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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. Beverly

    President-elect Obama said he will be every American's president and he will try to build bridges in a deeply divided country. By asking Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration he is starting the process and the media is having a melt-down. Well, get over it. Obama gets it. He knows he has to start on Day 1 putting into practice what he has been professing for the last 18 months.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:50 pm |
  2. Asim Ahmed

    I think people shouldn't have a problem with President Elect Barrak Obama bringing someone he, or followers don't completely agree with to his inauguration, in fact, I think joining with others and coming together whether or not we completely agree with other people is a good thing as it brings greater unity which in turn can help to accomplish more in a general sense.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:44 pm |
  3. Sarah

    Rick Warren is an amazing Pastor and Author. Purpose Driven Life was a life changing book. I am thrilled that he will be praying for our country.

    What bothers me is the perception that Christians did not vote for Obama. I bet more Christians voted for Obama then would publicly say. I voted for Obama and found that to say so publicly could create great arguement and animocity so I was very quiet about my vote but I am sure there are many more like me who voted for Obama.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:40 pm |
  4. Steve Chipman

    President Elect Oboma decision to have Rick Warren do the invocation at the inaguartion is a sign of a good leader. He does not make decisions on what may be right the right thing to do but what is right. Pres. Elect Oboma is putting aside politics to do what is right to build a strong nation by uniting its people who are the strength of this country. It builds trust and I hope this is a sign of things to come.

    God Bless our Pres. Elect.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:39 pm |
  5. Carol, Kissimmee, Fl.

    We all know and believe that their will be several people disappointed with the decisions here on out that the President-Elect Obama will make, we have to continue to understand that everyone cannot be satisfied, so lets stop sobbing and pouting and lets get on with the Change that we are due

    December 18, 2008 at 10:37 pm |
  6. jay Gordon

    I'm tired of the gay movement comparing their rights with those rights of ethnic minorities. There are no unanimous secular scientific data supporting a homosexual orientation gene. Also there are many who claimed they lived this lifestyle for years but changed for various reasons to a heterosexual lifestyle, therefore this lifestyle may still be attributed to one's choice. Those born into an ethnic group: Jewish/Latin/Afroamerican/Asian/etc. had no choice in the decision. I oppose violence or mistreatment to any human being, but lets not confuse the issues.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:37 pm |
  7. Maya, Washington

    This is a thorny issue. Millions of gays, myself included, voted for Obama's 'change' platform. He is not obligated to ask Americans who he should counsel with, however, Prop. 8 was and is the last social ethical dilemna we seem to be facing. I think Obama doesn't get it that gays feel deeply opressed in this country of "We the People. ' On some issues he has to consider the fallout of his choices. Obama's selection of an already controversial clergyman on the gay issue is just another example of making the divide larger than it has to be, by declaring Warren on Day One to bless Obama's inauguration "Change-Yes we can", to ask gays to feel all warm and fuzzy when this historical African-American is elected , but inequality still exists. It's a tough call but new times call for new measures. This was a bad choice.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:36 pm |
  8. Joe

    This is the kind of stuff that makes me absolutely sick!
    What has happened to America, have we lost all sense of our heritage?

    With the shape this world is in, we should want a real man of God praying for the future of our country!

    We need the blessings of God, and like it or not, he doesn't approve of homosexuality! He calls that lifestyle an abomination!

    It's not about what we humans want, it's about what the creator wants!

    I totally agree with the presidents choice of Rick Warren!

    December 18, 2008 at 10:35 pm |
  9. Carla Peer

    I applaud Barak Obama. I am a liberal and I voted for him. One of the main reasons I voted for him was his willingness, stated intention, and potential power to bring the country together no matter what moral and social positions we hold. People had the right to vote for or against proposition 8. Rick Warren had this right as a citizen of these United States and he does represent a large group of people in our country. Obama is doing exactly what he said he would do. I applaud him for bringing a diverse group of people to the table. I hope we can be civil to each other.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:34 pm |
  10. Ed

    Obama could have shown gratitude to his faithful supporters on this momentous day. He could "build bridges" at another time. He turned his back to us.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:34 pm |
  11. R. Keith Worrell

    Kudos to Obama. Rick Warren is a 1st class guy who has helped countless people find their way and has done good works that most of us can only dream of. People should remember he will be offering a prayer and not setting policy.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:34 pm |
  12. C Bailey, Grand Prairie, TX

    I do not agree with Rick Warren's views at all. We have to understand that President-Elect Obama will soon be the President of the United States, not the "President of those who have the same views as he". It was stated that the inauguration was not the "time" to bring the divided together. That same attitude is why we, the United States are so divided. When will there be an "appropriate time"? The time is now. The inauguration is not just for the LGBT community, its is for everyone. I see nothing inappropriate about the decision. What will however be inappropriate is if Rick Warren decides to use this moment, special moment to deliver his hate. That would be inappropriate. Give Obama a chance to do what most are not brave enough to do.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:33 pm |
  13. jeanne harman

