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Debate Over Rick Warren Continues

Jim Burroway

December 18th, 2008

Hillary Rosen appeared on Anderson Copper’s AC360 on CNN to talk about Obama’s selection of Rick Warren, where she called this selection an “outrageous mistake.” She’s clearly angry about this choice. Good for her.

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Outrage over Warren’s recent comments in which he equated the relationships of his “many gay friends” to child rape, incest and polygamy were just reaching its peak when the Obama team made the announcement. The inaugural committee has already issued their talking points. They go like this:

  • This will be the most open, accessible, and inclusive Inauguration in American history.
  • In keeping with the spirit of unity and common purpose this Inauguration will reflect, the President-elect and Vice President-elect have chosen some of the world’s most gifted artists and people with broad appeal to participate in the inaugural ceremonies.
  • Pastor Rick Warren has a long history of activism on behalf of the disadvantaged and the downtrodden. He’s devoted his life to performing good works for the poor and leads the evangelical movement in addressing the global HIV/AIDS crisis. In fact, the President-elect recently addressed Rick Warren’s Saddleback Civil Forum on Global Health to salute Warren’s leadership in the struggle against HIV/AIDS and pledge his support to the effort in the years ahead.
  • The President-elect disagrees with Pastor Warren on issues that affect the LGBT community. They disagree on other issues as well. But what’s important is that they agree on many issues vital to the pursuit of social justice, including poverty relief and moving toward a sustainable planet; and they share a commitment to renewing America’s promise by expanding opportunity at home and restoring our moral leadership abroad.
  • As he’s said again and again, the President-elect is committed to bringing together all sides of the faith discussion in search of common ground. That’s the only way we’ll be able to unite this country with the resolve and common purpose necessary to solve the challenges we face.
  • The Inauguration will also involve Reverend Joseph Lowery, who will be delivering the official benediction at the Inauguration. Reverend Lowery is a giant of the civil rights movement who boasts a proudly progressive record on LGBT issues. He has been a leader in the struggle for civil rights for all Americans, gay or straight.
  • And for the very first time, there will be a group representing the interests of LGBT Americans participating in the Inaugural Parade.

There are a number of pastors who can disagree without being disagreeable. Pastor Warren just doesn’t fit the bill. I cannot allow my relationship to be considered “equivalent” — his assented characterization — to child rape or incest. A man who hold such profound animosity with his fellow Americans to say such a thing has no place in this celebration.

Rev. Joseph Lowery is an excellent choice to deliver the benediction, but that doesn’t excuse Warren’s selection for the invocation.  “Balance” isn’t achieved, for example, by having a segregationist and a civil rights worker, or an anti-Semite with a Rabbi. There would be no justification to have a segregationist or an anti-Semite as part of the program to begin with. Nor is there any for having Warren at the podium as well.

But hey, thanks for including a band in the parade.

Comments

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AJD
December 18th, 2008 | LINK

This is little more than further evidence that being anti-gay is socially and politically acceptable in a way that being racist and anti-Semitic aren’t.

Benjamin
December 18th, 2008 | LINK

You know as much as I detest Rick Warren’s Megga Church b.s. and his terrible and divisive stand on GLBT issues I believe Obama is making a wise decision this time. If you turn the tables around Rick Warren has to come to the Obama table in the company of a person who is deeply committed to GLBT rights. R.W.’s megga Church has to come to the table as well. There is a time to protest and there is a time to come to the table and this is a time where I believe we need to come to invite our enemies to the table. If Rick Warren accepts this invitation which I believe he has then he is accepting to come to the table of someone he does not agree with. I think that some very adult and mature progress can be made by this decision.

Barack is choosing openly gay people in his cabinet and even seriously considering openly gay William White as the Secretary of the Navy. That speaks volumes about the changes that are afoot. Much good is going to be done through this process.

Stefano A
December 18th, 2008 | LINK

AJD:

Indeed! I agree!

Benjamin:

If Rev Warren had been simply an opponent of Prop 8, although it would still irriate me, I wouldn’t be quite so upset about the invitation by Obama in the guise of inviting people of disperate beliefs to the same table as I am.

Warren isn’t someone who just opposes SSM, he is someone who denigrates at the most basic levels an entire group of people.

The first analogy that comes to mind is if someone like David Duke were invited to speak and then it was justified by saying “Oh, he just disagrees with affirmative action legislation.”

