[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
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
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