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Obama's inauguration pastor, Rick Warren, draws 2 Calif. volleys

Dueling public statements were released moments ago almost simultaneously on the growing controversy over President-elect Barack Obama's invitation to a conservative California pastor to give the invocation at his inauguration Jan. 20.

Just a few hours ago, The Ticket chronicled Obama's firm stand behind his invitation to Dr. Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest. Who'd have expected a few weeks ago that the liberal left would be attacking and threatening the Democratic president-elect while a conservative pastor of an Orange County mega-church would be praising him for courage.

Now, a few minutes ago the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center issued a statement under the name of chief of staff Darrel Cummings calling on the president-elect to disinvite Warren, who supported Prop. 8 on the Nov. 4 ballot, which passed and bans same-sex marriage.

Cummings' statement said:

"If President-elect Obama does not disinvite Rick Warren, then he is defining what inclusion in America will mean under his administration.  It will mean that the practice of bigotry is acceptable, and that as president — in the name of 'inclusion' — he will provide a place and platform for that bigotry to be expressed and grow. 

"Apparently we are welcome into the big tent of hope, but if we choose to enter, we should do so knowing we are in hostile, yet 'balanced' territory.”

At almost the same time, Warren issued a brief statement too. It said:

"I commend President-elect 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 at his historic Inaugural ceremony.

"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.

"The Bible admonishes us to pray for our leaders. I am honored by this opportunity to pray God’s blessing on the office of the President and its current and future inhabitant, asking the Lord to provide wisdom to America’s leaders during this critical time in our nation’s history."

More to come, it would seem.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Comments () | Archives (10)

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If Obama really believes in inclusion, he will exclude everyone who doesn't agree with that Cummings guy. Or something like that.

Why does there even need to be a pastor at a government event? This is the 21st century, not the 8th. For Obama to think it relevant for some myopic Christian pastor to "bless" the ceremony is nothing more than cheap pandering to Evangelical dimwits.

I do want to give the new president every benefit of the doubt. I do hope that this will bear positive outcomes. But I still have trouble with Warren being there. Where do we draw the lines? Surely David Duke would not be invited, would he?

We do not need to become a "secular state" like the Soviet Union, Poland, east Germany or Cuba! Those countries are now in ruins! In God we trust!

Obama was not well advised on this.

Heck, I think even Rev. White would have been a better pick that this coward named "Rick Warren".

Hey Alex C. - believe me there does need to be a pastor!!!
Pastors and churches will keep America from turning into the 8th Century!

IF YOU ASK EVERY CHRISTIAN PASTOR IF HE BELIEVE THAT MARRIAGE IS BETWEEN A MAN AND A WOMAN HE WOULD SUPPORT PROP 8. SO WHO EVER OBAMA WOULD HAVE ASKED WOULD NOT BE OK FOR THE GAY & LESBIAN GROUP. AS A BLACK MAN I DO HAVE A PROBLEM WITH SOMEONE BEING DENIED THERE RIGHTS BUT I AM A BELIVER IN THE WORDS OF THE HOLY BIBLE AND GOD STATES THE THIS IS A SIN FOR TWO PEOPLE OF THE SAME SEX TO BE MARRIED. SORRY THAT IS JUST HOW IT IS.

With all due respect Alex, who asked you? You're welcome to have your opinion and to share your opinion but it's no more valid than the next person's--like mine.

As one of those "Evangelical dimwits" you dismiss (nevermind the fact that I'm a college math professor), I am in fact rather impressed that Obama has the courage to invite Rick Warren. While I sometimes have disagreements with Pastor Warren's views as well, I think that he is a man of conviction who represents himself and our faith well.

This whole brouhaha revolves around the fact that the GLBT community in California (and of course nationwide) wants to redefine marriage. This isn't a civil/equal rights issue because what marriage is now is open to everyone - a legal commitment to share life with one non-related person of major age who is of the opposite gender. No, what the GLBT community wants is to redefine marrage so the last part of that definition is stripped. What Pastor Warren and many others of us have a problem with is when you start degrading a definition in one way, what stops you from sliding down the slippery slope to an even more debased definition?

To get back on point though, Obama has never been in the gay marriage camp. Fools who thought supporting Obama and opposing Prop 8 went together should ask themselves why they had that belief to begin with.

Are all you Obamabots wondering now just who it is that you elected? Is this the sort of "change" that you were waiting for?

This might turn out to have been the greatest bait-and-switch campaign in modern U.S. history. Or he might be simply bidiing his time, trying to lul conservatives to sleep before he turns left. Or he might just not have any real beliefs.

I'm happy with his pick of Rick Warren, and equally happy that it's driving the left nuts.

This is way to entertaining. We've got ignorant people who evidently think 200 years worth of tradition should be scrapped so that Gay people and intolerant atheist dimwits can feel included. Liberals don't believe in tolerance, they only believe in there own imaginary intellectual arrogance. I have to admire Obama. He is going to be more like Bush than Clinton and not govern by polling fools and morons. This is what you get when you elect a blank canvas. You pin all your hopes and dreams onto someone who does not have the ablitiy to live up to the hype...no one could live up to it.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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