Timothy Kincaid
December 18th, 2008 | LINK

This infuriates, nauseates, and disheartens me. Not just that there was a thoughtless decision to include Warren, but that the response to our concerns illustrates that the Obama team handling this issue doesn’t understand our concern at all.

Here’s a few examples:

1. AIDS does not equal gay. Supporting health for AIDS sufferers is not a “get out of bigotry free” card.

To even mention “leads the evangelical movement in addressing the global HIV/AIDS crisis” as a response to anti-gay bigotry is crazy. No, it’s beyond crazy, it’s offensive. To those who haven’t yet got it (including Obama’s inauguration team), global HIV/AIDS has almost nothing whatsoever to do with gay people. Globally, over 90% of HIV/AIDS cases are heterosexual.

Obama’s camp can say, “oh, but he’s good on AIDS issues”, to which I reply: Oh yeah, for whom? He’s no leader on AIDS issues for American gays. He prefers African heterosexuals and American women and children. Ya know, the “innocent” victims of AIDS.

2. Civil equality is no less “vital to the pursuit of social justice” than are poverty relief or moving toward a sustainable planet. It is obvious to anyone who even remotely gives this the slightest thought that justice of any kind surely must include equality before it includes charity.

3. We absolutely cannot “restore our moral leadership abroad” at the same time that we champion and advance those who treat others with contempt and hatred. One of the issues on which European nations find our country to be startlingly neanderthal is the way it treats its gay citizens. We will NEVER have moral leadership in the Western World as long as homophobia is given a place of prominence.

4. It is extremely offensive to respond to “you’re pushing a homophobe” with “yeah but we have good singers”. What, do you also have good hair sylists and make-up artists involved as well?

5. As Jim noted, one does not achieve moral balance by having both “love everyone” and “gays are like pedophiles, the incestuous, and polygamists”.

6. And the talking point I find most disgusting: “there will be a group representing the interests of LGBT Americans participating in the Inaugural Parade”.

NO, THERE THE FRICK WON’T BE A GROUP REPRESENTING THE INTERESTS OF LGBT AMERICANS PARTICIPATING IN THE INAUGURAL PARADE. There will be a band. A friggin marching band.

And as much as I get annoyed at our community leaders, I don’t get them confused with a friggin marching band!!

One doesn’t balance the public advancement and national attention given to a minister who will have a microphone to the nation with serving the inaugural feast, cleaning the inaugural floors, shining the inaugural shoes, waving the inagural flags, or playing music in the inaugural parade.

And I’m sure our black readers will also imediately recognize the parallel of the preacher railing against gays at the pulpit while those “representing their interests” sang in the chior. One doesn’t balance the other.

These talking points are not simply inadequate. They are disgusting and offensive.

Jim Burroway
December 18th, 2008 | LINK

Benjamin,

To date, there are no openly gay people in Obama’s cabinet. In fact, the last post has now been filled.

Stefano A
December 18th, 2008 | LINK

Whoops

If Rev Warren had been simply a [prop]opponent of Prop 8,

Timothy Kincaid
December 18th, 2008 | LINK

I’ve seen Reverend Joseph Lowery referred to in news reports as being pro-gay marriage. I can’t find a direct quote from Lowery supporting that.

I do see several instances in which he opposed anti-gay discrimination, when he said that African-Americans shouldn’t fight against gay marriage, and when he hinted that he supported gay marriage.

But I’m still looking for a direct quote in which he said that he supports marriage equality or in which he stated that he opposed Prop 8, Prop 102, or Amendment 2.

Can anyone help?

Timothy Kincaid
December 18th, 2008 | LINK

I hate to say it, but John McCain has a better record of hiring openly gay senior staff than Barack Obama. We have absolutely no one yet in the upcoming administration with the ear of the President. And it’s becoming very clear that those he does listen to haven’t got a decent understanding of our community.

Maurice Lacunza
December 18th, 2008 | LINK

Benjamin raised a good point that RW has to come to the table also…implying that to get some power, he may have to give up or modify some of his beliefs and compromise to match the pro GLBT beliefs of Obama. So, your point is taken.

About those appointments. Kincaid is pretty sharp and if he can’t find any “openly gay” appointments, then I believe Kincaid. Where did you get your info from Benjamin?

