Rick Warren: The New National Preacher – He's "Davos People"

Rick Warren – The New National Preacher

Rev. Billy Graham and replacement, Rev. Rick Warren
Images: left, right

He’s “Davos People”

Michael Collins

Rick Warren’s selection to open the upcoming inauguration created a well justified scandal given his appallingly bigoted views on gay marriage. Equating that institution with both incest and pedophilia shows a total lack of judgment and compassion. This should make him unacceptable for civilized company, not to mention the opening act of the 44th Presidential Inauguration.

Taking a broader look at Warren and his rapid rise to prominence, however, the choice seems logical. Warren has been cultivated as the new Billy Graham, the right wing preacher who ratified the actions of the leaders that he blesses as God’s representative. Since the Eisenhower presidency, Graham legitimized every war and military incursion by “visiting” the White House, praying for the current president, and conferring “Godliness” on them. Graham would then go public after the prayer event and say kind things about the president, every president.

Billy Graham even went along with President Nixon’s prolonged anti Jewish remarks during a recorded 1972 conversation by saying, “This stranglehold (of Jews) has got to be broken or the country’s going down the drain.” Chicago Tribune, Feb. 28, 2002

For years now, we’ve been absent the once familiar figure of spiritual bag man. Graham has taken his leave of public life and his son Franklin is too bitter for broad public consumption.

Ugly Talk

On at least four issues, Warren has let loose with some very unspiritual views. He referred to the removal of Terri Shiavo’s feeding tube as “an atrocity worse than Nazism” even thought the woman was in a “persistent vegetative state” with no hope of recovery..

But that wasn’t enough for America’s preacher to be. Interviewed by Chris Matthews on “Hardball,” Warren couldn’t resist leveling a baseless personal attack on Terri Shiavo’s husband Michael for removing his wife’s life support based on clear medical evidence of an absence of life functions:

Matthews: “So why is he doing this, do you think?

Warren: “I have no idea. Well, I don’t know. There’s 1,000 reasons could you speculate. What if she came back out of the-out of this state and had something to say that he didn’t want said?” MSNBC.Com, Mar. 23, 2005

He didn’t “know” but Warren couldn’t resist attacking Shiavo’s husband who was suffering at the time and faced with an awful choice. The choice between silence, compassion, and attack seemed easily resolved for Rev. Warren.

On Hannity and Colmes, Warren endorsed Hannity’s suggestion that “we” need to kill the current Iranian President: “Warren agreed, saying that stopping evil ‘is the legitimate role of government. The Bible says that God puts government on earth to punish evildoers.'” Think Progress

Warren also refers to proponents of legalized abortion as “holocaust deniers.”

The most recent ugly rhetoric from Warren came just a few days ago. It was captured on video tape:

Rick Warren: “I’m opposed to having a brother and sister be together and call that a 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.

Interviewer: “You think those are equivalent to gays getting married.

RW: “Oh, I do.” Newsday, Dec. 18, 2008 (2:08)

In 2008, Newsweek named Warren as one of the “15 People Who Make America Great.” Shortly after Warren made the remarks about Terri Shaivo, Time Magazine named him to “The Time 100” most “influential people in the world today” Apr. 10, 2005. There have been other accolades but, like Newsweek’s, they fail to mention these very ugly and perhaps ultimately revealing remarks.

The Blessing of the World Economic Forum at Davos: Rick’s Debut

He was an invited speaker at the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland. This is the locked down gathering of the “globalization” elite who created and maintain the current state of economic chaos. Davos is isolated, very expensive, and totally off limits. The elite attendees and those who serve them are the only outsiders.

High priest of the “war of civilizations”, Prof. Samuel P. Huntington of Harvard, says that “Davos people control virtually all international institutions, many of the world’s governments and the bulk of the world’s economic and military capabilities” (LA Times, Jan. 21, 2007)

What better place for America’s preacher in chief.

