December 17th, 2008
02:09 PM ET
10 months ago

Rick Warren to give inaugural invocation

Rick Warren hosted a presidential forum in August.
Rick Warren hosted a presidential forum in August.

(CNN) - President-elect Barack Obama's swearing-in ceremony will feature big names like minister Rick Warren and legendary singer Aretha Franklin, the Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies announced Wednesday.

Warren, the prominent evangelical and founder of the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, will deliver the ceremony's invocation. The minister hosted a presidential forum at his church last summer that challenged both Obama and Arizona Sen. John McCain on a host of faith-related issues. Warren did not endorse either presidential candidate.

His public support for California's Proposition 8 - the measure that successfully passed and called for outlawing gay marriage in the state - sparked the ire of many gay rights proponents, who seized on a comment in an October newsletter to his congregation: "This is not a political issue - it is a moral issue that God has spoken clearly about."

But Warren has long sought to broaden the focus of the evangelical agenda to include issues like the reduction of global poverty, human rights abuses, and the AIDS epidemic.

Also included in the inaugural program are cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the United States Marine Band, and other performers.

soundoff (203 Responses)
  1. Indiana

    Growup people Obama are not using the Bible. He is using Islam's "holy book,"the Quran....

    ONE LOVE! now what are you going to do...talk about The Quran?

    December 17, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  2. eastern shore man

    When will everyone wake up and understand that Obama said what he needed to say to get elected and most of you people believed him. Now that he will be President he will do and say what ever he wants. I wasn't fooled.

    December 17, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  3. Alex

    Great choice Barack!

    December 17, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  4. Marc

    Mike, Syracuse NY:
    Just to be sure, which "right' that never existed' are you talking about?

    December 17, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  5. Matt

    @ John, Brooklyn

    Grow up. It's just the invocation, not adoption of the guy's beliefs. The only way we're going to make progress is to work with everyone. Turning the tables and discriminating against those who you view as discriminating against you is childish nonsense and stops us from moving forward.

    December 17, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  6. John in Ohio

    This is another instance of Obama reaching out to the right in a way that will tick off the left. Those on the left like myself who dislike Rick Warren and everything he stands for have to realize that Obama is everybody's president, and those on the right who criticize Obama for absolutely everything have to realize that he is making a conscious effort to unify the government and the country.

    December 17, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  7. Andy

    Great Choice..

    I like Rick Warren. I enjoyed reading his book; "the purpose driven life"

    Andy

    December 17, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  8. WE NEED THE TRUTH

    Some people just need to get over themselves. You'd really be screaming if he had chosen Rev. Wright.

    December 17, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  9. madmatt

    Rick Warren is a hateful, hypocritical scumbag....much like many of the people obama has signed up for his cabinet...the more things change, the more they stay the same. Just disappointing me more with every decision...I should of skipped voting!

    December 17, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  10. Wilson, Seattle

    "Where exactly does the Bible say homosexuality is wrong?"
    -Greenfish

    Romans 1:26-27.

    You don't actually need to read the bible. Google works too, you know.

    December 17, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  11. John in Ohio

    Barbara: You may have preferred Wright to Warren, but what kind of message would it have said to the rest of the country?

    Rick Warren is a widely respected evangelical leader. I don't like those people, you don't like those people, but they don't like us either and we're all in the same country and the same boat. Opposition only gets you so far, cooperation gets you farther.

    December 17, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  12. David

    I can't believe this I still think he gave McCain the question and answer during his so call faith debate. Obama it alright to love your enemy but this is going to far.

    December 17, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  13. Seth

    Anton, the question is not who is going to have their rights taken away, but what society will try to shove down the throats of everyone as morally acceptable. My prediction will be pedophiles and bestiality types, soon they will be crying out for equality because "they were born that way".

    December 17, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  14. Diana Ewing NJ

    Obama is more trusting than I... I remember the show where we were lead to beleive that McCain had been kept back stage... butr again Obama is also smarter than most of us.

    December 17, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  15. obama-mama

    Not sure why he would choose him if he didn't endorse Obama nor McCain. Maybe there's a method behind his madness.

