December 17th, 2008
07:12 PM ET
5 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. Ross

    I agree with Brad, gay/lesbian is not main stream. I pray it never will be. This country was founded off religion and I hate how people have forgotten that, sorry but if you don't like it....move. I see Canada in your near futures....

    December 17, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  2. Susan

    Who cares? It's just a lot of pomp and circumstance. It would be nice if we didn't have to have any pastor at all... Personally, I'd prefer a poet.

    December 17, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  3. Tony in Maine

    Barack Obama has tossed the ideological litmus test that gave the world the failed Bush Presidency.

    Thank you Mr. Obama – THAT is a change we need.

    Litmus tests, right or left polarize, divide and lead to linear thinking. They may feel good, but they are terribly bad.

    December 17, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  4. harry grunsky

    i'm glad i live in canada!

    December 17, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  5. Susan

    Perhaps the choice of Rick Warren is a way of Barack Obama observing Warren?

    December 17, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  6. Darrell Burks

    I am Gay and supports President – Elect Obama's choice of RIck Warren for his invocation. I grew up in a Baptist church and had a Pastor who preached against Gays. But I became his friend he soften his tone and began to undersatnd us more. We need to stop this – I do want you doing this because you are conservative or don't believe in my views sfuff. I grew up in the South as an African American and have found that if we quit dividing ourselves with our points of views and then we will start understanding each others points of view – As President-Elect Obama said in his acceptance speech – I will be your President (All Americans)

    December 17, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  7. RML

    I don't believe Barack will be able to move the country in a new direction without drawing in the "Warren-Dobson" subset of our country. You can't isolate people if you want or need them to be a part of the change you are wanting to bring. I am a gay female and I personally do not agree with Rick Warren on his social conservative positions but I don't think that makes him a bad human being or one that does not have the right to be given this honor. And I don't believe that it means Barack agrees with him either. But, again, you can't be successful by isolating everyone you disagree with. There is obviously a very large conservative religious following in this country. They need to be brought on board. The only way to do that is to respect them – and allow one of their leaders to be part of this new administration.

    December 17, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  8. John Griffith

    waa! waa! waa!

    Obama is trying to seek middle ground and bring this country together. He selects, contrary to what some have posted, a well respected Christian leader, to particiapte in the inauguration and all moonbat bleeding hearts are already regretting their vote.

    If this is a surprise to some of the folks who "feverishly supported" Obama, then you did not do your research. He stated he was a CHRISTIAN! Get over it.

    And for anyone to say this does not represent mainstream America, thay have lost touch with reality. California voted down same-sex marriage and the gay community has not shut up since. The people have spoken. Accept it, get over it and move on. Enough whining.

    December 17, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  9. javafreik

    I wish it had been James Dobson – but, bravo, none the less!

    I find it so offensive that the liberal left consider themselves "open-minded, and non-judgemental" until the conservatives are given a voice – then their true colors come out...hateful and vicious.

    Maybe Mr. Warren will bring the true message – and revelation – of Christ to many at the inauguration –

    I'll be praying for him, that's for sure :-)

    December 17, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  10. Steve

    I watched the "interview" with Warren and McCain and Obama. Obama was totally used by Mr. Warren. Obama was set up, and used for Warren's purposes. Now we see this. What is the opint. Does Obama really think that the evangelicals in this country are going to do anything but hate him? Hatred breed hatred. How sad. I really thought that Obama was smarter than that. Apparently he is not.

    December 17, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  11. Jaime

    I can feel safe saying that I do not agree with a single social opinion that Rick Warren has. I'm also an Obama supporter. I totally understand why the LGBT community – and many of my closest friends – feel so violated by this choice.

    But, I am also hoping that Obama selection of Warren for the invocation is a step forward in two greatly-opposed sides learning to work together instead of engaging in a constant tug-of-war. Tug-of-war gets us nowhere.

    December 17, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  12. Darren

    This Warren guy is the perfect face for the problem in this country. Today's evangelical doesn't know enough about Jesus to fill the crack of an ant's behind.

