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. Jim

    You stupid liberals always complain when you're left out AND you always complain when others aren't left out. The man can make his own decisions regarding who he wants at his inauguration. I cannot understand why these groups are always trying to subvert everyone's right and ability to make their own decisions and then wonder why nobody has any respect for them.

    Always demanding to be heard, but not willing to listen to anyone else.

    December 17, 2008 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  2. Axl

    Obama will be president of all Americans. I don't like the choice but it's hypocritical for me to say he shouldn't be there. Obama amazes me because of the way he's reached out to people who were unfair to him in the past.

    I was angry after the Saddleback interview and at the way some people who call themselves evangelical christians subjected Obama to the most unChristian of abuse over the last 2 years, just because they are also Republicans. Now a man from their leadership will have the honor of doing the invocation on January 20th. Anyone who says Obama is not magnamimous is living on another planet.

    December 17, 2008 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  3. Mary

    Obama's candidacy/presidency is about bringing the country together, and that will have to mean compromise and inclusiveness. Just because soemones belief system is different, does not mean you can not find common ground. It's time to come together or we will end up with more of a mess than we are in now, if that is even possible.

    December 17, 2008 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  4. Dave in Illinois

    Don't you people understand; those of us from Illinois do. Obama is a Chicago politician who promises what he needs to during the campaign and then does what he has to to cement his political base after he's elected.

    He'll throw every liberal group under the bus if it serves his needs. Look at all the new agents of change he's named to his cabinet. Let's see, there's ...................................................

    December 17, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  5. No incumbents 2010

    Remember the good old days when people had closets to stay in? When sexual orientation was a private matter between consenting adults? I'm heterosexual, but I do not introduce myself as such and people are ok not knowing. As a matter of fact I'm going to be a radical and continue not bringing it up in conversation. I think we ought to reinstitute the closet.

    December 17, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  6. Richard

    It is truly amazing how those on this forum crying "INTOLERANCE!! against Rick Warren's views are themselves foaming at the mouth with, guess what? INTOLERANCE and HATE SPEECH!! Are these people pretending they did hear Obama's advacacy of inclusion and tolearnce? OR they simply chose to believe the media's label of him as a FAR LEFT LIBERAL!! Get a life folks.

    December 17, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  7. Matt N

    keep your friends close, and your enemies even closer.

    think about it.

    December 17, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  8. G.R.I.T.S - Girl Raised in the South

    I don't particularly care for this choice, Rick Warren is not my kind of minister and his church is not my kind of church. However, I do have to agree with the posters that are saying P.E. Obama is trying to be as inclusive as possible. That, especially in these tough times, is very important. I also agree with a fellow commentor on an earlier post that asked why there couldn't have been a more tolerant religious figure, such as a Methodist. So I obviously hold two opposing views in my one brain. The last thought I have regarding the gay and lesbian issue is that I am tired of hearing people say they are asking for "special" rights. No, they are asking for the SAME rights as all other Americans – to adopt, parent, and be married to the person he/she loves. Allowing this does NOT hurt my heterosexual relationships in the least. My loving relationship is NOT threatened by anyone else's love.

    December 17, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  9. Give me a break!

    Carol – you are CLUELESS! Take another look at Obama's cabinet appointees. There are SEVERAL women, and one is a lesbian. Please be informed before you make an idiot out of yourself...which you do every time you post a comment on these blogs...

    December 17, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  10. Gays for Obama

    Come on people. Obama is trying to be inclusive. It's just a small part of his inauguaration. I am gay and I am not upset, Surprised, though. Sometimes small gestures like this, make a big difference in the future. Unless Warren turns to Old Scratch, himself, on stage, theres really nothing to worry about. You were happy when he appointed his first openly gay to his cabinet. Have you forgotten so soon?

    December 17, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  11. madnesscontinues

    for God's sake, let the man pick who he wants to deliver his invocation, does everything have to be agenda-ized? i know, i'm a homophobe

    December 17, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  12. curt

    Will you people get over it, just because Rick Warren does not agree with your lifestyle does not mean your not going to do it anyway,and it certainly does not mean President Obama won't be able to govern effectively just because Rick will speak at the inauguration, there are a lot of issue's in this country to worry about beside one group of people's sexual preference, you should be keeping your sex life behind close door's anyway like most self respecting people do.

    December 17, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  13. Patrick ONeill

    Obama is truly tone-deaf to gays and lesbians – this isn't the first time he's done this.

    Rev. Wright would have been a much more appropriate pastor, but you know how "divisive" that would appear and how it would offend the bigots.

    But he has no problem being "divissive" and offending gays – he doesn't really give a crap if we have to listen to this bigot.

    I've canceled my inauguration party – what a downer this is.

