Thursday, December 18, 2008

More on Obama and Warren

The Obama-Warren issue has totally gone viral. There isn't a site, now, not addressing it, a talk show not variously talking about it, a radio or television news program without some meme on it, and were I working, I cannot imagine a water cooler discussion excluding it.

Nonetheless, I want to address it, again, from a different point of view.

Those of you who are regular readers know how strongly I feel about the topic of theocracy and how bright a line I believe there should be between government and religion despite the fact that I am a strong Episcopalian. And yes, I am extremely liberal in almost all ways. And yes, I am devoted to the right of lgbt folks to marry and for all people to have equal rights. I am also a huge advocate of the First Amendment.

On the matter of Warren and Obama, Obama has the perfect right to do as he will. That right carries consequence with it. Nothing about Obama gives him any sort of "free pass" to escape criticism from me or anyone else on this or any other topic.

As I stated yesterday in my blog post, Obama's choice of Saddleback (mega)Church pastor Rick Warren (Warren describes them as friends) to give the inaugural invocation appears to be a political move. And a bad one. In fact, it might be the worst decision Obama has made, to date.

Many folks--lgbt folks included--have stated that Obama is a "bring everyone to the table kind of guy" and that this somehow makes Warren's appearance at the inaugural okay. Well, that's great for a buffet. It isn't palatable when it comes to equal rights.

Am I supposed to somehow support giving someone that doesn't believe in equal rights a place at the political table? Well, am I?

If Rick Warren shows up at my door asking for food, he'll get it. If Rick Warren shows up at my door advocating against lgbt marriage, he'll get a dressing-down from me. I can and do separate Christian charity from political street talk. Apparently, Obama cannot.

The inaugural is a POLITICAL and constitutional event, not a religious get together, issue forum or a debate. And while many of us will not like everything Obama does--and the people he appoints to political positions--this isn't about that. The objection to Warren is about his basic opposition, from a Biblical perspective, to equal rights and the fact that our president-elect is embracing this person at a political event of unequaled precedence. It is also about the hateful language he has used to describe and compare lgbt folks to we not.

If McCain did this, people would be enraged. Oops. In fact they were enraged over McCain's embrace of the wacky theocrat and San Antonio megachurch pastor John Haggee. So much so, in fact, that McCain finally distanced himself from the uber right Christian Haggee.

If you read the above link to Politico's piece, you will notice that the dems took McCain to task for his relationship with Haggee. Understandable. So now, somehow, we are supposed to look the other way with democrat Obama and his relationship with Warren?

I will have none of that hypocrisy.
So, we wonder, what exactly was Obama trying to accomplish in inviting Warren? Some have suggested--and I disagree with this--that he is interested in the image. The right wing evangelical, popular author, and megachurch pastor praying for the president. Surely Obama realizes that while Warren has millions of fans, his invocation won't sway people to Obama. That is just plain stupid.

Is it that Obama wants to show that he can work with people he is not in total harmony with? That might be a possibility, though some of his recent cabinet nominees surely have sent this word out already. Many are very hard line hawks when it comes to war, and have been, at best, mediocre on issues important to us all like clean food, water and air. Obama's nomination of Salazar to Interior almost couldn't be worse.

So we get it. You can and are reaching across the isle. WAY across in some cases.

No, I think this is personal. I think Obama genuinely believes this is a good decision and that he likes most of Warren. This is troubling.

Obama's not gay. He does not understand lgbt issues and he doesn't understand the fight. There is just NO way to equate the civil rights fight of African Americans to that of the lgbt community. I have said this a bazillion times. This makes a bazillion and one. They are different fights. Yes, they can sometimes look the same.

The Los Angeles Times had this to say about it tonight:

In a written statement Thursday, Warren commended Obama "for his courage to willingly take enormous heat from his base by inviting someone like me, with whom he doesn't agree on every issue, to offer the invocation."

Warren continued: "Hopefully individuals passionately expressing opinions from the left and the right will recognize that both of us have shown a commitment to model civility in America." [my emphasis]

Obama opposed Proposition 8 even though he, like Warren, opposes same-sex marriages. Aides said earlier this year that Obama believes state constitutional amendments such as Proposition 8 can threaten the legality of same-sex civil unions, which Obama supports.

Obama said that he had been invited to speak at Warren's church in recent years despite the pastor's "awareness that I have views that were entirely contrary to his when it came to gay and lesbian rights, when it came to issues about abortion."

"That dialogue is what my campaign was all about," Obama said. "The magic of this country is that we are diverse and noisy and opinionated. And so that's the spirit in which we have put together what I think will be a terrific inauguration."
Let's think a bit about the term "model civility" in several contexts.

Picture the KKK in suits and ties. They plant the burning cross on a front yard of a black family, then ask the residents to come out and have a chat over some ice cream and cake.

The torturers carefully place the tortured and emaciated guest of honor at the cloth-lined dinner table. It's pork, of course, and the tortured is an Orthodox Jew.

The Host wafers are respectfully and gently cradled in hands and respectfully set atop the leftover spaghetti and other "bread" in the garbage can.

These are civil approaches to actions that are each horribly reprehensible. Does that make them nicer or more acceptable?

If you look at what Warren has said and done, and the way he does it, the above are tantamount to his approach on lgbt issues. He has friends that are gay. Gosh, he has had dinner at their house! He is not a homophobe. He fights AIDS (like that is just a gay issue? Did I miss something?) in Africa and has given a lot of money to the cause (and yeah, he palled around with some Anglican Communion folks there that advocate violence... but hey, it's "civil" and we work together in our differences, right?).
There is simply NO escaping Obama's screw-up and I don't care what one believes or what party one identifies with.

Yes, we must work together. Obama can work with theocrat Warren all he likes.

But having a bigot give the introductory prayer at a political inauguration is beyond the pale.