Bil Browning

Calm down: Rick Warren is not a big deal

Filed By Bil Browning | December 19, 2008 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, inauguration, inauguration invocation, Obama Inauguration, Rick Warren

You might be surprised at my thoughts on the current Rick Warren scandal. I've hesitated to blog about it for the past couple of days, but as this story has grown bigger and bigger, it's time I stepped out and said something. It just needs to be said.

Calm down. Rick Warren is not a big deal. This tempest in a teapot will only harm our community.

With so many prominent bloggers, activists and politicos outraged, I realize this post won't be the most popular I've written. As I've mulled this over the past few days, certain key elements fell into place for me; I wonder why our leadership didn't realize some of these basic facts before they started pounding on Warren.

john_mccain_barack_obama_rick_war_2.jpg

As Jim Ross writes at the Sentinel in his post, "Obama Creates New Cabinet-Level Post for Rick Warren":

OK, not really. But one would have thought so, judging by the reaction to Obama's recent announcement concerning Warren. The outrage from the left and the coverage from the media has gone off the charts, at a level that would have been appropriate if Obama had named him, say, Secretary of Religion and Faith and then endowed him with the powers to shape the administration's social and moral agenda. But that's not at all what Obama did. He simply asked Warren to deliver the invocation at the inauguration. Here's what will happen:

Warren will stand up and pray something nice and religious and patriotic sounding that is carefully crafted to offend as few people as possible, and then he will sit down. The next day, he will leave Washington and go back to being a pastor and an author. That's all. It will be that innocuous.

1. Rick Warren Is Not the Biggest Threat to the LGBT Community

Warren is a popular preacher and author. He's a religious right leader. He is a pompous windbag, a liar, and a homophobe. Big f--king deal. Anti-gay, lying, pompous preachers are a dime a dozen. Warren's soapbox is larger than most, but 98% of these mega-ministers end up crashing to earth surrounded by prostitutes, drugs and dollars with the careers in ruin.

LGBT folk are losing their jobs in several states just because they're queer. The violence against trans folk in Memphis, TN and across the nation calls out for more attention and aggressive watchdogs. Our adoption and parenting rights are under attack. HIV infections are surging. We are dying.

Don't Ask Don't Tell should be a priority. A fully inclusive ENDA should be plotted and planned and put in place. Figuring out a realistic response to today's HIV/AIDS environment is needed. Lord knows, there's a whole helluva lot of work to do on trans issues. Resolving the racism, sexism, ableism and other undesirable traits in our own community should be a priority.

But Rick Warren's short prayer? That's tiny in the grand scheme of things.

2. Doesn't This Signal That Homophobia Is Acceptable To Obama?

No. Not at all. It signals that Obama is a shrewd politician.

One of the biggest presents Obama can get during the first few months of his presidency is the goodwill of the Right. Picking Warren, who took flack during the election for his willingness to engage Obama, shows the evangelical leadership that Obama is willing to repay his favors.

Saying a prayer at the inauguration is small potatoes. Stop someone on the street and ask them who gave the invocation the last time. Or the time before that. How many times has Billy Graham spoken the opening prayer? Do you know? It's not as if Inauguration preachers are big memory making opportunities.

Can you name the other gay-friendly minister speaking at Obama's inauguration? I couldn't. I scanned five Bilerico posts about the topic and didn't see him mentioned. I found the answer at the New York Times blog.

Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery.

Hell, we don't even care about him. Neither does Joe Six Pack.

The other thing most Americans don't care about is LGBT rights. Face it, most straight people just don't give a s--t about our issues. They are asleep to our struggle, obviously, our Prop 8 would not have passed. Or Amendment 2. Or Prop 102. Or...

While this would have signaled to evangelical leaders that Obama is willing to treat them generously and they could, understandably, take that to mean the constant stream of homophobic comments were a-ok, I doubt that the average American would have noticed. If our community had kept their mouth shut on this choice to lead a prayer, Warren wouldn't get the free publicity, the goodwill from evangelicals, or the constant media repetition of the "Obama is dissing the gays" mantra.

We've told more Americans about Obama's signal than would ever have noticed on their own. We've made ourselves the victim before an uncaring audience that thinks this is a big whooptie-doo. After all, several of them attend a church where their minister probably says the same or more on a regular basis.

3. We Look Like Novices

As the LGBT community is trying to flex our muscles, this is not the time to look like a 75 pound weakling. By mewling and kavetching about Rick Warren's minutes spent praying to an invisible man in the sky, we didn't flex our biggest muscle - our brains.

Everyone knew that Warren would not be replaced. His selection had already been announced publicly, and replacing him would have been too big a scandal. The new president does not make mistakes. Remember?

So what did we hope to gain? The only person I saw asking this obvious question, was Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jon Hoadley on the Huffington Post.

Our community -- at least from what my inbox has seen -- has been quick to share our anger at this choice. But while advocates --especially the LGBT netroots -- are rightfully telling the incoming administration that this isn't right, our community has been slow to share a solution.

Unfortunately, this is a pattern in modern LGBT advocacy. We saw the same anger over rumors earlier this year that former Democratic Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia (the architect of opposition in 1993 to service by openly-gay military personnel) was being considered for the position of Vice President. Our community loudly said "No to Nunn!"- just as we said "No to Nunn!" to similar rumors in 2004 and 2000. Yet, in saying"no" our community failed to share what we could say "yes" to.

If we want to enact pro-equality policy and change, we need to take a page out of Harvey Milk's playbook: we have to give them hope. We need to say what we want, not just what we don't want.

The only thing I've heard that we wanted was a cabinet-level pick of an openly gay person. Big deal. (I'd rather Obama pick his team based on their qualifications than any tokenism. If he picked all black, disabled lesbians as advisors, that's fine; as long as they are the best people for the job. I'd rather not be a token for his administration.) Now, all the cabinet spots are filled so we didn't get that either!

So that leaves us with what demand? That the transition team do the impossible? They won't dump Warren. We're not asking for anything else. We're just complaining to hear ourselves whine.

If You Can't Stand the Heat, Get Outta the Kitchen

Politics is a rough and tumble sport. We've been handed our asses politically lately. We helped get Obama elected only to get marriage amendments shoved down our throats.

We're angry. We're prickly.

We're sensitive.

Many of us led with our hearts and not our brains on this one. We got upset and started sending out press releases and writing blog posts and going on TV and we poured out the well documented ills of Rick Warren and his loathsome beliefs.

What we should have done is head straight to Obama and pointedly "put him on notice." We should strategize ways to get Don't Ask Don't Tell repealed quickly, how to get the votes for a fully-inclusive ENDA, how to get an inclusive hate crimes bill to Obama's desk ASAP. We hold his feet to the fire to really show his support of our community by passing these important life-saving bills. Quickly.

But this temper tantrum that we're throwing publicly? It's not worth it. There's no winning either the political or the pr battle.

We need to shut the hell up and go to work on the issues that matter. A "nice and religious and patriotic sounding that is carefully crafted to offend as few people as possible" prayer? That's not it.


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Perhaps you should take your own advice and sit this one out.

It is time to get ugly not wait and wait and wait and let the bruises pile up.

You need an intervention, dear.

Your party is abusing you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0x-fkSYDtUY


It's not that I want to put up with every slap they give us - see my post under "highlights" about the Indiana Dem Party mailing out anti-gay mailers. I regularly challenge our state party; it's earned me the ire of most Dems for putting Queer above Dem.

This just isn't the right strategy for this case. It's political reasoning that I'm advocating.

I realize this post won't be the most popular I've written.

Judging by the site stats, if you put "penis" in the title it actually could be.

Bil, you are absolutely right. This really isn't a matter for people to get their panties in a knot over.

Warren is going to give a invocation. A prayer, if you will. He's not at the inauguration to preach, or to proselytize, and won't be given a chance to. Keep in mind that Warren invited him to debate McCain, which Obama wisely accepted; Obama may not have won many converts over that night, but Warren could have just blown him off and didn't.

