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. Jenna

    I don't see anything wrong with President-Elect Obama's choice. He is just modeling the civility and unity among the diverse people of this nation that he wishes to see among us all. And technically, any pastor Obama would have chosen liberals should be opposed to because if every pastor actually believed the bible, they wouldn't support same sex marriage.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:46 pm |
  2. Richard, Grand Jct, Co

    Go Obama!!! I voted for McCain and started looking at what I could do to promote conservatism starting 6:00am November 5th, 2008. Obama's selection of Rick Warren to pray for our country is more than I could do in 2 full years. There is still hope for our country!!! After all our country was founded "under God", let's keep it that way.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:44 pm |
  3. Dorris Mitchell

    President elect Obama is going to be the president of our wildly diverse nation. He is civil. He is careful. He is strong. His goals are far reaching and possible only if he can bring some civility to the extremists in our nation. The Inauguration is a demonstration of this process. We all have a lot to learn.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:37 pm |
  4. Bruce, Illinois

    An African American Pastor would have been spiritually more sensitive to the importance of the moment. The black church is such an important part of black culture and to leave us out at such an important occasion is very sad to me. His cabinet reflects business as usual and now for president elect to pass us over on this leaves me to wonder do we have someone to represent us yet

    December 18, 2008 at 11:36 pm |
  5. Karin Akerman

    I voted, campaigned and donated money for Barack Obama to become our next President, however, I am very disappointed that he has chosen Rick Warren for the invocation during his inauguration. I am a straight white, female who truly believes in equal rights for all. Obama could have picked someone less controvertial, after all the gay and lesbian community supported him 100%. I am sad with his choice.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:35 pm |
  6. j martin

    I am outraged at the choice of Rick Warren. He is a smug holier than thou guy. I know a lot of them. Obama could have picked some regular hard working religious person- what was wrong with his own church pastor? Only big shots need apply? I am devastated that I worked so hard to elect him.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:34 pm |
  7. Clint

    I support President-Elect Obama's decision to have Rick Warren pray at the inauguration. Rick Warren is one of the most influential pastors in America and has served millions of people in various ways, give him a break.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:33 pm |
  8. Laurie B.

    Last time I checked The First Amendment protects freedom of speech. People may not like what Rick Warren has to say ( I don't ), but he has the right to say what he thinks. If you don't like it don't listen.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:32 pm |
  9. Ken

    I believe that it is absurd to call some on a racist or hate monger because they don't believe in gay marriage. Since we have become politically correct you can be called a racist for just about anything.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:32 pm |
  10. Debbie Yonaka,Wenatchee, WA

    I completely agree with Mary from Pennsylvania. I am so sick of the media picking apart Obama's decisions and stirring up dissent. For crying out loud, he hasn't even taken office yet and he's being attacked. More power to Obama for making choices that he knows not everyone will agree with. I trust him that he sees the benefit of bringing together people with differing opinions. I also trust what he says - that he will be an advocate for gay rights and equality. People need to stop being so overly sensitive. It doesn't do your cause any good at all. Grow up and in Mary's words, give him a break already! January 20 marks the beginning of a renewal in America with an absolutely wonderful leader at the helm.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:30 pm |
  11. Jared

    I agree with President-Elect Obama's decision. having read a lot of rick Warran work i feel he is a true man of God and is a good choice to pray for this country. i think it is a good example of two people that don't agree on everything but are still willing to work with each other and respect each other. what dose surprise me is the extreme flip of a lot of Obama supporters how fast they switch and give him so much heat since he decides not to meat there every demand....some supporters.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:29 pm |
  12. Jeff Rock

    Is the gay/lesbian marriage issue to become the new lithmus test for all of Obama's decisions and appointments? Asking God's blessings upon the leadership of this great nation should be of paramount concern. Obama is coming to power with a mandate for economic change and political compromise. We all need to work with our President-elect to restore the vitality and strength of the United States and stop examining every decision with a single agenda lens.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:27 pm |
  13. Jean Thompson