    December 17, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  14. Myrna Ulrich

    ENOUGH ALLREADY.. I HAVE FLOWN THE COOP BIG TIME AS WELL AS MANY OF MY PROGRESSIVE ACTIVISTS FRIENDS AS WELL.. THIS IS NOT THE CHANGE WE WERE LOOKING FOR, A LOT OF US WILL BE SAVING OUR MONEY AND MAKING PLANS TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY WHERE WE WILL BE TREATED WITH THE DIGNITY AND RESPECT WE DESERVE, A LOT OF US ARE NOW ENTERING OUR GOLDEN AGE AND TO BE TREATED LIKE CRAP AFTER ALL WE DID TO GET HIM TO WHERE HE IS TODAY.. HE SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF HIMSELF ! WE ARE NOT GOING DOWN WITH OUT A FIGHT ! FORMER OBAMA SUPPORTER IN WISCONSIN

    December 17, 2008 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  15. David Minneapolis

    Do you really think that Obama has an obligation to communities that elected him? He is President of the United States, not your personal President to fulfill all the dreams of a progressive America. America is not progressive it is center right. It is a conservative christian country. That is slowly changing, but that is reality. Obama has to govern. Therefore he needs to show that he is willing to work with all parties in this country to fashion solutions. Anyone who doesn't get that the ship is sinking right now needs more than the paxil that they are taking to deal with the collective social anxiety of a self-destructing economy. We are in such trouble, and it is actually quite visionary that Obama realizes that he will need the Rick Warrens of this country to get the job done. I think that most liberals who are moaning right now thought that Obama was cynically trying to get republican and independent votes during the election. Well guess what, he really believes in fashioning an america that includes red and blue states. Out of all the people at Barack's inauguration who do believe in gay marriage, not Barack in fact, he believes in civil unions, there will be one who is outspoken against gay marriage. Welcome to America.

    December 17, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  16. Jessica Grimes From Dallas

    I think it is HILARIOUS that the lady in the article described her views on gay marriage and abortion as "mainstream". HA! What a joke.

    Rick Warren is very much in line with mainstream Christianity.

    I didn't vote for Obama and he still makes me nauseous BUT this choice is A-OK in my book....plus, its fun to see all the far lefties get their panties in a bunch over stuff like this.

    December 17, 2008 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  17. Reality

    Obama couldve picked someone like extreme :(

    December 17, 2008 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  18. Lola

    When will the Liberal learn to stop whinning! You wanted so badly to have a Democrat in the white house, now that you do apart from whinning,what are you doing now that you have the chance to help. Rather than, Oh Obama pick Clintonite, so you say is the return of the Clinton, so what? They are democrat or not? Please stop already, this is getting old, its like that old song all over again, it remind me of the Clinton years, when Liberal help return the power to the GOP. Bite Bush for the damage he did to America and around the world not Obama, he as enough mess to deal with already, don't add more mess to his plate. He needs your prayer not your should't could't.

    Do you think he was joking when he said there is no blue America or red America or do you think he joking when he said there is no Liberal or a Conservative America. Get real people! Obama is making good on his word and I for one give him a standup for that.

    December 17, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  19. Jose Nieves

    For all you people who thought that by voting Obama you were getting a reformed politician, we've been proven wrong once again, I should've voted McCain/Palin, at lease I would've known what I was getting!

    December 17, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  20. Steve in San Francisco

    This is a bad pick. No ultra liberal here but I strongly object to this choice.

    December 17, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  21. ABG

    If this is any indication of who Obama really is, then we Americans have been duped.

    Another politician who said anything to be elected.

    And this is the change we voted for in Novemeber?

    December 17, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  22. Brian in Tennessee

    Some of the postings I am seeing here are far more hypocritical than those ideals that Christianity has been accused of. Christianity says that if you refuse to accept certain tennants of faith, you give up the promise of life everlasting. You should come to accept a way of life also, to show your faith to those around you.

    Those of you who supported Barak Obama and who gave so generously to his campaign, were also giving your faith that he had the intelligence to wisely run this country. Now in one of his very first decisions, you want to condemn him and call to question his wisdom, anyone else starting to see some good old fashioned two faced attitudes? You can't have your cake and eat it too.

    Maybe those of you who are so busy whining and complaining about the hard work and money you invested in getting him elected should remain silent long enough allow him to actually start making some decisions that will make a difference on way or another. Or to quote an outside source, "Ponder these things in your heart."

    December 17, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  23. Edna, PA

    I thought things were going to be different. Rick is the same phony he's always been. He really, really likes George Bush. How can the same man stomach Barack. I'll tell you how, because he's a phony.

    I don't care if Warren doesn't have left ideals and values. I care that he's the biggest phony. If you're a Republican and you're speaking for the right, then speak for the right and stay away from our inaugural.

    One rule, no liars on the stage.

    December 17, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  24. Godluvr

    I must admit that I am not there yet with this choice, but I concede to the fact that God is wherever two or three gather in his name. P-E Obama is forgiving, and attempting to be inclusive, I hope and pray that everybody will stop harping on non-issues and move on.

    December 17, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  25. ch

    Dissapointing – Wright, Pfleger and now Warren. Ugh -

    December 17, 2008 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
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