December 17th, 2008
07:12 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama’s choice of evangelical leader sparks outrage

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. J-Syxx

    Some of you Republicans really have wishful thinking here. I wonder if you will be saying the same thing after he legalizes gays in the miliatary and appoints liberal judges to the supreme court.

    December 17, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  2. Chris

    I think this is great! I am not a fan of his, but enough of the partisanship in this country!! Liberals want the anti Bush, but all that will accomplish is dividing the country even more. Inclusive is the way to go, and it appears Obama is trying to make that happen.

    December 17, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  3. Smart1

    I'm a little confused , so what am I supposed to be outraged about? He is only going to deliver the invocation. I don't think what he say's will change my views about issues such as Gay marriage. I believe people should make their own choices and deal with our Maker when judgement day comes. We must all answer to and be judge by God and he is the ONLY one who will matter not Warren. As far as Obama choosing him to do the invocation... well I am not surprised because Obama may not agree with Warren's views but Obam believes that people should come together even if they don't share the same views or opinions about things. He said in his campaign " We may not always agree with what he does " in this case I don't think this will hurt anyone. Some people will use this to criticize Obama and others like myself will say "variety is the spice of life" and move on.

    December 17, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  4. L.V.

    I am a liberal democrat but this makes me sick. Just let the guy pick whoever he wants to do his inauguration.. jeez folks.. DO WE REALLY HAVE TO GET UPSET ABOUT EVERY LITTLE THING?

    If you are one that is upset ask yourself?? What have you done for your country in this past week besides jump on a computer and move your fingers?? This is a time for putting aside our differences and helping build an America we can all believe in.

    Even if we don't agree with the other sides ideas.. we don't have to demonize each other. I don't care if Obama wants to meet with Osama Bin Laden himself.. let the man run the country as President.. and if we want to help change it.. lets find ways to do it ourselves.. but we don't change crap from a computer keyboard and we don't change anything by finding reasons to hate people or try to push demands that our leader doesn't do "whatever" with these so called people we don't agree with.

    I'm sick of this.. dems and repubs... lets stop the petty arguments and make a more meaningful contribution.. for starters.. take out your trash!!

    December 17, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  5. Fernando

    Is sooooooo complicated to please everybody!!!!!

    December 17, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  6. nik

    Please, the whiners won't shut up. I voted Obama but frankly I'm more worried about the disillusioned left realizing he's not going to be President Kucinich and not able to deal with reality.

    December 17, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  7. Mr. Lugo

    Hey Lauren,

    You should be happy since your "46%" mostly consists of homophobes. It's cute that because he picked Warren you are now holier than thou when your 46% voted for a candidate who does not believe gays should be married. So cute!

    December 17, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  8. Ronn

    It's just an invocation. Does even the person who gives the opening prayer have to represent a liberal, anti abortion, pro gay, political viewpoint? Gays not feeling "welcome at the table" because someone who actually shares Obama's view of opposing gay marriage is doing the opening prayer? Who, please, is the closed minded, intolerant bigot here? It's time everyone get accustomed to sitting at the table next to someone who may not share your politics. Next thing we'll be hearing is the crying when we find out that Obama's limo driver is in favor of drilling in Alaska. Oh my, won't that cause a stir.

    December 17, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  9. Mark

    Obama is being true to his word by including all corners of this country. I disagree with his choice, but he did say he would govern for ALL America, not just white, black, dem, repub, left or right.

    This is what the country voted for, in case you forgot. So the public is 70% agreeable with his cabinet choices so far according to the polls. Seems to me it's better to have some controversy over an invocation than every day for next 4 (8?) years in cabinet meetings.

    December 17, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  10. Jason

    So he's simply saying a bit of a speech during the inauguration and a misleading headline with tons of illogical comments does not change that fact; he's not even appointed a position in the new administration.

    Warren is a great man who despite some of his ideas that some of you do not agree with is an excellent public speaker who really got emotion into me and my family when we heard him speak at the convention.

    President-Elect Mr. Obama is also FULFILLING his promise to look at all sides, and ensuring that the republicans are not stepped on either. He is being a unifying leader. That's change.

    December 17, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  11. Aida Smite

    I meant to say 65.5 million that voted for him

    December 17, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  12. tara smith

    mk said it very well.... Obama promised to be a leader to the UNITED States of America. We have to learn to work together. I disagree with Rick Warren on many issues but that is all the more reason to hear him out and have dialogue.
    Inclusion breeds unity - Exclusion breeds resentment.
    Give it a chance!

