I dislike most of what Rick Warren stands for.
I disagree with much of his theology, particularly his beliefs about sexuality, and with regard to his position on Prop 8 he is either intellectually lazy or dishonest or both. He has either bought the lies being told by the supporters of Proposition 8, that it was necessary to protect free speech in the pulpit, and was too lazy to engage in the five minutes of reasoning necessary to realize that contention was ridiculous, or he realized it was a lie and repeated it anyway because it was likely to work. Neither is an admirable quality, but I am inclined to believe the former, because I have never seen or heard anything from him that gave any indication of intellectual effort. His claim that marraige is and always has been one man and one woman, in all cultures and all religions is demonstrably false, so clearly false that five minutes of internet time would provide him with a wealth of counter examples. Many of those counter examples come from the bible itself, a book he should be more than passing familiar with. The Hebrew patriarchs clearly had more than one wife, and concubines that were not wives, all with God’s blessing, and yet polygamy is one of those things he lists as not the traditional view of marriage he is defending. Warren comes from a tradition that does not encourage scholarship, Biblical or otherwise, an attitude that has always been a mystery to me, but that he does not see this contradiction is evidence of a determined refusal to think.
And yet, despite this, I am not that upset about his giving the invocation on 20 January. There are important differences between him and the Robertsons and Dobsons. Unlike many megachurch pastors he takes the obligation to care for the poor and the sick seriously, and that is in my view crucial to what it means to be a Christian, far more crucial than who you sleep with. It doesn’t make me want to attend his church, or read his books, but it lets me see him in a broader context than his sexual bigotry.
I probably would not have invited him to participate in the inauguration, but I am pretty sure Barack Obama is a more generous person than I am. He has promised to be the President not just for the people who voted for him, but for the people who didn’t vote for him. This invitation is part of that promise. This is not the victory celebration for his supporters; that was in Chicago on election night. This event belongs to the entire country, and Warren represents a significant part of our population. However much I may disagree with them, they need to be included.
But that doesn’t mean we quit fighting them on the issues.