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Rick Warren To Deliver Invocation at Inauguration

Jim Burroway

December 17th, 2008

The New York Times’ Katharine Seelye is reporting that Rick Warren, the pastor at Saddleback Church, has been chosen by President-elect Barack Obama to deliver the invocation at the inaugural ceremony.

This is the same Rick Warren who recently said that the relationships of his “many gay friends” are no different from child rape, incest or polygamy. He also jumped on the paranoia bandwagon surrounding same-sex marriage by falsely claiming that Prop 8’s failure somehow would have overturned the Constitution’s First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and religion. (It can’t. No law or state constitution can.).

Warren himself has acknowledged that the only difference between himself and Focus On the Family’s James Dobson is just “a matter of tone.”  So given President-elect Obama’s stated commitment to bringing the country together, it’s hard to fathom the reasoning behind choosing such a divisive figure. What’s worse, this decision to include Warren revives memories of the controversy surrounding ex-gay advocate Donnie McClurkin’s partication in an Obama campaign event in South Carolina during the primaries. This announcement will certainly be taken as another punch in the gut.

More details and reactions to follow, I’m sure. You can count on it.

Update: Are you looking for someone to email to express your outrage? Well, a well-placed source just provided these email addresses:

You can also contact Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office. She chaired the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and made the announcement.

Update: People for the American Way respond.



December 17th, 2008 | LINK

How very craptastic.

December 17th, 2008 | LINK

Thank you Jim. I’ve contacted the five on the list and used some of the information you cited recently to express why Rick Warren is a profoundly inappropriate choice. I also contacted Feinstein’s office to ask her how she could be part of such a stupendously wrong-headed selection.

Timothy Kincaid
December 17th, 2008 | LINK

Warren is a choice of the popular over the respected.

If Obama wants to lend gravity and credibility to the process, I’d recommend Rev. Peter Gomes, the chaplain of Harvard. He’s a perfect choice. Gomes is African-American, a Baptist, and unabashedly gay (though celibate). His theology is challenging to conservative and liberal alike and calls on believers to pay as much attention to the teachings of Jesus as they do to the celebration of his birth.

But before the conservatives could whip up any fury about a liberal pro-homosexual agenda, Gomes has already provided the invocation at the inaugurations of Ronald Reagan and George Dubya Bush.

Or alternately he might consider someone from his own faith, the United Church of Christ. No homophobes there.

December 17th, 2008 | LINK

Sent. May their future actions listen more to that still small voice and the ache in their gut…rather than the glitter and glam of political opportunism.

December 17th, 2008 | LINK

my brief note in the email to the five listed by jim

I became aware of the selection of Rick Warren to lead the Inaugural events by way of delivering the Invocation. I am truly disheartened, disgusted with this news, and am calling for a more suitable person to lead the invocation of President-Elect Obama. I know that I am just one of many expressing the heart-wrenching angst that has been stirred with the announcement of Brother Warren to be sharing the stage with OHB.

December 17th, 2008 | LINK

I threw in my two cents to each of them. Thanks for the addresses, and the reference material.

Thanks also to Timothy for the Gomes thought. There’s still an interview with him that I have on my iPod that I keep meaning to listen to.

john ozed
December 17th, 2008 | LINK

A great big THANKS to Timothy Kincaid! I just saw a video of Rev Gomes and found him quite brilliant, and I’m an atheist.

I’m still mighty upset about Rick Warren, and I’ve written the names that BTB suggested.

If they drop Rick Warren then Rev. Peter Gomes should immediately go to the top of the list. Though ideally, why mention ‘god’ at all?

I had no idea that he was the invoker at Reagan and Bush2’s inaugurations, I can only hope he’s not bad luck.

December 17th, 2008 | LINK

I sent a message to Feinstein and the Obama folks telling them just how betrayed I feel by this choice. I was really looking forward to this Inauguration. I thought it might be as inspiring as the Kennedy Inaugurtion that occurred before I was born. Now, I have no interest in the event. The Obama folks have no idea how angry so maany of still are.

What a way to ruin what should be a great historic event for all of us.

Patrick M
December 17th, 2008 | LINK

Thanks for the email addresses. Have sent a strong letter off.

Another useful one is the press team at

I love Gomes, and thought he would be a perfect choice. Warren is more than a slap in the face, it is an assault on my dignity.

December 17th, 2008 | LINK

I sent a message too to the addresses provided above. Thanks. This is truly unbelievable!