Davos, Switzerland, where the rich and powerful meet, bring in some celebrities, and talk about running the world. (Left to right: Tony Blair, Bono, Jolie, George Soros)

“Davos people” meet without the nuisance of dealing with demonstrators who show up at G-8 and other gatherings of the global elite. (Images: top ccbottom link)

Despite his undiplomatic endorsement of “taking out” the President of Iran and the personal cruelty of the remarks he directed towards Terri Shaivo’s husband in his moment of extreme grief, Warren was installed as an international leader by the fun loving crowd at the World Economic Forum. His presence on the stage with world financial and political leaders was justified by his position as it was outlined in the Davos program.

Rick Warren
Author, Saddleback Church, USA

Philanthropist, theologian, and global strategist … Lecturer, Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard … Member: Council on Foreign Relations; Pacific Council on International Policy, Originator of global PEACE initiative to promote reconciliation, equip ethical leaders, assist poor, care for sick, and educate next generation … People Who Make America Great, Newsweek (2006) America’s Most Influential Pastor, The Economist (2007)

The Davos attendees may have been sending a message to more than just the Iranian president: get in line or watch out. There’s a new preacher in town.

Here we find Warren pontificating to the assembled elite on a panel with the war enabling Tony Blair and others.

Tony Blair, 2nd from right. Rick Warren, the man who would have the President of Iran killed, speaking, far right. (Image cc )

So Rick’s a made man, a key fixture in the world elite, and “the cooler” for a potentially rowdy constituency. He’s assuming that unofficial national role begun in 1952, the national preacher; an empty job to be filled shortly.

Why wouldn’t they pick him to warm up the crowd at the Inauguration? It’s his job.


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Michael Collins

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  • BeliefNet: Rick Warren’s Dark Night of the Soul. December 12, 2008

    (Where we learn that Rick Warren thinks that he just doesn’t have “the brain capacity” to understand God).

    BeliefNet: Rick Warren’s Controversial Comments on Gay Marriage. December 17, 2008

    (Where we learn that “Sex was God’s idea, not ours.”, and that marriage has always and everywhere been monogamous…).

    Wikipedia: Rick Warren

    They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm.

  • PE Obama’s first act, choosing to feature Rev. Rick Warren as national pastor, seems incredibly stupid. But we all know that Barack Obama is not a stupid man.

    I can only conclude that in making this choice intentionally after due deliberation, PE Obama has signaled that he is throwing under the bus the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, and the Left along with them.

    What a contrast to Atty Gen Jerry Brown of California, who is suing in the CA Supreme Court to overturn Prop 8, holding that this constitutional amendment is itself unconstitutional.

  • Obama is a total sham, a well-tanned Newt Gingrich, eh?

    Come on folks. To be president and be successful demands broad support. If he supported every single one of the lefts key issues to the hilt, he would have topped out at about 10 votes in the primaries. He is going to be president of all the people and he has to garner broad support.

    Now I also find Rick Warren’s views abhorrent and I think many others will. But he is obviously the annointed one and thus something of an acceptable choice. Obama may also be causing this guy to be knocked down a peg or two by giving his whacko views such broad exposure.

  • Come on folks. To be president and be successful demands broad support.

    This does not include the support of liberals and progressive activists who take offense. And pandering to them is out of the question. The butt of jokes don’t get no respect.

  • When “they” come for anyone they also come for you.

    If we don’t “hang together,” we’ll all hang separately.

    “Hanging together” to support a leader when he is obviously wrong, especially about the Constitution, is what has made the GOP a party of traitors that has betrayed the country. Heaven help us if the Dems follow the same path to perdition.

    We need to “hang together” in supporting the Constitution and Bill of Rights above all. Without those, we are nothing but dupes of a tyrannical régime that sold our birthright for a bowl of porridge.

    “Oh, that’s ridiculous,” you say. Dig a bit deeper and you will see that the Dems are on the take too.

    Kucinich: “Is this the US Congress or the board of directors of Goldman Sachs?”

    Moreover, PE Obama has appointed a status quo government rather than a government of change. In response, he says that he is the president and will bring change. By micromanaging the government?

