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Posts for January, 2009

Bishop Robinson To Deliver Invocation At Inaugural Kickoff

Jim Burroway

January 12th, 2009

In an apparent olive branch to the gay community, President-elect Barack Obama’s inaugural committee has announced that the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, who became the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop in 2003, will deliver the invocation at the inaugural kickoff at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday. However, the Obama camp denies that this invitation came about as a response to controversy over Rick Warren’s selection to give the invocation at the inauguration itself:

An Obama source: “Robinson was in the plans before the complaints about Rick Warren. Many skeptics will read this as a direct reaction to the Warren criticism – but it’s just not so.”

Rick Warren to the Rescue of Anti-Gay Anglicans

Timothy Kincaid

January 11th, 2009

We have previously discussed how President-Elect Obama’s selection for his inaugural invocation, Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, has sought to meddle in the current internal affairs of the Anglican fellowship in Africa. He has, on the international stage, sided with those who are anti-gay.

Well now it seems that Warren wants to meddle on a local scale.

Last week, the California Supreme Court found that the current leadership and congregation at St. James Parish in Newport Beach could not just walk away from the Episcopal Church and take the buildings and property with them. This left those discontented with the Episcopal denomination without a physical home.

The Episcopal Church is hoping that the physical ownership of the site will remove leverage from the local anti-gay activists and will allow for this congregation to be again a part of the fold.

But it seems that this does not fit with Warren’s agenda. He is encouraging the congregation to stay in discord and is offering the assets of Saddleback to keep the pot bubbling. Christianity Today has extractions from letters written by Warren:

… [The Episcopal Church has] already considered me an adversary after partnering on projects with Kolini, Orumbi, and Nzimbi, and writing the TIME bio on Akinola.

But since last summer… I’ve been on Gene Robinson and other’s attack list for my position on gay marriage. ….[Our] brothers and sisters here at St. James in Newport Beach lost their California State Supreme Court case to keep their property.

We stand in solidarity with them, and with all orthodox, evangelical Anglicans. I offer the campus of Saddleback Church to any Anglican congregation who need a place to meet, or if you want to plant a new congregation in south Orange County.

Rick Warren has, in so many words, declared war on the Episcopal Church.

It is one thing to take an anti-gay position based on one’s theology. It is quite another to encourage schism in another denomination. It is now time for the Episcopal Church to make a formal protest to the President Elect. Rick Warren cannot invoke blessing on a nation if he is seeking to divide a denomination of which he is not even a part.

Further, the ECUSA should be joined by every church body sharing the belief that those who seek discord should not be given a place of prestige. I do not doubt for a moment that Rick Warren will endeavor to bring about splits in the Presbyterian (USA) and United Methodist denominations if he is left unchecked.

Pastor Supports Warren Protests

Jim Burroway

January 9th, 2009

Rev. Kenneth L. Samuel, Senior Pastor of Victory For the World United Church of Christ in Stone Mountain, GA., has written a stirring op-ed in the Daily Voice, supporting the protests against Rick Warren as Obama’s choice to give the Inaugural invocation, as well as Warren’s invitation to speak at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church in January. Dr. Samuel writes:

While expressing some disagreement with Rev. Warren’s views about gay people, most [civil rights] leaders have generally defended his invitations to participate in these events based upon the conviction that both Barack Obama and Martin Luther King, Jr. stand for reaching out to persons of divergent views and bringing them together in dialogue.

While there is great value in such a conviction, the fact is that Rick Warren has not been invited into a dialogue at either occasion. He has been invited to invoke God’s presence on behalf of the nation at one occasion and to speak in tribute to the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. at the other.

To be sure, if Reverend Warren had been invited into a dialogue about marriage equality, he most likely would have declined…

I am certain that gay rights groups and their allies would certainly prefer to be joining hands and hearts with the Obama administration and the King Center in the quest to re-vitalize the American economy, improve public education, save Social Security, provide universal health care, protect the environment and end the war in Iraq.

Instead, we must now deal with the sting of having been again slapped in the face by fellow fire fighters before we can even focus on putting out the fire which threatens to engulf everyone’s house. These ‘minor’ insults are actually ‘major’ distractions that we should no longer allow. Lest we continue to be derailed from the common aim of “liberty and justice for all”, the protests must proceed.

