The preacher and the hellraisers

The left-wing blogosphere and cable news talkers are raising hell over Barack Obama choosing Pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration. The left-wing.

OK, I am going to say this once, then I’m going to shut up. Throughout the Democratic primaries I was an avid supporter of Hillary Rodham Clinton. I didn’t have time to campaign for Hillary: I was too busy defending Obama! On November 4, I voted for Obama and Joe Biden.

I am a liberal Democrat with very strong views on gay rights and the Religious Right.

While I have not read Rick Warren’s book, “A Purpose Driven Life,” the bestseller apparently has been meaningful to many Americans.

I want to make two points.

One: Remember all the Obama rallies where he talked about “unity” and “one America” and bringing ALL Americans together to work for the common good? (It was not lost on me that bloggers who supported Obama never used the name “United States,” but picked up on Obama’s use of “The United States of America.”) Remember all the cheers? I didn’t buy it then, and I am being proven right. There will never be unity in this country until we Americans can accept that other Americans have a RIGHT to believe as they choose. (And, yes, Fox News does have the freedom to report lies as “news” as much as we truth-lovers hate it.)

Remember Michael Douglas’ press conference in “The American President” and these words of truth: “America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say ‘You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest.' ”

Two: On 19 November 2008 (LINK), I predicted the far-left would end up being stronger critics of Barack Obama than the far-right, and the far-left, so far, is not letting us down.

I confess I sensed naivete as I listened to Obama defend his choice of Warren. Didn’t he see this coming, or did he really believe all those cheering left-wing crowds when he called for unity?

Don’t you get it, folks? He’s trying to unite this country. He cannot do that by alienating half of its citizens. He knows it’s going to take a unified effort if this country is to survive perhaps its greatest tests ever.

I have often said I never saw a Democrat who didn’t shoot himself or herself in the foot. I don’t mean Obama. I mean those who are too quick to criticize his judgment before the man even takes the oath of office. All that unity that was cheered: did that mean unity if everyone ONLY believes as you do - as I do?

If so, then we are no better than the Religious Right!


by Michael Boh said...

Hello BJ - I respect your opinion - of course, but I was persuaded by those who believe that Rick Warren causes pain and suffering to thousands or millions of gay people, and that reaching out doesn't necessarily need to include the inauguration. We've all worked hard for our victory, and in most ways it is our time to celebrate. There are plenty of other opportunities to include Rick Warren and his beliefs. I do believe in the big tent idea. I only suggest that Obama chose the wrong time and place for it. It's really simple for me. Rick Warren offends millions of people who gave their time and money so that Obama can stand up there. That does not show them respect. It is inappropriate in my opinion. Thanks BJ - Michael

Frodointhepulpit said...

The Reverend Joseph Lowrey will also participate in the Inauguration. Are you aware that this civil-rights icon is also a public opponent of gay marriage? Is it not also a fact that the defeat of Proposition 8 in California was reflective of both the Hispanic and the Black communities predisposition to conventional ideas of cohabitation? The point needs to be made, and Frodo is certainly not meaning to sound argumentative, that what we've been doing ain't working. Adjusting public policy without confronting the predispositions and biases of real people is why it took us 150 years to attain any modicum of social equality. Barack Obama, in his mind as well as in his make-up, has the capacity to make us all shut up and listen to reason. We should all know by now that is true "hard work." Mr. Boh's comments, and Frodo respects his opinion, reminded Frodo of the adage, "If not now, when?"
Reverend Warren and Reverend Lowrey both serve a purpose, and they have every right to be there, on that great day, and people with tight shorts need to remember where they were, and what they were doing on that day, eight years ago. We have hope, at last.

Good Southern Man said...

It was a very sad day at lunch yesterday when my very good friend of 60 who has a great job, a great husband of 20 years, a great house and a very positive disposition looked at me with the saddest eyes and said the Obama picked Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration. I was shocked but tried to remain unscathed by this statement.

We all know that Warren does not approve of gay people and we all know that we do not need his approval to live the way we want.... Or do we? Because of people like Warren, proposition 8 was not passed and our civil rights were once again enslaved.

My 60 year old friend was one of the strongest backers of Obama even when I was shouting Hilary. My friend was confused because this has put one more kick in the side of the gay community. I told him it had to be political and tried to put it off as a decision that was not weighed properly.

I actually would rather there be no prayer at all. I really would rather there be separation of church and state. I am an atheist and do not think that any choice for the invocation would be good.

Our gay community has several mixed feelings on this subject. We know that he has been diverse in his cabinet choices and are still hopeful that he will encourage a change both economically and socially. We can't help but be in pain over our Superman befriending Lex Luther.

