December 19th, 2008
03:29 PM ET

Rick Warren and our either/or culture

[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."]

Eboo Patel
On Faith at washingtonpost.com

For Rick Warren, the dream of being chosen to give the invocation at a presidential inauguration quickly turned into a nightmare of being fired at by the left and the right. Many on the left are furious because of Warren's opposition to gay rights, some on the right are angry because Warren accepted the invitation of a man who supports gay rights.

The heat on such issues has been turned up since a majority of Californians voted No on gay marriage on Nov 4.

On one level, this is an either/or issue – that's certainly what it looks like at the ballot box. Either you vote for gay marriage or you vote against it. But there is another way to look at this – which is how the two sides are choosing to frame the issue, and what that means for a diverse society.


soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Jim,

    Its not a either /or but Right /Wrong issue Let me put it in a way you can understand- The Inquisition- Right or Wrong- Says Who? Man said it was ok & right- God However said Murder of the innocent,Theft, Bearing false witness is wrong . Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton- did they do right or wrong? In their own eyes they were right, in Gods they were wrong.

    December 19, 2008 at 6:44 pm |
  2. Tammy, Berwick. LA

    I think people are missing the point. During the Holocaust gay men and lesbian women were murdered because they did not fit Nazi Germany's view of what the perfect human was. Fast forward to today. Not allowing these same groups the same rights is still saying they aren't good enough to be full members in society. No, thank God they aren't murdered. But they sure as all hell aren't treated like heterosexual citizens, either. The message the PE sends out is so loud and clear by choosing Rick Warren. It has nothing to do with bridging divides. This isn't one that can be compromised. Until all America sees every American as equally deserving of all human rights, including the right to marriage and benefits and children, we have a long way to go. People can hide the bigotry under the veil of religion all they want. In the end, they are still justifying their own hatred and ignorance, and I find it pitiful that in 21st century America we still allow it to happen and have the gall to support our next president when he does as well.

    December 19, 2008 at 6:42 pm |
  3. Charlotte D

    Rick Warren is no Jerry Falwell, or Dobson for that matter. And unfortunately, President-elect Obama is not in the position to tell the folks who did not vote for them to stick it the way Bush did. He has rightly said up front that he is their President too. I should have been so lucky these past 8 long years. Barack and Rick agree to disagree but have much common ground as fellow Believers. I also hope that President-elect Obama is invited to visit Billy Graham at his home to pray with him now that Rev. Graham is house bound. I bet they have a lot they disagree on as well, but Billy has prayed with and for all flavors of presidents these past decades. Let's all get past the single minded issues that separate us and that we will never agree on and look for common ground.

    December 19, 2008 at 6:21 pm |
  4. Abby

    I am DISGUSTED and OUTRAGED by the Warren pick. Obama is just another lying politician. How dare he campaign on "Change" and "Unity" while picking an outright BIGOT to give the invocation. I am so sick and tired of hearing and reading about people who defend Warren's behavior. Why not invite Jeremiah Wright? He has different opinions too. Why not the KKK? Both are equally as cruel as Warren is. I am a straight woman who staunchly supports equal rights for the LGBT community and a woman's right to choose. Obama has lost my support. I just wish I could get back all of the money and time I dedicated to his campaign.

    December 19, 2008 at 6:14 pm |
  5. JC- Los Angeles

    Having suffered through eight years of a regime that started with the failure to separate church and state and then went downhill from there, Obama's first day on the job seems to be looking eerily similar.

    If all men are created equal, there should be no place in government for a didactic preacher who continually fail to treat all people equally.

    It's as if all our leaders fail to understand their audience; kind of like trying to install a democracy in the Middle east when it's actually a theocracy.

    How about Mandella? I guess common sense isn't too common.

    December 19, 2008 at 6:02 pm |
  6. Maria

    I think both P-E Barack Obama and Rick Warren are on the fence and the win-win situation is their main concern. People can meet win-win culture once they liberate themselves from single-mind issues.

    December 19, 2008 at 5:39 pm |
  7. Fay - CA

    Religion should play no role in the inauguration – separation of church and state. Period.

    December 19, 2008 at 5:37 pm |
  8. Annie Kate

    Obama said in his campaign that he would try to build bridges so that we could start to close the gap that has paralyzed us and Congress for so long and get things done that have needed doing for a long time. With the seriousness of the problems facing us, we all need to work together – so doing this as one of the first things shows Obama means to keep that campaign promise of his to bring all Americans together. Waiting for a better time when people aren't hurting, or the economy is better, or there is no war, etc. the time will never come – there is always something going on. Obama is trying to get us all to put our best foot forward from the beginning to bring that change everyone said they wanted.

    December 19, 2008 at 4:33 pm |
  9. Cindy

    No matter who Obama chose to do the invocation there would still be one group or another that would have problems with it. So there is no way he could have picked one person to do it and please us all. He'd have to have someone from every denomination up there. Give him a break and get over it! It's just a prayer..it's not like Rick's going to get up there and preach! Where is the tolerance that gays are always screaming for? They should remember that you have to give it to receive it!!

    And to clear it up...Rick Warren did not say that gays are like pedophiles or child abusers. He was not talking about gays themselves. He was talking about changing the realms of marriage and if gays are allowed to marry then what next..pedophiles, polygamists, brothers and sisters...where would it end? That is what he meant. He wasn't calling gays pedophiles. Get your stories straight. In reality...most Christians feel the same way about changing marriage and where would you draw the line at who could or who couldn't get married.

    Seeing that 35 states have amendments against gay marriage then over half of this country agrees with what Rick said.


    December 19, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  10. christine mckoy

    i love president-elect obama but sadly, asking rick warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration is his first mistake. is this really the time to bring such controversy in an effort to 'build bridges' between the left and right? people are feeling so vulnerable now in our current economy and this just hurts. there are other conservatives with whom we could build a bridge – where the bridge could actually start to be built. the way warren talks about "them" – you can hear his disdain. it's just terrible.

    December 19, 2008 at 3:47 pm |