[Hat tip: HRC Backstory]

Barney Frank on Rick Warren, Obama, and the “Gay Agenda”

Jim Burroway

January 8th, 2009

Jeffrey Toobin has a great profile of Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) in the latest New Yorker. First thing that pops out is that Frank intends to be much more aggressive than Obama:

Frank’s mordant view of human nature presents a contrast to the sunnier approach of President-elect Obama, a difference reflected in their dispute over Obama’s choice to have Rick Warren, the evangelical pastor, give the invocation at the Inauguration. “Obama tends to overstate his ability to get people to change their opinions and underestimates the importance of confronting ideological differences,” Frank told me. “It’s one thing to talk to somebody. I talk to more conservatives than anyone, because I’m trying to get legislation passed. But it’s another to make Rick Warren the most honored clergyman in the world.” In California, Warren supported Proposition 8, the successful anti-gay-marriage referendum. “Now, when we fight Warren in California, we are going to hear, ‘Oh, yeah, but Obama picked him for the inaugural.’ He doesn’t deserve that honor. And I don’t want to hear that the other clergyman at the inaugural, Reverend [Joseph] Lowery, supports gay rights. I didn’t vote for a tie in the election.”

Frank worries that Obama’s evenhandedness may prove to be a political liability.

I think we all can relate to that worry. Frank, on the other hand, won’t let that get in the way of what he thinks needs to be done for the economy (he’s chairman of the powerful Committee on Financial Services) and for LGBT rights:

Frank is uncharacteristically hopeful about the future, including gay rights. “We’re going to do three things in Congress,” he told me. “First, a hate-crimes bill—that shouldn’t be too hard. Next, employment discrimination. We almost got that through before, but now we can win even if we add transgender protections, which we are going to do. And finally, after the troops get home from Iraq, gays in the military. The time has come.” [Emphasis mine]

That last point is key. If we’re going to wait until after the troops get home from Iraq, then repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” probably won’t happen for a very long time. But his response to those who claim that this represents some sort of radical agenda was pretty good:

“I do not think that any self-respecting radical in history would have considered advocating people’s rights to get married, join the Army, and earn a living as a terribly inspiring revolutionary platform.”

Warren’s Counterproductive AIDS Efforts in Africa

Timothy Kincaid

January 7th, 2009

Last month, I commented on how Rev. Rick Warren’s efforts to fight AIDS in Africa seemed to be more of a means by which to influence religious doctrine and public policy in several African nations than a charitable effort. My analysis seems confirmed by an article for the Daily Beast by Max Blumenthal, in which he investigates Warren’s AIDS efforts and finds them closely tied to anti-gay political activists and driven by dogmatic ideology.

In addition to the Anglican Bishops that are seeking to destroy the Church of England and remold it under their personal control, Warren has aligned himself with an evangelical pastor in Uganda, Martin Ssempa. This pastor quickly became interested in AIDS prevention after the US allocated 15 billion dollars (the PEPFAR program). While taking a salary from US taxpayers, he implemented efforts to remove condom use from Uganda’s successful ABC (abstinence, be faithful, condoms) anti-AIDS efforts.

By 2005, billboards promoting condom use disappeared from the streets of Kampala, replaced by billboards promoting virginity. “Until recently, all HIV-related billboards were about condoms. Those of us calling for abstinence and faithfulness need billboards too,” Ssempa told the BBC at the time. A 2005 report by Human Rights Watch documented that educational material in Uganda’s secondary schools falsely claiming condoms had microscopic pores that could be penetrated by the HIV virus and noted the sudden nationwide shortage of condoms due to new restrictions imposed by on condom imports.

Due in part to these efforts by Ssempa, HIV began to increase in the country.

AIDS activists arrived at the 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto in 2006 with disturbing news from Uganda. Due at least in part to the chronic condom shortage, HIV infections were on the rise again. The disease rate had spiked to 6.5 percent among rural men, and 8.8 percent among women—a rise of nearly two points in the case of women. “The ‘C’ part [of ABC] is now mainly silent,” said Ugandan AIDS activist Beatrice Ware. As a result, she said, “the success story is unraveling.”

This should have given concern to those most familiar with AIDS in Africa. However, Rick Warren did not seek to return to the success of ABC. Rather, he took personal action to continue the program that had been shown to increase HIV infection – abstinence only.

In February 2008, Rep. Tom Lantos sought to reform PEPFAR to lift the abstinence-only earmarks.

