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.”