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. Russ

    Obama has just flushed his credibility down the toilet.

    December 17, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  2. beachgirl

    Shaaaame on you Obama for selecting such a controvertial person like Warren, that was a very poor choice Obama. Who are you trying to impress or pleased with that choice?

    Warren is as abnoptious as Wright, can't stand the man!

    December 17, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  3. Ernie in LA

    Folks, you ain't seen nothing yet.

    December 17, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  4. monica

    Duh...HELLOOO if prop 8 failed in the most liberal state in the union it should tell you people something about where the middle really is

    December 17, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  5. Reality

    I was, and am sure that if you were honest with yourselves, everyone would realize we are a lot worse off now, than we were 2 yrs ago. What happened 2 yrs ago? The Democrats took control of Congress, that was the start of the downword spiral. Stop blaming W and the Repub's for what the Democrats have caused.

    December 17, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  6. jason

    well, the conservative fear mongers were right. those who voted for obama didn't know who he was: a conservative. anyone who hoped for gay equality, marijuana decriminalization, a better education system, you know... all of those things that liberals tend to want. Too bad! You were duped by a conservative!

    Again!

    December 17, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  7. j

    This is a poor choice and not the change I was looking for.

    December 17, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  8. Hector, Dallas, TX

    Gay marriage as it is call, its more that that, its a human rights under a democratic goverment, wher its founders belivied all people are created equal, since getting into marriege, m-w, m-m, w-w if there is not involvement a third party, which happen when gays get straight marriage, its a right that as humans we demand we don't live with lies and live with respect respecting straight people, so we must have samething back , so we can have a sociaty more tolerant in personal issues.

    GET OVER this... the DAY we, as Manority Group, understand we are asking for rights as humans beings, not as different from them, which we allow tehm to exclude us from it, couse we don respect ourselves as Humans n people of this country. THAT day we all as people of this nation will see the sun even shinnier than ever before, that DAY will be close to that UNITY Obama is looking for...

    December 17, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  9. John E Lexington KY

    Obama showed a religious conservative bent and indifference to gay issues (though not hostility) during the campaign. Those who were thrilled with the possibility of a black president were oblivious. This isn't a surprise.

    December 17, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  10. Mr. Lugo

    I wonder if Obama ever mentioned something about the American people not always agreeing with his choices.........hmmmmmm, gonna have to replay that speach he gave on Nov 4th and see if I find anything on that.

    So cute!

    December 17, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  11. Josh

    VERY GOOD CHOICE OBAMA!!! I am a conservative, did not vote for Obama, and often ponder the direction this country is taking. I will admit, I was scared when he won the election, and still am deeply worried about some of his choices. His Homeland Security Director scares me to death...

    But, I will also admit, he vowed to try to reach ALL Americans.. and he is staying in the middle of the road for now.. focusing on the economy, building a good team, and looking to take America in the right direction again.

    I also want to add, that Bush, yes, big bad evil Bush, after 9/11 stayed the course, and prevented this country from being attacked again.. heck of a job.. I hope Obama and his team can continue this tradition and do what is neccessary to keep our coutry safe..

    Good luck and I can't wait to hear Rick Warren speak.

    December 17, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  12. billp

    How come he didn't pick his beloved reverend wrighty??

    December 17, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  13. Mike, Syracuse NY

    Yo, liberal whiners! Didn't you vote for the guy because he said he would bring us together? I guess the 'us' you guys thought he meant was only the ultra-left.

    December 17, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  14. David

    I really doesn't matter who does the 'invocation-incantation' before the inauguration. As far as religion is concerned, whoever is chosen, one group or another will be outraged because the person wasn't their 'gender' or their 'race' or from their 'part' of the country or their 'religion' or their 'faith' or concept of 'God'. This is exactly why Sunday is the most segregated day of the week with each group going to their corner to try and convince themselves, they are better than those 'other' people. Just maybe everyone is looking too hard at what they don't agree with, instead of what they have in common. Remember, it's supposed to be about religion...right?

    December 17, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  15. Willy Brown

    It's Obama's choice so shut up!

    December 17, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  16. voiceofreason

    Those of you who think religion is "superstitious dribble" need to realize that throughout history from today all the way back to prehistoric times, most men have believed in a god or gods. 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. And since humans are still thriving on the planet, I guess it's not exactly a bad trait. In fact, the most famous crimes against humanity are often done by people like Hitler who are against belief in any god, and it's the Christians who do most of the charitable work in this country and are peace-loving. You really need to accept that and stop being offended by it. It ain't goin' away!!

    December 17, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  17. Liberals are Communist

    He lied all during the election season and you liberals prayed at his feet, NOW LOOK HOW HE HAS SOLD YOU OUT!!! This is great !!! Have a good cry over at moveon LOL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 17, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  18. Josie

    I like the comment that states, "ask yourself, what have you done for your country lately?" Warren has done really great things for our country and the world in attacking poverty, human rights, and healthcare. These issues are moral issues regardless of your religion, and this was much of the foundation of Obama's campaign. You people act like he's the spawn of Satan, but he's done way more good than any of you people who don't like him simply because of one personal viewpoint. I don't like his views on homosexuality either but unlike you people I realize that the only person in this world I will ever agree 100% on every issue is me.

    December 17, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  19. Joe Fattal

    . That didn't surprised me. It wouldn't had surprise me if Mr. Obama have asked Rev. Wright for his invocation. He would have got away with it. He is been elected by the people. His choice of Rick Warren for his invocation proves to me that Mr. Obama does'nt care about anyone except that he is the first African-American elected as president. And that's all that this inauguration means.

    December 17, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  20. SRG

    This country was founded by the people for the people.
    Not just some of the people!
    One Nation Under GOD

    December 17, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  21. Michael

    I agree with w.

    I am a gay man. I disagree with Rick Warren with every fiber in my being. And I personally can't stand him or his positions. His views disgust me.

    And I am proud of Barack Obama. W is right that inclusion means building bridges to everyone – even those we protest against. And the inauguration is the start of unifying the country – not just the Democratic Party of which I am a proud member.

    Let's not sink to the low level of the conservative Christian Right and start bashing them. Let them be the bashers – and let's teach them the moral high road by our example. Way to go Obama.

    December 17, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  22. Laurie, Northern California

    It's all politics and that's the way the game goes. I don't like Obama's choice – but it makes for excellent diplomacy.

    December 17, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  23. Sarge in Florida

    Ok Obama you won't get my vote ever again...Your starting out just like Bush....Betraying us....And Shane from NC you can go straight to Hell along with Warren.

    December 17, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  24. miguel

    What's funny is the statement of Kathryn Kolbert that Warren is outside the mainstream (because he does not support gay marriage). Perhaps she was out of the country (or away from planet earth) during the last election when mainstream voters from California, Arizona and Florida rejected gay marriage.

    December 17, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  25. Marcus

    Who is really.....lol ... He's really an undercover conservative ...the conservatives knew this all along ...Thats why the conservatives DIDN'T vote for him ..it was all a big trick on Liberals ...lol

    I could have sworn he said he'd include everybody ... and everybody sometimes means the guy you dont like ....Get over it

    December 17, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
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