    I commend Obama for his selections in everything he has done. He is trying to be a President of all. If there are those who want to criticize him for his selection of Rick Warren, they are just looking for something about which to get mad. Come on, people, stop this pettiness. There is surely much more to be worried about in the good ole USA right now than the selection of Rick Warren.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:32 pm |
  14. judy

    Love the "feel good" policy of inclusion. We need to be together, to listen
    to each other, respectfully, and be willing to change our views. When
    you exclude people, you fester resentment, which doesn't have an
    ear, only an angry tongue.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:32 pm |
  15. Beatrice

    I agree with Obama's decision to involve Rev. Rick Warren in his Inaguration, because I believe that the gay and lesbian groups should be tolorant to us Christians as we have been to them. Everyone has their own beliefs and we are a free society and should be allow to express our feelings on matters. Please, stop comparing the civil rights struggles to the gay struggles, I don't see gay people being used as second class citizens. They haven't been put in the back of the bus or segregated from other people who are straight. They are able to live among us and not segregated. So please stop the comparison. We black people were treated worst than dogs. Come on let's stop it.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:32 pm |
  16. Mary Webb

    Well I do think that having Pastor Rick Warren give the prayer is a very good choice. I did not vote for Obama and I am against gay marriage because God said marriage is between a man and a woman. All I know is that whatever happens in our country we should pray for our President and no matter what, God's will will be done and it will all turn out the way he wants because no matter what anyone may think, God is always in control.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:31 pm |
  17. Camille

    It is President-Elect Obama's decision as to who he wants to say a prayer at his own inauguration. Rev. Warren has a right to his own opinion regarding same-sex marriage.
    It's funny that those who want the right to enter into a same-sex marriage would protest Mr. Obama's choice because Rev. Warren railed for Proposition 8 with the same ferver as they did in railing against it. The proposition was put to a vote, and the majority voted for it, fair and square. Now, they are acting like a petulant child by throwing a temper-tantrum because they didn't get their way. They need to grow up and get over it.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:31 pm |
  18. Stanley

    Why are we surprised, we knew that President-Elect Obama is a christian. He is raising his family with christian values. That is what he has in common with Pastor Warren. Most of America is not in favor of same sex marriages, most Americans do feel there are some rights that same sex couples deserve like visitation rights.

    Give him a break , he deserves the right to choose whom ever he pleases to pray for his administration. I certainly would preferer someone that could get a prayer answered.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:30 pm |
  19. kri

    President elected Obamo is having Pastor Warren speak on the opening of Jan. 20th , the day after Dr. King and others struggle ,and many Africian- Americans make it possible for him to be president. Many African-Americans "Pastors" who are well Qualified to do the opening was Overlooked by him. He came to know Christ in the African community church and this is how he shows appreciation to our commuinty.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:30 pm |
  20. Austin

    I see this as a slap in the face to all from the glbt community who supported President Elect Obama; It's like having someone who was against the civil rights act, it's just not right.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:29 pm |
  21. sylvia gray

    I agree! Why can't we look at things positively? This country is very divided-yes! In order to walk across bridges, we have to build them. Obama is doing that. He won't please everyone every time he makes a choice. The sooner we realize that, the easier it will be to continue to build a better America.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:28 pm |
  22. Turner Lyman

    Building bridges means connecting two different things – be they opinions, points of view, or banks of a river.

    If they were always the same, there would be no need to build bridges in the first place.

    This country needs to depolarize itself and learn to disagree while having an agreeable relationship.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:27 pm |
  23. TriciaLee Mpls

    I was horrified at the selection of Rick Warren. There are so many reasons why. This is not a gay issue – I am a straight woman and his believes and preaching offends me.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:26 pm |
  24. ken

    I agree with President- Elect Obama with his decision to choose Rick Warren, also so he should not let the gay groups push their beliefs and crazy ways of living on him and other americans.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:26 pm |
  25. Brent, Pennsylvania

    I am not impressed with Obama's choice...especially considering the theme of unity which was such a big part of his campaign. Surely Obama could have found someone less divisive than Rick Warren. But at least he didn't choose Rev. Jeremiah Wright for the event.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:26 pm |
  26. Enrique Gonzalez