His maneuver infuriated Warren, who immediately boarded a plane for Washington to join Christian right leaders including born-again former Watergate felon Chuck Colson for an emergency press conference on the Capitol lawn. In his speech, Warren claimed that Lantos’ bill would spawn an increase in the sex trafficking of young women. The bill died and PEPFAR was reauthorized in its flawed form.

But Ssempa was not content to put his anti-sex agenda ahead of the AIDS-prevention efforts of his nation. He also used his political connections and US backing to advance a harshly homophobic political atmosphere in their nation.

August 2007, Ssempa led hundreds of his followers through the streets of Kampala to demand that the government mete out harsh punishments against gays. “Arrest all homos,” read placards. And: “A man cannot marry a man.” Ssempa continued his crusade online, publishing the names of Ugandan gay rights activists on a website he created, along with photos and home addresses. “Homosexual promoters,” he called them, suggesting they intended to seduce Uganda’s children into their lifestyle. Soon afterwards, two of President Yoweri Museveni’s top officials demanded the arrest of the gay activists named by Ssempa. Terrified, the activists immediately into hiding.

The more I learn about Rick Warren’s AIDS efforts in Africa, the less I respect him. He has endorsed policies that he knows are not the most effective and he has befriended and supported some of the most homophobic religious leaders in Christendom in their anti-gay political actions.

It is commendable that Rick Warren feels compassion for those suffering from AIDS in Africa. It is not commendable that he has used this suffering as a way to get a political and religious foothold in the region or that he capitalized on – and encouraged – hatred against gay people in the process.

Franklin Graham: “You Hate God and It’s Good That You Are Upset”

Timothy Kincaid

December 23rd, 2008

Billy Graham was for decades a spiritual leader with tremendous influence and the ear of every President since Harry Truman. And Billy Graham, while a Southern Baptist and theologically conservative, preached a gospel that was more good news and conciliation than it was a fiery denunciation of the world around him. But he’s now in his 90′s and happily enjoying his retirement from public life.

Franklin Graham, Billy’s son, is a different generation. In his mid 50′s, Franklin Graham entered his ministry in the era of Moral Majority, Christian Coalition, and Culure War. The younger Graham seems to express no desire to reach or understand those who differ, choosing instead to demonize and objectify those he sees as God’s (and therefore his) enemies.

Franklin Graham has now weighed in on those who are upset by the selection of Rick Warren for the Inaugural Invocation:

My advice to Rick is to stay true to your convictions, and don’t back up one step. I don’t think he will. When you have the far left and the gay advocates mad at you, you must be doing something right. I’m proud of Rick. He hasn’t backed down one bit and he shouldn’t.

And as for those “far left” people, he has this to say:

The people on the far left hate God, they hate his standards, and hate the name of his son. The people on the left are not going to support any relationship with people on the other side.

Not all of those who oppose homosexuality are motivated by animus, arrogance or contempt. Some, I’ve found, are truly troubled by conflict between how they would prefer to view sexual orientation and what they see as clear biblical commandments. And so I believe that we should be slow and cautious to identify others as “haters” or “bigots”.

But I have to say that I’m finding it impossible to read these comments by Franklin Graham without seeing overt hatred and bigotry in his words.

The Newer, Gay-Friendlier Rick Warren (Same as the Old Rick Warren with new packaging)

Timothy Kincaid

December 23rd, 2008

Rick Warren has been criticized recently at Box Turtle Bulletin for doing and saying some pretty disgusting things about gay couples recently. Our scrutiny increased after President-Elect Obama selected Warren to offer the invocation at his inauguration.

We were not alone in our criticism. The blogosphere, along with mainstream media, have run with the story (or at least part of it) challenging the Obama administration in its relationship with the gay community before he has even taken office and tarnishing the shiny-friendly image of Rick Warren’s brand of Evangelical Christianity.

So Rick Warren has taken his love show on the road. Over the past week he has been denying that he’s homophobic, laughing off complaints, declaring his civility, and chatting up Melissa Etheridge, and even changing his church’s website.

But sadly, most of Warren’s efforts have not been directed at healing the hurt he has caused. Instead he seeks to defend himself and dismiss the concerns of the community.

On Monday, Warren posted to his church’s website a video in which he purports to clarify his statements and give perspective. He does state in the video that he does not think that gay relationships are the moral equivalent of incest or pedophilia or polygamy.