    December 17, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  16. Leadership 101

    To all the people who are dissapointed by PE Obama's selection of Rick Warren to give the invocation; it's called "Leading by example". He may not agree with some of Rick Warrens philosphy's, but he still reached out and included him on the basis of something they do agree on, prayer. Sometimes the best people for jobs are overlooked because of their views or beliefs on unrelated issues and you end up with someone who believes what you believe but can't do the job you needed them to do (prime example G.W. Bush vs John McCain in the 2000 primaries). So instead of bashing his choice, how about taking a page out of his playbook. Everyone doesn't agree with everyone on everything the key is to find the common ground. Just a thought...

    December 17, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  17. melanie

    I've been to Rick Warren's church – Saddleback, and people don't seem to know how much social/outreach work they do in recovery (from addiction and abuse) and against the HIV epidemic. Rick Warren is NOT a one-dimensional right-wing fundamentalist in the mold of Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson. But – he is a conservative Christian, and that's why you're not going to see a champion of gay rights or a pro-choice viewpoint.

    Obama is a centrist. He talks a liberal ideology but has a cautious, conservative temperament. Net result = centrist.

    December 17, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  18. dave

    look! obama is about the coming together...we need that more than ever! DIVIDED WE FALL!

    December 17, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  19. James Hare

    Mike from Syracuse: In fact the right to marry was determined to be guaranteed under the California Constitution. Considering we live in a country of laws rather than religious decrees, you're full of it.

    December 17, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  20. Eric

    "This is not a political issue — it is a moral issue that God has spoken clearly about."

    An other delusional evangelical who hears voices when he does not take his medication. I haven't heard God talking against gay marriage. Even if the thought of having one of those lunatics close to the White House is frightening, you have to salute Obama for including everyone, even the mentally ill.

    December 17, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  21. Peter (CA)

    Maybe I'm reading too much into this but it does not say that Obama made this choice. Are there others involved in this choice?

    If it was Obama, it shows a great pragmatism. If he can tell Warren about his policies, he may even be able to count on Warren as an ally with the evangelicals. Given the state of this country, the more allies, the better.
    I personally am not crazy about the choice but I got to give Obama props on his focus.

    Abortion-He said it was above his pay greade. Who is "above" the pay grade of President? God.
    And we cannot know what is in the "mind" of God. To think that humans could know that is laughable.

    December 17, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  22. Steph

    Rick Warren looks very unhealthy. He needs to lose some weight.

    December 17, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  23. Jennifer

    I’m sure Warren was chosen because of his popularity among American Christians. The invocation is traditionally given by such a person. While I disagree with Warren’s theology and politics, and I agree with Obama’s, there is no question that Obama is a political opportunist, and he realizes that to choose a minister who supports homosexual rights would not go over well (sadly) with the majority of American Christians.

    December 17, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  24. Jennifer

    I’m sure Warren was chosen because of his popularity among American Christians. The invocation is traditionally given by such a person. While I disagree with Warren’s theology and politics, and I agree with Obama’s, there is no question that Obama is a political opportunist, and he realizes that to choose a minister who supports homosexual rights would not go over well (sadly) with the majority of American Christians. There is no constitutional mandate to have any prayer at all at the inauguration, so the minister chosen to give it shouldn't be an issue.

    December 17, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  25. dave from Dayton, OH

    No doubt the far left is gasping over Barack selecting Rick Warren to deliver the invocation. I wholeheartedly voted for Barack Obama and I think it's a great choice...in fact, its an inspired choice.

    What better way for Barack Obama to appeal to the far right than to include the voice of Rick Warren on the podium during his inauguration. Barack Obama is showing himself to be the masterful politician...and, I believe, a person who puts aside differences in ideas and welcomes all points of view. He could have easily asked Franklin Graham or a host of other traditional well known clergy, but instead, he asked the very person (Warren) who he knows probably disagreed with some of his answers...and its noble of Rick Warren to accept.

    From my point of view...great choice. What a way to set the a new tone of understanding and cooperation in Washington...now that's change I can believe in!

    December 17, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
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