December 17th, 2008
02:09 PM ET
9 years ago

Rick Warren to give inaugural invocation

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Ryan, Denver

    I think Rick Warren is a bit of a dink. Nonetheless, this is the face of inclusionary politics those of us on the left have been screaming for for the last eight years.

    December 17, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  2. sunshine

    this is americas time to shine, bless all of our leaders.

    December 17, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  3. Rita

    I agree wholeheartedly with Jackie, stop getting your panties in a bunch over a man who's going to say a prayer. Whoever Obama picked there would be an issue with some other walk of life or religious group. I can't stand it when people make a mountain out of a molehill. Black people haven't made such a stink over all the white pastors who have done invocation in the past that might have said a racial slur. Get over it. This is a non-issue. Choose your battles wisely.

    December 17, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  4. Julie

    All I have to say is... Wow.... I am sure a lot of you Obama-bots would be mad if he asked the guy who said New Orleans was God's punishment to give the address.

    Sick.... it's ok to be prejudiced about GLBT people, but not other people.... whatever!

    December 17, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  5. Aldo

    Actually, Mike, the right to marry was given to same-sex couples in California back in May, and marriage licenses were granted to them in June. Prop 8 repealed this. So yes, it was a right taken away. Who are you to say which citizens can and cannot be granted "rights"?

    December 17, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  6. D

    So let me get this straight...

    Rick Warren is bad and Rev. Billy Graham is okay? Bill Clinton had Rev. Billy Graham give the invocation at his first inaugural.

    People, relax and get a grip.

    December 17, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  7. Shane


    December 17, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |

    Cynthia: Get a life and STOP poking your head into things that DO NOT affect you.

    Steph: Inclusion can kiss my lab rat's behind!! What happened to "inclusion" when the majority of californians voted for "Prop 8". Why could they not be inclusive and vote against it and keep in place a right for GL ppl to marry – a right that, by the way, has no bearing whatsoever on anyone else – something that affects no one else – it did not take away the rights of straight ppl to be married. IT WAS JUST AN INCLUSIVE LAW!! And now you want inclusion!! Go fi............

    December 17, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  9. What is this????

    An inauguration or a variety show???

    December 17, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  10. sam

    Can't comment on this-it's above my paygrade

    December 17, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  11. gregor

    Barack Obama is the result of diklessedness that has been poring into the veins of the Democrats.

    The President Elect, The Ultimate Democratic Wuss.

    December 17, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  12. JacklynD

    I don't think he is worthy of giving the invocation. I think there are far more spiritual and enlightened choices. First pick I've been truly disappointed in – but it is not an appointment so we don't have to live with the guy.

    December 17, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  13. Matt

    @ Mike, Syracuse, NY

    But you sure can recognize a right that's always existed but been ignored and unprotected.

    December 17, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  14. Independent Voter

    oh my God...why is aretha franklin participating in the inauguration at all? she is a washed up has been and sounds terrible now! she had her time back in the day and its over now....please, please don't let her sing! by the way, i thought stevie wonder was a favorite of the Obamas???

    p.s. for all of you who will not agree with my opinion of aretha franklin, I don't want beyonce on the stage half naked, screaming and rolling around on stage either!!

    God Bless President Obama, VP Biden and the First Families

    December 17, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  15. Jim

    HUGE MISTAKE by Obama!! How he could even think of having a man who would make such an ignorant statement ("This is not a political issue — it is a moral issue that God has spoken clearly about.") is beyond belief! “God” also spoke clearly about who should be killed for touching the skin of a pig, or wearing cloth made from two different materials, or working on the Sabbath – yet Warren ignores those. Only the rules about homosexuals need to be followed to the letter.

    I agree with John from NY “So….once again, we gay Americans are being the first to be thrown overboard after we get a new president elected.” I have strongly believed in Obama up until now – this is a very dark turn of events.

    December 17, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  16. Stephanie

    CanIcallyouJoe, I think that your mention of Obama & slavery may have been a bit uninformed so I don't think you should be so hard on the Catholic church. Even Obama's ancestry is tainted with injustices against blacks.

    In my opinion, this decision is similar to Obama's decision to make H. Clinton Secretary of State. Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer. I'm a bit surprised that Warren went along with it. But as someone elluded to earlier, it's not about individuals, it's about a cause. Do what's right; preferably without ulterior motives.

    December 17, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  17. Tennisguypitt

    Not smart... this guy is a polar opposite to Obama!

    December 17, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  18. Walt D

    I hope Rick Warren appreciates Obama is a very forgiving person, to grant him this honor, in view of the way he favored John McCain in the Saddleback Presidential forum with questions focused on the concerns and issues of the far-right While, at the same time, never once pressing McCain for more in-depth answers. The questions in the Forum were slanted to McCain and to make McCain, not known to be a very religious person with in-depth knowledge of the Christian faith, the "winner."

    For a while, I thought Warren was becoming a little more open to issues of the environment and the gay community. But that Forum, along with his recent support of Proposition 8, clearly demonstrates he is stuck in fundamendalism or an out and outright panderer and phony.

    December 17, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  19. obama-mama

    @Dianne – Your point makes sense....

    December 17, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  20. Michael B

    Incredibly disgusted. The President-elect has lost my support.

    December 17, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  21. Obama Voter

    Not the change we need.

    December 17, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  22. Michael B

    Mike from Syracuse - yes rights WERE taken away. I could get married in CA before, now I can't. Right taken away.

    December 17, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  23. DR

    Mike: Marriage is strictly a legal contract. It has no existence whatever otherwise. The religious concept of marriage is of no consequence to the law or to society at large.

    It's also worth mentioning that until quite recently, even so-called "religious" marriages were nothing but property transactions (and I mean VERY recently, like the early 20th c.).

    As for taking a "right" which doesn't exist, blacks and whites had no right to marry until the 1970s in some cases. Are you saying that was an appropriate state of fact? Because unless you make a strictly religious, and hence invalid in terms of the Law, argument, you cannot distinguish between inter-racial marriage and gay-marriage. It's really all or nothing here.

    December 17, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  24. Juge

    Warren only represents a small fraction of the American public. I DO NOT think he stands for what most of us stand for – equality! This was a VERY poor and a potentially damaging choice Mr. Obama. AND I voted for you. HMMMMMMMMMMM

    December 17, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  25. TerryMD

    Has Obama lost his mind?

    December 17, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
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