But mostly it’s just a denunciation of journalists and bloggers and anyone else who dare criticize Rick Warren.

In the video he reimagines his interview with Beliefnet in which he compared gay couples to incest, polygamy, and pedophila. As he retells it, he also objected to unmarried couples living together and commonlaw partnerships.

This didn’t fly with Steve Waldman, the Beliefnet writer who interviewed Warren.

In his December 22 video Warren had an opportunity to do something quite straightforward and healing: clarify, take resonsibility and, ideally, apologize. He did clarify but did not, in my view, take responsibility. He could have simply said, “it came out in a way I didn’t mean and I apologize for those who I hurt because of that.” It wouldn’t have required him to back off his position on gay marriage one iota. Instead, he blamed the media and misremember or mischaracterized what he’d said.

Rick Warren is probably not an evil guy. And he probably doesn’t go about his day thinking of how to make the lives of gay people more difficult.

But Warren is like many preachers I have known. He is convinced that God has called him and that this entitles him to stand above criticism. He’s become accustomed to being a leader of his flock (at 22,000 an awfully large flock) and having his word equated with Gospel.

To Rick Warren, admitting that he has done others wrong is akin to admitting that God is wrong. And why should he back down? God is on his side.

Sadly, the history of Evangelicalism is full of those who were convinced that conquering their personal moral failings were secondary to God’s Work, who were certain that God performed as they declared, and who discovered that pride comes before a fall.

Rick Warren would be well served by publicly repenting for his sin against gay couples and seeking a life of humility in which criticism is weighed for its worth and complaints are not laughed away.

Melissa Etheridge: Warren “Regrets” Pedophilia/Incest Comparison

Jim Burroway

December 22nd, 2008

According to a post by Melissa Etheridge on The Huffington Post, she happened to run into  Saddleback Pastor Rick Warren on Sunday. During their discussions, he reportedly told her he regrets comparing same-sex marriage to pedophilia and incest:

He believed every loving relationship should have equal protection. He struggled with proposition 8 because he didn’t want to see marriage redefined as anything other than between a man and a woman. He said he regretted his choice of words in his video message to his congregation about proposition 8 when he mentioned pedophiles and those who commit incest. He said that in no way, is that how he thought about gays.

While these words are encouraging, I’d much rather hear from Rick Warren himself. He’s very media savey, and could book himself on virtually any talk show in the country.  He could clear this up very quickly at any time he wants. Make an apology — “repent” in his words — and retract his insulting comparison. Maybe the scrubbing on his church’s web site is a sign.

Rick Warren Removes Anti-Gay Membership Message from FAQ

Jim Burroway

December 22nd, 2008

It was just last Saturday that we noted that Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church banned all people “unwilling to repent of their homosexual lifestyle” from church membership. Saddleback’s Small Group’s FAQ  used to read:

Because membership in a church is an outgrowth of accepting the Lordship and leadership of Jesus in one’s life, someone unwilling to repent of their homosexual lifestyle would not be accepted at a member at Saddleback Church.

That FAQ isn’t there any more. It looks like Warren’s been doing some “straightening up.”

(Prior FAQ from Google Cache)

Rick Warren’s Religious Takeover in Africa

This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Timothy Kincaid

December 22nd, 2008
Rick Warren and Rwandan President Paul Kagame

Rick Warren and Rwandan President Paul Kagame

Pastor Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church loves to tell time and again about all the good he and his church are doing for AIDS victims in Africa. But what else is he doing on that continent?

From all evidence, it appears that he is meddling in the Church of England’s internal conflict over homosexuality. As we have discussed, the Anglican Church worldwide is threatened with schism because Bishops in Africa and Asia think that the American Episcopalians and Canadian Anglicans are too pro-gay. Since the 2003 ordination of gay Bishop Gene Robinson, several Bishoprics have been in open rebellion.

One of the rules of the Anglican Church is that each geographic location is distinct. You do not poach churches. But some of the African Bishops have gone so far as to work with rebel US congregations and to declare that they are now under their jurisdiction (or that of a South American Bishop).

Although Rick Warren is not Episcopal and has no business whatsoever in intruding himself into the debate, that has not slowed him at all in taking sides with the anti-gay Africans and encouraging schism.

In March, AllAfrica reports:

“The Church of England is wrong and I support the Church of Uganda(CoU) on the boycott,”Dr Warren said on Thursday shortly after arriving in Uganda.