Yes, Warren's no friend. He's certainly opposed to same sex marriage and other GLBT rights issues. However, there are far, far worse that could have been picked. Warren does support enhanced funding for social welfare programs, for instance. He wouldn't have been my pick (I'd have chosen Katherine Jefferts-Schori or Gene Robinson, but I'm an Episcopalian and Obama isn't), but I was relieved that Obama didn't pick a TD Jakes, Joel Osteen, Bernice King, or Harry Jackson, say.

The important thing will be what Obama does about hate crimes, DADT, ENDA, and repeal of DOMA. I am prepared to wait and judge on his performance, and give him a chance to perform. I believe he will do okay. We will be watching.

One of the biggest presents Obama can get during the first few months of his presidency is the goodwill of the Right.

He won't get it.

Can you name the other minister speaking at Obama's inauguration?I scanned five Bilerico posts about the topic and didn't see him mentioned.

Well, scan my post from yesterday or use the google function next time.

We've told more Americans about Obama's signal than would ever have noticed on their own.

That's OK, the signal wasn't for them. It was for us, the leadership of the Religious Right, and the establishment political media.

Everyone knew that Warren would not be replaced. His selection had already been announced publicly, and replacing him would have been too big a scandal.

Well, that's not the point. The point is responding to one off these assaults to either (a) prevent another one in the future or (b) get the community to wisen up. And since Obama has made, as a direct result of being pushed by LGBT people on this issue, some of the most significant and specific pro-LGBT statements a president has ever made in the history of the country, I'd say it looks like it's having an effect.

If You Can't Stand the Heat, Get Outta the Kitchen

At this point, the only person blogging on this site telling people to quiet down is you. I mean...

What we should have done is head straight to Obama and pointedly "put him on notice."

I take this as a stamp of approval on this whole mess? Because this is what thousands representing hundreds of thousands to millions of people putting him on notice looks like. Unless you mean that it should have been some sort of quiet, backroom deal that he could have reneged on at any point because no one knew it happened, I think this is the process you're looking for.

The Right has been throwing temper tantrums for years to get what they want, although they usually call it "drumming up the base" instead. Getting angry, expressing your anger so that other people are angry too, and then having them express their anger.

It looks ugly. It's not fun to stand in the middle of, I understand. But I don't see a competitive alternative. Work "on the issues that matter," while charmingly vague, isn't a course of action that is mutually exclusive with expressing our anger at this event.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | December 19, 2008 4:46 PM

It appears that many on the evangelical right aren't exactly enthralled by the Rick Warren selection (or more properly, his acceptance) a couple of examples from E-Mails a pundit for the Christian Broadcasting Network published:

"Unless Rick Warren has changed, he is very disappointing in the pro-life cause. Just ask pro-life leaders their opinion. He doesn't like to deal with it at his church. It just seems funny that he is known as 'pro-life' when he largely ignores the subject and teaches others to do the same. I fear God for these 'men of God'. We have lost 50 million babies, and most won't say a word. Reminds me of Nazi Germany or our slavery days. Very few spoke out. It was more comfortable to keep quiet."

Here's another:

"I have had about all I can stand of Rick Warren's double standards. WHOSE side is he really on anyway? I'm beginning to think all he cares about are his questionable political connections. When I saw your article announcing his participation in "that one's" so called inauguration ceremony it absolutely sickened me. It isn't enough Obama is so full of himself that he "thinks" he's God. - Apparently now Rick Warren believes he is too. This is a complete mockery of all things sacred."

Right-wing panties apparently snit, too.

Scott Kaiser Scott Kaiser | December 19, 2008 7:45 PM

Finally had time to go back and read the other comments, and all I can say in response to Alex's is…

OUCH!

Man! I'm glad we're on the same side of the issue on this one, Alex dear boy. ;-)

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | December 19, 2008 7:57 PM

I'm with you on this one, Alex. Bil couldn't be more wrong. I had written a rather pointed version of that that seems to have disappeared into cyberspace but it boiled down to the fact that moral failings are a big deal for someone for whom a big part of their job is the exercise of a bully pulpit -- that Hils was right when she questioned Obama's good sense about reaching out -- terming him naive (which is the nicer alternative to his just being a jerk who doesn't give a rat's ass that giving a bigot such as Warren such a visible position of honor gives aid and succor to those who hang our children on fences to die and ignores the effect of WarrenRobertsonDobsonEtAl's constant demeaning dehumanizing of us that digs deep into too many of our souls resulting in self-destruction both quick and slow and embeds itself deeply into the fabric of our society to keep us the highest per capita victims of hate crimes and youth homelessness.)

I talked, too, about how it is not the loud outcry that's politically naive -- it's ending it too soon that would be. That we're not on Joe Sixpack's or Obama's radar is reason all by itself to pump up the volume -- that discussion always favors the under-discussed-but-on-the-right-side-of-the-moral-universe such as we are, even if it doesn't appear so early in that discussion -- and it is early.

The issues of morality only tend to get to the forefront after the frivolous has run its course. Then the cracks in the veneer of civility carefully slathered on the Warrens like so much bad heavy makeup start to show even to the big media whores who have tried to ignore the obvious. Hell, even Mrs. "I'd Better Not Stand Up For My People Cause CNN Likes Its People Safely Semi-Closeted" Rosen even opined -- albeit timidly -- on Anderson Cooper last night that being the victim of Obama's political expediency could be considered ample justification of our complaints.

So get those inauguration tix but use them to boo Warren up close and call Obama the liar he is when he makes his inevitable claims of being a vehicle for inclusive change. You'll end up eating balogne sandwiches instead of crab puffs that evening -- but you'll be at least guaranteed to be spending the night with a more honest class of folks.

Who knows, if we tell the truth and that spoils the party, maybe they'll decide we're worth at least consulting next time. If not, what's he going to do, not sign DADTDP repeal or whatever crap is passing for real civil rights legislation for us these days? Get real!

Well, scan my post from yesterday or use the google function next time.

I did Alex. All three of them that published before mine. You have Lowrey in a blockquote of the Obama statement in one post. You never mention him yourself.

Man Does Not Live By Doughnuts Alone

Responding to Obama: We Can Disgree without Being Disagreeable (this is the one with Lowery in the blockquote)

Obama Picks Arch-Homophobe Rick Warren

As for this quote:

That's OK, the signal wasn't for them. It was for us, the leadership of the Religious Right, and the establishment political media.

I thank you for agreeing with me. You nailed it. By blowing this up into a brouhaha, we've made sure everyone thinks that Obama is actually anti-gay and condones the right-wing homophobes. We've made it an issue when it could have been handled without a public shaming of our community.

The point is responding to one off these assaults to either (a) prevent another one in the future or (b) get the community to wisen up. And since Obama has made, as a direct result of being pushed by LGBT people on this issue, some of the most significant and specific pro-LGBT statements a president has ever made in the history of the country, I'd say it looks like it's having an effect.

So the point of complaining about Warren and turning this into a major media story is to get positive statements from Obama? We already had that. And since the controversy broke, the most he's said is that he supports civil unions. Wow. let's take that to the bank...

I say this because your point that the purpose should be "(a) prevent another one in the future or (b) get the community to wisen up" is too politically naive. It won't prevent another one. Politics will always trump; alliances must be made to govern. And "get the community to wise up?" Seriously? Did Prop 8 do that? Did any of the other amendments? The lack of legislation in some states? Ellen coming out? A federal DOMA? DADT? The numerous hate crimes against the LGBT community? GLAAD parties? HRC e-mails? Marches on Washington?

No. This won't either.

It's a rookie mistake to shake and shout over Warren. Our leadership should have known better.

You are overthinking this entirely.

Don't say anything because if we do, then they will think that and then these people will perceive this about us and we will look bad and god knows we don't want to look bad...which in effect brings us right back to the topic at hand.

By saying nothing and/or carefully mincing around trying to manage our appearance we look like cowards at best or at worse we look disingenuous.

Why would anyone - anyone - not have a response to being poked in the eye?

The Mormons/xtians have been peeing their pants about reactions to prop 8. Why is it that there is always a double standard applied to LGBTs - by our allies, by the media and worst of all by ourselves?