    Oh, and has anyone heard anything lately about his campaign promise to direct his AG to pursue crimes that may have been committed by the previous administration — like VP Cheney actually admitted to this week, daring anyone to prosecute? The transition team is now playing that down.

    Same-o, same-o.

    Unless the Left practices the politics of interest, it’s going to get run over by the bus, and the little guy is going to get rolled again.

  • To judge only by what Obama has done so far, he took the votes of the left (without which he could not have won election) and screwed us again. I have only two things to hope for:

    I hope that he is waiting until after inauguration, consolidating a broad coalition, and building implied consent for some later radical action that he doesn’t think could fly otherwise, e.g. the prosecution of the Bush régime, socialized health care, or nationalization of finance/money.

    Or, I hope that the political left will muster some actual wrath this time after having been deceived. A boycott of established centers of power by all the smart and creative people of the left, coupled with diversion of those energies towards technological and political alternatives that cut out the old oligarchy, could be of huge net benefit to society.

  • As much as I share the frustration of a lot of Obama’s supporters, it seems to me that, during the election campaign, anyone from the “liberal” or “left” side who followed his platform closely, compared it with his past voting record and political positions, and checked where his funding was coming from would certainly have voted for him over McCain but not been the least bit surprised at his emerging as a Clintonite “centrist” democratic politician. Just look at most of his political appointments.

    While I’m shocked and discouraged at his choosing Warren for the inauguration (maybe he’s trying to shake off the Jeremiah Wright association), I think he has a lot of people behind the scenes to pay off. My best hope is that his intelligence and apparent decency will lead him to do the right thing once in office and also that enough of his constituency will make itself heard if he doesn’t.

  • enough of his constituency will make itself heard if he doesn’t.

    This is how the politics of interest works. You either have the money to afford lobbyists or you join together and scream loudly. There is only one thing that pols pay more attention to than money and that’s voting blocs.

    The left has to promote its issues and defend its interests. Otherwise, you are just climbing under the bus instead of waiting to be thrown under.

  • I remember when, after a New York Times article under-reported the size and impact of an anti-war demonstration in Washington, DC some years ago, a tsunami of angry e-mails to the Times (mine was one) forced a correction the next day. A paltry victory in retrospect, but we may well need something along those lines on a national level before it’s over. I agree that, without responsible and well mobilized advocacy, the administration’s critics become its implicit enablers.

  • he would have picked Rev. Jeremiah Wright because of the manufactured brouhaha. If he wants political power and endurance, he should be studying Chavez, not Clinton.

  • I’ve talked to folks who like TEDS Talks and they have the “sky will open up” attitude and, thus, they ignore history and believe in social miracles. As far as I can tell, Warren has a gift for gab with mainstream folks and uses NLP techniques: he likes telling exactly what they want to hear and that disarms their critical thinking skills.

  • Anyone who can’t tell that Warren is a self-important manipulative POS is out to lunch.

    Is PE Obama out of touch on this, or is he so needy of religious right approval he doesn’t care that this pick of choice reflects badly on him as a leader?

    I mean, the two things you want in an inaugural invocation is genuine humility and heartfelt sincerity.

  • … but come on the Davos bashing gets a bit stale. Rick Warren has said so many atrocious things I think a Davos appearance pretty much pales in comparison.

  • His so called AIDS program involves undermining needle exchanges and abstinence programs. It’s not like this guy was a secret or that these remarks were hidden in obscure print journals, not indexed on the internet. It gives one pause.

  • But why start off with such an ugly figure, one who has gone out of the way to offend people. The comment about Michael Shhiavo is the most revealing. He’s asked a question, has no answer, then lowers the dialog to a truly vulgar level – about a guy who had just pulled life supports from his wife!

    You’re correct about Obama’s words and the expectations of those who supported him. I remember when he, Clinton and Edwards all refused to sign up for a 2013 departure date. Obama changed that quickly. I also recall reviewing his health plan, which was essentially an empty shell. For those with insurance, he’ll make things more efficient with a web exchange. OMG! Horrible plan.