    I agree with Pres-elect Obama on making the choice he wants! I believe in each of us having equal rights- not only the homo-sexual community. I support Obama and Warren.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:26 pm |
  14. Campbell, Illinois

    Rick Warren is one of the most respected pastors in Christianity today. He has legions of fans that deserve to be represented on that day also. I'm delighted to see him giving the invocation and think the people who oppose it should choose their battles. One invocation isn't going to give them the rights they want.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:26 pm |
  15. vincent

    No matter where you may stand on Obama's choice re: Warren, it is difficult to consider Mr. Warren's comments re: gays as anything but insulting. I do not see how this choice "unifies" the American people as it symbolically excludes an entire group of citizens.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:25 pm |
  16. Lynn,Alabama

    President-Elect Obama is citizen of this country and has the same rights as we do to make decisions. If he had choosen Jessie Jackson there would have been those who would have been angry. We all will always agree to disagree. So give the man a break! He can't please all the people even part of the time. He's made a decision that was right for him.And if he wants Rick Warren to say the prayer at his inauguration that's his business. It has nothing to do with the way he will run this country!

    December 18, 2008 at 11:25 pm |
  17. Brooke Hazard

    I am a lesbian woman, and am not a fan of Rick Warren, yet I agree with Barack's efforts to unite our country by reaching out to all factions of our nation. Barack ran on a platform of change and unity based upon the his belief that we are all human and DO have areas of agreement. There are many parts to the inauguration, the prayer being only one, and from my perspective, a prayer is a message of hope and love no matter from whom it comes.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:24 pm |
  18. Elvin Woodruff

    Wow, a man that says what he means and means what he says. I think it is great......and I hope that he continues in this direction.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:24 pm |
  19. Adrian Cornelius

    President-Elect Obama asked Pastor Warren to JUST do the invocation, not preach or sermon or to tell us how to live our lives. CALM DOWN, FOLKS....the man is just coming to pray for the country and this presidency. I agree w/ others who said whomever he chooses, someone is outraged. He didn't pick Pastor Warren to be in his cabinet, or serve in his administration. We have more pressing things to deal w/ as a nation than cause outrage over who's going to pray at the inauguration.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:24 pm |
  20. Hilsa & John Lugo

    I believe our president to be is reaching to someone who loves God and therefore may be able to speak out to pastor Warren about the real truth of who God really is. Loving God is to love everyone and respect what we all believe. Our president has been selected to represent all of us with and without our differences. Thank you for allowing us to speak our minds. God bless you all.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:24 pm |
  21. Bernice Hathaway

    The choice of Rick Warren (an anti-abortion advocate and someone who does not seem to understand that sexual orientation is not a matter of choice) strikes me as pandering to the extreme right. Surely there was someone "mainstream" to fill this role at the inauguration – maybe a female Episcopalian Bishop if he wanted to strike a new chord – certainly not Rick Warren! (And I'm neither gay or American!)
    – a Canadian who believed Obama's message of change – but not to the right!!!

    December 18, 2008 at 11:24 pm |
  22. huldaah

    The one thing this entire election year has shown is the degree to which our nation is divided on every possible front. It would not matter who President Elect Obama chose to pray or anything else, there will always be some group raising an objection to it. I suspect Mr. Obama has tapped into the heart of the issue, which is: Any intelligent person knows you cannot please everyone, so go with what your heart and minds tell you what to do, stand firm on your decision, take the heat from those who don't like it (because if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!), press on to the next issue and the next day, because every day there will be someone waiting to judge you.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:22 pm |
  23. tc

    I don't see being gay comparable to the black civil rights movement. Being black or African American is not a moral issue or a choice. So people please stop acting like gays have suffered the same treatment as blacks. I agree it's Obama's inauguration, he can do whatever he wants to do. You can't make everybody happy.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:22 pm |
  24. Margaret Solomon

    Rather than a debate about Rick Warren or any preacher for that matter;
    I think the issue should be why we need any prayers at the inauguration, what about the separation of church and state?