    December 17, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  13. CAW in MD

    @Barrett, @mk,

    Amen, and well said.

    This is what inclusiveness looks like people - I realize many may not recognize it, but this is exactly what Obama campaigned on. You don't have to like all of what is said - but you should recognize that a person has the right to say things that you don't like, and it doesn't make that person evil or stupid. Just different.

    December 17, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  14. allison

    I think this is really strange and I hope he has a good reason for picking a divisive character such as this for such a historic occasion.

    December 17, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  15. Karl, Valparaiso, IN

    People, people, people–

    When Barack Obama said "a new kind of politics" and "working across the aisle", he meant it on a more grandiose scale than simply politics. One of the reasons I admire the President-Elect is because he's doing things like this: offering a platform for ALL ideas, ALL viewpoints, and a place for ALL suggestions at the table with an equal opportunity. That's what America is about, not trying to silence the viewpoints that don't hold strength in power.

    The fact he has chosen Pastor Rick Warren has nothing to do with the beliefs Obama has. Ideas such as "if anyone is under any illusion that Obama is interested in advancing gay equality, they should probably sober up now" do not hold any water. This implies that Obama chose Pastor Warren because he represents EVERYTHING Obama believes. This is the problem with the old politics, and the way people percieve Obama's moves such as this as a direct reflection on Obama's beliefs is not only unpractical, it's unfair. Anyone who says something like that, or is "upset" or "offended" at a decision such as this doesn't really get what the greater mission of Barack Obama is. It's about loving your neighbor, offering different viewpoints to the discussion and doing away with divisiveness. I do not take any offense at his choice, and I also do not agree with Warren's stances on gay rights or abortion.

    December 17, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |

    Excellent choice.

    December 17, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  17. Matt

    People who thought Obama was only going to appoint and cater to ultra liberals weren't paying attention in the first place and are naive. I am an ultra liberal, supported (and still support) Obama, and believe in gay rights. But he can and should work with people of diverse ideologies (as he said he would do all along). That's a unifying approach – we can and should work with those with whom we disagree. It's the only way to progress as a nation. If you're off the Obama train because of this, you're myopic and naive.

    December 17, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  18. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    Why, in the first place, do we have anyone at all, at a presidential inauguration, blathering on with a lot of superstitious religious drivel?

    December 17, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  19. joeb

    So what? He could have chosen Rev Wright!

    December 17, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  20. JKM

    First of all I don't think there should be an invocation at the inauguration. Second, I never thought I would find fault with Obama, but I don't agree with this choice at all. I'm really sick of the white house shoving religion down my throat.

    December 17, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  21. Brittany

    I think it's okay for the man to deliver an invocation to the Inauguration. You all do know what that is correct? An invocation? If you don't, I sugest you look it up. Warren isn't his spiritual advisor. The Obama's aren't going to his church. If you got over Wright you'll get over this too.

    December 17, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  22. Joseph

    I guess that "change" doesn't apply to everyone.

    December 17, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  23. Another viewpoint

    It's interesting that both liberals and conservatives are "outraged" by the choice of Warren.

    Millions of people elected Obama because he gave us hope - we trusted his vision and his plan. I, for one, didn't expect to agree with everything he did. But I do trust his intelligence, integrity, and his committment to making a difference in my life and the life of every person in this country and that's what's important to me.

    December 17, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  24. Edgar

    I don't understand all of you fools who are complaining about Obama's Choice of Warren just because you disagree with him. Haven't you ever heard of "Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer" The fact of the matter is that the problems Bush left us in are so great that there's no way Obama will be able to fix any of this on his own. WAKE UP AMERICA; this isn't about liberal or moderate, it's about the fact the people are losing their jobs every day and we need someone that can get ALL OF US to the table to fix the issues. Get over yourself and Let Obama take office before you scrutinize his every move.

    December 17, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  25. Once You Vote Black

    This is a good choice. It has GOP members defending Obama. I don't want to run the GOP into the ground, I just want to bring the nation back to where it was before W go his oil soaked hands on it. I am with Obama, think of this as an olive branch to the right. And on the left, I think this is Obama's way of saying everyone, even those who are gainst gay marrage and abortion, has a place at the table. You want him to talk to our enemys but not to this guy? Lets work together and stop being so reactionary. What will you do if he does something pro gay? Then you are back to being his friend?

    December 17, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
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