Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Warren Consternation

The church and the nation are abuzz with reactions to the announcement that President-elect Barack Obama has asked Pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at Obama's inaguration. The bulk of the reaction is negative, which is understandable given Warren's support for California's Proposition 8 and his (in my opinion) unwise statements regarding whether the United States should "take out" foreign leaders. However, Geoffrey Garrin makes a progressive case for Rick Warren in his recent Washington Post article.

I'm personally conflicted over Obama's choice of Pastor Warren. On the one hand, he has said many things with which I vehemently disagree--his support of Proposition 8 and likening gay marriage to pedophilia and polygamy (after saying that divorce was a far greater threat to the institution of marriage)--is one glaring example. Another is his backing of assassination of foreign leaders. Both positions bear a striking resemblance to the more extreme positions of the extreme religious right. I don't think either align with Jesus teachings. I also happen to know several gay couples who I believe are indeed examples of fidelity and holiness and who are likely at the very least hurt, and at the most grievously wounded over the fact that PRop 8 passed, with Warren's support.

On the other hand, there seems to be a large number of people equating Obama's invitation of Warren with a betrayal of gay rights or some sort of wholesale endorsement of Warren's views. It seems like the symbolism has completely overshadowed the potential reality. President-elect Obama hasn't even taken the oath of office yet and there are already people feeling supremely disappointed and somehow betrayed that he has made this choice. While I would likely feel differently if I were gay, our culture's obsession with symbolism over substance in general seems a disturbing trend.

A month from today, the new President Obama will take office. How about we let him make some policy decisions and then we can criticize them? Until then, give the guy a break.

1 comment:

Fred Preuss said...

I'm angry people expect a clergyman, any clergy, should be at a government event.
This isn't a coronation; there's no annointing; there's no laying on of hands; he's nor receiving a 'character indelebilis' (whatever that is). He has an important job for four years, with an option to renew for another four.
Even Jesus only had to do miracles for three years, not four.