    December 18, 2008 at 11:21 pm |
  25. Connie R

    We voted for someone to bring change and the first time he does we want to object. We need the change he is more than just proposing. He is demonstrating he meant what he said. Gosh, we need to start getting excited about the possibility he will take us to a place we have not seen. It's time to Grow Up America!

    December 18, 2008 at 11:21 pm |
  26. Kay L. Keith

    Rick Warren is such an advocate against Gay Rights. I wish Barack would have more of an open heart on this issue rather than giving such an anti-civil rights leader front stage at his inauguration. I am astonished, disappointed and dismayed by this display of phony openness. What could his team be thinking? This is such a sensitive issue that deserves the President's respect and compassion. Where is the change we can believe in???

    December 18, 2008 at 11:20 pm |
  27. bev h.

    who can NOT admire Obama for his inclusion people who represent the diversity of the USA in every aspest of his inauguration, cabinet, or any other aspect of his programs? Isn't this one of the reasons he was elected? Incidentally I am a Bible student and an ardent Christian who does not feel that homosexuality is acceptable according to God's word. However that is not a basis for governmental policies.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:20 pm |
  28. Toni

    I think people need to chill and let Obama run his affairs. Give me a break. No one will agree with everything ANY PERSON does. There are certainly some serious issues facing this country. This is not one of them. The hoopla on every news channel over who leads the inaugural prayer indicates this must be a slow news day. Who prayed for W's inauguration again? My point exactly...

    December 18, 2008 at 11:19 pm |
  29. Lisa

    I feel that if more people felt like Rick Warren did, our country wouldn't be such a mess right now. The Bible is very clear on what is right and wrong . I think the Inauguration prayer should be given by someone who follows Biblical teachings. I wasn't a fan of Obama but I am impressed with this decision.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:19 pm |
  30. Sara

    What happened to tolerance in this country? Ever heard the saying "you can't make everyone happy"?????

    December 18, 2008 at 11:19 pm |
  31. John Shamblin

    To me, this is a non-issue. I don't care if you're religious, if you don't care if I'm not, but evangelicals scare me the same way radical muslims scare me. Perhaps not as violent, but just as dogmatic.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:19 pm |
  32. Sri Subramanian

    The inauguration would have been a non-event if Obama had asked someone less divisive to speak. Now, all of us progressives are going to look forward a little less to this big day and wonder not at Obama's values but at his tone-deafness to what "divisive" really means.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:18 pm |
  33. Kristin Meyer

    If Barack Obama wanted to include an evengelical in the inauguration, Mike Huckaee would have been the perfect choice. Although I disagree with Huckabee on several key issues, he is always charming, polite, and funny and never hateful or hurtfully divisive. Rick Warren was the WRONG choice!

    December 18, 2008 at 11:18 pm |
  34. Bill Cadman

    Is this what we are having to endure the next 8 years ? Name two of the last 6 Ministers that gave the inauguration prayer. Who cares next year? People in Orange County California love the guy. James Jones had his followers. Relax

    December 18, 2008 at 11:18 pm |
  35. Joseph

    The honeymoon is over and he's not even in office yet! Let's face it, gays are the last group it is allowed to discriminate against. Obama will do nothing for the LGBT community. That's why it should have been Hillary all the way to the White House!!!

    December 18, 2008 at 11:17 pm |
  36. Peter Ruben

    for the first time I've become concerned that Maybe Obama is just too good for the United States. Maybe people cannot rise up to the goals he sets for us. That would be very sad

    December 18, 2008 at 11:17 pm |
  37. Yael

    If liberals and gays can support President Elect Obama talking to Iran ( whose President is not fan of gays) why cann't we support him talking to Pastor Warren? Talking to our enemies can not just be for people "over there". We must practice here on our shores are we will close the divide.


    December 18, 2008 at 11:17 pm |
  38. Robert Darrow, Shreveport

    I bought an original Obama "HOPE" poster on e-bay and framed it. When I look at it now, I don't see "HOPE," I see "HURT."