    All is nice and inclusive when you are not affected by it. I wonder how african-american or jews will feel if the inaguration blessing was done by somebody who thinks the holocaust never happened or that interracial marriage is an aberration. Please, read the comments of Mr. Warren before you express so understanding opinions. He is not saying that civil unions will be ok or that gay people should have some kind of legal recognition, he is comparing them to pedophiles or things even worse. Plus, Obama is not sitting with him to discuss policies and have a debate he is elevating him to an honor position in the inaguration. Good politics, probably, dissapointing for sure a spit on the face of the gay community you bet.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:26 pm |
  27. Craig, Hawaii

    As a gay man in a 22 year relationship, I am neither elated or disappointed in Obama's choice of Warren. This seems to be a more typical response towards the gay community not unlike that of Pres. Clinton. We should recall that he wanted to end the ban on gays serving in the military, and settled for this crazy don't ask policy. I think I have long since gotten frustrated at political candidates making promises of reaching out, only to find compromise instead of resolve. Until the evangelical society understands that being gay is not a sickness that can be cured, there will always be a divide in the US. Allowing comments to filter through attaching gays to polygamy or incest without acknowledging that there is no common ground between these "choices" and being gay will always keep the division strong. I have become content in accepting the fact that a lot of religious leaders just don't get the concept of WWJD. He would not condemn, that much is for certain.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:25 pm |
  28. John McCoy

    I do not like the word "marriage" being used to describe a relationship between two people of the same sex. Essentially, the "rights" enjoyed by married couples (a man and a woman) are the result of a legal contract between the two under state law and not only because some minister, priest, other member of the clergy or another person with the authority to do so has "sanctified" the relationship. I believe couples of the same sex should be allowed to enter into legal contracts affording them the "rights" of married couples, I just don't want it to be called marriage.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:25 pm |
  29. Joe

    I am outraged that Obama would use gays and lesbians in this way. If the pastor had made similar comments with regards to jews or blacks, people would be up in arms.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:25 pm |
  30. Bill

    I don't understand at all. If he has been cruel or unkind or hurtful to any group of people, I think he is a poor choice. After all...isn’t this reverend suppose to reflect Obama’s attitudes and beliefs on one of the most important days of his life?

    Bill

    Langhorne PA

    December 18, 2008 at 10:25 pm |
  31. Donald

    "Outrage" has to be the most overused term in the American vernacular today.

    Rev. Warren's views on homosexuality are harsh, but he does have Biblical support for his views.

    "Marriage" is another overused term. The term "civil union" has nothing to do with the feelings two people have for each other.

    If Gay Americans want to quash the bigotry, stop fighting over the semantics. Make the term civil union stronger and more stable than the term marriage. That won't be a tall order in this society.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:24 pm |
  32. mike klema

    I applaud Obama's guts to include Rick Warren. I don't agree with Rick Warrens views on gay marriage but this choice proves Obama meant what he said about including both sides of the isle. By including conservatives, Obama is appealing to those who didnt vote for him, proving he is thinking like a centrist and not a leftist. He cannot then be accused by the zealots of either side of favoritism. The United States is a Republic...a representative form of government and all ideologies should be included. We Americans need to remind ourselves that tolerance, not acceptance is the rule of order in our democracy.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:24 pm |
  33. Glen Wilkinson

    I think it is odd that people in this country have fooled themselves into thinking that being gay and/or lesbian is akin to a civil right. While it is a person's right to feel anyway they chose, it does not inherently make the way the way they feel right. To practice gay or lesbian acts is wrong in the sight of the God of this land, namely Jesus Christ. There is no way around it. It can be argued, and it will not change. I have a tendency to want to hit people, and I don't because it is wrong. A person with abnormal tendencies can stop doing that which is wrong. The tendency to be a sexual deviate does not have to be practiced. Gays and lesbians are humans and should be respected as such. Their deviate behavior should never be considered a civil right.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:24 pm |
  34. Dwight Coffin

    It is outrageous that Obama should make this slick political choice of such a disreputable rascist as Rick Warren to offer the invocation at his inauguration. I am so disappointed in him and his advisors who have made such a crude "political chioce" to try to bring in the
    Christian right and fundamentalists. Rev. Wright has never seid as bad things as Rick Warren. Obama is not off to a good start.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:24 pm |
  35. Caroline

    Rick Warren would not have been my first choice...but i understand that God has a plan....maybe He desires to teach us a lesson about inclusion. Joel Olsteen would have been my first choice...he's warm and nice. The job of a Pastor is to save folk into God's Kingdom not fix them first. So Rick Warren and many other pastors are just out of order when they support legislature against gay people trying to have a life.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:23 pm |
  36. Donna Miller

    The selection of Rick Warren should be a non-event, give me a break! I'm a Christian mother of three who happened to support Mr. Obama (yes I crossed over) so I welcome an author and activist pastor like Rich Warren. If the selection had been Billy Graham would we be discussing? Mr. Obama is a Christian, so we should respect his decision to receive a blessing (of his choosing) on the single most important day of his life.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:23 pm |
  37. Margot, Northern California

    I was shocked to hear the news this morning. Just his name sends shivers up and down my spine. His hateful messages tell people gays are sick, just like pedophiles and that being gay is a choice. And after his support of Prop 8 here in CA, he has become even more visible of late. Obama could have chosen just aboust ANY one else. Why not the Army chaplain?

