Saturday, December 20, 2008

Reaction to Warren heats up

Obama’s selection of the Rev. Rick Warren to give the invocation during the president-elect’s inauguration is worth following up with more incredulity. Really, Obama has completely got it wrong. Even Rachel Maddow on Friday revealed that Obama’s campaign realized the potential liability it faced if it went forward with allowing the Rev. Wright deliver an invocation at Obama’s campaign announcement back in 2007. And eventually, as we all know, Obama had to clearly distance himself from the Rev. Wright by denouncing him.

So what gives with Warren, the pastor at the California mega-Saddleback Church? This notion of sending a message of inclusiveness to evangelicals is simply going too far and is being done without serious thought to future consequences. Reading the church’s position on homosexuality clearly indicates that there’s been some biblical revision going on there. (editor's note Dec. 22: as reported on the Rachel Maddow show, the Saddleback Church has removed the item from its Web site regarding homosexuals are barred from membership) And reading an allegedly leaked transcript from the Obama team on the rationale for this decision does nothing more in my view than reveal that Obama has got some nuts giving him advice. The reaction continues even today with William Fisher at The Huffington Post asking the same question on nearly everyone’s mind: What was Obama thinking?

I must agree with Fisher when he writes, “To begin with, this strikes me as a strange move for a careful guy like Obama to make.” This choice appears to have been carelessly made, which is indeed out of character for someone like Obama. There is more to this reaction than the obvious statement from the Human Rights Campaign on the selection. And that is, when you listen to the Rev. Rick Warren speak on this matter, you clearly see that he really hasn’t thought through his objection to same-sex marriage; rather, he merely parrots old lines about sexual restraint and deviancy.

During Ann Curry’s interview with the Rev. Warren, we hear his speciousness come straight from his mouth when he talks about a human’s natural inclinations by relaying what his “gay friends” say to him. What “they say” is that they have an inclination to have sex with as many individuals as they like, to which Warren tells Curry that he, too, has a natural inclination to copulate with multiple “beautiful” women. But, he goes on, it is important for humans to restrain this impulse.

By the way, what Warren says about Buddhism endorsing only man/woman marriages is a lie. Buddhism endorses monogamy, but does not dictate that sex must occur within “marriage,” nor is there any explicit condemnation, other than in the rules for being a monk or nun, of homosexual acts. And the Buddha was clear about that: all sex, whether hetero or homo or even self-stimulation, was off limits to the Buddhist clergy.

But back to Curry’s interview. First, we have Warren talking about his gay friends. Who are these friends? I can’t imagine any gay man or woman being “friends” with Warren when knowing how he stands not just on same-sex marriage, but homosexuality in general.

Next, regarding the need for sexual restraint, I have no real argument there. It is a wiser path to show restraint. But how convenient for Warren that in the process of restraining his own sexual hunger, Warren can get married. He won’t allow that option to gays.

And apparently, Curry becomes a Warren apologist, trying to explain how this poor man is fearful he won’t even be able to speak his position from his own pulpit. Oh gosh, poor guy. Apparently Curry didn’t do even basic background research on Prop 8 to know that its failure would have no impact on what preachers could say within their congregations.

This is not just a clunker of a decision for Obama. It is a political blunder that shoves him in a corner that will require him spending too much time explaining his way out of.

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