what Mr. Warren said in an on-line interview with Beliefnet (apparently the interview occurred December 17, the same day his inauguration role was announced, but I could be wrong on that):

“The issue to me, I’m not opposed to that as much as I’m opposed to redefinition of a 5,000 year definition of marriage. I’m opposed to having a brother and sister being together and calling that marriage. I’m opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that marriage. I’m opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage.”

BELIEFNET: “Do you think those are equivalent to gays getting married?”

“Oh , I do.”

In Mr. Warren’s book, any homosexual relationship is the moral and legal equivalent of incest, pedophilia, and polygamy.  (This last one is funny, because the Old Testament seems to have no problem with multiple wives.)  This statement is so wrong that I believe it to be a violation of the Ninth Commandment, which prohibits bearing false witness against one’s neighbors.  Of course Mr. Warren’s attitude contains the assumption that homosexuality is nothing but a lifestyle choice (itself a prideful and therefore sinful assumption), but even if he’s right it does not excuse his making such a prejudicial statement.  We’re getting into Rick Santorum territory here.  Would Mr. Obama have chosen Mr. Santorum to give a speech at his inauguration?  What about George Wallace, if he were living?  (I mean ’50’s and ’60’s George Wallace, not his later-in-life, somewhat reformed self.)

Having an “evangelical” pastor give an invocation would have been fine, based on Mr. Obama’s political approach.  But Mr. Warren is not the person I thought he was, and maybe not the person Mr. Obama thought he was.  Anyone who harbors such bigoted, degrading views of law-abiding Americans is not qualified to have a role in the inauguration of the first African-American President.  To permit such a role would be to excuse intolerance.  Mr. Obama should rescind this invitation based on the recent statements that Mr. Warren obviously–and perhaps because of Mr. Obama’s courtship–felt empowered to make.  This time, he’s got the wrong guy.

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