Pro-life Evangelical Pastor Rick Warren will give the invocation at the President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration, it was reported on Wednesday. Negative reactions from homosexual activists prompted the president-elect to defend his selection.
Some pro-life individuals have also criticized Rev. Warren’s cooperation with Obama, a staunch advocate of abortion rights.
Rev. Warren, the head of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, hosted Obama at a presidential candidates’ forum at his church earlier this year. He also authored the best-selling book “The Purpose Driven Life.”
Some praised Obama’s decision as evidence of his willingness to reach out to those who disagree with him.
“It makes a whole lot of sense,” said David Brody of CBN News. “Even though Warren and Obama disagree on the life issue, they do see eye to eye on many social justice issues.
“This move is also classic Obama because it is a signal to religious conservatives that he’s willing to bring in both sides to the faith discussion in this country. Obama has never shied away from that.”
However, some homosexual groups were outraged over the selection of Rev. Warren because of his support for California’s Proposition 8, which overturned a court decision that imposed same-sex marriage on the state.
Joe Solmonese, President of the homosexual activist group Human Rights Campaign, wrote a letter to Obama calling the selection of Warren “a genuine blow to LGBT Americans.” Characterizing the successful passage of Proposition 8 as “the greatest loss our community has faced in 40 years,” Solmonese claimed that inviting Warren has tarnished the view that “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have a place at your table.”
Characterizing homosexual activism as a “fight for basic equality and fairness,” Solmonese tried to link Warren with Focus on the Family head James Dobson and. He also said Warren played the role of “general” in “the cultural war against LGBT Americans.”
Arguing that Obama’s selection makes homosexuals feel a “deep level of disrespect,” Solmonese urged the president-elect to reconsider having Warren offer the invocation.
The reaction to the selection of Warren contrasts with homosexual activists’ positive reaction to the Presidential Inaugural Committee’s choice to allow a homosexual band to march in the Inaugural Parade.
On December 10, the committee announced that the Lesbian and Gay Band Association (LGBA) would march in the Inaugural Parade. In a press release, the committee noted it would be the first time an “openly LGBT group” would participate.
On Thursday, Obama defended Rev. Warren’s place at the Presidential Inauguration. He said that Americans need to “come together” and reasserted that dialogue was an aim of his campaign.
A “wide range of viewpoints” will be present at the inauguration, Obama said.
The president-elect noted that he had been invited to speak at Rev. Warren’s church despite their disagreements.
Obama also characterized himself as a “fierce advocate for equality” for gays and lesbians and said he will remain so.
Rev. Warren’s participation was also challenged by some pro-life individuals. CBN’s David Brody said he had received many letters that “absolutely rip” Warren.
“Let me just say that pro-lifers are NOT happy with Warren at all,” Brody said.
Offering his own opinion, Brody said:
“While I understand the justifiable concern coming from pro-lifers and liberals, the bottom line is this: why can’t a pro-life pastor pray for a pro-choice candidate? Are politics and past prejudices clouding our judgment here? Warren isn’t up there to speak out against homosexuality or push the pro-life issue. Sometimes we all get caught up so much in demonizing the other side that we don’t see the forest from the trees.”
“Just because Rick Warren supports Proposition 8 doesn’t mean his prayer for Obama isn’t sincere. Just because Warren prays for Obama at his inauguration doesn’t mean he marginalizes the pro-life agenda,” Brody argued.
Rev. Warren will not be the only clergyman at the January 20 inauguration. Civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery will deliver the benediction to close the inauguration ceremony.
Rev. Warren’s invocation will follow a call to order and welcoming remarks by Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California. The invocation will be followed by a performance from Aretha Franklin.
During the inauguration, Associate Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens will swear in former Sen. Joseph Biden as the United States’ first Catholic vice-president.
Obama himself will be sworn in by John Roberts, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Musical performers at the inauguration will include the United States Marine Band, the United States Navy Band “Sea Chanters,” cellist Yo-Yo Ma and violinist Itzhak Perlman. Poet Elizabeth Alexander will also present a poem.