That is what you propose Bil by trying to control everything and everyone's reactions. WE look like amateurs? Instead of professionals? Instead of looking like an Obama type that can lie and spin his way through a dust cloud by saying he is evolved when we considers bigotry to be an example of inclusion?

We have a responsibility to encourage each other to stand up for what is right and Obama is wrong, you are wrong, and Rick Warren is evil.

Silence in the guise of nuance is actually cowardice.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | December 19, 2008 4:32 PM

I agree with much of what you say, Bil, and as you've probably noted, I've chided Waymon a bit and challanged him to think about the impact of what I consider to be our community's tendency to overuse the term "hate" so much that it leaves no room to really throw the "hate" book at Fred Phelps.

At one time in my younger days I once went to a counsellor concerning anger control and he told me to take my frustrations out by beating a pillow with a bat or tennis racquet. Since I don't like feathers or loose foam pieces littering my bedroom I've discontinued that practive, but I've lately taken to really putting down lots of elevated thoughts on paper just to see what they look like, and then before I send them to Veritas Rex (ooops, I didn't mean to go that far...) I just delete the whole thing. But I feel lots better.

Unfortunately the send button is always very easy to press, and I suspect in understandable frustration that it's been exercised a lot lately when maybe a re-read (at least) would have been in order.

Thanks Don, but I don't need to be chided. I stand by my comments. every one them. calling a spade a spade is not wrong. What Warren spews is hate, even if he smiles nicely at the end.

I agree with much of what you say, Bil, and as you've probably noted, I've chided Waymon a bit and challanged him to think about the impact of what I consider to be our community's tendency to overuse the term "hate" so much that it leaves no room to really throw the "hate" book at Fred Phelps.

To be fair to Waymon, the reason Phelps exists is so that everyone can throw the hate book at them and let everyone else who has the same beliefs but is more mediagenic, like Warren et al, off the hook.

Maybe we should form an extra whiny LGBT org and then we can all say that they're the whiny ones, not us? I'd imagine them marching at straight weddings with "God (or Goddess!) hates inequality" and "You're making me sad" signs.

Maybe we should form an extra whiny LGBT org and then we can all say that they're the whiny ones, not us?

Don't we already have a couple of those? *grins*

Are we giving Dems a pass here? Does anyone disagree that a Republican inviting Warren to pray at such a major event (giving Warren legitimacy) would subsequently be blamed (rightly or wrongly) for all subsequent homophobic attacks from NYC to California over the next four years? This IS a big deal.

Giving them a pass? Hardly. That's not what I advocated at all. I'm just saying it could have been handled differently with a much better chance at our community actually winning something from the fight. Warren won't be uninvited. Hence, we lose. I want to win.

Joe Solmonese is even whining about Warren too. It reminds me of a Beatles song, "Fool on the Hill."

Joe being upset about something does not make the issue wrong, Monica.

Presenting Warren front and centre as part of the first official act of the Obama Administration is not just wrong, it is also stupid.

For a world longing for the end of extra legal policies that Bush pursued, Warren and his advocacy of violating Hague IV by assasinating the Iranian PM is sbsolutely the least reassuring gesture that Obama could have made.

For the Gays and Lesbians languishing in Nigerian prisons because of laws pushed for by Warren's friend and ally Peter Akinola, Warren's presence is a kick in the teeth, as is our mixed response to him.

But this temper tantrum that we're throwing publicly? It's not worth it. There's no winning either the political or the pr battle.

WTF Bil - stop complaining, since we can't change anything anyway? Should we tell the pro-choice folks to stop their temper tantrum too. (read sarcasm)

We need to shut the hell up and go to work on the issues that matter.

Oh I get it, we should all stop complaining, because what?- there are starving people in the world, is that your logic?

Wow- I am really shocked to read this here.

*speechless*

Not what I'm saying at all, Julie.

I'm saying we should want to win something out of it and approaching it differently would have allowed us that luxury we're so often denied. It's just strategy.

Bil, while I wouldn't go as far as you have in characterizing the LGBT community's response to the Warren announcement, I do agree with your basic premise.

As a community, we're a bit misfocused on this one. There were ways to frame this announcement as an opportunity to open up dialogue with Warren. The purpose of said dialogue obviously not convincing Warren that he is wrong, but gaining a foothold with the millions of people who listen to him.

One approach could have been to publicly ask (and privately demand) that the transition team push Warren (and maybe Richard Cizik) to participate in a public conversation with LGBT and ally faith leaders (at the LA LGBT Center) prior to 1/20/09 where they could have laid out agreements on poverty and AIDS and explained disagreements on human rights. It could have been webcast and/or carried on cable.

I feel like we're setting ourselves up to lose with, what I see as, short term reactions to a long term struggle.

The media coverage of the fluster I encountered came off to me as "Gays get pissy again". Maybe that's a false impression, but it looked to me like the queer community isn't taken seriously. And isn't Rick Warren super popular? He's part of the in-crowd and public opinion isn't going to turn unless there is some sympathy discovered somewhere for queer voices.

You can either get elected, be wealthy or come in mass numbers to have power in this country. Queer folks have none of these and no great plans that I'm aware of to acquire these.

The media coverage of the fluster I encountered came off to me as "Gays get pissy again". Maybe that's a false impression, but it looked to me like the queer community isn't taken seriously.

That's exactly it. Outside of the lefty walled gardens like DailyKos and various queer sites, the general attitude is "What are you freaking out about?" (And really, the Catholic church's official stance on homosexuality is no better than Warren's, yet nobody would have batted an eye if Obama had invited a prominent cardinal to give a benediction.)

You can either get elected, be wealthy or come in mass numbers to have power in this country. Queer folks have none of these and no great plans that I'm aware of to acquire these.

A-yep. Just look at the Prop 8 battle. The Mormons and Catholics were ready to fight this from the get-go; as soon as the Knight Initiative, which had passed by a twenty-four-point margin in 2000, was overturned in the courts back in May of this year, the LDS and RCC set out to revive the measure, which they renamed "Proposition 8", and promote it for the November elections. (Yes, kids, Prop 8 is a word-for-word rendering of the Knight Initiative.) They hit the ground running with ads plastered all over the state. By contrast, the no-on-8 forces were disorganized and did horribly at GOTV: San Francisco had only 53% turnout, among the lowest in the state, and it's Gay Person Central.) In fact, I suspect that much of the anger being directed at Obama over this is residual anger from the Prop 8 fiasco.

From Colin:

The media coverage of the fluster I encountered came off to me as "Gays get pissy again".

And my comrade on mailing lists, PW:

That's exactly it. Outside of the lefty walled gardens like DailyKos and various queer sites, the general attitude is "What are you freaking out about?" (And really, the Catholic church's official stance on homosexuality is no better than Warren's, yet nobody would have batted an eye if Obama had invited a prominent cardinal to give a benediction.)

Nailed it. Both of you. It's a PR nightmare.

Scott Kaiser Scott Kaiser | December 19, 2008 5:37 PM

I have to disagree a little. While it's not the end of the world, it's insensitive at best. Not a good way to start his presidency.

Playwright Chris Durang makes the case so much better than I could in this article on The Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-durang/gay-and-feeling-hurt-by-o_b_152348.html

Sorry Bil, you're dead wrong. Rick Warren has flown under many people's radars for far too long, on this and other issues. He's being called "America's Pastor", the successor to Billy Graham. He's viewed as a down home Reverend Alden figure and that image couldn't be much farther from the truth.

On Wednesday of this week --THIS WEEK-- he compared you and me to incestuous pedophiles. In an interview set to air tonight he suggested that it's downright laughable to think he's a homophobe because this one time he served The Gays some water and donuts and he actually allows The Gays to sit in his church (not join, not lead, just sit there).

In both interviews he repeats the outright lie that the definition of marriage has been unchanged for 5,000 years, and the other lie that Prop 8 (or anything like it) would remove his freedom of speech. These were two of the major talking points for the Prop 8 campaign, and we lost that one because we didn't tell people that they're lies!

And you want us to leave all of that unquestioned? You want us to sit still and hope against hope that someday in the distant future somebody else might tell people the truth, if only we're good boys and girls?

