Preach Preacher! Obama Chooses Right “Man of God”

Obama's inaugural  choice ignites outrage

I hear liberals are in an outrage that President elect Obama chose Pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the inauguration next month.  Supposedly the most vocal resistance is coming from the gay rights movement.  On the heels of the gay marriage ban in California as well as a few other states, they aren’t too keen on the idea of an evangelical Christian praying the president into office. 

I have a message for my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters on this one.  “Stand down and pick another battle!”  Its is silly and short-sighted to raise hell over this one.  For one, Rick Warren isn’t being appointed to any office here.  He is a minister and author.  He is not going to set forth any policies that affect the gay and lesbian communities.  If you do some research on him, you will find that he is one of the most forthright, honest and fair ministers in the country.  Warren is no James Dobson or Pat Robertson.  Billy Graham, (the traditional presidential preacher)  walked away after the election became official cause he didn’t want to deal with a black man.  Warren was the only minister who could pull off a presidential form the way he did.  He allowed each man to speak on his faith and not offer an opinion on who he thought was “morally right.”

Does Warren believe in gay marriage?  No.  But everyone who does not agree with you is NOT necessarily your enemy.  Faith as well as the precepts that support that faith are a personal issue and he has a right to his beliefs as you do yours.  Again if you read his works and listen to his messages, you won’t find a person preaching today who is less judgmental than Mr. Warren.  He’s been on the forefront of using his influence for AIDS prevention and awareness, holding an AIDS Summit at his church, with none of the slandering or gay blaming of other ministers.  Who was speaking against Warren as he reached out to Obama for support of that program?  People like Dobson and Robertson who are notoriously anti gay.  Additionally, he is a guy who will listen and dialogue with the gay community.  If one is willing to listen, you never know what could come of it.

I did a post on Rick Warren earlier this year when he was on Meet The Press with Tim Russert.   In the midst of evangelical leaders vying for position to bring more of the divide and hate tactics to the campaign, Warren’s words were so bright and encouraging, I could see the glow in Russert’s face to have a minister of the gospel speak with such love and perspective.  As a man who grew up in the church, loving its virtues and hating its hypocritical and judgmental ways, I felt good about Warren’s message, and even more so his presentation.  This guy has it together.  Of course you should fight on for what you believe in.  However, Warren is the wrong target!

**As an added feature, I am posting the participants of proceedings on January 20th.  You will also notice that Rev. Joseph Lowery (a pro gay rights minister) is also speaking and giving the benidiction.  Obama said this morning that the fact that Lowery and Warren do have some differences of opinions reflect why he chose them both as a reflection of our nation.  Thats a good thing.  What do you think would have happened with a McCain administration?

Pastor Rick Warren – A Faith and Visionary Leader

Senators John McCain and Barack Obama

A Model of A Man of God

This is truly a blog that I am happy to write about.  Over the weekend there was a historical event that took place.  In the home stretch of a presidential election, the pastor of a church was able to bring the two main candidates together under one roof – for one on one questioning.  Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Orange County, CA had both Obama and McCain at his church with a crowd of parishioners and onlookers.  Why am I so glad about this event?  Because in this age of extreme conservative evangelical ministers who want to stake their claim in the political game, Warren is a man who totally gets it!  

Most people know of his book, The Purpose Driven Life, after some 25 million copies have been sold.  Some may even know how he does not accept a salary from his church, how he paid back the salary the church had given him over a 20 year period one he started to benefit from the book, how he tends to preach most sermons at his church in blue jeans.  My impression of Warren took another turn when I saw him featured on Meet The Press last year.  (See Transcript) Listening to him talk about faith and politics was so refreshing.  In this day and age where men representing faith, mainly Christian faith come in the persons of Pat Robertson and James Dobson, guys who are dogmatic in their approach and single-minded in their schemes, Warren is a man who talks about his faith as a committed Christian man who has a worldview that is inclusive towards others in the country – even those who may not subscribe to his specific faith.  He understands that this time, this nation more than ever multi-cultral, multi-ethnic, multi-racial and yes multi-religious than ever before.  And yet we all have a stake in the plight of America and the direction we are to take.  He understands the big picture – and in that his love for mankind is actually a reflection of that of Christ himself.  Warren is a brother who’s spirit is attractive and therefore he is able to engage wonderfully with other people.  Now here is the best part.  Warren is not some ultra-liberal crack preacher who has an anything goes philosophy.  He has a set of values that are very fundamental to traditional Christianity.  The difference is that he does not behave as if he should damn the rest of the world to hell.  Neither does he act as if Christian beliefs are the only ones under attack these days.  Many evangelicals often play victim and act as if the whole world is conspiring against their beliefs.

As a result he was able to have enough influence to command the audience of THE two major candidates in the heat of the campaign.  In the sermon the following Sunday he spoke of how voters should respond to the candidates. 

Don’t just look at issues, look at character. Look at the candidate and say,  Does he live with integrity, service with humility, share with generosity, or not?’

This is much different from the approach I have heard for years where unless a candidate is dead set against gay rights, abortion etc., that vote is in effect a vote against God himself.  Warren understands like many of us that there are many other issues as well that are just as important to Christian and non Christian alike.  Issues such as poverty and education – these are American issues.  I would also argue that these are also issues of faith when you look at the complete teachings of Jesus.  Regardless a president has to be concerned about all of America – not just a segment that shares his faith – even as he holds dear to his own convictions. 

As good as the forum went, it wasn’t quite perfect.  In total fairness Warren had a set of questions and he used those same questions in the same order to both candidates.  Obama answered first.  And although McCain was said to be in a room tucked away until his turn came, it turned out he was not even in the building.  Where was the dear senator?  Somewhere tuned in watching the pastor interview Obama so that he could be ready for the questions himself.  As I watched McCain’s interview, I was surprised as to how easily he answered Warren’s questions – though McCain claimed them to be hard questions.  Some of them he seemed to rattle off before Warren could get the whole question out.  So as impressed as I thought I was with some of McCain’s answers, he was cheating and thus prepared with his script.  Look at the tape.  You can easily tell that there was virtually no reflection whatsoever – but a rapid fire of ready answers given.  Warren said initially that McCain was in another room.  Later he admitted that McCain was not in the building.  For the sake of my original point, I am going to give the good pastor the total benefit of the doubt here.  I believe he conducted an interview for the American people – specifically American people of faith with total honesty and integrity.  It was McCain who messed things up.  Of course Warren is too polished and graceful to accuse the senator – but he also knows that we can judge the facts and issues for ourselves.

Keep up the good work Pastor Warren.  I hope to meet you one day and enjoy some vigorous discussions.