December 18th, 2008
08:26 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Obama Defends Rick Warren Pick

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/18/rick.warren/art.obama.warren.gi.jpg caption="President-elect Barack Obama has chosen Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration."]Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

He's sticking with the pastor. President-elect Barack Obama is not backing down from his decision to have evangelical "celebrity" Rick Warren deliver the invocation at his inauguration next month, despite growing anger from liberal groups and gay rights proponents.

Warren is a lightening rod for controversy because he opposes same-sex marriage and abortion rights. Most recently, he endorsed California's Proposition 8; which banned gay marriage.

Obama is defending his pick of Warren. At a news conference in Chicago today, he said a "wide range of viewpoints" will be presented at the inaugural events.

"What we have to do is to be able to create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans," said Obama.

"I am a fierce advocate for equality for gay and lesbian Americans. It is something that I have been consistent on and something that I intend to continue to be consistent on during my presidency," he added.

Just moments ago, Pastor Rick Warren released this statement:

"I commend President-elect Obama for his courage to willingly take enormous heat from his base by inviting someone like me, with whom he doesn't agree on every issue, to offer the Invocation at his historic Inaugural ceremony.

Hopefully individuals passionately expressing opinions from the left and the right will recognize that both of us have shown a commitment to model civility in America.

The Bible admonishes us to pray for our leaders. I am honored by this opportunity to pray God's blessing on the office of the President and its current and future inhabitant, asking the Lord to provide wisdom to America's leaders during this critical time in our nation's history." – Statement from Dr. Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church

Do you agree with Obama's decision to have the pastor give the invocation at his swearing-in?
We'd love to hear your thoughts.

We'll have the latest on this breaking story and tonight's other headlines starting at 10pm E.T.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (160 Responses)
  1. Todd

    At a time when homosexuals are being openly and legally oppressed it is sadly not surprising to see that not even the president elect is willing to take on the plight of one of the most abused minority groups in the country.

    December 19, 2008 at 2:19 am |
  2. claude heater

    It may be too late for Obama to back out but I would highly recommend that Obama get the full text of the prayer before the event to make sure Warren doesn't offend God or anyone else that made great efforts in electing Obama.

    December 19, 2008 at 1:19 am |
  3. Skip Thorstein

    Blacks did not make their civil rights advances by "building bridges" with members of the KKK.

    I was so moved by Obama's win. And really felt punched in the stomach by this move. Truly saddened.

    December 19, 2008 at 1:15 am |
  4. Linda, Arizona

    Hello OUT THERE, please be fair. Homosexuality is not a choice and many of you and (to my dismay) Obama choose to ignore the extreme pain and intolerance endured by gays (which includes my wonderful son) on issues that you trivialize as a difference of opinion and which I call blantant discrimination (the foundation of which is built by preachers of hate like Warren.) Sexual orientation truly is NOT a choice. In my heart, I KNOW Obama's mother would understand my pain in a minister being honored who so dishonors my son.

    December 19, 2008 at 1:06 am |
  5. Lydia

    OMG ...... He is Just Praying. While prayer itself is a big thing and should not be taken lightley. I do think this decision to have Rick Warren pray is being blown quite out of porportion. He's not signning bills into law, he's not giving President Elect personal or official spiritual or moral guidance. It's just an innvocation folks take your hearts off your sleeves for just a moment and don't take everything personally.

    December 19, 2008 at 1:00 am |
  6. Annie Kate

    I'm glad Obama is sticking to his guns on his selection. Perhaps another thing this president-elect will bring to our country is tolerance and the genuine effort to work with each other without breaking down into an argument over "issues". Its been a long time since we've acted like that and its time we re-learn how to do it.

    December 19, 2008 at 12:19 am |
  7. John Oliver

    I am a firm believer in the separation of chuch and state and find it offensive that anyone should be offering prayers to their specific god at this event.

    December 19, 2008 at 12:10 am |
  8. Marlon

    I think it is ridiculous that there is even debate over who delivers the prayer at an inauguration. There are more pressing issues in this country. I wish these same people would stand up and express there concern about our tax dollars lining the pockets of banks and the automotive industry. I am really disappointed and confused...

    December 19, 2008 at 12:05 am |
  9. Michael, Raleigh

    No, I don't agree. Evangelicals didn't put Obama into the whitehouse! I hoped they were gone with Bush!

    December 18, 2008 at 11:57 pm |
  10. Sandra Taylor

    It is okay that Rick Warren is opposed to gay marriage. It is not okay
    for President-Elect Obama to pick this pastor to deliver the invocation
    because of his hurtful and hateful homophobic comments. I am hearbroken . A government for the people and by the people can differ
    but there is no room in this moment, this time for this .

    December 18, 2008 at 11:48 pm |
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