After Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Orange County hosted a presidential “forum” during the 2008 campaign, we should all be familiar with his shtick. Back when the “values driven” event happened, I wondered why Obama decided to participate in the first place? The forum which leaned on so-called values as opposed to hard core issues heavily favored the McCain presidency at the time. If that was the case then, why would Obama select Warren to give an invocation at his inauguration? This is in line with everything Obama is and has become. I’m sure that the two have an affable regard for one another. However, taking a step back, during the course of the presidential campaign, Obama had to renounce his black prophetic church and reverend and is now cozying up to a bigoted mega-church pastor. Slick Rick Warren’s profit-driven life does not need such an accolade. The black church, with its historical role in organizing for civil rights should be given its due since the Obama inauguration could not have happened without it.
The chorus of criticism on this choice is coming through. The advocacy group, People for the American Way has released a statement of disappointment in regards to Pastor Slick Rick’s inclusion:
Pastor Warren, while enjoying a reputation as a moderate based on his affable personality and his church’s engagement on issues like AIDS in Africa, has said that the real difference between James Dobson and himself is one of tone rather than substance. He has recently compared marriage by loving and committed same-sex couples to incest and pedophilia. 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.
In California’s battle over Proposition 8, Obama called the ballot campaign discriminatory and divisive. In choosing Warren, such regressive historical forces in society will be invoked and legitimated in the inauguration next month. Sowing discrimination and divisiveness were the tactics used against Obama himself in his bid to become the first African-American President in a nation born of slavery. A right-wing reactionary pastor is a right-wing reactionary pastor. Sure Warren isn’t Buena Park’s Pastor Wiley Drake suing Obama on xenophobic premises, but on major issues there can be no mistaking the positions he has taken. “Constantinian Christians” – to borrow a phrase from Dr. Cornel West – do not bring change we can believe in; they crucify it. Once upon a time on the south side of Chicago, Mr. Obama, you knew that to be true…