I cannot express how disappointed I am at the selection of Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at Mr. Obama’s inauguration.
I had been hopeful of the promise of unity and our country moving in a new direction, but now I see that I was deceived yet again.
This is a total betrayal. I urge you to reconsider and select someone who lives up to the principles that Mr. Obama claimed to hold during his campaign.

December 17th, 2008 | LINK

I sympathize with those who are horrified by Warren’s anti-gay hatred. May I also point out that Warren also fights tooth and nail against stem-cell research, and a few months ago, I lost a loved one to a long illness, which might have taken a different course had Bush not slowed down stem-cell research in August 2001.

Obama missed a chance to show LEADERSHIP: reaching out to as many people as possible, but not to anti-gay haters and anti-science know-nothings. Like Sarah Palin, Obama has encouraged ignorance, when he should have set a better example. I like Obama and I wish him well, but there is no good that will come from his selection of Rick Warren.

Bob King
December 17th, 2008 | LINK

Graphictruth: Obama’s Inaugural Fuckup

There’s even more significant dirt on Warren than his anti-gay rhetoric – and it comes from real, very conservative Christians.

Not that Anti-gay, anti-choice issues insignificant, but in Warren’s case, they are symptomatic of a moral disease that has “purposely driven” his career; a far more loathsome disease that disqualifies him as both a Christian – and a Citizen.

He should not be permitted on the stage with Obama.

December 18th, 2008 | LINK

And there is the problem of creating another Billy Graham, boosting a national figure who will trade on the relationship on a national media scale. Many of us of a quieter, less showy, faith in this country are tired of seeing the media preachers given more media by the government.

December 18th, 2008 | LINK

A recent post at Pam’s House Blend suggests we also contact

Emmett Beliveau, the executive director/CEO of the Inaugural Committee: 202-203-1715;

December 18th, 2008 | LINK

Timothy, I like your idea that Obama select someone from his own United Church of Christ for the invocation. I think Dr. Jo Hudson, the Pastor of the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, Texas, would be a great pick. She is very cordial and is the only woman pastor of a congregation in that part of Texas. The church is the largest gay congregation in the world and I believe the third or fourth largest in the entire United Church of Christ denomination. See for more on her.

December 18th, 2008 | LINK

It seems it is not useful to contact Feinstein unless you live in California. Here is the automated response I just received to my email I sent as a Florida resident. I assume this means not only do I not get a response to my email, but it is not even read by anyone because it did not contain a California address…anyone care to loan me your address. hahahaha!

Thank you for sending me your electronic mail message. I appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts with me.

Because of the volume of e-mail that is received by my office, we can only respond to email that includes a California postal address. Please resend the text of your e-mail message, including your postal address, and I will respond to you as soon as possible.

December 18th, 2008 | LINK

Warren is a wise political choice.The more that people see and hear obama the more comfortable they become with him.By choosing warren he will be getting a much larger audience than if he had just picked a typical liberal preacher.It is those people we need to reach many of whom probable didnt and dont want a black man in the whitehouse,never mind the bigotry against gays.Is everything always about you?

Timothy Kincaid
December 18th, 2008 | LINK

A few other choices:

Tono Compolo: liberal evangelical. Thinks gays should be celibate but if not then they should be monogamous (it may be sin, but it’s better socially) though he opposes marriage.

Albert Mohler: I’m putting an extreme choice here to make my point. Mohler is a dedicated anti-gay activist. He writes regularly in opposition to gay equality. But I don’t think Mohler has ever equated gay couples to pedophiles, polygamists, or the incestuous.

Just how friggin hard is it to find someone – even someone religiously conservative – who hasn’t spouted insanely offensive homophobia in the past six months? REALLY

Maurice Lacunza
December 18th, 2008 | LINK

I sent Obama’s people an email suggesting that they could offer prayer napkins blessed by Rick’s church. I thought $25 would be a reasonable donation for that. I don’t know though; what would an evangelical person donate for an Obama napkin invocated and blessed by Rick Warren?

I just had this thought: Maybe Jerry Falwell could sneeze up from middle earth and plop some of his santorum on the napkin. Wait…I am on to something…maybe have TWO napkins…

OMG, I have a second thought: Texan preachers lately are selling all kinds of napkins. Lets call Texas and get the whole crowd there.

Obama, Obama, Obama, What aileth thee to make such an irrational decision?

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