    Even before he’s in, the argument of ‘you should have read what he said’ is being hauled out. His masses of voters will not tolerate this excuse since they’ll expect him to be what he appeared to be.

    The right programs and much wil be forgotten, but not Rev. Warren.

  • From the link: “We pray for their advisors and supporters, particularly their Jewish advisors and supporters, who will surely roast in hell if they do not abandon their refusal to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior.” Yikes, she takes no prisoners. Thnx.

  • I could have done a better job of making my point or, maybe I simply could have made point;) … which is, the man of the cloth is not only at home with but welcomed by, anointed by the mega rich and famous, many of whom are the authors of our current suffering. As for Davos, if not there then somewhere else, they’ll gather. It’s like those music awards shows – a lot of self congratulatory rhetoric. This article, linked from the LA Times, says it well, I think:

  • just so my “from right field” comment is contexted, here’s Rick Warren. He says he “reverse tithes” by giving all his money to foundations he creates. I assume that he must be on the payroll, etc… so what he giveth with one hand he takes back with another.

  • The Christian book market is huge, and it’s not included in the regular publishing stats. Rick Warren’s book has reputedly sold 40,000,000 copies over the past 13 years. If he keeps 10% of the royalties and “tithes” 90%, that’s still got to be a significant hunk of cash to pocket, even after taxes.

    But hey, we all know Jesus wants you to be rich.

  • at Davos love him. Fell for his charm. But I agree with you 100%. This is not a hard call. An easy and highly effective alternative would have been this. Get a small town minister who is just doing his job well (and vet him) and have him do the invocation. That’s a real statement – a real person, not some luxuriating star.

    All this reaching out is to symbols. How about some real people?

  • Preacher Rick Warren’s views are simply too extreme for Obama’s supporters.

    Los Angeles Times, By Katha Pollitt, December 22

    To understand how angry and disappointed many Democrats are that Barack Obama has invited evangelical preacher Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inaugural, imagine if a President-elect John McCain had offered this unique honor to the Rev. Al Sharpton — or the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. I know, it’s hard to picture: John McCain would never do that in a million years. Republicans respect their base even when, as in McCain’s case, it doesn’t really return the favor.

    Only Democrats, it seems, reward their most loyal supporters — feminists, gays, liberals, opponents of the war, members of the reality-based community — by elbowing them aside to embrace their opponents instead.

    Most Americans who’ve heard of Warren know him as the teddy-bearish, Hawaiian-shirted head of the Saddleback megachurch in Orange County and the author of “The Purpose Driven Life.” Perhaps they also know he’s the rare right-wing Christian pastor who sometimes talks about poverty and global warming and HIV. His concern for those issues has given him a reputation as a moderate and has made him the darling of Democratic Party think tanks, ever hoping to break the Republican lock on the white evangelical vote.

    But on the signal issues of the religious right he is, as he himself has said, as orthodox as James Dobson.


    Or take marriage. At his Saddleback Church, wifely submission is official doctrine: The church website tells women to defer to their husband’s “leadership” even when he’s wrong on important issues, such as finances. Never mind if she’s an accountant and he flunked long division, or if she wants to beef up the kids’ college fund and he wants to buy shares in the Brooklyn Bridge. The godly answer is supposed to be “yes, dear.” Is elevating this male chauvinist how President-elect Obama thanks women, who gave him more than half his votes?


    I’m all for building bridges, but honoring Warren, who insults Obama’s base as perverts and murderers, is definitely a bridge too far.

    They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm.

  • Obama says he wants to repair Americas image and this is not the way to do it. I keep hoping for the best but so far am only disappointed. All this and he isn’t even in power yet, I can’t wait for next kick in the teeth…

    “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” -Henry David Thoreau

  • Why does only the left pull this stuff? When Repubs get in and hand a bag of money to the powerful that’s just real-politic.

    But then every Dem – perhaps every Pres after FDR, has to play this bizarre game of rewarding your enemies.