One of the programs from Rick Warren's church is the "ex-gay" "ministry" Celebrating Recovery, though you have to look pretty doggone hard to locate any direct mention of it. I wonder how many of our brothers have been damaged because of the self-hatred he feeds them. I wonder how many killed themselves.

And on top of all that he went on TV a few weeks ago and said that the Bible gives the US Government the go-ahead to "take out" Iranian President Ahmadinejad.

And that's not even getting into the arguments I have with him as a fellow Christian.

He's a liar. He's a wolf in sheep's clothing. He's a danger to our community. And I'll be damned if I'm gonna sit my faggot ass down and remember my place while the big men decide whether they want to throw us a few scraps sometime in the next couple years. I hear they might let a marching band be in the parade!!! Better not blow that one!

Sorry if that's not professional enough for you.

Rick Warren has flown under many people's radars for far too long, on this and other issues. He's being called "America's Pastor", the successor to Billy Graham. He's viewed as a down home Reverend Alden figure and that image couldn't be much farther from the truth.

A lot of people are asking why this particular situation set off a shit storm but not other similar ones.... I think this is part of it. Warren's selling himself as something he's not.

Of course, when he hosted the presidential debate a few months back I remember I came back from a vacation and searched for video of it to blog about it. No one on this site had written about it, and it didn't get all that much attention elsewhere.

He was flying under the queers' radar as well at that point. There's no problem with Obama speaking at his church, but when he starts to take up these "america's pastor" jobs, there's a problem.

Warren's not the only one selling himself as something he's not.

In contrast to Crawfords uncritical, almost worshipful attitude towards bigots like Obama, Powell, Biden and other bigots, here’s what Time Magazines John Cloud has to say in his essay The Problem for Gays with Rick Warren — and Obama:

Gays and lesbians are angry that Barack Obama has honored Warren, but they shouldn't be surprised. Obama has proved himself repeatedly to be a very tolerant, very rational-sounding sort of bigot. He is far too careful and measured a man to say anything about body parts fitting together or marriage being reserved for the nonpedophilic, but all the same, he opposes equality for gay people when it comes to the basic recognition of their relationships. He did throughout his campaign, one that featured appearances by Donnie McClurkin, a Christian entertainer who preaches that homosexuals can become heterosexuals.

I first saw this article at Christopher’s blog From the Left . Christopher was a total all out supporter of Obama but now he says

“I think we’ve been snookered, folks.”

That’s not the word I’d use because the absence of KY and condoms is not the kind of thing people worry about when they're getting snookered.

The article is lengthy and is at variance with the patently false idea that we’re alone on this and that we should just learn to live with Obama’s bigotry. Actually lots of people see through Obama and his road show. You don’t have to gay, lesbian, bisexual or transsexual to know a right wing Bush Clone when you see one.

Be sure to read the article so you can judge Clouds abilities and motives for your self before the Obamadolators accuse him of being another Goebbels.


Link to it at http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1867664,00.html

thanks for the link, Bill.

it's been added to my facebook profile.

Bil,
I think you did a good job articulating the "who cares" perspective, and I don't love you any less for doing so. :)

That said, I think what's difficult here is not so much the substance of Warren being chosen to deliver the invocation, but the context. This is the second time recently that our community was poised to celebrate and breathe a sigh of relief (the first was election night and now, the inauguration) only to feel kicked in the teeth (or thrown under the bus, pick your metaphor) instead.

Part of wanting equality is wanting to be part of the larger society or even the larger progressive movement. Instead, here we are again on the sidelines. Perhaps it would have been redeeming had Marybeth Maxwell been chosen as Labor Secretary on the same day that Warren was announced. But no, the much ballyhooed first gay Cabinet post was not to be. I would have rather we never heard about the Maxwell possibility so that we wouldn't again feel that sense of betrayal and disappointment.

Right now, all we've got is symbolism. The country's economy is in the toilet, we're fighting two wars, the media says it's gonna get worse before it gets better, and the arctic ice cap may have melted so much that the situation cannot be reversed.

In the face of all that, where do you think our priorities (don't ask don't tell, trans-inclusive ENDA, repeal of DOMA, hate crimes law, family unification act, etc.) are gonna be on the to-do list? Maybe some reassurance in the form of a high level appointment or a visible presence at the inaugural would be helpful right about now.

We're all walking around these days with Harvey Milk's words ringing in our ears, "you gotta give 'em hope." But where's the hope in all this? The view from under the bus isn't so pretty.

Happy holidays to you and the family,
Cindy

Cindy - love ya back!

Perhaps it would have been redeeming had Marybeth Maxwell been chosen as Labor Secretary on the same day that Warren was announced. But no, the much ballyhooed first gay Cabinet post was not to be.

I have a big problem with tokenism, Cindy. Do I want LGBT people to sit on the Cabinet? Hell yeah. Do I want them there just because they are queer? Not at all. The FEMA director with no qualifications taught us that lesson not that long ago.

Right now, all we've got is symbolism.

Symbolism and $1 will get you something to eat at McDonalds. Or you can skip the symbolism and just bring the buck. It's time for us to bring the buck and leave the symbolism in the background where it belongs. That will be "part of the larger society or even the larger progressive movement".

The media coverage of the fluster I encountered came off to me as "Gays get pissy again". Maybe that's a false impression, but it looked to me like the queer community isn't taken seriously. And isn't Rick Warren super popular? He's part of the in-crowd and public opinion isn't going to turn unless there is some sympathy discovered somewhere for queer voices.

You can either get elected, be wealthy or come in mass numbers to have power in this country. Queer folks have none of these and no great plans that I'm aware of to acquire these.

About an hour ago an email from HRC landed in my box. It was a petition expressing "[disappointment] by the invitation to anti-LGBT and Prop. 8 supporter Rev. Warren to give the invocation at your inauguration next month." It also calls on Obama to among other things settle on nothing less than a fully inclusive ENDA.

Guess we'll see what January 21 brings.

I don't entirely disagree with what you've expressed.

I do, however, take umbrage at the *way* you've communicated it.

People who air their disagreement with Obama's decision are not 'mewling and kvetching.' They're expressing their opinions, in some cases quite eloquently. Debate is at the heart of democracy. Unlike earlier civil rights movements, the GLBTQAetc movement is publicly self-reflective. We're taking part in change in real time, in ways that technologically just weren't possible for topics such as desegregating schools or the womens' movement. We're all out here doing what we can, and we're talking about and sharing about our ideas and triumphs and miseries. I think that's great.

It hasn't been covered very generously by MSM, but that's why they (IMO) ought to be ignored. Let's not discourage the very dialogue that's at the core of growth and change.

People who air their disagreement with Obama's decision are not 'mewling and kvetching.' They're expressing their opinions, in some cases quite eloquently. Debate is at the heart of democracy.

You're not the only one to take me to task for my language, Denise. I wrote the post quickly on deadline and it's a rant. I won't apologize for it though, because I'll stand by every word.

It is "mewling and kvetching." We're bitching and complaining and no one is really listening. The general public is now our audience for this news story and do you honestly believe that a majority of the public will support attacking a minister who preaches the same damned thing they hear in their own pulpits every Sunday?

There is no debate here. Obama won't budge. We keep complaining. The American public isn't listening. It's just ourselves talking - and that's not a debate; it's a monologue.

Bil gets it right. All this whining is just going to harm everyone BUT those who deserve it. Keep turning those guns inward, kids, we need to sabotage ourselves.

Not like any of you give a damn - you've been hunting for a way to bring Obama down from day one. Maybe if you cared less about your identities and more about your country, you'd get somewhere.

Bil,

I generally respect your point of view, and a part of me agrees with some of what you say here, but not completely.

Over the last few days, before I even articulated my own thoughts, I was approached by several well-meaning people about what "the proper response" should be. From PFLAG allies to queer activists, I've heard many theories about what my response "should" be.

And then, this afternoon, the light bulb came on. My reaction isn't so much a logical, rational one; it's an emotional one. All the good intentions of the comments I was receiving were structured to say, essentially, "calm down and stop being so emotional."