The Bishops are protesting the Church of England’s tolerance a homosexuality. Announcing the boycott in February, Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi said that Uganda’s action had been prompted by the invitation of bishops of The US Episcopal Church (TEC) who in 2003 elected as bishop, Gene Robinson, a divorced man living in an active homosexual relationship.

Dr Warren said that homosexuality is not a natural way of life and thus not a human right. “We shall not tolerate this aspect at all,” Dr Warren said.

And for those who think that perhaps the divisions are not solely over gay issues and that Warren isn’t just being anti-gay by taking sides, on August 1, Dr. Orombi stated that the division was over this issue in no uncertain terms.

The American decision disregarded biblical authority by violating clear biblical teaching against homosexual behaviour. For this reason, the Church of Uganda and other Anglican provinces broke communion with the Episcopal Church in America in 2003, and we continue in that state of broken communion today.

Another of those African Bishops in “broken communion”, is Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria. In 2006 – 2007, Akinola led the charge for a bill that would

provide for five years’ imprisonment to anyone who “goes through the ceremony of marriage with a person of the same sex,” “performs, witnesses, aids or abets the ceremony of same sex marriage” or “is involved in the registration of gay clubs, societies and organizations, sustenance, procession or meetings, publicity and public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly in public and in private.”

Akinola must have really impressed Rick Warren because on April 30, 2006, Warren wrote a piece for Time Magazine in which he acknowledges his anti-gay activism and said

New African, Asian and Latin American church leaders like Akinola, 61, are bright, biblical, courageous and willing to point out the inconsistencies, weaknesses and theological drift in Western churches.

With nearly 18 million active Anglicans in Nigeria, Akinola’s flock dwarfs the mother Church of England’s membership. And since he is chairman of the 37 million—member Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa, when he speaks, far more than just Anglicans pay attention. Akinola has the strength of a lion, useful in confronting Third World fundamentalism and First World relativism.

I believe he, like Mandela, is a man of peace and his leadership is a model for Christians around the world.

Behind Warren’s AIDS support in Africa appears to be a less selfless motivation. It seems that Warren seeks to build a “Purpose Driven” empire in Africa. He first effort was in Rwanda which adopted his Purpose Driven Living program in 2005 (in 2007 the President of Rwanda supported a law criminalizing same-sex conduct), followed by his trip to Uganda in 2006.

“Uganda should be a purpose-driven nation as well,” [Orambi] said. “But it takes people of purpose to build purpose driven-churches, purpose-driven communities, and a purpose-driven country. Someday, we will have a purpose-driven continent!”

During a meeting with Ugandan church leaders, the American megachurch pastor said that he believes the future of Christianity is not in Europe or North America, but in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

It appears to me that Rick Warren seeks to replace the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury with himself and to direct Christianity in the African Continent according to his own theology and ideology. And to do so he has joined with those who seem to determine orthodox Christianity solely by the extent to which one mistreats gays. And he has no hesitation in aligning himself with those who come to the United States seeking to damage the internal integrity of the Episcopal Church. And it’s all over the issue of homosexuality.

But his meddling in the Anglican Church raises a much larger objection than just that of the gay community. Why is Barack Obama honoring a man who is an activist in a religious secessionist movement? Having Rick Warren give the Invocation is a slap in the face of every Episcopalian in the nation and every loyal Anglican around the world.

The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, should officially object.

Tammy Baldwin, Take Your Name Off that List

This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Timothy Kincaid

December 22nd, 2008

CBS News is reporting that lesbian legislator Tammy Baldwin is an Honorary Inaugural Co-Chair:

The Presidential Inaugural Committee has released a list of the honorary co-chairs for Barack Obama’s inauguration. The group includes former Presidents George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter; Senators Dick Durbin, Dick Lugar and Claire McCaskill; and well known figures such as General Colin Powell, who endorsed Obama, and the president-elect’s half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng.

Also on the list is openly gay Wisconsin Rep. Tammy Baldwin.

The message given to gay and lesbian youth by the selection of Rick Warren for the Inaugural Invocation is that the administration sees no harm in comparing same-sex couples to incestuous polygamous pedophiles. Any gay or lesbian that truly cares about this message cannot in good conscience endorse the actions of the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

And the press will not be slow to see Baldwin’s inclusion as an endorsement of Warren and as a buffer to criticism against the President-Elect.