    I concur with the earlier comment about Clinton. He spent lots of time being ‘centrist’ and he was rewarded with a sham investigation (approved by Dem masochist Reno) and sham impeachment.

    You can see why so many poor people don’t vote, if they vote for the ‘left’ and then get screwed by the Clintons of the world.

  • I had the same thought (about NLP) when watching a video of him. I had a little experience with that, sat in on a seminar. How strange is that? NLP used for mass persuasion probably isn’t nearly as effective as the ‘inventors’ claim. However, an individual using it for that purpose would, of necessity, be totally screwed up. On the other hand, he may just be so boring, he puts people to sleep;)

  • Chicago Sun Opinion

    December 27, 2008

    It is theoretically possible to make an apparently bigoted remark that is also factually true and morally sound. Thus, when the Rev. Bailey Smith, one of the deputies of the late Jerry Falwell, claimed that “God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew,” I was in complete agreement with him. This is because I do not believe that there is any supernatural supervisor who lends an ear to any prayer.

    In the same way, if someone publicly charges that “Mormonism is a cult,” it is impossible to say that the claim by itself is mistaken or untrue. However, if the speaker says that heaven is a real place but that you will not get there if you are Jewish, or that Mormonism is a cult and a false religion but that other churches and faiths are the genuine article, then you know that the bigot has spoken. That’s all in a day’s work for the wonderful world of the American evangelical community, and one wishes them all the best of luck in their energetic fund-raising and their happy-clappy Sunday “Churchianity” mega-feel-good fiestas. However, do we want these weirdos and creeps officiating in any capacity at the inauguration of the next president of the United States?

    It is a fact that Rick Warren, pastor of the Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif., was present at a meeting of the Aspen Institute not long ago and was asked by Lynda Resnick — she of the pomegranate-juice dynasty — if a Jew like herself could expect to be admitted to paradise. Warren publicly told her no. What choice did he have? His own theology says that only those who accept Jesus can hope to be saved. I have just missed the chance to debate on CBS with one of Warren’s leading allies and defenders, the Dallas preacherman who calls himself Dr. Robert Jeffress. In the opinion of this learned fellow, even though Mitt Romney “talks about Jesus as his lord and savior, he is not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity.”

    It is also a fact that Rick Warren proclaims as his original mentor a man named Wallie Amos Criswell, who was the inspirational figure in the rightward move of the Southern Baptist Convention in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Rightward in that time and context meant exactly what you might suspect it did — a cold hostility to any civil rights activism on the part of the churches. Theologically, it also meant the crack-brained idea of “dispensationalist premillennialism,” or, in other words, the imminence of planetary death and the corollary joys of the “rapture” that would snatch the true believer into the skies just in time.

    In his own “purpose-driven” words, Warren has described the dismal nutbag Criswell as the “greatest American pastor of the 20th century” and has told us of the mystic moment in the 1970s when he himself was granted a laying on of Criswell’s hands. (The promise, you may not be startled to hear, was of a large and prosperous congregation in the young man’s future.)

    I think we are all entitled to ask and to keep asking every member of the Obama transition team until we receive a satisfactory answer, the following questions:


    “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” -Henry David Thoreau

  • New York Times, By Frank Rich, December 28

    In his first press conference after his re-election in 2004, President Bush memorably declared, “I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.” We all know how that turned out.

    Barack Obama has little in common with George W. Bush, thank God, his obsessive workouts and message control notwithstanding. At a time when very few Americans feel very good about very much, Obama is generating huge hopes even before he takes office. So much so that his name and face, affixed to any product, may be the last commodity left in the marketplace that can still move Americans to shop.

    I share these high hopes. But for the first time a faint tinge of Bush crept into my Obama reveries this month.

    As we saw during primary season, our president-elect is not free of his own brand of hubris and arrogance, and sometimes it comes before a fall: “You’re likable enough, Hillary” was the prelude to his defeat in New Hampshire. He has hit this same note again by assigning the invocation at his inauguration to the Rev. Rick Warren, the Orange County, Calif., megachurch preacher who has likened committed gay relationships to incest, polygamy and “an older guy marrying a child.” Bestowing this honor on Warren was a conscious — and glib — decision by Obama to spend political capital. It was made with the certitude that a leader with a mandate can do no wrong.