I don't claim to be an expert on gender politics and sexism, I nevertheless feel that there's something a little sexist in trying to negate the emotional state of myself and other queers by insisting that we remain dispassionate and logical. Your post, with phrases like "temper tantrum" and "leading with our hearts" and "mewling and kavetching" - all phrases that intentionally or unintentionally insult emotional intelligence and have been used historically to deny women (and feminine men and youth) from participating in the decision-making world of adult, white men.

I'm not saying you're wrong to advocate a more strategic and measured reaction, but I also think that we must learn to leave room in our movement for emotion and passion to prevent simply mimicking the values of the dominant culture.

Thanks, Jere. You hit the nail on the head. It's really offensive to me that Bil uses language that perpetuates negative associations between emotion, weakness and femininity.

I'm accustomed to it on het blogs but here it's not acceptable.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | December 20, 2008 8:22 AM

I think it is emotional to deny a logical argument based upon a few hypersensitive words. OK Bil, so how does it feel? You wrote about something you care and have reasoned thoughts about. "The greater good" and while understanding the pain of others they do not want to give a crack on understanding you or where you are coming from. If a blog site only has people on it who agree about everything who would read it?

Bil
Sew a quilt or crochet a bedspread but don't give advice to those who are working for equal justice under the law. You are ignorant to think Warren is not out for Theocratic power even above Obama and this is a major step for him.

This would have been a major step for Warren if we'd kept silent. As it is, even the MSM have told the story that maybe Warren and the other folks on the religious Right are out of step with us and out of step with America. Out of step with values a majority of Americans voted to enact.

Warren's statements and he patent lunacy of some of Warren's critics on the Right are helping to get that message across. They're pure gold.

Tactically the best thing to do now is keep the pressure on and make sure the wingnuts look like the crazy ones. We won't shut up, we won't go away, but we aren't crazy. Let's keep the pressure on, and win.

In a previous post I mentioned that Obama didn't pick Rev. Jesse Jackson to do the invocation. Although I was making a catty joke, there is also a message to be learned from the Jackson gaffe: A little light-bulb went on in Jackson's brain, and he figured out that he (Jackson) didn't have the new president in his back pocket, even if the new prez is a black dude. And unfortunately, once the good Rev. arrived at this enlightenment, he was not all too gracious about it. Jackson thought he was the Pope of Blackness and was quite pissed when Obama forgot to genuflect.

Well, you guys who are all bent out of shape are reacting the same way that Jackson reacted, and it will backfire on you the same way it backfired on him. Our new prez may be more gay-friendly than any we have had before (I mean, the guy is cool no matter who he's dealing with), but that doesn't mean that that GLBT community has our new prez in their back pocket. This is one instance when we either have to make nice and play good politics, or Big Papa's gonna smack the mouths on every child that ain't talkin' polite.

Now, learn some manners and play the game right, quit expecting that you get to eat the whole damn turkey all by yourself, or next time Big Papa throws a big meal, you'll be seated at the little children's table with the squeaky folding legs and all the other brats who don't know how to behave themselves.

Believe or not, this is progress. Now get real.

Be polite to the guy giving the opening prayer, even though we both know that we hate each other's guts, and maybe, just maybe, he will side with you on one of your future issues. Gay marriage? Probably not. Federal AIDS funding? There's a good chance.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | December 20, 2008 1:14 AM

Well done Allen. something That I had said to Waymon is that we have to look for the good in each situation. Politics is still compromise and as you and I know if it were an easy cause, or one that could be won by logic, it would have been finished thirty years ago. Merry Christmas, by the way.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | December 20, 2008 1:15 AM

Well done Allen. something That I had said to Waymon is that we have to look for the good in each situation. Politics is still compromise and as you and I know if it were an easy cause, or one that could be won by logic, it would have been finished thirty years ago. Merry Christmas, by the way.

no big deal, eh?

Here is what Rick Warren is hoping to accomplish in CA - and Obama gives him a platform to make it more legit whether YOU think it's a big deal or not:

Prop. 8 sponsors seek to nullify 18K gay marriages
By LISA LEFF, Associated Press Writer

Friday, December 19, 2008

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2008/12/19/state/n150241S64.DTL&tsp=1

Here

Prop. 8 sponsors seek to nullify 18K gay marriages
Stunning news - this makes me angry and I don't know where to direct that anger.

But while the anger over Warren is justified, his role (as far as we know) in the Obama administration is limited to just his five minute speech. I think Obama is simply paying Warren back for inviting him for the Saddleback discussion in August. Doing so is sound politics. Perhaps it is good for Obama (and for us) for him to get the debt out of the way, and at such a low cost.

I think Bil is right. Warren's role is minor. There would be much more reason to be concerned if Warren were to have an ongoing influence in Obama's administration. Its what happens after Jan. 20th which counts.

Fine. Get all pissy and pledge not to work with the Obama administration, if you're all such "principled" little whiners. Those of us who aren't out for only ourselves don't need you. Why don't you all form your own party, one where people like us, who care about the country first and our own egos second, aren't allowed?

Well, I've been saying this for a while now in comments to other blogs on the site and I did mention that a more progressive minister was giving the benediction.
Tempest in a tea.... is exactly the way that I see it. Way to go Bil.

I am not thrilled that Warren is accorded this honor, but on the other hand, in accepting the invitation, Warren has angered a segment of his supporters. If Warren chooses to chase after Presidential photo-ops, he will be in a tougher position when he is confronted with Obama's policies on Religious Right core issues - does he say nothing, in order to preserve the illusion of influence, or does he challenge Obama publicly? Warren loses credibility with his Religious Right base if he does the former, and middle-of-the-road unchurched/ lightly churched potential supporters if he does the latter. Warren is as ambitious as they get, and I don't see him wanting to settle for merely sheep-rustling from other conservative pastors.

I have to wonder if Obama is de-fanging Warren by this move.

But how is it good politics for Obama to pander to an evengelical Christian base that's going to distrust and hate him anyways? See, for example, this article in today's Chicaogo Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-obama-evangelicaldec19,0,2077909.story


Because he doesn't need them for very long. If he can buy enough goodwill to keep them quiet over the first couple of months, his agenda will be fully in place, the tone already set, and some precedent established.

He'll never have them on his side. But sometimes an enemy will sit silent if they're wary. By inviting them and extending the palm of his hand instead of the back of it, he can at least silence them until he does something to piss them off.

I'll repeat what I posted on Joe.My.God's site:

I voted for Obama. Not because I thought he was the next great gay hope, NONE of the viable candidates were for gay marriage, but because of the good he might be able to do for our country as a whole. Esp. over McCain/Palin.

I don't like this asshat Rick Warren either. But besides being good politics (Warren authored a best selling book), I think Obama believes he can have a dialogue with conservative churches (he has spoken out in support of gays before during his speeches in the church) so I say give the Pres elect a chance. Obama has also invited Rev. Joseph Lowrey a gay friendly Pastor to speak as well.

And the gay community needs to get smarter, work harder, be more united and learn from our mistakes like the Prop 8 vote.

Ah. At long last. Cometh the dawn.

As political instincts long dulled by immersion in compromise for its own sake finally reawaken to the real world, I have to ask: during the recent campaign what were you Democrats thinking? Why did you simply dismiss Obama's bigotry? Why didn’t you treat him to the same scathing remarks you correctly used to denounce McCain’s homophobia?

And on the war and the economy, what prevented you from connecting the dots? All the evidence was there. Obama supported making Jerusalem the capital of the zionist state and he promised continued support for their policies of ethnic cleansing and apartheid against Palestinians. Obama raised no objection to attacks on Syria from Iraq. He said he plans on keeping US forces in Iraq and beefing up US forces in Afghanistan. That only means one thing; more civilians will be killed by GIs and vice versa. And he wants to attack Pakistan, a nuclear power. His senate votes set the stage for an attack on Iran.