    December 18, 2008 at 10:22 pm |
  38. Janeel

    Obama is going to be the Whole of America's president not just liberals as such the inauguration can only be a "unifying force" for the entire country if representation is there from all sectors of the country. How can we the progressive of the left claim to be liberal and open-minded if we're goin to be as close-minded as the right in the way we express our hatred of people who oppose us and our views? In addition it doesn't help our case because now the right is looking and laughing saying see we only cry for diversity when it works in our favor.Don't cry now because he is actually living up to his hype. For the difference of opinion on Gay rights rick Warren actaully is a very respected pastor in different sectors and he has been as much of a progressive as he can be in his environment. Give him a chance to do what we put him there to do.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:22 pm |
  39. A.Bradley- Ohio

    If we are to advance as a people, where we all can come together and celebrate great history moments and the begining of a new way of life for all Americans; why would'nt this be a perfect time to reach out to all of those who agree or disagree with social issues? We all have to come together to rebuild America, and January 20, 2009 is the starting point.

    This is a celebration and we should focus on what it stands for and what it means to America.

    A. Bradley

    December 18, 2008 at 10:22 pm |
  40. Bob

    And for those who keep saying it's Obama's "inauguration" need to remember that during the campaign he told his constituents that it was about us not about him. Well, I guess it's about us unless we are gay.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:22 pm |
  41. Tom Moeller Wilton, IA

    No matter who President-Elect Obama would have chosen, 30% probably would not agree. Pastor Rick Warren was the best choice next to the Nation's Pastor Billy Graham, who just turned 90 God Bless him!

    December 18, 2008 at 10:22 pm |
  42. Don, California

    I just think that Rick Warren's views are unacceptable. And he's not going to change them just because Obama is reaching out to him.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:22 pm |
  43. Cameron, Virginia

    I disagree with President-Elect Obama's decision. For me it is offensive to think that Obama, who himself has been faced with prejudices in his own life, would choose someone who is prejudice against a group that has supported Obama throughout his campaign. It is disheartening to think that politicians seem to see gay people as big elephants in the room that only are noticed when they're need, and forgotten about when they don't fit into an agenda; when are gay people going to be recognized as people?

    December 18, 2008 at 10:21 pm |
  44. Amari

    President Elect Obama is being consistent. For this he should be commended. He knows what he believes in and acts from that place. His belief system is what seems to be driving his decisions. I can't help but respect that.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:21 pm |
  45. Kathleen

    I completely agree with President-Elect Obama’s decision to give Rick Warren the chance to pray for the nation. Warren has been ask to pray for God's blessing and guidence not join the senate. People must try to be less thin skinned and more tolerate.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:21 pm |
  46. David T.

    With most of his picks for key positions being right of center so far, I think that the choice of Rick Warren to give the invocation at his Inauguration is a major misstep by President Elect Obama. The Inaguration should be a unifying moment of inclusion from the center, not from a right wing nut. This makes me wonder whether he hasn't become too used to trying to please everyone at the same time and risking losing all his political capital with the American Public that he has gained in the process. I am very disappointed!

    December 18, 2008 at 10:21 pm |
  47. Rosemary Harding

    Cudos to President Elect Obama for showing diversity in his selection of Rick Warren to do his convocation. My husband and I supported Obama and we did not agree with his position on abortion.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:21 pm |
  48. Alfonso, Cebu City

    While I have my misgivings about the views that President elect Barack Obama espouses, his steadfastness in his choice for the person who will deliver his inauguration invocation speaks much of his resolve.

    Rick Warren is just going to ask for the blessing of the Almighty God for America during the presidency of Barack Obama. He's not there to explain doctrine or scripture.

    May the Lord God bless America with a clear thinking leader with a strong will and resolve.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:21 pm |
  49. Judith-Florida

    I also agree with our President-elect Obama to choose who he wants.
    He knows the saying of 'you can't please everyone all of the time',but most of all this is what he ran his campaign on,to bring everyone with different ideas to the table for our America.Our Country is made up of all different ideas of what's right and wrong.Please people give our future President a break and see what happens.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:21 pm |
  50. mark gendreau

    gay people state christians have little tolerence but it is really the gays who have little tolerence for people who disagree with their lifestyle. They call us names like haters and racists and these statements are totatly inacurate.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:21 pm |
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