President-elect Obama’s invitation to evangelist Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the inauguration has got some folks — especially some gay folks — in an uproar. Warren backed the bigoted Prop 8 that took away rights of same-sex couples to marry. We hate his discriminatory talk and actions. At least I do.
But, I might have him at my swearing in as President. Wrong belief system, wrong about marriage, and all.
We have to talk and work with each other, even those who I think are horribly wrong on some key issues.
“I’ll talk only to those who agree with me,” is a George Bush-ism that we cannot perpetuate now that our side is in power.
We have to persuade and educate. We may even have to honor an opinion or two which we consider an anathema.
Obama’s invitation to Warren will help those evangelicals who were enthusiastic about Palin feel more comfortable and connected to the President of the country. By including Rick Warren, Obama is honoring the views of 20% of the country. This is important. He’s enfranchising them without changing his own views or policies. This is important, too.
There are things to like about Rick Warren. Okay, I can think of only one, but still! I was impressed that Warren invited Obama to his church to speak during the campaign. Warren was willing to expose his parishioners to someone he probably wasn’t going to vote for.
We need to talk to people we don’t agree with. Rick Warren did that during the campaign. Shouldn’t Obama do that now?
Moreover, we need to expose bigots to the people they are biased against and who are hurt by their bigotry.
I cannot recall an public ceremonial invocation that hasn’t made me tune out, squirm, or worse. These public invocations are always given my someone whose theology is not close to mine and who too often sound awfully sanctimonious. Billy Graham-like ministers don’t speak to me. Yet their presence is important to a lot of people. Isn’t it good to be inclusive of those whose religious beliefs differ from our own?
I support boycotting businesses whose owners backed Prop 8. I don’t want my money to go to future campaigns that will hurt me.
I support confronting the bigotry in religious, business, and public figures. They need to be held responsible for their hurtful actions.
And, still, it’s okay with me for Rick Warren to give his invocation.
He is a part of this country, and we need him and his co-religionists. We need to talk together, work together on what we agree on, and work on our differences.
No more George Bush Presidents that talk only to supporters and sycophants. Let Rick Warren be Rick Warren.