The Press on Obama’s Choice to Deliver Inaugural Prayer

On Saturday, The Grand Rapids Press reported on local religious leaders’ reaction to Obama’s selection of Revered Rick Warren to give the inaugural prayer next month. The story mentioned that “liberal and gay groups” criticized the selection but failed to name or cite any specific group.

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On Saturday, the Grand Rapids Press ran a story that reported local religious leaders’ reaction to president-elect Barrack Obama’s decision to have Reverend Rick Warren give the inaugural prayer next month. Warren is the pastor of Saddleback, a mega-church in California that hosted a forum with Obama and McCain during the presidential race.

The Press article framed the issue in the second paragraph by stating, “Some liberal and gay groups criticized the selection, because Warren, pastor of the Saddleback mega-church in California, is an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage and abortion.” The article never mentions which liberal or gay groups criticized Obama’s choice, even though numerous groups have responded. Here is part of a statement by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force:

“President-elect Obama campaigned on a theme of inclusivity, yet the selection of Rick Warren to give the invocation is a direct affront to that very principle. This was a divisive choice, and clearly not one that will help our country come together and heal. We urge President-elect Obama to withdraw his invitation to Rick Warren and instead select a faith leader who embraces fairness, equality and the ideals the president-elect himself has called the nation to uphold.”

In addition to not reporting on how national groups were reacting to the choice of Rev. Warren, the Press story omits other aspects of the evangelical minister’s politics. According to Sarah Posner (author of the recent book titled God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters), Warren is not only anti-gay, he also “does not believe in evolution, has compared abortion to the Holocaust and backed the assassination of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”

Besides not providing readers more information on the background of Rev. Warren it is important to ask why they only asked local Christian clergy their reaction to Obama’s pick for the inaugural prayer? The new administration had the opportunity to choose leader from the Muslim, Jewish, or another international faith traditions. Such a choice could have sent a strong message to the rest of the world and to US residents who are not Christian.

The Press article did point out that there has been little attention given to Obama’s choice for giving the inaugural benediction, Rev. Joseph Lowery. However, the only information provided on Lowery was that he is “a liberal minister and co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Lowery is a long-time Civil Rights leader and has been involved in numerous campaigns for justice, such as organizing against the apartheid regime of South Africa and traveling to Central America and the Middle East with peace delegations.”

Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org

2 thoughts on “The Press on Obama’s Choice to Deliver Inaugural Prayer”

  1. Rick Warren may have seemed like a more palatable choice at the point he invited Obama to speak at his church; Obama stated that he chose Warren to give the inaugural prayer for that reason, adding that a dialogue between people who did not agree was what his campaign “was all about.” However, since the Saddleback visit, Warren’s support of Prop 8 casts a very different light on this selection of Obama’s.

    And Warren did far worse than just support Prop 8, and encourage his congregation to do the same; he also perpetuated the lie that if gay marriage were made legal, it would allow the open persecution of Christians for having opposed it. Warren just reiterated this position two days ago on Dateline NBC. This lie, of course, was first effectively put to work by conservative evangelicals such as John Ankerberg when Senator Kennedy tried to add sexual orientation as a protected category to hate crimes legislation introduced in 2004.

    If Obama’s intention was to show his willingness to be open to, and include in the national dialogue, the viewpoints of conservative Christians, there are many other church leaders he could have tapped for this role in the inauguration–choices that would have been far less egregious and upsetting to the many Americans who are members of or supporters of the LGBT community.

    The Media Mouse article makes many excellent points, including one that I haven’t seen elsewhere in the press: Why not invite someone other than a Christian to pray at the inauguration? Surely that would have sent a much stronger message of inclusion than putting a bigot like Rick Warren in the limelight.

  2. Spurgeon wrote “If we were more like Christ, we should be more hated by his enemies. It were a sad dishonour to a child of God to be the world’s favourite. It is a very ill omen to hear a wicked world clap its hands and shout ‘Well done’ to the Christian man.”

    Considering how much Obama has strayed from the teaching in the Bible, he fits the description provided by the apostle Paul in his second letter to Timothy. Paul says “men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” Obama’s position on abortion, homosexuality and other issues (and his own mocking of the Bible), fits the description. And Pauls calls these people “evil men and impostors.”

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