    There is comparable anger and fear on the right. David Brody, a political correspondent with the Christian Broadcasting Network, was flooded with e-mails from religious conservatives chastising Warren for accepting the invitation to the inaugural. They vilified Obama as “pro-death” and worse because of his support for abortion rights.

    Stoking this rage, no doubt, is the dawning realization that the old religious right is crumbling — in part because Warren’s new generation of leaders departs from the Falwell-Robertson brand of zealots who have had a stranglehold on the G.O.P. It’s a sign of the old establishment’s panic that the Rev. Richard Cizik, known for his leadership in addressing global warming, was pushed out of his executive post at the National Association of Evangelicals this month. Cizik’s sin was to tell Terry Gross of NPR that he was starting to shift in favor of civil unions for gay couples.

    Cizik’s ouster won’t halt the new wave he represents…

    They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm.

  • New York Times, By Charles M. Blow, December 26

    In June, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life published a controversial survey in which 70 percent of Americans said that they believed religions other than theirs could lead to eternal life.

    This threw evangelicals into a tizzy. After all, the Bible makes it clear that heaven is a velvet-roped V.I.P. area reserved for Christians. Jesus said so: “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” But the survey suggested that Americans just weren’t buying that.

    The evangelicals complained that people must not have understood the question. The respondents couldn’t actually believe what they were saying, could they?

    So in August, Pew asked the question again. (They released the results last week.) Sixty-five percent of respondents said — again — that other religions could lead to eternal life. But this time, to clear up any confusion, Pew asked them to specify which religions. The respondents essentially said all of them.

    [Darned Americans – We’re just too nice for all that fire and brimstone stuff].

    They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm.

  • NYT, By Laurie Goodstein, January 10

    President-elect Barack Obama has selected the Rev. Sharon E. Watkins to deliver the sermon at the national prayer service that is held the day after the inauguration.

    Ms. Watkins, the first woman ever selected to lead the service, is the president and general minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a small, liberal-leaning Protestant denomination with 3,754 congregations and about 690,000 members in the United States and Canada. Ms. Watkins was elected to the post in 2005, the first woman ever chosen to lead a mainline Protestant denomination.

    But Ms. Watkins is not well known nationally. She came to the attention of Mr. Obama at a meeting he held during the campaign last summer to introduce himself to a politically and theologically diverse group of ministers. At that closed-door meeting, some of the conservative ministers bluntly questioned Mr. Obama on certain issues. Ms. Watkins was asked to give the closing prayer.

    “Sharon was able to conclude in a way that tied everyone together,” said the Rev. Joshua DuBois, director of religious affairs for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, who was at the meeting. “It left folks on a buoyant note, with a degree of hope and optimism that we could find some common ground.”


    Linda Douglass, the chief spokeswoman for the inaugural committee, said the choice of Ms. Watkins was not an attempt to mollify critics of Mr. Obama’s decision to have the Rev. Rick Warren give the invocation at the inauguration. The choice of Mr. Warren, a prominent evangelical pastor from California who opposes same-sex marriage, caused an uproar among some of Mr. Obama’s supporters.

    “She was chosen before the inaugural program was even announced,” Ms. Douglass said of Ms. Watkins. “Her appeal is that she delivers a message of unity and inclusivity and tolerance and hope — and those are all central themes we’ve heard from the president-elect.”

    Dr. Watkins has an extensive background of service both in this country and abroad. She is a member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches based in Geneva, and serves on the WCC’s Permanent Committee for Consensus and Collaboration. In 2006, she was a representative at the World Council’s General Assembly in Porto Alegre, Brazil. She is the former pastor of Disciples Christian Church in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, where she served for eight years. Reverend Watkins holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Phillips Theological Seminary, a Master of Divinity from the Yale Divinity School, and a Bachelor’s Degree in French and Economics from Butler University. She is married to Reverend Dr. Richard (Rick) H. Lowery, Interim Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Lexington Theological Seminary in Lexington, Kentucky. They have two children, Bethany and Christopher.

