Liberals Continue to Attack Rev. Rick Warren over Inauguration Invitation
December 29, 2008Liberal commentators and activists are keeping up a drumbeat of opposition against the Rev. Rick Warren, the California mega-church pastor selected to give the invocation at the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.
New York Times columnist Frank Rich wrote this Sunday, for example, that Warren’s good deed in “fighting AIDS is not a get-out-of-homophobia-free card.”
Most of the liberal opposition to Warren arises from the pastor’s opposition to homosexual marriage.
“When Obama defends Warren’s words by calling them an example of the ‘wide range of viewpoints’ in a ‘diverse and noisy and opinionated’ America, he is being too cute by half,” Rich wrote. “He knows full well that a ‘viewpoint’ defaming any minority group by linking it to sexual crimes like pedophilia is unacceptable.”
Rich’s scolding of the Democratic president-elect in the pages of The New York Times is among the most recent strikes at Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Orange County.
The selection of Warren to deliver the invocation was a “grave disappointment” for Kathryn Kolbert, president of the liberal group People for the American Way.
“He has repeated the Religious Right’s big lie that supporters of equality for gay Americans are out to silence pastors,” Kolbert said in a statement. “He has called Christians who advance a social gospel Marxists. He is adamantly opposed to women having a legal right to choose an abortion.”
Warren supported a successful California ballot initiative that amended the state constitution to ban homosexual marriage. He previously said that he opposed any redefinition of marriage, including a brother marrying a sister or an adult marrying a child. Gay activists interpreted this to mean he equated homosexuality to incest and pedophilia.
In a video message, Warren told his congregation, “I have in no way ever taught that homosexuality is the same thing as a forced relationship between an adult and a child, or between siblings. I was trying to point out I’m not opposed to gays having their partnership. I’m opposed to gays using the term marriage for their relationship.”
On giving the invocation at Obama’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2009, Warren said, “We’re both willing to be criticized in order to try to bring America into a new day of civil discourse and to create a new model that says you don't have to agree only with your side on everything.”
But some critics--such as Huffington Post columnist Linda Hirshman, a former professor of feminism and women’s studies at Brandies University--were less interested in a “civil” discussion. Hirshman wrote a satire piece predicting what Warren would say, comparing his religious beliefs to Nazi and chauvinist views.
In Hirshman’s satirical piece, Warren would say on Jan. 20, “Let the light of Christian salvation come to the Jewish Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel and his family, some of whom survived the German effort to bring them to Christian truth in the last generation.”
The faux Warren prayer written by Hirshman went on to say, “Change the hearts, Lord, of Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton, Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano, United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis from independent lives of their own to submission to their husbands …These women have chosen to participate in the public life of the community. Enlighten them as to the requirement that women not speak in church, saving any questions they have about their common life to ask their husbands as they return home.”
Most critics limited their criticism to the homosexual issue.
“Inviting Warren to set the tone at the dawn of this new presidency sends a chilling message to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a homosexual lobby group, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed on Dec. 19. “It makes us uncertain about this exciting, young president-elect who has said repeatedly that we are part of his America, too. … So, are we angry about Rick Warren? You bet we are. And including a gay marching band in the inaugural festivities doesn't heal this wound. It only serves to make us question the promises that Barack Obama made in his historic quest to be president.”
Time magazine columnist John Cloud even accused Obama of being an anti-gay bigot.
“Obama has proved himself repeatedly to be a very tolerant, very rational-sounding sort of bigot,” Cloud wrote on Dec. 19. “He is far too careful and measured a man to say anything about body parts fitting together or marriage being reserved for the nonpedophilic, but all the same, he opposes equality for gay people when it comes to the basic recognition of their relationships. He did throughout his campaign.”
Appearing on Fox News’s, Kerry Kennedy, daughter of former New York Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, said of Warren, “He has engaged in hate speech and I just think that’s inappropriate.”
Two talk show anchors on MSNBC even went so far as to compare Warren to Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.
During the presidential campaign, Wright became a point of controversy for his remarks attacking the United States.
Chris Matthews said on Hardball, “It seems like Barack Obama, as much as he seems to inspire people, including me, has a problem with pastors. I don’t know what it is. You get him hooked up with a pastor, whether it’s Jeremiah Wright, or it’s this guy Rick Warren. One’s on the left, one’s on the far right. Both are causing him trouble.”
Rachel Maddow, host of an evening talk show on MSNBC, referred to the “Rick Warren-Barack Obama invocation speaker scandal.”
“After Obama calmed the Jeremiah Wright controversy by publicly severing his ties to his former pastor in March, then came April. That`s when Jeremiah Wright decided to put himself back out there,” Maddow recalled. “He reappeared with an incendiary news conference at the National Press Club and that brought attention back to Obama’s politically toxic relationship with Jeremiah Wright. So now, with the different set of dynamics and rhetoric and offended constituencies and a different pastor, here we go again.”
Maddow continued, “Into the relative calm here as this scandal was maybe settling down, Rick Warren has re-injected himself and has sparked again a lot of outrage. He has snatched the possibility of open-mindedness from the jaws of possibility. President-elect Obama, this is not going away.”