Clearly this is but another token of valueless “inclusion” like the marching band. Gays can have a silent and distant honorary place at the table, but the head seat goes to the guy who will “not tolerate” us and thinks we have no human rights and writes tributes to those who seek to imprison us.

Barney Frank has already taken a stand. Now it’s time for Tammy Baldwin to show whether she truly cares about the community. It’s time that she decide, is she on the side of that tomboy in Wisconsin who is being told that she’s an abomination, or does she want to be part of the Obama Nation? Does she want to protect the vulnerable, or does she want to win points with the powerful?

Tammy Baldwin, if you have any decency, take your name off that list.

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Time Magazine’s Cloud Calls Obama a Bigot

Timothy Kincaid

December 21st, 2008

John Cloud, writing in Time Magazine, pulled no punches in his response to President-Elect Obama’s selection of Rick Warren as the minister for his Inaugural Invocation:

Gays and lesbians are angry that Barack Obama has honored Warren, but they shouldn’t be surprised. Obama has proved himself repeatedly to be a very tolerant, very rational-sounding sort of bigot. He is far too careful and measured a man to say anything about body parts fitting together or marriage being reserved for the nonpedophilic, but all the same, he opposes equality for gay people when it comes to the basic recognition of their relationships. He did throughout his campaign, one that featured appearances by Donnie McClurkin, a Christian entertainer who preaches that homosexuals can become heterosexuals.

I’m not willing to go as far as Cloud and call Mr. Obama a bigot. He has established a comprehensive list of goals that would go a very long way towards eliminating institutionalized discrimination against the LGBT community and it is far too early to dismiss this agenda as insincere.

But I do think that the President-Elect is now demonstrating a pattern of response to the gay community which suggests that he does not see our expressions of concern and dismay in the same light as he might those of other subgroups of the American population.

I find it unconscionable that any religious leader would say that a “brother and sister [being] together” and “an older guy marrying a child” are “equivalent to gays getting married”. And I find it perplexing that Barack Obama does not.

Rick Warren’s “Moderation”

Jim Burroway

December 20th, 2008

It’s official, Saddleback Church bans all people “unwilling to repent of their homosexual lifestyle” from church membership. Also, Jews are going to hell. This is the guy Obama wants to pray on behalf of all Americans.

Gay Leader Boycotts the Inauguration

Timothy Kincaid

December 19th, 2008

Geoff Kors, the Executive Director of Equality California, had decided that he cannot attend an event that will feature a religious leader that has, in recent weeks, been spouting homophobic rants.

Here’s the email he has sent out:

It is extremely disappointing and hurtful that President-elect Obama has chosen California Rev. Rick Warren, who actively supported Prop 8 and the elimination of existing civil rights for LGBT Californians, to give the invocation at his inauguration.

Accordingly, I have decided to decline the invitation to attend the inauguration as I cannot be part of a celebration that highlights and gives voice to someone who advocated repealing rights from me and millions of other Californians.

I was looking forward to hearing a speech by the new President about his vision of a new America and an end to the politics of division where one group is pitted against another.

Rick Warren does not share that vision. Far from it. Instead, he actively works to divide Americans based on who we are and has been an ardent supporter of efforts to ostracize LGBT Americans. He compared “gay marriage to incest, pedophilia and polygamy and repeated the inaccurate charge that without Prop 8, conservative preachers could be prosecuted for hate crimes. He described ‘social gospel’ Christians of the 20th century as closet Marxists.”

It would be impossible for me to attend the inauguration where a person who has worked to deny my and Equality California members’ equality is setting the tone.

I commend Kors for the courage of his conviction.

LaBarbera Award: Rick Warren

Jim Burroway

December 19th, 2008

Like Peter LaBarbera, Obama’s honored pastor just won’t shut up. And the more he talks, the deeper the hole Saddleback Pastor Rick Warren digs. So, we’re giving him a belated award.

Here’s more of that interview with Ann Curry we talked about yesterday. This time, Curry asks Rick Warren, “What if homosexuality is biological?”

YouTube Preview Image

Rick Warren: If it’s biological, I’d be glad to know. We all have biological predispositions. Some people struggle with anger, and some people say, “I don’t struggle with anger, but I sure struggle with fear.” And some people say, “Well, I don’t struggle with this, I struggle with being shy.”