    They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm.

  • After Rick Warren Flap, Gay Activists Cheer Obama’s Invite of Gene Robinson

    US News & World Report, By Dan Gilgoff, January 12

    The gay-rights movement is expressing elation over President-elect Barack Obama’s invitation to gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson to give the opening invocation of inauguration week after reacting angrily to Obama’s selection of evangelical megachurch pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation on Inauguration Day.

    The Robinson invitation shows that “ultimately, Barack Obama is a friend to the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] community,” says Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay-rights group. “I believe his administration is going to inspire us and advance our agenda more often than not.”

    “At the same time,” Solmonese continued, “both the Warren and Robinson decisions give us a clue about what the road ahead is going to be like. This is the beginning of a long journey.”

    They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm.

  • San Francisco Chronicle, By Joe Garofoli, January 18

    In addition to knowing President-elect Barack Obama for a decade, the Rev. Jim Wallis would seem like the type of nationally known, centrist, evangelical pastor chosen to give the inaugural invocation. Instead, Obama is still hearing criticism for inviting the Rev. Rick Warren, a conservative Orange County pastor who opposes same-sex marriage and abortion rights, to take that marquee inaugural position.

    But choosing Warren makes long-term political sense, say Wallis and others. Even though Warren’s support of California’s Proposition 8 and comments made in a Beliefnet.com interview last month equating gay marriage to pedophilia drew widespread criticism from some of Obama’s core supporters, analysts say Warren is symbolic of a new political reality.

    “White evangelicals are no longer an extension of the Republican Party,” said the Rev. Sam Rodriguez, president of National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and pastor at a Sacramento church.

    Plus, the choice is philosophically consistent with how Obama has been reaching out to opposing constituencies during his transition period. On Tuesday night, he dined at the home of conservative columnist George Will at a party attended by conservative commentators like William Kristol, Charles Krauthammer and David Brooks. The next day, the Democrat hosted a meeting at his transition office with centrist and left-wing commentators ranging from MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow to TheAtlantic.com’s Andrew Sullivan to Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne.

    Hey Mr. President! How ’bout reaching out on the left!

    They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm.

  • Washington Post, By Jon Cohen, January 20

    President-elect Barack Obama’s selection of the Rev. Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration was initially met with a torrent of criticism because of the evangelical pastor’s views on homosexuality, but most Americans support the choice.

    In a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, 61 percent said they back Obama’s invitation to Warren, who gained prominence for his book “The Purpose Driven Life.” About a quarter of those polled, 23 percent, oppose the choice, and 16 percent expressed no opinion. Party affiliation had little effect on respondents’ views about Warren — 66 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of both Republicans and independents expressed support for Obama’s choice.


    …Ninety percent of Democrats plan to make time for the swearing-in, compared with 62 percent of Republicans.

    One reason many Republicans plan to find something else to do is that six in 10 of them see the occasion as a political celebration for Obama supporters more than a unifying event, according to a new CNN poll.

    They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm.

  • Why gay bishop’s prayer didn’t air on HBO music special

    When you were watching the National Mall concert Sunday surely you noticed that HBO didn’t telecast the prayer by openly gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson.

    What happened? HBO says that the Obama Transition team decided to make it part of the pre-show. Today, the transition team said, yup, our bad. They will include the bishop’s remarks Tuesday when they air the HBO broadcast to the millions gathered on the National Mall for the Inauguration.

    Nice next-day make-better. But still, we’ve got to wonder. Could it be that somebody, somewhere got a little antsy because of this part in the Bishop’s speech: ” Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.” Seems a bit fishy, especially with all of that Rick Warren controversy that’s happened over the past few weeks.

    For those of us who won’t be on the Mall Tuesday, here’s the full text of the prayer and here’s a private recording of the speech:


    “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” -Henry David Thoreau

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