    The rightwing has turned The Bible into a bludgeoning insturment. I cannot imagine how many will not come to know Christ as a result of his awful portrayal by the evangelicals.

    No doubt the devil has built himself a new wing down there.

    December 17, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  13. adam

    Does this mean that Billy Graham is out? If so, this has got be the first inaug. in many many years.

    December 17, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  14. JG

    Great choice in picking Rick Warren!

    December 17, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  15. Sean

    I just really laugh when I read all these comments. No wonder the country is in so much trouble. Its full of idiots.

    Just last week, many people were saying, "Let the auto industry go bankupt!!!" Now that it is about to, millions and I do mean millions of people will be losing there jobs in the next couple of weeks. Just in time for Christmas....

    And the things you are concerned about is "who is speaking" at the inauguration. Where iare people's priorities!!!!

    One more time "MILLIONS OF PEOPLE ARE ABOUT TO LOSE THEIR JOBS"

    I support the president. I stand behind him. Clean up this mess. I want to keep my job. That should be your main focus. Not on some minister. Where religion is concern, no one will ever agree until there is only one person left on earth.

    Lets focus on the problem PLEASE, PLEASE PLEASE.

    Your complaining about "HELL, EVERYTHING" is doing absolutely nothing but causing you grief and adding to the overall disfunction AND instability of this county.

    BTW...how can any of you fix our problems..... If you are all so good at running the country PLEASE BECOME THE PRESIDENT......

    December 17, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  16. Monkey love

    God is real..and we all be judged...that is a fact. ..good luck!

    December 17, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  17. Pat in IL

    No matter who he would choose, somebody would be upset. Remember, it's his inauguration, and he can choose anyone he pleases. Give it a rest!

    December 17, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  18. Cynthia

    Well I will put my two cents in now that I have read many comments.
    Mainstream people go to church you know Sunday. Mainstream citizens believe in GOD yes I dared said the word GOD. Actually mainstream people believe in JESUS as fully God and fully man at the same time. Please settle down and let President elect Obama have who he wants. Obama will not please all of us and neither will GOD.
    But if you have a problem with GOD JESUS go to God and leave Obama alone. Some of you are acting like little children who did not get your own way and your fighting over a man's faith. GROW UP If you do not have any faith at least respect the vast majority of American citizen that do. God loves you too.

    December 17, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  19. Nate

    Oh c'mon people. The guy is giving a prayer. He is not helping Obama run the oval office. Relax. Don't worry you will still have your communism soon enough.

    December 17, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  20. JG

    Although the GLBT supported Obama during the election, it is a very small percentage of the population. Why does that community think that they can tell the majority of Americans what to do and have policy written around them? They are people just like everyone else and should not get special treatment for living an immoral lifestyle.

    December 17, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  21. Angie-OH

    President elect Obama can pick anyone he wants to speak. Everybody is not going to agree, regardless who he picks. If it was Farrakhan people would be outraged, if it was Rev. Wright people would be outraged. So get over it people. He picked the person he wanted. Period!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 17, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  22. P Kinzie

    I was so excited about change. Now I just feel I was duped.

    December 17, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  23. NC Obama supporter

    i'm gay and this does not bother me. he is giving the invocation at his inauguration....people need to get over it, we know where obama stands on the GLBT issues. take your head out of your arse and we need to continue to support the next president of the US....this is a non-issue!!!!

    December 17, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  24. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    It's called 'inclusion'. You can't applaud Obama when he includes people you agree with and then chastise him when he includes people with whom you don't agree. That's called 'hypocrisy' and 'childishness'.

    December 17, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  25. Kevan - ATL

    Hey everyone, let's calm down about this . . . He's going to be giving an invocation; not being "Secretary of Religion" or anything. I can almost guarantee you that he's also not going to pray for all gays to go to hell during said invocation . . . I've been pretty happy so far with Obama's choices for his cabinet. He seems to be choosing people whom he thinks will do the best job.

    December 17, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
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