Ann Curry: You’re saying if it’s part of your biology it’s your job to struggle against it if in fact, it’s the wrong thing.

Rick Warren: Here’s what I’m saying. I’ve had many gay friends tell me, “Well Rick, why shouldn’t I have multiple sexual partners? It’s the natural thing to do.” Well, just because it seems natural, doesn’t mean its best for you or society. I’m naturally inclined to have sex with every beautiful woman I see. But it doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing to do. And why should I rein in my natural impulses. And you say well I have natural impulses toward the same sex, I shouldn’t have to rein them in. Well I disagree. I think that’s part of maturity. I think it’s part of delayed gratification. I think it’s part of character.

Actually, Rick Warren is only reining in his promiscuous urges, not his heterosexual ones. At least I presume so, since he’s married. What he says here is that being gay is indistinguishable from being promiscuous. But what about non-promiscuous gay people? Unlike the standard he set for himself, he expects them to be completely celibate.

Since Warren isn’t celibate, why is he mature and monogamous gay people aren’t? Why don’t his “many gay friends” — and yes, he brings those phantom friends back into the conversation again — delay gratification and demonstrate character, even if they’re not promiscuous?

So, to add to gay relationships being no different from child rape, incest, and polygamy, we can now add promiscuous, immature, and lacking in character. Will the fun never end?

Rick Warren Congratulates Himself On His “Model of Civility”

Jim Burroway

December 18th, 2008

Saddleback Pastor Rick Warren has issued this statement on President-elect Barack Obama’s choosing him to give the invocation at Obama’s inauguration:

I commend President-elect Obama for his courage to willingly take enormous heat from his base by inviting someone like me, with whom he doesn’t agree on every issue, to offer the Invocation at his historic Inaugural ceremony.

Hopefully individuals passionately expressing opinions from the left and the right will recognize that both of us have shown a commitment to model civility in America. …

Warren’s model of civility includes describing his “many gay friends” as being in relationships which are morally equivalent to child rape, incest, and polygamy, as well as his bald-faced lies about what Prop 8 will do to free speech. Yes, I’m sounding like a broken record, but I’ll keep saying that because that’s the whole point.

The mainstream media is saying that the outrage over picking Warren stems from his support for Prop 8.  That may explain some of the opposition to him, but it doesn’t explain the near-unanimous and vociferous outrage that is being expressed in the LGBT community. The fuel for the explosive reaction comes from a much deeper source.

It is indeed possible to support Prop 8 civilly. But Warren did not do that. Instead, he not only lied about what it would do, but he further insulted his “many gay friends” — and the rest of us — when he described their relationships as being on par with the lowest form of criminals. Even the most vile criminals — convicted rapists of old ladies, serial killers of defenseless orphans, and baby torturers — they all look down on child molesters, and they don’t think twice about killing them in the most sadistic way. But Warren thinks that the deeply held relationships among his “many gay friends” are no better than child rape. Or incest. Or polygamy.

That is the outrage. Maybe some day Rick Warren will see the need to apologize deeply for that offense. But it won’t happen until everyone — including the mainstream media — calls him on it. It’s not just about Prop 8. It goes much, much deeper, to that “model of civility” that Warren lacks.

Barney Frank on Warren Pick

Jim Burroway

December 18th, 2008

Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) just sent out this statement on Obama’s selection of Rick Warren to offer the Inaugural invocation:

I am very disappointed by President-elect Barack Obama’s decision to honor Reverend Rick Warren with a prominent role in his inauguration. Religious leaders obviously have every right to speak out in opposition to anti-discrimination measures, even in the degrading terms that Rev. Warren has used with regard to same-sex marriage. But that does not confer upon them the right to a place of honor in the inauguration ceremony of a president whose stated commitment to LGBT rights won him the strong support of the great majority of those who support that cause.

It is irrelevant that Rev. Warren invited Senator Obama to address his congregation, since he extended an equal invitation to Senator McCain. Furthermore, the President-Elect has not simply invited Rev. Warren to give a speech as part of a series in which various views are presented. The selection of a member of the clergy to occupy this uniquely elevated position has always been considered a mark of respect and approval by those who are being inaugurated.

