Rick Warren to deliver Obama invocation - gay community furious

Richard Vogel/AP/File

Hey, remember that guy who put John McCain in the "cone of silence" only for it to be revealed that McCain was never in a "cone of silence" -- he was merely in his limo eating a ham sandwich?

Yeah, Rick Warren, the pastor of the Saddleback Church in Orange County. He was the one who hosted the first quasi-debate between Barack Obama and John McCain back in August (about two weeks before Sarah Palin went on her I-won-the-lottery-like-shopping-spree).

He's also the guy who wrote "The Purpose Driven Life," which has sold a bazillion copies since its release in 2002.

No likey

He seems like a nice enough guy, right?

Nope. There's a lot of Barack Obama supporters out there that don't necessarily like the man. In fact, Obama's announcement yesterday that Warren will deliver the invocation at his inaugural address has made many of these supporters livid.

He's the "absolute worst" pick, according to The Nation magazine's Sarah Posner, who said that his selection is a "slap in the face".

"Warren vocally opposes gay marriage, does not believe in evolution, has compared abortion to the Holocaust and backed the assassination of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad," she writes.

Divider, not a uniter

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said Obama's selection represents a "genuine blow" to the gay community.

"By inviting Rick Warren to your inauguration, you have tarnished the view that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have a place at your table," Solmonese writes.

"In this case, we feel a deep level of disrespect when one of architects and promoters of an anti-gay agenda is given the prominence and the pulpit of your historic nomination," he adds.

Let me count the ways

People For the American Way President Kathryn Kolbert says Warren hardly deserves "this position of honor".

"It is a grave disappointment to learn that pastor Rick Warren will give the invocation at the inauguration of Barack Obama," she said in a statement before outlining her main concerns with the selection.

"He has recently compared marriage by loving and committed same-sex couples to incest and pedophilia," she begins. "He has repeated the Religious Right's big lie that supporters of equality for gay Americans are out to silence pastors. He has called Christians who advance a social gospel Marxists. He is adamantly opposed to women having a legal right to choose an abortion."

Fireworks on CNN

Yesterday on CNN, Anderson Cooper hosted a combative debate on the topic. Hilary Rosen, Washington Editor at Large for the Huffington Post, said the selection was an "outrageous mistake".

"From what I gather, every gay person who paid attention to this today felt like we were kicked in the stomach," she said. "This is outrageous that you would pick such a divisive figure to speak out at a blessed, prayerful moment on a day that is bringing the country together."

CNN contributor Roland Martin doesn't see the controversy, noting that there will be two preachers speaking at the inauguration - one who "is for gay rights and one is not for gay rights."

"Look, Obama believes in marriage between a man and a woman," Martin said. "Is that controversial?"

"Look, you'll have two people speaking [on inauguration day]," he continued. "Rick Warren who is against gay marriage giving the invocation and and the Reverend Joe Lowery who is for gay marriage giving the benediction."

The two sparred for a few moments before the show turned into a newsroom version of the Jerry Springer show (video below).

Doesn't matter

So are all conservatives jumping for joy with the pick?

Well, not Donald Douglas, anyway. Douglas, who describes himself as an associate professor of political science and runs a blog called "American Power," says the Warren pick doesn't mean anything in the long run.

"In the end, Obama will satisfy the radical gay rights constituency by pushing all the big homosexual demands, eventually caving on gay marriage as well; in turn, getting chummy with folks like Warren won't help much on the conservative side, especially as Obama's administration proceeds to dismantle the right's substantial achievements on the pro-life agenda over the past three decades," he writes.

Makes sense

But David Brody over at the Christian Broadcasting Network,doesn't seem as alarmed as Douglas. the Warren pick, he says,  "makes a whole lot of sense."

"Even though Warren and Obama disagree on the life issue, they do see eye to eye on many social justice issues," writes Brody. "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."

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