Rick Warren to invoke divine blessings upon Barack Obama
The choice of Rick Warren is surprising for a number of reasons.
He is a ‘pro-life’ Evangelical and said that Evangelicals could not support a presidential candidate who was a ‘Holocaust denier’ - by which he meant, ‘pro-choice’. He is also a supporter of California’s ‘Proposition 8’, a successful ballot measure that denies same-sex couples the right to marry. He said, "There are about 2 per cent of Americans are homosexual, gay, lesbian people. We should not let 2 per cent of the population...change a definition of marriage that has been supported by every single culture and every single religion for 5,000 years. This is not a political issue — it is a moral issue that God has spoken clearly about."
He has compared gay marriage to incest, polygamy, and paedophilia, and stated that gay marriage rights would lead to hate speech prosecutions of Christians who oppose gay marriage and view homosexuality as sin.
Such ‘homophobic hate speech’ is unsurprisingly offensive to advocates of Lesbian and Gay rights and ‘progressives’ who are finding the President-Elect not quite as inclusive as the Senator.
They naturally wanted a gay vicar – the Right Reverend Gene Robinson? – to make the invocation.
And yet Rick Warren has sold more than a million books and leads one of the largest churches in the world - Saddleback in Lake Forest, California. He does not just preach about abortion and gay rights, but has sought to broaden the focus of the Evangelical agenda to include issues like the reduction of global poverty, human rights abuses, global warming and the AIDS epidemic.
Barack Obama himself is not a supporter of same-sex marriage, but is in favour of full equal rights for lesbian and gay couples through civil unions. In August, during the Presidential campaign, Senator Obama and Senator McCain made a joint appearance before 2800 Evangelicals at Mr Warren's mega-church in California. Asked about marriage, Senator Obama replied: "I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian, it's also a sacred union. God's in the mix."
And so God is in the mix of this man’s presidency, just as he prayed in Jerusalem.
His philosophy is ‘to disagree without being disagreeable’, and, if he achieves it, this will be a positively revolutionary approach to politics. He is of the opinion that civic and religious leaders should focus on what they have in common as Americans, rather than carp and criticise at every turn, invariably in the name of Jesus, or ‘the unborn’ or ‘the poor’.
The choice of Rick Warren may be capitulation, or it may be a post-partisan expression of Barack Obama’s heart to unity, regeneration and transformation. He is manifestly so post-partisan that he is willing to embrace and promote someone who loathes him and did not vote for him. This is truly forgiving, and a most Christian expression of inclusion.
Politics makes strange bedfellows.