How the Inauguration Team Views “LGBT Interests”

Timothy Kincaid

December 18th, 2008

The Inaugural Committee has sent out talking points on why selecting Rick Warren’s and his message equating gays to pedophiles for the Inaugural Invocation is “inclusive”. They concluded with what they must think is their stongest point:

And for the very first time, there will be a group representing the interests of LGBT Americans participating in the Inaugural Parade.

Ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod, how exciting. I’ll have a representative there at the inauguration representing my interests.

Oh my goodness, who could it be? Perhaps a gay politician, or the leader of a gay rights group, or even someone who has stepped up to speak out against institutionalized inequality in the wake of Proposition 8?

Nope. My representatives to the President-Elect are these guys:

Yes, the representation that gay people will have at the inauguration will be a gay marching band included among the couple dozen bands that will march down Pennsylvania Avenue after the swearing in ceremony.

Well, that’s doesn’t sound very effective. But perhaps they are stellar representatives of my “interests”. So let’s take a look at the goals of the Lesbian and Gay Band Association:

LGBA remains dedicated to its original goals of providing a network of lesbian and gay bands at all stages of development, promoting music as a medium of communication among people, improving the quality of artistic and organizational aspects of member bands, and stimulating public interest in the unique art form of community band music in our culture.

Un-huh.

Don’t get me wrong. I love marching bands. And I think it’s wonderful that amoung the dozens of bands participating will be one whose members are recruited from the gay community.

But frankly, I find it offensive that the Inaugural Committee is so incredibly condescending as to think that this group will be “representing the interests of LGBT Americans” just because they happen to be gay.

If this is any indication of the inclusion that gay people will have in the Obama Administration, we can look forward to (at least) four years of patronizing and dismissive gestures. We should all sit up and be thankful that we can march in the band. And maybe if we’re really appreciative maybe we can also do Michelle’s hair and make-up.

That isn’t inclusion. That’s a slap in the face.

I am hoping that this is an aberration, that the Obama administration will be dedicated not only to the reversal of discriminatory policy but also to the inclusion of gay men and women at all levels of government, selected for their abilities to contribute to their nation. But I do not consider the appointments to date or the administration’s response to the Rick Warren controversy to be promising.

Rick Warren Laughs

Jim Burroway

December 18th, 2008

So he’s not just homophobic, he’s arrogantly dismissive as well:

YouTube Preview Image

So, he said we’re no better than the lowest criminals — even serial-killing and elderly-raping felons think child molesters are the lowest of the low — and then he laughs when we call him on it.

By the way, he’s not homophobic beause he now has “a hundred gay friends.” Would just one of those gay friends please contact me?

Obama Responds To Criticisms Over Warren Pick

Jim Burroway

December 18th, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama responded this morning to the controversy over his selection of Rick Warren to deliver the invocation during Obama’s inauguration:

I am fierce advocate for equality for gay and — well, let me start by talking about my own views. I think it is no secret that I am a fierce advocate for equality for gay and lesbian Americans. It is something I have been consistent on and something I intend to continue to be consistent on during my presidency.

What I’ve also said is that it is important for America to come together even though we may have disagreements on certain social issues.

And I would note that a couple of years ago I was invited to Rick Warren’s church to speak, despite his awareness that I held views entirely contrary to his when it came to gay and lesbian rights, when it came to issues like abortion.

Nevertheless, I had an opportunity to speak, and that dialogue, I think, is a part of what my campaign’s been all about, that we’re never going to agree on every single issue. What we have to do is create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable, and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans. So Rick Warren has been invited to speak, Dr. Joseph Lowery — who has deeply contrasting views to Rick Warren about a whole host of issues — is also speaking.

“Balancing” an anti-Semite with a Rabbi would clearly be outrageous, as would balancing a segregationist with someone who supports racial equality. No one would even begin to consider such an outlandish idea. I’m glad Dr. Lowery will be giving the benediction, at the end when everyone will already be leaving to escape the cold January weather. But this is not balance.

Obama is trying to bring differing sides together. I get that, and it’s an admirable and necessary task. But if Obama’s looking for someone who can disagree without being disagreeable, Warren’s clearly not the guy. If Warren had labeled Barack’s marriage to Michelle as morally indistinguishable from child rape, incest or polygamy, would Obama see fit to invite such a disagreeable figure to America’s celebration? Or is it just us that it’s acceptable to be disagreeable with?

And are we the only ones who must tolerate those who compare us to the lowest form of criminals and who laughs when we complain?

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