    December 18, 2008 at 11:17 pm |
  39. Margaret

    I think one year from now Obama will have made major strides in the progressive movement... (i.e. doing away with 'dont ask don't tell' )and this won't even seem like a big deal anymore.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:14 pm |
  40. Alexander, Ontario, Canada

    In a recent interview, Pastor Rick Warren compared same-sex marriage to both incestual and pedophiliac marriage. That is not only unacceptable, it is also irrational and it reflects either a, his ignorance, or b, his bigotry. Totally ridiculous.

    Obama wants diversity, but since when is it okay to use diversity as an excuse to sanction a man who espouses an ideology that presents such pure stupidity?

    Having said all that, I simply disagree with Obama's choice of Pastor Rick Warren.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:10 pm |
  41. Marie

    I am a hopelessly heterosexual middle-aged white female. I am also a reformed right-wing evangelical nut. My objection to Rick Warren is this: As a country we need to move in a more progressive, intellectual direction. Our leaders and government as a matter of policy should not endorse or sponsor the idea that the Bible should be interpreted as the literal word of God. It is this belief system that historically has been responsible for racism, bigotry, child brides (think Tony Alamo), creationism, anti-semitism, and now homophobia. We rejected Sarah Palin for this level of ignorance, and it is disappointing that Obama will now legitimize it.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:07 pm |
  42. Andrew

    I am extremely disappointed with Barack Obama's choice and decision. The LGBT community has actively fought for his election and here we are on the cusp of his inauguration and Barack pick's Pastor Warren who has actively campaigned against our basic human rights. This is a slap in the face to us.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:03 pm |
  43. Shirley Thomason

    This is what this President Elect is all about – coming together. This country is made up of many cultures and we need to come together rather than fighting amongst one another. People have different beliefs and we need to build bridges between these beliefs and just try to get along. When we look at one another we need to realize they are children of God and may have a lot of good to offer the world regardless of their beliefs. Peace

    December 18, 2008 at 11:02 pm |
  44. Kathy George

    Surely there is a more loving minister or rabbi out there who Barak Obama could have chosen to bless our country at the inauguration. Why choose a minister who has deeply hurt a sizable percentage of your constituency ?

    December 18, 2008 at 11:02 pm |
  45. julie toker weber

    An inauguration is not a "conference" of conflicting ideas, but a magnificent ceremony to celebrate our success as a democracy. Bestowing the signal honor on Paster Warren to give the invocation confers respectibility and legitimacy on the values of intolerance, religious bigotry, and injustice, ...values we have struggled oh so mightily to defeat over our two century existance.
    I regret that I am not an "A-list" person who could publicly renounce my participation in this shame filled event.

    December 18, 2008 at 11:01 pm |
  46. Marlana

    I totally agree with Obama's decision and my respect for him is growing daily...

    December 18, 2008 at 11:01 pm |
  47. Tim, Massachusetts

    Rick Warren is giving an inaugural prayer, not filling a post in his cabinet. I am disgusted that people who call themselves progressive fail to realize the importance of reaching across political and ideological barriers, particularly since Obama has pledged to do just that. This is exactly the kind of move we should expect, and it lends further credit to the claim that Obama's eloquence is not simply rhetoric, but that he means to do what he has promised to do.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:59 pm |
  48. Damon

    These are the kinds of decisions that PE Obama will need to continue to make throughout his presidency in order to begin to reunite this country.

    I agree with Mary that not everyone will like it but you will never be able to please everyone in this day and age of our world. PE Obama needs to consider long term ramifications his decisions will make for our nation and I believe it begins with "re-including" God in our decisions.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:57 pm |
  49. Kim Bruner

    I think President-Elect Obama is his own man and he should be able to choose his own person. Not everyone is going to agree with everything he does. I am a fan of Rick Warren and think Obama has last word in his inauguration.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:56 pm |
  50. Irene, NY, NY

    The implication is clear... Obama feels the LGBT community is dispensable. For the record, I don't believe Hillary would ever have done that. Good Lord, even McCain wouldn't have chosen Warren! It's great if you want to build bridges but at the expense of whom?

    December 18, 2008 at 10:53 pm |
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