And the economy. Few raised an eyebrow when Obama championed the bailouts for the unscrupulous rich who wrecked the economy or when he spoke in favor of NAFTA. Several said they were for socialized medicine but voted against it. The appointment of his chief economic advisor, Larry Summers, passed without comment. (Summers was tossed out as president of Harvard because of his open misogyny, racism and his repulsive, terrifying defense of dumping toxic materials in poor countries because he claims that people are worth less there.) Obama’s vice president, Biden, wrote the law making it impossible for consumers to escape being ravaged by credit cardsharks. But if I remember, you only had good words to say about the Senator from BoA. How could you support a pair of candidates owned by the clueless greedmongers on Wall Street?

Obama voted to extend the Paytriot Act and for FISA. He named warhawk Hillary Clinton to State and kept war criminal Gates in the war department. And the Democrats continued their victory dance without a glance backwards.

Obama wounded us deeply with his unending campaign of exonerating bigotry. Warren, the megabigot, introduced Obama to a whole new milieu of southern baptist bigot voters and Obama’s ‘god’s in the mix’ simultaneously exonerated their bigotry, won the election for him by larger margins and destroyed our chances for marriage equality in three states. Inviting the megabigot is pouring salt on those wounds.

Some GLBT Democrats seem incapable of connecting the dots. Homophobia is right wing. Prosecuting the war is right wing. Being Wall Streets lapdog is right wing. Opposing civil liberties is right wing. Appointing a cabinet full of rancid right wingers is right wing. Therefore, Obama is …?

People who are serious about our equality, ending the war, getting a fair deal for working people and protecting the constitution will have to become independent of the Democrat party. Or you can stay in the last closet, the partisan closet and do it all over again in 4-8 years.

Bil, let us know when the real big deal happens.

Another interesting perspective on the Warren issue:

"This isn't betrayal. This is a guy showing a hell of a lot more smarts than the so-called 'gay community' has shown in advancing its agenda. This is a guy who doesn't want to posture or express himself: he wants to win."

http://sidewaysmencken.blogspot.com/2008/12/dickdar.html


I don't see this Warren issue as a problem. It seems like a very shrewd political move on Obama's part. He's being a gentleman to those he disagrees with, setting a precedent for them to behave likewise. If they don't, they will seem like the lesser person. On top of that, he's fueling the anger of the LGBT community, motivating us to stand up and speak out without actually doing us any harm. The more vocal we are, the more power we have.

It's like the "lipstick on a pig" comment that he dropped as bait and then used to discredit Republican attacks. He knows how to make his political maneuvers.

I disagree with you, Bil.

The selection of Rick Warren was a mistake by Obama and an opportunity for the LGBT communities.

You may not appreciate how especially despised Warren is here in CA for his prominent public role in passing Prop H8, but it has not only galvanized the gay community against him, it has taken some of the luster off his carefully crafted Evangelical-lite TM image in the broader world as well.

Warren made a huge mistake by accepting this offer. Like Sarah Palin, his enormous ego couldn't conceive of saying no to a chance to get a wider audience. And like Sarah Palin, he's not ready for prime-time.

Now that he has been announced, mainstream media is doing lots of stories about him. And the more they report, the less people like.

His offensive comments about gay marriage, his opposition to abortion and stem-cell research, his agreement with the idea that the US should assassinate Ahmadinejad, the list just keeps growing.

Ann Curry's interview for Dateline NBC may well be his Katie Couric moment. In it, he discusses his ravenous appetite for tail, how he wants to bone every hot chick he sees, and how he's so addicted to internet porn that his wife has to cyber-nanny him.

Did I just hear millions of women going, "Ewww what a skeezy perv!" And millions of men going, "Dude, you are so pussy-whipped!"

After tonight, no one will want to shake his hand for fear of where it's been.

Next up, I predict tabloid stories with lurid tales from women he's groped or had affairs with, followed by denials, then a tearful admission of his sinful ways followed by a stint in rehab, and a quiet withdrawal of his speaking role in the inaugural.

Bingo! Mind you, "calm down" may not have been the most felicitous phrase, but let's keep our eyes on the prize. The prize isn't sending Warren back to his kennel. It's DADT, ENDA, DOMA, hate crimes, a DOJ who won't file amicus briefs supporting Prop 8, and SCOTUS nominees who can consider fundamental human rights and equality.

We did exactly the right thing so far. Now let's take the next step. It's time for a phone call to the transition team: "OK, what do we get?" Not quid pro quo. We've already paid off our end with votes and support. A big demonstration at the inaugural is a non-starter, so we don't threaten either. We simply ask "What do we get?"

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | December 20, 2008 1:38 AM

Rev Bob, I think we get to go to work. We have access to more politicians in Washington than we have ever had before. It behooves us to talk to every representative possible about GLBTQ needs and priorities. Each state Gay organization needs to meet with their elected congressional officials.

America is a large, complicated, troubled and fractured mess with more people pointing fingers right now about who is entitled to (or stole) which multiple of billions of dollars. The timing of this outrage on our part is atrocious and an affront to the free speech we cherish.

If we seek to silence others what keeps them from enforcing silence on us as well?

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | December 20, 2008 1:39 AM

Rev Bob, I think we get to go to work. We have access to more politicians in Washington than we have ever had before. It behooves us to talk to every representative possible about GLBTQ needs and priorities. Each state Gay organization needs to meet with their elected congressional officials.

America is a large, complicated, troubled and fractured mess with more people pointing fingers right now about who is entitled to (or stole) which multiple of billions of dollars. The timing of this outrage on our part is atrocious and an affront to the free speech we cherish.

If we seek to silence others what keeps them from enforcing silence on us as well?

Very true. Then I want a Klansman and a New Black Panther at this event, too. They're both Americans. They both have points of view that we might disagree with...but..

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | December 20, 2008 8:28 AM

Ok, you invite them and see if they will listen to you.

Actually, the Panthers I used to know were really nice guys. Klansmen? Not so much.

Maybe Barack should invite that guy who named his kid Adolf Hitler.

:)

I totally agree with Robert on the need to keep on pushing. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have gotten so much blowback for their tepid leadership, they may be the ideal people to approach to get out in front for our legislation. And it's a good opportunity for allies to be more public too (and about damn time).

Warren and the fundies are doing a terrific job at painting themselves as the crazy ones. Let's let them keep that role for themselves.

Big demo at the inauguration? I still say it's a non-starter. I'm against trying to start non-starters.

I believe Obama's playing a deep game, and that Warren is tactics, not strategy. I believe that, but I don't trust it.

Rev. Bob : Are you not talking about the original Black Panthers ? I'm talking about the New Black Panthers, the Muslim offshoot from Farrakhan's group, who are not only homophobes but teach that Caucasians were products of a lab experiment by an evil black scientist in ancient times (no, I'm not kidding). BUT, why not invite them to the Inauguration too?

The old guys. Early 1970s. They were about alliance building; mind you, they'd get in your face while they were building those alliances and you never, ever doubted what they stood for, but I've always liked the short, sharp shock as a tactic, and it's easy to get along when you know the relationship is all about power.

If the new lot are crazy religious people, invite them anyhow - if only to give the Adolf Hitler cake guy an insight into who's out here in the world beyond his imagination.

And to further scramble my thinking, That One says he's a fierce what?

I think we have wasted far too much time in the past 30 years on working within the system.

That strategy has failed - resoundingly - and although the trend will not be reversed, we need to stop relying upon the idea of trickle down social justice like we have been.

We have accomplished very little since Milk defeated Prop 6 back in the 1970s and it could be argued that we have lost far too much since then too because we did not build on the momentum that started back then, and instead invested time and energy and money into self promotion.

What do we have now to show for our work within the system? We have lots of gays in positions of power and prominence that are unable to deliver on our needs and unable to fight back against the erosion of our rights as citizens. But hey - we are everywhere - and everywhere those gays are they are mighty comfy. Good for them and shit for us.

We need to secure our own base among like minded communities of color and class and philosophy and use that coalition to create an irrefutable position against the kind of bigotry that Obama promotes by choosing that man to bless his term.

You're right.... you're wrong. We've been wronged. I want my contribution to Obama's campaign back.

