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. Independent Fred

    WOW...just WOW..

    I get it so everyone has to be tolerant and repect you're lifestyles but you're not obligated to return in kind?!?

    So Obama embraces a Christian and now you fly of the handle? Did you people not listen to anything this man said durring the primaries and general campaign? He is a christian but is all for Gay rights. However he believes Marrage should remain a union between a man and woman.

    The vast majority of this country agrees as do I. You left wing crazies scare me about as much as the Right wingers. Good lord were is common sense these days?!?

    December 17, 2008 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  2. Henry, WV

    Another attemp for Rick Warren to become relevent, he's not.

    December 17, 2008 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  3. Mike Dallas

    So, once again, we have been rejected, and I had such hope for Obama.

    After all these years, I knew I should have kept that cyncial shell intact, but noooo, well it just snapped shut, and as far as politicians are concerned, forever!

    December 17, 2008 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  4. mrsmart

    So gays "helped elect Obama," Big freaking deal!
    So did millions of other people. Imagine if every group that 'helped elect Obama" expected their own little special treatment.

    Last time I checked, Obama is not president of gay people, just as he is not president of black people or jewish or disabled or blue states or purple states. When he makes decision, he does not sit down and ponder what the gay community will think.

    Obama is president-elect of the United States of America. Please, people!

    December 17, 2008 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  5. Ohio

    I get that Obama is trying to be inclusive, but when will he start including progressives? Obama himself is centrist and his cabinet is tilting decidedly Center-Right. This is Change I can believe in?

    December 17, 2008 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  6. Tracey, LA

    I'm not a left wing wacko, but I think Warren is a poor choice. He wants to be the pastor of the presidents. First you have to like minorities, and he doesn't.

    December 17, 2008 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  7. Steph

    Thank you NC Obama Supporter!

    People, get over it! Focus on the cabinet. Warren will say a prayer and go back home,

    December 17, 2008 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  8. Connie, MD

    Neither Rick Warren or Rev. Wright are good choices. They are both polar opposites. We need someone in the middle, and Rick Warren is not that person. This was huge mistake.

    December 17, 2008 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  9. Ernie in LA

    To hometowndemocrat..You are the one that needs to speak to your minister and read your Bible.

    December 17, 2008 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  10. Nancy, LA

    Well, the honeymoon is over.

    December 17, 2008 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  11. Allie

    This is why so many gays an lesbians preferred Hillary. What a slap in the face from Obama. Rick Warren compares homosexuality to incest and pedophilia. If Obama wants to pray with someone like that I really question his commitment to equality.

    December 17, 2008 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  12. Sally

    Shame on Obama.

    December 17, 2008 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  13. Mark

    This statement,

    should instead have been given to someone who is "consistent mainstream American values.

    is just dumb.

    December 17, 2008 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  14. Ryan

    I can't believe a poster actually defends Obama having named "a few" women to the cabinet. A few? Can you imagine if Hillary had won and named "a few" men to her cabinet? And whose this lesbian cabinet person you're talking about? Are your referring to Janet Napolitano? She has never come out as a lesbian so you must be referring to someone else. And so what if he has a lesbian in his cabinet? If Bush had asked a racist to speak at his inaugural would it have mattered that Condi Rice was in his cabinet?

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

    Myrna,
    What's your address? I'd really like to contribute to your efforts of taking a bunch of your liberal activists and leave the country. I am fairly sure that you don't have enough friends to make a difference one way or the other however, so nevermind.

    December 17, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  16. linchristi

    I actually go to this church and the one thing Rick Warren preached is respect for all. From what I see some people need to really hear and know what this man is about before tearing him down. When you have facts and actual teaching from this person then maybe you should state an informative opinion. Not something that is ignorant or intolerant. If anything, Rick warren is a tolerant and respectful man, I may not always agree with him but I respect him.

    December 17, 2008 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  17. Time to grow up

    This is why the rest of the world is so amused by us. We get our undies all in a bunch over ever silly detail.

    Look at the big picture. Obama is picking a stellar cabinet. Don't like every pick? Fine. But overall, it's stellar.

    Think Obama's moving to the center? Then you never knew him. He's always been a centrist. Read "Audacity of Hope". No, I don't think writing a book qualifies someone to be president. But it gives a fascinating glimpse into the mind of our next president. And he's a centrist and a pragmatist. The guy can get things done.

    This is where the press makes idiots out of us – by making every story such a big deal. Don't jump on every detail that comes out. Just let it ride for awhile before you jump to conclusions. Cool, calm, and collected. Like Obama.

    December 17, 2008 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  18. C W

    I'm not a fan of Warren's ... but Obama is trying to be inclusive and who knows? Maybe inviting the intolerant to the table will give them a chance to learn that progressives aren't that bad after all.

    BTW, here's my interpretation of the Bible: God (or whatever you call your Higher Power) created everyone, of all colors, creeds, ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientation – we are all God's children! God's big enough to love and accept us all – maybe we should all try to be a little more God-like in our treatment and acceptance of each other.

    December 17, 2008 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  19. Larry

    Who is Obama???While running for the election,who ever you wanted him to be.Now that he has been elected the president,whoever he wants to be.

    December 17, 2008 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  20. Trevor, SD

    I hate the fact that Barack feels he has to be aminable to people who don't like him, such as Rick Warren. He's the biggest phony America, don't believe him for one minute. Barack is the real deal, Rick Warren is not.

    December 17, 2008 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  21. Juan Grain

    Ru-pal was not available, so get over it, bow your heads and pray to God like the rest of America. Besides, he will be in a cone of silence!

    December 17, 2008 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  22. Mark, B'ham., Al.

    Obama is a lawyer and a politician both. (TWO STRIKES) If his mouth is moving he is lying too. As long as the term marriage is used to mean a man and a woman as it has been since written history and written religion, the government should not desecrate my religion by making me accept a sin as being a marriage. Give them all the civil rights my wife of 25 years and I have but do not steal a word from the religions of the world and dictate to the vast majority that you are right and religion is wrong!

    December 17, 2008 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  23. JT from Missouri

    I really do not know why there is so much fussing and whining on the far left and some on the far right. Obama's choice of Rick Warren is just his choice for the prayer to give to Obama. It is not like he is replacing Joe Biden as VP. Obama is proving himself to be a centrist. This shows that his promise during his campaign to be bi-partisan is coming into actions. He is talking the talk already. So again those of you on the left and right who are mumbling and groaning about this, really need to find something better to do. God bless Obama and the US.
    PS: I am 18 and I have centrist views myself. America should not be divided over this little issue. Remember the quote that you guys hear so many times: "So help me God."

    December 17, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  24. Butch Dillon

    This is not a signal of inclusion by Obama. Having Warren give the invocation at the inaugural is a clear sign that lesbians and gays will remain a low priority across the body politic. Having any religion represented on this occasion is dead wrong.

    December 17, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  25. JT from Missouri

    I really do not know why there is so much fussing and whining on the far left and some on the far right. Obama's choice of Rick Warren is just his choice for the prayer to give to Obama. It is not like he is replacing Joe Biden as VP. Obama is proving himself to be a centrist. This shows that his promise during his campaign to be bi-partisan is coming into actions. He is talking the talk already. So again those of you on the left and right who are mumbling and groaning about this, really need to find something better to do. God bless Obama and the US. Peace.
    PS: I am 18 and I have centrist views myself. America should not be divided over this little issue. Remember the quote that you guys hear so many times: "So help me God."

    December 17, 2008 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
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