Our atheist community would be upset with anyone he choses lest he choses no one. Our country was founded by wonderful men who decided that the affairs of the church corrodes our government. This is a prime example.

It is very important that we show Obama our feelings so that he can be the best president that he can be. This was a very bad choice and I think he will see clearer in the future. Nevertheless, I hope this will be one of the worst mistakes of his career. He has the capacity to do great things. Let's show him that bad decisions will not go unvoiced.

The pain that this decision has placed upon every person that voted for proposition 8 is real. My friends, my colleagues, and my communities are crying because the hope for change has been dimmed.


Papamoka said...

While I understand your well written piece BJ... Rick Warren is still an ass. Regardless of the Prop 8 issue (Which I was for, it lost because the religious right outspent the initiative backers) he has been a right wing religious tool that has only served one purpose, divide and conquer.

I would have prefered President Elect Obama pick someone from a church of unknown fame and hypocrisy. I would not have had a problem even if he choose Reverend Wright for the swearing in ceremony. At least Reverend Wright can be honest and clear in his conscious that his life work was to always serve those that needed his help and not the other way around. Warren is nothing but a money making religious biggot.

Well done piece my friend. Very well done.

Good Southern Man said...

I totally agree with Papamoka. I failed to mention that this is a well written piece with very valid points. I do agree that your prediction is correct that the left-wing is harsher on Obama and that Fox News has freedom of press. I also feel that the left-wing is valid in its harshness against him. I am mad as Hell at him for not thinking. Right now I am very angry that Hilary didn't win the ticket. One thing I do know is that my Aunt BJ is correct when she says that she has very strong views on gay rights and the religious right. She has been nothing but supportive of me on gay and atheists issues. BJ, he has made a terrible mistake. He should get any criticism that is coming to him. We remain united but an unquestioned leader is merely a dictator. I wont allow him to become a dictator.

B.J. said...

To GSM: I support your right to be who you are with grace and dignity, because I love you. Lest there be any confusion, since I write so much about the hypocrisy of the Religious Right, I am Christian with a strong faith in God.

Actually, this post is not about gays or the Religion Right, it’s about something much bigger, maybe like possible worldwide famine or a planet burnt by the sun. Good Lord, people, we won a great victory – one of great promise – and here we are, like the right-wing, talking aboug gays and God! Anybody wanna bring up guns?

Double sigh. BJ

Good Southern Man said...

I just read this great article that can be found at this website:


The article says that Obama did feel that he was doing the best thing by having the invocation from the right and the benediction from the left.

One of the comments to that article shows why this is a very passionate subject for me. It is as follows:

"Funny, isn’t it that if we were to substitute 'black' for 'homsexual.' the uproar over Warren delivering the invovaction would be overwhelming. Apparently, it’s okay to espouse discrimination against one group, but not another. I guess gay Americans should be 'placated' by the prospect of being citizens with only partial rights. What a revolting bunch of hypocricy!"

You are right to say we need to get past this and we need to find a way to support someone who promises change. I will continue to trust that Obama is doing his best. I can also see how he thought this would be a smooth political move.

Although your post is about the bigger issue (of which I find very important) the sting of a person like Warren goes very deep. I still do not think it is a good decision but I am not president. Let's see if we can make it work.

B.J. said...

OK, now here’s my problem with all this. I knew of Rick Warren and have seen him on Larry King Live. Never thought of him as a radical. I know he was in the news when the black man recently sentence for killing the people in the Atlanta courthouse broke in on the woman, then eventually let her go. The woman was reading Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life” and discussed it with the killer, then with a national TV audience. At one point, she was on King with Warren telling what his book had meant in her life. These have been my impressions of Warren.

As Frodo mentioned, a lot of people voted against Propositon 8, not just Warren. The last time I checked the Constitution, that was their right. (I would have voted for it.)

During the Democratic primaries I was stunned at what I felt was pure propaganda about not just Hillary Cllinton, but Bill Clinton, also – by the left wing! So, now I take everything I hear on MSNBC and read on the far-left sites with a grain of salt. How do I know all the charges being leveled against Warren are true when I knew the charges being made against the Clintons were NOT. My God, some even claimed they were racists. And, the crap about them hasn’t let up yet. And, probably never will.

As a result the Democratic Party, liberals, progressives seem to form a circular firing squad, and, well, I’m just sick of it.

The comment you’ve shared is right, GSM, and it could have been applied to all the sexist remarks about Hillary over the last two years. Chris Matthews hasn’t let up, even said all the talk about Caroline Kennedy getting Hillary’s Senate seat was “just cotton candy.” So, there is discrimination, and there is discrimination.

I refer you to yesterday’s post where I talked about sacrificing self-interest for the greater good. That’s pretty much the point of this post, too.

I just hope we don’t screw up this opportunity to grasp the greater good.