SADDLEBACK CHURCH ON HOMOSEXUALITY
http://www.saddlebackfamily.com/membership/group_finder/faqs_smallgroup.asp?id=7509

What does the Bible say about homosexuality?
The Bible very clearly says that homosexuality is a sin.

"Homosexuality is absolutely forbidden, for it is an enormous sin." (Lev. 18:22 TLB)

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Cor 6:9-11 NIV)

While all sin is destructive, Romans 6 warns us of the great dangers in sexual sin when it says, "Run away from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body." (1 Cor 6:18 NLT) This includes not only homosexuality, but all sexual immorality: adultery, sex without marriage, pornography. We must not act as if homosexuality is the only serious sexual sin, and we must not act as if homosexuality is not a serious sexual sin.

I've heard it asked, "Isn't being homosexual something that a person is physically born with?" First of all, there are absolutely no facts to support this claim. From time to time studies have been reported in the news that seemed to indicate this, but every one of these studies has proven to be wrong. Secondly, even if some physical difference were discovered, it would be no excuse for sin. We know that some people can develop a stronger physical addiction to alcohol than others, but that's obviously no excuse for living an alcoholic lifestyle.

Finally, a word about being judgmental. It's not judgmental to say that what the Bible calls a sin is a sin, that's just telling the truth. Not being willing to talk to someone caught up in sin, or not believing that they can be forgiven, or thinking that you are not just as much in need of Jesus as they are ... that's being judgmental.

Because membership in a church is an outgrowth of accepting the Lordship and leadership of Jesus in one’s life, someone unwilling to repent of their homosexual lifestyle would not be accepted at a member at Saddleback Church. That does not mean they cannot attend church – we hope they do! God’s Word has the power to change our lives.

In equal desire to follow Jesus, we also would not accept a couple into membership at Saddleback who were not willing to repent of the sexual sin of living together before marriage. That does not mean this couple cannot attend church – we hope they do! God’s Word has the power to change our lives.

The Bible says a lot of things.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | December 21, 2008 12:09 AM

The present codified "bible" was written from old texts the original authorship of which is uncertain. This was accomplished about 1465. Do you really believe it is inerrant? Read "Misquoting Jesus" written by the Head of the Dept of Religion and the U of NC at Chapel Hill. You are totally dependent upon Roman Catholic foundations (translated to King James)and this is only a book of rules to control people. Those who prefer intellectual freedom reject your philosophy.

Christians pray for things and people mostly.

Confucians pray for orderly co existance

Buddhists pray for enlightenment

Islamists (who regard Jesus Christ as a prophet) are among the most victimized people in the world at the hands of Jews and Christians alike. Your pastor peddles bilge as truth to people who like to be ruled.

My pastor? I'm a spiritual rationalist (aka atheist). I was just presenting the view of Warren's church as a way of presenting his own ideas as to why he is so outdated. But I was so tired at the time I didn't mind to say much about it.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | December 20, 2008 1:09 PM

Patrick, unless its private information you don't care to disclose in this medium, how old are you? Don't take any umbrage by that question, but I think it's useful for me in understanding where you are coming from to know that. Thanks.

I am 42.5 years old.

And I think the 47 year old President needs to be educated on the difference between bigotry and diversity, which is extremely unfortunate considering his own personal history.

If his election is a sign of our progress as a nation, and his acceptance of Warren's blessing on his term and administration is evidence of Obama's vision of inclusion, then there is a serious problem in our culture that we must address...and it will not be addressed by other Democrats - gay or straight - that think it is acceptable for us to wait for justice. We cannot rely upon the powerful to disburse our liberty. Things do not work that way.

We have already learned this lesson...and Obama needs to be reminded apparently.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | December 20, 2008 3:21 PM

Thanks. So being just over 40 you were born around the time of Stonewall, and unless you were a lot more politically aware than most before you were ten what you know of the 1970's would seem to come pretty much from your own reading and research.

I raise the point because as one who just turned 70, and who didn't come out until 1978, it does seem to me that the GLBT glass has become a bit fuller than you seem to portray given the time span involved. You seem to pooh-pooh the concept of planning, and so I guess you dismiss an awful lot of folks (by no means all of them rich and comfortable) who have seen various anti-discrimination laws in states, municipalities, and the like come about. Not fast enough, no.....but from my perspective of the starting point no more than two generations ago I don't think it can be as dismissed as you seem to characterize it.

But back to planning........I wonder if you have any modicum of appreciation for the countless hours that go into even a single piece of GLBT litigation. Lawyers went into court and won some pretty decent things like Lawrence vs. Texas because of something more than somebody just yelling "down with homophobic bigotry" from the court vistor's gallery.

Is it all fast enough? Not by a long shot. Did folks make dumb strategic decisions? You betcha. But I think you unduly dismiss countless hours of dedicated effort here. Talk to some older folks in the Black civil rights movement who look at 40 years since Stonewall compared to more than 300 years of bondage and you might get a somewhat different perspective.

I am in no way being dismissive of your frustration. And I recognize that there must be more to any "movement" than endless boring meetings (I detest 90% of them myself) and planning sessions. I think that another "March on Washington" may be way overdue (I've been to two), but think we must always think before we act. It's called planning, whether or not it results in better negotiated legislation or putting my socks on before my shoes.

Ok, Don. I know. I didn't just awake from a coma. I am making sweeping generalizations and broad statements - all of which I stand behind and defend.

There are no simple answers or silver bullets. And as much as you can point to the things that have changed - quickly or not - in the past 30 years, it is undeniable that each advance is met with two set backs. I don't have a scoreboard to point to and I know you aren't holding me to that standard either. That is what is so great and frustrating about this media.

We have unique opportunities to communicate with people all over the country with little effort and slight cost (per missive) so that translates into truncated arguments. I could take time to research the past 30 years to buttress my viewpoint, as could you, but ultimately that endeavor benefits no one.

My general idea is that over the course of thirty years there have been shifts in our standing as citizens - within and without our population - and we have reached a point - perhaps because of the election of Obama - that our tactics must accelerate. It appears that momentum has begun since 8 and Obama's election.

Discouraging critical thought and reactions by dismissing the importance of the choice of Warren - no matter how little affect it has, it is symbolically significant - is destructive and complicit. We MUST stop abdicating our responsibility to defend each other against this constant barrage of ignorance - whether it is willful or accidental - for fear of alienating unreliable allies in government.

We are close to making an enormous change for US - in employment concerns, in immigration rights, in terms of our constitutional legitimacy, as citizens that deserve respect and full consideration - and we have to get off of the tit of party politics or we will always be on the brink of success and never in the winners circle. It is not in either political parties interest for this struggle to end. They both reap the benefits of our ongoing plight.

If we rely only upon patience and reason and well thought out arguments we will always be bridesmaids and never a bride. Yes, there certainly is an overarching agenda at work. I am not part of it. I have no interest in being a shadow player cutting deals like Barney Frank, the HRC and other "important" types that aren't affected by the compromised they make for others.

I just want it known that I do not approve of my current status and it is not the result of anything I have done wrong. I deserve better...so does my husband, so do my friends, so does my friend that had to leave America to be with her parter in England, so do the couple of guys I know that are struggling to raise their daughter in Southern California, so does every transgendered person that can't find work or resources to improve their lives.

I can't wait around for Obama to figure it out and assume that he will because he is black or a Democrat or a geminii. He has what he wants now. He doesn't need us anymore. But you can count on him to start kissing our ass again sometime around 2011.

And I fully expect many of you patient homos will be there to embrace him no matter what we have learned/experienced in the time between now and then...and that is maddening to me.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | December 20, 2008 5:15 PM

(I apologize if this happens to appear twice....something happened to my Internet connection just as I sent it the first time)

That's fair, and this older but not by any means necessarily wiser "patient homo" respects your take while dissenting from a lot of it. And again, thanks for letting us know that you're about halfway between the early 20's and their own brand of impatience/anger and my generation. It may indeed "take all kinds". My partner is an African American and we've continually gone back and forth over our years together about some parallels concerning "Uncle Tom-ism" in the black civil rights movement.

