Obama’s New Pastor Problem

rick-warrenI didn’t want to comment on the choice of Rick Warren to do the invocation at Barack Obama’s inauguration. I really didn’t. Several other bloggers had already mentioned it, and I figured I could consider myself safely off the hook.

I was wrong.

Seeing the level of invective surrounding this choice, I need to point out a few things.

But first, my personal feeling.

I don’t think that Rick Warren, pastor of mega-congregation Saddleback Church in Orange County and author of the Purpose Driven Life books, is a great choice. It’s unclear to me whether Obama truly picked him, or whether some Congressional folks in charge of organizing the event picked him (and Obama chose not to overrule them). But I would have preferred to see a pastor or preacher more toward the middle end of the spectrum instead of someone who has, apparently, compared homosexuality to incest and pedophilia, and someone who was an early and vocal supporter of Proposition 8 in California.

That said, I cannot sign on to the sheer outrage I’m seeing from so many people on the left or the left-leaning middle of the political scene. I just can’t.

There is too much at stake in this country for me to worry about who gives a brief prayer at any event, even the inauguration of Obama. This doesn’t give Warren some extra bit of legitimacy. Those who liked him before will still like him; those who don’t, won’t. This isn’t some sign that Obama wants to be in bed with the Christian right-wingers. People are bitching and moaning that Obama isn’t gathering enough people around him, and at his events, who represent “change.”

So, the fuck what?

I mean it.

I would like to see more “outside the box” choices, sure. And I hope I will in the weeks to come. But this man has to drag this nation out of a cesspit, and he can’t do it with a huge load of people who lack connections and pull. He can’t do it by focusing on just one end of the ideological spectrum. We’re in this shit together, and we need people and strategies that will get all of us out of this mess as soon as possible.

John McCain and Sarah Palin ridiculed Obama when he suggested that…*gasp*…we actually talk to world leaders who do nasty things. They talked about how irresponsible it would be to do so “without preconditions” because that would legitimize these leaders. And so many Obama supporters decried that notion as unfair and stupid. Now, we have people who voted Obama in and are complaining about, “How could he have a man so against gay/lesbian/bisexual/transsexual issues and a woman’s right to choose on a national stage like this?”

So, you don’t mind if he talks to murderous despots without demanding that they make changes before talking, but you’re willing to burn Obama at the stake for letting a right-leaning preacher say a quick prayer at his invocation.

Hypocritical much?

Let’s stop worrying about silly shit and start dealing with our problems. Worrying about what pastor Obama has near him for a hot second on stage isn’t productive. What a fucking waste of time. I was hoping we were past this crap about pastors after the Rev. Jeremiah Wright fiasco.

What next? Do I have to worry now that the left wing will become as oppressively obnoxious as the right wing has been for years, and that MSNBC will devolve into the left-wing version of FOX News and descend to the lowest common denominator of liberalism?

6 Responses to “Obama’s New Pastor Problem”

  1. December 18, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    I’ll have another take on this topic tomorrow.

    Basically, why are homosexuals getting pass for demanding that Obama toe their line because they voted for him?

    Would black people get the same consideration?

    Could we say, “we supported Obama so now he owes us?”

    Hell no.

  2. 2 Deacon Blue
    December 18, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    I agree that there is a double standard among some on this point. As my wife mentioned, though, this effect is magnified by the perception that getting Obama elected cost Prop 8 its chances (the possible “we voted for one progressive thing; we can’t stomach two progressive things” sentiment) and the notion that it was black folks who played a major role in sinking it. So now, they are tense seeing an anti-GLBT pastor up on stage with Obama.

    I understand to a certain degree, but I tend to agree with you that a double-standard exists. After all, it’s not like Obama filled his Cabinet full ‘o black folks…

  3. December 20, 2008 at 12:59 am

    “What a fucking waste of time. I was hoping we were past this crap about pastors….”

