Obama to Gays and Lesbians: Go to Hell

December 18, 2008

Photo credit: Flickr user All About You God

Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church

Rev. Rick Warren, the popular evangelical pastor and best-selling author, has been selected to deliver the invocation at Barack Obama’s inauguration.

That’s Rick Warren, the guy who campaigned on behalf of Prop. 8 in California.

That’s Rick Warren, the person who has compared same-sex marriage to pedophilia.

A gay friend of mine, who grew up in a religious household, e-mailed me this morning when he heard the news, expressing his outrage. He said that he had spent his childhood and teenage years growing up listening to preachers condemning him and other gays, assuring him he would burn in Hell because of who he is.

Now he gets to see a minister who endorses the same irrational bigotry on the inaugural platform, prominently juxtaposed with the new president—a president who promised “change.” I suppose it confirms once again that the more things “change,” the more they stay the same.

The lame excuses from Obama and his spokespersons defending the choice of Warren are unacceptable. They have talked about being “inclusive.” They have pointed out that the civil-rights activist Rev. Joseph Lowery will be delivering the benediction, so there will be “balance.”

So I guess it would be OK to invite a vicious anti-Semite to deliver the opening prayer, as long as a rabbi delivered the benediction.

Most secular humanists, of course, find the whole notion of inaugural prayers ridiculous, if not offensive. (Arguably, it’s a violation of the Establishment Clause as well, but you’re not going to win that legal battle.) Similarly, most of us believe in the dignity of all individuals, gay or straight, and unequivocally reject the notion that a person is immoral or evil just because of her/his sexual orientation. Perhaps it is fitting that absurd beliefs are expressed in an absurd ceremony.

Still, the choice of Warren is disheartening, to say the least. Based on anecdotal evidence, humanists voted overwhelmingly for Obama. Many of those who did so had as one of their primary motivations concern over the future of the Supreme Court. Now Obama will be starting his administration with a supreme disappointment.