Warren good choice by Obama

Published 10:52 am Monday, January 19, 2009

Pastor Rick Warren will pray publicly at the inauguration of Barack Obama. The president-elect’s choice for this honor and ceremonial role speaks well for both him and the pastor. The unreasonable objection to Mr. Obama’s choice and the bigoted opposition to Mr. Warren’s person betrays and exhibits the hypocrisy of political correctness.

In August Pastor Warren invited Republican nominee John McCain and Democrat nominee Obama to a civil and dignified forum at his Saddleback Church in California. He acted in the grand tradition of American clergy who have often brought together in a neutral setting opposing sides of social or political conflict. It was a most American scene, because it demonstrated democracy at its best. Warren did not, neither then nor at any time, champion or even favor either man but provided equal opportunity to both. His goal was not to promote his choice for the presidency, but to use his good offices to allow all citizens an opportunity to come to know both and to make our individual choices between them. His efforts were an unqualified success, because we did learn and we did make our choice.

Warren has been forthright about his personal views on issues of public interest but has expressed them politely, rationally, and with credible respect for those who differ with him. His views and commitment to them already being known, his even-handed manner of conducting the forum was the more remarkable. He demonstrated genuine objectivity, i.e., holding to subjects but speaking and acting objective to them.

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Both McCain and Obama expressed and evidenced genuine respect and gratitude for what Warren had accomplished. That evening, it would have been insightful to suspect whichever would be elected would invite this gracious host to pray at his inaugural. This was almost self-evident.

President-elect Obama did not invite Pastor Warren to pray because the two share either specific or even general agreement on the issues with which the president must now deal. The invitation was issued because our country needs moral influences like Rick Warren. We need many more leaders like him who will be honest about their own convictions and help others pastorally to form convictions of their own and to act upon them.

But there are those, most within Obama’s camp, who demand Pastor Warren be prohibited to have a part in the inauguration. Why? Well, because they don’t agree with him on homosexuality and abortion. Or, more to the point, he won’t agree with them despite their attempts at intimidation.

These are people who have been protesting and demonstrating for tolerance of gays and lesbians (including gay marriage) and for abortion. They have accused those who disagree with them of intolerance and discrimination. Now they have again betrayed their hand. What they have been demanding is not tolerance, but tolerance of their own views. Once their views are tolerated — which they have largely come to be — they themselves become radically intolerant.

Special favor to gays and lesbians and gay marriage are to be tolerated, and abortion is to be tolerated. However, heterosexuality (or, at least, its favor and promotion) and one-man/one-woman marriage and the sanctity of life (at least its objection to widespread abortion) are not to be tolerated.

Rick Warren will not pray for discrimination against gays and lesbians or even for a prohibition of gay marriage. He will not pray that abortions will be outlawed. I am going on record prior to his prayer, and call me on it if I should be mistaken. All I need to do is to recognize his attitude and style from the forum that hosted both McCain and Obama.

Barack Obama’s choice of Pastor Rick Warren for an inaugural prayer is a noble act that exercises masterful national leadership. Opposing his choice offends the gracious tolerance both our new president and this California pastor have demonstrated. Now, let’s listen to the prayer.