    I agree it’s a “waste of time,” which is why I’m wondering what possessed Obama, in the first place, to make the controversial decision to invite pastor Warren, or allow him to be invited, to give the invocation at his inaugural.

    I know he’s hoping to use the occasion to close the divides, to heal the wounds that his election has caused. But his attempt has opened more wounds, and expanded the already widening divides. Not too many people are happy with Obama’s decision–some of those unhappy folks are on the right, and some are on the left.

    And Obama should have seen this one coming. He’s used foresight before to side-step other potentially damaging outcomes. This one–given the gay community’s take-it-to-the-streets opposition to the passage of California’s Proposition 8, Pastor Warren’s leadership regarding it, and his outrageous gay positions–was a no-brainer.

    Unfortunately, Obama’s act didn’t bring us closer together, it only served to broaden the gaps already in place. I’m all for inclusiveness, and I pray that he will find a way to fill in the gaps, canyons, and valleys that keep us from interacting from the mountainous heights of commonsense, and unity.

    Doesn’t Obama have enough controversy swirling around him with the Rod Blagojevich affair? Did he have to invite another with the Warren affair? Creating another controversy didn’t make the Blagojevich one go away–both have grown in intensity.

    Obama hasn’t even taken the oath of office and already he’s managed to allow himself to be distracted from the real business at hand–the economy and two wars.

    I get the feeling that Obama has never met a controversy he didn’t like.

    This time-waster could have been avoided: the selection of Warren was an elective not a mandatory decision. Obama could have offered him, and other evangelical conservatives (many of whom will always oppose him, no matter the overtures) an olive branch, and an appeasement, at any time into his term of office, after we’ve met the disasters that face of us today.

    The media is all over this, as well as the Blagojevich fiasco. Many are suggesting that Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff, is somehow tainted by this mess.

    Yes, it’s a time-waster, and it’s one that we can’t afford. Obama would do well to stay focus on what we currently need as a nation, without all the distractions that he’s invited. Yes, he invited them–certainly one, and perhaps two.


  4. 4 Deacon Blue
    December 20, 2008 at 2:13 am

    I don’t know that there is any safe path he can take. Maybe if he had passed on Rick Warren, we would have dodged this bullet. But what’s the next decision the media and his opponents (and his disgruntled supporters) would have magnified?

    Maybe you’re right and this was a terrible decision.

    But I cannot help what wonder that something else just would have taken its place…or will perhaps be added to this.

    Pastor Wright got magnified all out of proportion to his actual controversy factor. Obama’s birthplace…and birth certificate…were called into question. I don’t think there is much he can do that isn’t going to be called into question.

    If he takes only the safe paths…the paths that will keep him out of trouble…I wonder if he will be able to get anything accomplished.

    I really don’t know one way or another. Just thinking out loud.

  5. December 20, 2008 at 7:34 am

    “If he takes only the safe paths…the paths that will keep him out of trouble…I wonder if he will be able to get anything accomplished.”

    I hear you. He’s certainly a risk-taker, and that’s not entirely a bad thing. And I’m not mad at him for the Warren decision–it just poses a distraction at a time when all his attention needs to be riveted on those things that matter.

    As you have stated, everything he does is gonna be magnified, and that is why he can’t be the one to add to that distraction with decisions like the Pastor Warren one.

    If Obama’s gonna court trouble, let it be for something that will move us toward solutions to our current problems. Warren was a political gesture–one designed to bring a measure of healing to the country, but it was an expensive gesture. As he sought to heal the patient, he made other parts of the body politic nauseous, and ill.

    And, if Obama gets in trouble by trying to extricate us from our trouble, he will have my support. And, if controversy finds him (as it did with some of his cabinet choices), I will defend him, as long as I know his decisions were made for this nation’s benefit and general welfare.

    I’m just hoping that he’ll decide to be controversial for all the right reasons, at the right time, to achieve the right goals.


  6. 6 Deacon Blue
    December 20, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Fair enough.

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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

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