The script isn't new, although the actors may have changed. I've momentarily forgotten who said something like: "The only thing we learn from history is that we don't learn from history", but I think applies to both the doggedly patient and in perenially impatient, homos or nomos.

Thank you Bil! When I got my second email from EQ-CA on this I just lost it and unsubscribed. I want to be in this movement and frankly find our reaction to Warren embarrassing.

Rick Warren's selection is a big deal. The GLBT reaction to the selection is very, very important. Why would we accept such a selection without voicing our displeasure? Watch Rachel Maddow's show. She does an excellent job of "getting the word out" on why we can't "sit back, relax and enjoy it".

I am pleased GLBT leaders are being outspoken. People are hearing us. If some of you think we're just whining; then, I expect you are the same people who thought the FDA would find drugs to combat the ravages of HIV/AIDS without intervention of groups like ACT-UP. We are speaking out, we are being heard, the message is clear, and I am more than certain Rick Warren will go back to Saddleback and be a distant memory in the future. Rick Warren has been discredited in so many ways. He calls for assassination of world leaders, his church isn't inclusive, he says gays are incestuous, he says we are pedophiles, and he says we are only interested in multiple sex partners. The guy's visibility in so many ways paints him as a lunatic. I don't think he gives a shit about global warming (it's just he lives in Southern California and he's intereted in his collection plate), I don't think Warren has any interest in a National AIDS policy (if he does, I have not heard it), I am uninterested in how Warren translates the bible because it is just another book of fiction.

There is no reason for the GLBT "community" to become divided on the issue of Rick Warren. Rick Warren is a fat, pompous ass. His bible is his crutch, but he will never be a friend for our community and he should be repudiated in the strongest possible terms.

It turns out that Warren is a supporter of Bishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, who lobbied to pass the most draconian anti-gay laws outside of states under Sharia law.

Penalties of 5 to 15 years hard labour are imposed for offences ranging from two gays being in the same place to possessing material about HIV to actual sex.

All bets are off...whatever Warren may say for American consumption, where the power exists to do it he supports crushing and imprisoning us.

Disrupt the inaguration if he is on the podium. Bring DC to a halt.

We owe it to our brothers and sisters doing hard labour thanks to Akinola and his supporter, Rick Warren...

I promise I didn't post and run! :) We had company all day yesterday and Friday night was a busy one. I'll work my way through from the top now and start responding. :)

That's okay, Bil. As you can see from the number of comments, this has been one of your more popular articles. :)

beachcomberT | December 22, 2008 8:29 AM

Thanks, Bil, for bringing a little common sense and reality to this issue. The thing we should be paying attention to is not the opening prayer, but what Obama himself says -- or doesn't say -- about GLBT equality in the Inaugural Address. Are we going to get just platitudes, or something specific that Obama will work for in his first 100 days, or first year, or first term?
The Rick Warren episode is a good wake-up call for us, but, in and of itself, it doesn't count for much. Pay closer attention to the bills that get filed, or re-filed into the congressional hopper.

One saying sticks out in my mind " keep your friends close and keep your enemies closer"

Then one other saying sticks out "I am the president for you people too who didn't vote for me"
I promise to listen to you even though we may not agree.

I know Rick Warren the man is dangerous and offensive to us as LGBTQ. But I do know that Obama is reading Lincoln's play book as a way into this presidency, not because he "believes in the religious right" but because he has to be their president, because of his position in this country.

we have the right to be upset over this man's selection in the inauguration and voice our opinions, and keep fighting his ilk demanding our rights as citizens. It doesn't mean that Obama will vote for right wing causes just because this man has been selected to perform at his inauguration.

Obama has said he doesn't believe in redefining marriage as it is but his has also said he believes we deserve the same federal benefits afforded to married people and he is working to bring that about. whether it will be equal to marriage will be anyone's guess but if the civil unions in NJ and VT are any indication we will have models NOT to adopt.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | December 22, 2008 9:28 AM

"......but if the civil unions in NJ and VT are any indication we will have models NOT to adopt."

At the risk of getting a bit off the main topic of this thread, James (or anyone else), could you elaborate a bit on why the New Jersey and Vermont civil union laws are not acceptable models? I know of course that they don't, because they can't, bestow federal benefits. Nor will they be "portable" outside their own state boundaries. That would take something more than these or any states themselves could bestow. But so far as making civil unions fully legally equal as to state matters, what are the deficiencies? Are there specific exceptions stated in the law to full equality?

(I also understand the argument that if the name isn't the same then it won't be as accepted....I'm simply asking what the law says on its face.....any federal legislation could seem not to go any further than that)

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | December 23, 2008 2:15 AM

New Jersey, as are many, including Iowa, is a non-redundancy state (something also found in federal law.) The court thus may not find that the two laws provide for equal rights/responsibilities/benefits on the assumption that their legislature would not waste the taxpayer's resources by passing two laws that cover the same things, just called by two different names. That means that one will have to cover more stuff than the other. Guess which one will naturally get the short end of the stick. I know this is a little obscure but it is real.

And let us not forget the research that is the basis of the Brown decision, either -- that the effect of separate is that it fools no one -- it always conveys lesser than and unworthy and that it is poison to the psyche and hurts both the oppressed and the oppressor.

People seem to want a shortcut on this but there just isn't one. The bigots who are not yet ready to give up their bigotry but have progressed just far enough to be uncomfortable with the bigot in the mirror will have to resolve this the old-fashioned way. This fence is topped with broken glass and sharp pikes and there's just no comfy place to sit on top of it. It's a moral dilemma with two sides -- and only two sides -- and one must choose one or the other. The good news is that, once having made the wrong choice, one is still free to change one's mind and make the right one, the one one's great-grandchildren will not be embarrassed one made.

anytime a rabid vulgar gay hater like warren is honored, it is ALWAYS a big deal!

it would be a big deal if david duke was speaking
too!

fyi
OUTLOOK
http://aliciabanks.blogspot.com

Equating Rick Warren with David Duke? First of all, Godwin invoked; you fail. Second, if you whiners weren't so damn selfish and looking for something to attack Obama over as you've been doing since day one, maybe you'd realize the actual truth of this. But no, no, you want to throw him under the bus, say he's OBVIOUSLY just a bigot. You want to be oppressed, you want to be beaten down.

You're no different from a far-right "Christian" who treats the existence of other people as a threat to their own.

You've all become what you fear most.

Congratulations.

I hope you're all proud.

I don't find this remotely persuasive. And I find Bil's sense of self-importance hilarious.

Bullshit.

Rick Warren hates gays. It is/he is an issue.

This was a mistake and it shouldn't be overlooked.

Is it the end of the world? No, certainly not.

Were we overlooked, at minimum, and proverbially "kicked to the curb"? You bet.

If President-elect Obama had picked a conservative and/or Republican minister who wasn't against gays and not against women's rights, that would have made sense.

Giving this small-minded leader of a large congregation this big a platform hurt gays and took us for granted, period.

This was, we hope, an oversight and it shouldn't happen again.

If you're not upset and don't know you've been slighted and overlooked and absolutely marginalized, you don't know what Rick Warren stands for--and should.

Rick Warren Should be a Non-issue
Regardless of who speaks, religion has no place nor right to preach at a civil-state function. Having any religious proceedings at an Inauguration of any government official is and affront to the Constitution and all citizens freedoms. If people wish to believe in an invisible man, that's there right. This is supposed to be a Republic not a Theocracy and religion should not be tolerated in civil politics. While freedom of religion is a right, it should not be allowed to use Government to control the masses nor should the government use religion to control citizens. Religion's only purpose is to put power in the hands of those who seek power. Remember all religions are created by and run by man; and thus cannot be perfect in any way.
Peace and love,
Tammi Dee Voytek

Exactly, Tammy. I couldn't agree more. To take this further, the next time 'round, we shouldn't have Presidential candidates being interviewed by ministers. It shouldn't have happened this last go 'round. Up until this election, we had been able to avoid it and it's a bad precedent to set. Once we start that, where does it stop? Do we have the two of them interviewed by a Jewish Rabbi and a Muslim Mullah and who else? It's insane.

It's simple, really:

Religion out of government;
Government out of religion.