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. montag

    More change we can believe in?

    HAH!

    December 17, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  2. Doug

    Disappointing

    December 17, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  3. Ben

    His pick of Warren turns my stomach. It is a slap in the face.

    December 17, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  4. Linda

    Rick Warren is a good choice. I voted for Obama and I am glad about this.

    December 17, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  5. Fringe groups suck

    The political left and right need to get a life. Where was the outrage when Obama went to the Saddleback forum, please feign your outrage for someone else. Obama does not cower to anyone so get use to.

    December 17, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  6. Stuart

    Gay and feminists calling Warren a radical? The pot calling the kettle "black."

    December 17, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  7. Dr.Mimi De La Cruz

    PRESIDENT-elect OBAMA TOLD ALL OF US FROM DAY ONE

    THAT HE WILL BE THE PRESIDENT OF ALL THE PEOPLE.

    IT IS WHAT THIS NATION NEEDS. WE HAVE BEEN HURT

    BY THOSE LEADERS WHO PROMOTE ONLY A LIBERAL

    AGENDA, LIKE MINE & BY CONSERVATIVES WHO ONLY

    PROMOTE THE AGENDA OF THE WEALTHY. ALL HAVE HURT

    THIS NATION & ALL OF US. WE, MEANS WE. IT HAS TO BE WE,

    IF WE ARE TO REALIZE OUR POTENTIAL AS A NATION & AS A

    PEOPLE. WE MUST ACCEPT THE DIFFERENCE IN EACH OTHER

    AND CHERISH IT FOR IT IS TRULY OUR GREATEST STRENGTH.

    * LETS FOLLOW THE HEART OF A MAN THAT HAS ROOM IN HIS

    FOR ALL OF US & MAKE ROOM IN OUR HEARTS FOR EACH OTHER.

    December 17, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  8. Christopher, Madison, WI

    Obama is throwing him out there so he can make an arse of himself. May Warren burn in is own self delusional hell he has created.

    December 17, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  9. Daniel

    What a horrible decision. There is no place fo religion in politics and a decision like this only legitimizes short-sighted, evangelical whack-jobs (and their archaic philosophies). Get your imaginary God out of my freedoms and rights!

    December 17, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  10. Sarah

    You know I am a religious person, but when ppl use religion to make themselves popular and brainwash ppl in the media is just WRONG.

    He comes off as pompus and arrgogant. He is not genuine at all.

    he also contradicts how he believes religion and politics dont go hand in hand. If thats the case, he shouldnt give opinions on many of the issues we face today. He is hypocritical and religious leaders need that have so much lime light on them should not get involved like this.

    December 17, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  11. MikeH

    Rick Warren has fecal boli inside his cranium.

    December 17, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  12. Julie

    Wait.... the definition of marriage has been changed over and over and over since the beginning of mankind. What is this guy talking about?

    This was a POOR choice on Obama's part.

    December 17, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  13. Allan Campbell

    Rick Warren too conservative to appear the the inauguration of Barack Obama. As is noted he often compares abortion to the holocaust. Warren is a theocrat like the rest of the religous right. Barack Obama should choose someone to give the prayer at the inauguration who is a liberal progressive minister.

    December 17, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  14. L Alan Thompson

    By selecting Rick Warren, Obama has proven that he is more aware of "mainstream American values" than Ms. Kolbert, People for the American Way, who challenged his choice based on that criteria. Californians and the rest of America have consistently revealed their disagreement with the liberal gay agenda. It appears that the People for the American Way do not want to face what the American way is.

    December 17, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  15. Daniel

    Hey, Warren...Umm, isn't gluttony a sin? Cut down on the caloric-intake, man.

    December 17, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  16. The Bu

    When are we ever gonna learn in America that we can disagree without being disagreeable. This man has championed a lot of causes including AIDS and poverty, and because he opposes gay marriage he's a bad person? I'm not really understanding the logic. I have gay family members and friends, although we disagree on certain issues. The fact is that I still love and respect them but that doesn't mean that I will agree with everything they say or do and vice versa. With this being the great country that it is nobody is going to agree on everything, but I'm sure there is some common ground in everything.

    December 17, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  17. B

    Wow, I am surprised that so many Obama followers who agreed that we all need to come together as one country are outraged over this.

    December 17, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  18. Marge

    Ha ha ha the true obama is coming out now.....and this is just the beginning.....hope to the devil he disappoints all the good old boy butt kissers who wrote those blogs against Hillary in support of him.

    December 17, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  19. Lauren

    Do not worry Joseph from Los Angeles,,,,

    Your not really confused about who Obama really is, your just starting to see what 46% of America saw Nov 4th.

    That Kool Aid you drank all last fall, up until Nov 4th,,, is now giving you major indigestion....

    December 17, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  20. Tim, Harrisburg

    I may not agree with everything Warren says, but I like the fact that Obama is open to hearing from all Americans. Liberals, isn't that what we love about him? That he's willing to have a place at the table for everyone's opinion?

    December 17, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  21. Scott

    It frustrates me that some of my fellow dems are constantly calling for us to build bridges and more understanding but when people actually take steps to reach out to people with different viewpoints, they go utterly insane.

    December 17, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  22. Daniel

    JP – The difference between the Holocaust an abortion, is that Holocaust victims had actually been born (you know, as in viable from the womb).

    Why do you care if some welfare mother has an abortion, anyway? She's doing the taxpayers a favor.

    December 17, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  23. thirstyjon

    I appreciate the tolerance in the comment by Barrett Coleman here.

    While I did not vote for Obama, I admire his courage in picking someone different from himself that represents a portion of the population that is highly concerned about Obama. I see it as a very kind gesture.

    We'll see what really happens where it matters now – in actual policies.

    December 17, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  24. Jim

    So you people are surprised to find that Obama is just another politician with his eye on his next re-election? If so, you are in for a long and disappointing four years.

    December 17, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  25. WaWaWaaa?

    I love those quotes from the supposed American Way lady – ""consistent mainstream American values" uhhh Gay Marriage is a Mainstream American Value??? Hmmm false.

    "his ideas are radical." – Yes protecting Marriage between a man and woman... very radical...

    Lady you are on the Radical side, there is no American Value or any value in Gay marriage.

    Perhaps you would have been more comfortably with Rosie O'Donnel giving the Prayer... after all she is Mainstream and not Radical at all.

    Just another Wolf trying to call themselves a Sheep. I hope a majority of Americans aren't this stupid. LGBT Movement trying to call themselves Mainstream American Values and that anything otherwise is Radical.

    I hope Mr. Warren freely expresses and prays against those so called Mainstream American Values.

    December 17, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
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