Emproph
December 18th, 2008 | LINK

Benjamin raised a good point that RW has to come to the table also…implying that to get some power, he may have to give up or modify some of his beliefs and compromise to match the pro GLBT beliefs of Obama. So, your point is taken.

“Pro-GLBT” = Pro-Equality.

Pro-equality = Pro-fairness.

What you, Maurice, and Benjamin attempt to argue, is that it is fair to balance fairness with unfairness.

Which in this instance especially, is as immoral as suggesting that victimizers are on equal footing with their victims.

Is this truly what you wish to argue?

Maurice Lacunza
December 18th, 2008 | LINK

My dear friend Emproph,

I only said that -I see his point. Maybe Obama is setting some trap to force Warren to ultimately support gay people. I doubt it, but I can entertain Benjamin’s idea.

I have a heart that is utterly broken trying to make sense of why people care so much, to hate me and my kind. The defeat of Prop 8 left me feeling depressed and shocked. It also inspired me to stand up and cry for equal, nothing less, equal rights.

If you read any of my comments on other articles, you will see how I feel about this.

I stand for EQUAL RIGHTS FOR EVERYONE. PERIOD. I do not back down in my discussions with friends and family.

I sent Obama and all the other players a strong message that Warren is nothing more than Falwell and Dobson wrapped up in a goatee that smells of closet.

I have heard Obama say “equal but separate”. Wrong. That is discrimination. We may as well go back to “colored” and “whites” for our schools and bathrooms.

Nor do I accept civil or domestic rights as a substitute for EQUAL rights.

My skin color, nationality, race, gender or sex should not have any bearing on my rights as a U.S. Citizen. I demand the application of the same rights that are afforded to everyone. Due process for all.

FYI, I have publicly condemned the selection of Rick Warren. He does not understand agape love and he does not represent the heart of true Christendom. He is another poser from the Iron Age.

My comments to Benjamin were an attempt to understand another point of view. So, lets be friends and agree that I agree with you. I hope I didn’t come off harsh to you. If so, none intended.

CB
December 18th, 2008 | LINK

I like how they (Bush, Warren, other far right politicians and clergy) always bring up “global” AIDS/HIV crisis as a way they support the gay community, so as not to look prejudicial. This is a double edged sword. Since it crosses into the heterosexual community and has run rampant in poor countries, they push their ‘caring’ Christianity, as to make it appear that they really care. However, no doubt, if it was strictly a ‘gay disease’ they would not be involved. Have you ever noticed when they talk about the AIDS crisis, it is always Africa, nothing about the gay community. If anyone really believes that their (politicians/clergy/church) efforts in the AIDS/HIV crisis has anything to do with gays and the gay community, needs to have their heads examined. Gays and the gay lifestyle are still shunned in many churches, so to believe that they really care is malarky.

Lynn David
December 19th, 2008 | LINK

Well…. all of this is being called “the politics of outrage” and said to be detrimental to the “cause of democracy” by some claiming to be more stable of character. Those people can go stuff it. I supported a man with my own money and he didn’t have the guts to go to California and correct the lies that the “Yes on H8″ people propogated about his support for Prop H8. If I want to pissed, I’ll be pissed…..

Zeke
December 19th, 2008 | LINK

So Obama has chosen all of his chiefs of staff and filled his cabinet with just about every minority (women, Black, Hispanic, Asian) and even a number of Republicans but somehow GLBT people were completely left out of his “big tent”, “coming to the table”, “reaching accross aisles and ideology”.

And after that Obama brings in one of the biggest backers of Prop 8, while the wounds are still open and VERY raw in the GLBT community, and one of the most influential anti-gay leaders in the country to do the invocation of his “let’s ALL come together” inauguration and people just can’t understand what all the fuss is about. We are being called selfish, too sensitive, hateful, intolerant and all the things that we get called every time we have the audacity to complain about being treated like shit.

I guess we are just a bridge too far. A bridge to no where.

Emproph
December 19th, 2008 | LINK

My comments to Benjamin were an attempt to understand another point of view. So, lets be friends and agree that I agree with you. I hope I didn’t come off harsh to you. If so, none intended.

Maurice, thanks for your patience with me.

I should have been more diplomatic and sought discussion, I apologize. (and that sentiment goes out to Benjamin too)

-Patrick

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