December 17th, 2008
07:12 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama’s choice of evangelical leader sparks outrage

Warren is founder of the Saddleback Church.
Warren is founder of the Saddleback Church.

(CNN) - Prominent liberal groups and gay rights proponents criticized President-elect Barack Obama Wednesday for choosing evangelical pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the presidential inauguration next month.

Warren, one of the most powerful religious leaders in the nation, has championed issues such as calling for the reduction of global poverty, human rights abuses, and the AIDS epidemic.

But the founder of the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, has also adhered to socially conservative stances - including his opposition to gay marriage and abortion rights that puts him at odds with many in the Democratic Party, especially the party's most liberal wing.

"[It's] shrewd politics, but if anyone is under any illusion that Obama is interested in advancing gay equality, they should probably sober up now," Andrew Sullivan wrote on the Atlantic Web site Wednesday.

People for the American Way President Kathryn Kolbert told CNN she is "deeply disappointed" with the choice of Warren, and said the powerful platform at the inauguration should instead have been given to someone who is "consistent mainstream American values.

"There is no substantive difference between Rick Warren and James Dobson," Kolbert said. "The only difference is tone. His tone is moderate, but his ideas are radical."

Dobson, a social conservative leader, is founder and chairman of Focus on the Family.

Linda Douglass, a spokeswoman for Obama, defended the choice of Warren, saying, "This is going to be the most inclusive, open, accessible inauguration in American history."

"The president-elect certainly disagrees with him on [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender] issues. But it has always been his goal to find common ground with people with whom you may disagree on some issues."

Douglass also noted Obama and Warren agree on several issues including advocating on behalf of the poor and the disadvantaged, and people who suffer from HIV/AIDS.

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soundoff (524 Responses)
  1. Flo

    What else is new! Anything Obama does will invite critisism..........Mr. Obama is right in welcoming all people with differering views; just because he may not agree with them doesn't mean he can't respect them. Liberals should shut up and hold their tongue.

    By the way Campbell Brown is the biggest jerk on CNN these days. She is working really hard to make her news hour different but all she does is scream nonsense, maybe she should be forced to watch herself and make some changes to her tone. She has an Obama bug up her you know what.............................That's what wrong with these 24 hour news cycles..................They make it up as they go along.

    December 17, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  2. Megan

    OK, did anyone also see the piece that said a gay lesbian group will be marching in the Inaugural parase? When has THAT happened before? I think by these two moves TOGETHER (and it is a shame that the writer of that article doesn't mention the paraders) Obama is sending a clear message that he will listen to both sides of a debate. Only those who can only bear to hear from people who agree with them should be offended.

    December 17, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  3. aware

    Mahalo PEBO! :)

    The de-moralizing of America has demoralized America!

    December 17, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  4. Boston Irish

    Hey, you have to look on the bright side of things. Just think, he could have picked Jim Wright!!

    December 17, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  5. Glenn Cartwright

    Evangelicals should not rejoice at Obama's choice of Rick Warren, either. He preaches as false gospel and many conservative Christians have fallen blindly for his "40 days of purpose" hype. Powerful and influential? Yes. Dangerous to true Christianity? Absolutely.

    December 17, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  6. txkboy

    "The president-elect certainly disagrees with him on [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender] issues"...meaning Warren. The Gay and Lesbian community should be ecstatic. This sounds just as confusing.

    December 17, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  7. ...

    No more religion. Please.

    December 17, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  8. Linda Smith

    Inclusion run amuk!

    December 17, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  9. Patrick

    While I still view Obama as extremely liberal his somewhat moderate choices that have outraged the far left of our country is great! However most of these so called "moderates" arent' really so when you examine their actual voting record. Rick Warren is a great man, he gives 90% of his mone to charity; how many of you liberal hypocrits give more than 1% of your money away? I happen to support gay marriage but have NO problem with people that don't. I would love it if Warren laid into the topic of abortion and outraged all pro-choice people in the audience. Of course he won't, but what a stage he has to stop the new holocaust.

    December 17, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  10. Clinton Supporter

    Hillary looks better than ever!

    As someone once said, "there's one born every minute..."

    December 17, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  11. Aaron from california

    How did choosing a paster for the inauguration turn into a gay issue????

    Now that he chose this paster to do it, he is going to be a horrible president.......YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!!

    P.S. why are all these wacko republicans coming on here and saying words like "left wing wackos"????

    December 17, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  12. Texas Latina

    It is painfully obvious that the writers of all the comments asking why there has to be an invocation haven't been paying attention. There is ALWAYS an invocation.

    Are you so new to the world of politics? Your ignorance is showing

    December 17, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  13. linda521

    not a good unbiased choice. Who controls what he says?

    December 17, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  14. Benjamin

    Most Democrats would object if Jesus gave the invocation. They would call him radical, maybe even scream, "Crucify him."

    December 17, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  15. Rosetta Stone - Rapid City, SD

    So Obama decides to pick a mainstream choice to invoke Jehovah's blessing at his coronation. I'm like so surprised.

    I hope all you "centrist" Americans choke our your self-righteousness. You get what you vote for.

    December 17, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  16. Mike

    What did the gays expect? Like most black people, Obama is religious and homophobic. He does not need the gays or the liberal left wingers to win the next election. He needs the mainstream churchgoers, the center. He is a typical politician. How could you not see that? Change, hope... That was bull. Politics as usual.

    December 17, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  17. Benjamin

    Most Democrats would object if Jesus gave the invocation. They would call him radical, maybe even scream, "Crucify him."

    December 17, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  18. Liz from Delaware

    I would expect that most clergy are against Gay marriage and abortion. The Episcopal church has been one of the more liberal faiths and look at how these issues are tearing it apart.
    I am a Democrat and liberal on social issues, but I appreciate how Obama is reaching out to all and I hope that he does not cave to a liberal agenda. A liberal preacher will alienate more people than a more popular and conservative one.

    December 17, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  19. bigjoerice.minnesota

    "Like it or not, it is common to human nature. Apparently the need to believe in a higher power is in our genetic make-up."

    Only in the genetically weak.

    December 17, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  20. Patrick

    Why is the far left outraged or even surprised at this? Obama has never said he supports gay marriage; do you think he just changed his mind? Quit being blind sheep and supporting whoever is the democratic nominee. If you want to advance gay rights you'll vote the most conservative nominee as they stand for keeping the government out of your life or the libertarian nominee.

    December 17, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  21. judy

    I am thrilled we have a smart man as President....who really cares about Warren as his pick, in time no one will remember nor care!

    December 17, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  22. E.White, Houston,TX

    This is a pathetic choice, period.

    There are much more "tolerant" Pastors, from the Christian faith.

    One who comes to mind is Kirbyjohn Caldwell.

    This man, who preaches intolerance, does not deserve to be part of the inauguration ceremonies.

    He does not represent the voice of the American people who elected Obama to office.

    A very disappointing choice. There were many Pastors who would have been more suitable.
    .

    December 17, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  23. chris

    Obama has just slapped the LGBT community in the face. To have done this after the huge blow of Prop. 8 is beyond the imagination. Obama is no friend to this community. But, hey, I knew that all along.......I voted for Hillary.

    December 17, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  24. Scot

    Whatever happened to that long lost Christian virtue called tolerance? I have to side with Bill Maher on this topic.

    December 17, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  25. Doug

    I have generally approved of Obama’s efforts to reach across to the other side. He wants to be president of all america. I get it. However, Rick Warren is radical right wing nut. Just last month he gave “W” a medal of Peace. No that is not a joke.

    I love Obama but I am starting to have doubts.

    December 17, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
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