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.

Full story

soundoff (524 Responses)
  1. Cynthia - Arkansas

    Rick Warren is a decent man. I am a liberal Democrat, but his work on Global provery, AIDS and other issue dear to my heart overrides any issues we might disagree on.

    Obama is not going to cater to any one group. He never said he would. Unlike Bush, who was bought and paid for by the Republican Party. Obama will be the President for ALL Americans. I can't wait!

    December 17, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  2. The Truth Is!!!

    PAY BACK .......Rick Warren set President Elect Obama UP......when he invited Senator Mccain and Senator to his church and lied about Senator Mccain was in a Room with no way of veiwing or hearing the Questions asked of Senator Obama.........Maybe he will change some of his Views.. it is called turn the other cheek

    December 17, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  3. miguel


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

    I see now. The victims of the Holocaust, while innocent and defenseless, were not quite as innocent and defenseless as the victims of abortion. Thanks for clarifying.

    December 17, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  4. Mark

    Jeez, you'd think the liberals at some point would just grow up and stop being outraged by everything. You're REALLY making conservatives look like the cool kids on the block.

    December 17, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  5. DC Observer

    Obama is living in Disney World. Watch for the sparks to fly between Pelosi and Obama during the first 100 days. Watch for Obama to retreat from his promise to get out of Iraq completely in 16 months. Taxes on the wealthy and corporations ain't gonna happen, ad neither is the great tax cut for middle America. And watch for Obama to accelerate the War in Afghanistan which will be the worst decision of his presidency. Ahghanistan will become Obams's Vietnam. In terms of saving the auto industry – this, too, will not happen correctly as the UAW will call in its markers, and without a UAW concession of gigantic proportions, GM and Chrysler are doomed to fail

    December 17, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  6. Terry

    This from the pastor who believes/teaches that every human being who has lived on this planet has had a "mission." Even Hitler, who's mission, we must take from Warren's tenets, mission must have been eradicating Jews to the glory of god.

    Religion is a crock, and Warren's is just one of the strangest.

    December 17, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  7. Sally

    Liberals are upset? Why? Just because he's being practical and moving to the center is no reason to get upset. This country has more divergent interests than any civilization in history and President-Elect Obama is just being smart. He's not going to the real power bulge of this country is at the center and he knows it.

    December 17, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  8. John, Brooklyn, New York

    Specific to Caw and Barrett –

    If this is indeed what inclusive means in America, then why aren't members of the KKK, the neo-Nazi's, or the John Birch Society included in the inaugural? The answer is that its NOT OK to hate blacks, Jews, Catholics, etc. BUT it is still OK to take any pot shot you want at gay people.

    What most people don't realize is that, setting aside the hot button issues of marriage or adoption, under federal law, gays can be fired without cause from their jobs, evicted from their apartments, denied loans for mortgages or cars, or barred from visting loved ones in the hospital – simply for being gay. These are all rights protected by either federal or state laws for nearly everyone else, regardless of race, religion, or gender – but not for sexual orientation. We are not looking for "special rights" as many of the posts seem to believe – we simply want EQUAL rights.

    I understand that my conservative brothers and sisters of faith may disagree with me regarding issues of morality. I even understand that they may even feel led to vote against gay marraige in their respective states. However, Obama SELECTED a man (Warren) who ACTIVELY CAMPAIGNED to REMOVE the right to marry from the state of California. This is not simply a man of differing opinion – this is a man who actively seeks to dismantle the rights of the very people who got Obama elected.

    Obama has some serious repairing to do....and we gay and lesbian Americans are more than happy to sit on our hands until he does.

    December 17, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  9. Tim

    Change only fools believe in.

    December 17, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  10. Confused - Dallas

    Hmmm... sure is a lot of anger in here.

    Maybe I should just keep my peaceful comments to myself until the air clears....Got my cigs and sandwich, I will just enjoy the battle....

    Oh wait! What is the big deal again?

    December 17, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  11. Tim

    Why not reverend Wright, Obama's spiritual mentor?

    December 17, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  12. Walt, Belton,TX

    It is nice to see that Obama is willing to include participation by folks who don't pay homage to queers and fruitcakes.

    December 17, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  13. sunshine

    this is one prayer for every american that chooes to listen to it, i believe he is a good choice, Billy Graham isn't able to do it this year, may God Bless him, he always had such good words for all americans.

    December 17, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  14. T, Omaha

    "A Crying SHAME. Is there something we can do to STOP IT??!!"


    Really...? I mean... really? All this.. over a guy who will say two sentences in front of a crowd.

    What else is that you say? Barack just picked a moderate republican for his transportation secretary?? After stating throughout his campaign his pledge to engage a BIPARTISAN movement for change?


    December 17, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  15. Jan Illinois

    It would be hard to find a religious leader who satisfied everyone, don't you think? So you go with the guy who you like and when you get inaugurated you all can do just that.

    December 17, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  16. John

    Should have went the Wright way.

    December 17, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  17. Tim

    Those who live by the sword will die by the sword, so to speak.

    December 17, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  18. avvv1956

    I think he made a good choice. You can't please everyone if he tried he wouldn't be able to make a choice.

    December 17, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  19. Darth Vadik, CA



    For God's sake, they let Michael Jackson marry, how sacred is that?

    As far as "mainstream values", don't even start me with that crap, if bombing another country is a mainstream value, than I don't want to be in the "mainstream value system."

    As far as Rosie, she's a jerk, but so are many other people, that doesn't make her opinions on war radical. Wake up and enough with that garbage.

    December 17, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  20. Breaking News

    Im not for gay marriage,abortions etc. but this man and his megachurch should be taxed.They cross the line when they stick their beak into politics.I just lost it for Obama.

    December 17, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  21. ryan

    . Obama has it right. By including warren– a man I do not agree with–barack obama is reaching out to those americans who do not share all of his beliefs. That is a wise and magnanimous thing to do.Barack Obama is a much better man than those who profess to be celebrating diversity.

    The left as usual is clueless.So arrogant, so CERTAIN that what they believe is the acme of human thought, that they cannot tolerate any train of thought that runs counter to what they believe.

    There is not a bigger myth today than the tolerant liberal. Celebrate diversity is just a hollow slogan. If you look at the words and deeds of liberals, they are far from being the forebearing souls they want you to believe. This hysterical reaction to Obama's choice of Warren is just the latest example in an unending line of liberal hypocrisy.

    December 17, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  22. nygranny

    "Inclusive" doesn't mean anti-gay rights, "inclusive" doesn't mean limiting women's rights to their legal choices! Is this the only preacher in the country that Obama thinks is suitable? Shame!

    December 17, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  23. herold aubourg

    It does not surprising thathe made this move. He could have chosen T.D. Jakes or any prominent Pastor and he picked Rick Warren. Obama believe that , at the square, your action speaks louder then your words. Obama did not change his position but we can disagree in love. Remember, even though it fs somewhat foreign to us, Obama is leading from the center.

    December 17, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  24. John, Brooklyn, New York

    I, for one, am up for a good ole' ACT UP-type protest in Washington on inauguration day. I doubt if I'm alone.

    December 17, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  25. Democrat in WI

    No matter WHO he chose, he would have offended someone. If he chose a Baptist, a Methodist would have been offended. If it were a Catholic, a Mormon would have been offended. The fact that he chose anyone, the athiests are offended. If he picked nobody, all the relious people would have been offended. This is a non issue. A talking point. What does he say with the national stage, THAT is the issue.

    December 17, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
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