hates you, your family, your friends, any single person youve ever loved, oh, and your mom too.

Rick Warren: hates you, your family, your friends, any single person you've ever loved, oh, and your mom too.

Barack Obama once again made an extremely controversial choice when picking evangelical pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his Presidential Inauguration on January 20th.

My first initial reaction was to control my gag reflex, but there are two possible rational explanations to this seemingly obscure move:

1) Barack Obama extends a helpful, friendly hand to Sarah Palin and her cohort of Bible bashers. Rick Warren, so openly pro-life it’s borderline disgusting, could be a sign that the Obama administration doesn’t have the intention to marginalize the religious right. Warren is not even among the fence-sitters; he consistly opposed progressive issues such as stem-cell research, gay marriage and the traditional hot topic, abortion. However, Warren is far from being just any preacher from the South. He is the founder of Saddleback Church in Lakeforest, CA and was named one of “America’s Top 25 Leaders” in the October 31, 2005 issue of US News & World Report.  Saddleback is the fourth biggest church in the United States. No matter how tight we shut our eyes hoping they’d re-open contemplating a world where fundamental freedoms would be respected and basic human rights implemented, people like Rick Warren still represent a non-negligeable part of the American population that strongly expressed itself throughout the last decade, and more precisely over the last eight years under a very conservative administration. This population has gotten accustomed to being heard and to become an active part of the debate over social issues. I guess we’ll really have to deal with them from now on.

2) Maybe it’s not just about religion, after all. Obama was elected over extremely progressive social issues and a foreign policy agenda qualified as lax by the McCain camp during the campaign.  But is Rick Warren more than just this larger-than-life church leader? According to Sam Stein from the Huffington Post, “Warren does have a rather peculiar relationship with the incoming president. The two share a general ethos that political differences should not serve as impediments to progress. On topics like AIDS and poverty relief, they see eye-to-eye. But Warren’s domestic and social agendas are at odds with Obama’s. And for the gay and lesbian community in particular, the choice is a bitter pill to swallow.” Warren, whom Obama had already praised in his book “The audacity of hope”, might be the man the President-Elect wanted by his side as a remembrance from his days in South Side working as a community organizer. What if Barack Obama wanted to shed a light on the positive aspects that religious men could bring to a nation who clearly demonstrated how important spirituality was in the political life?

However salient those points, remains the question of the genuine offence made to liberal Americans and international Obama supporters. Branded as an advocator of change, the leader towards a different future, a light at the end of the conservative tunnel, Obama might have just made the decision that could completely overturn the wave of ecstasy on which we’ve all been riding since November 4th. Short of calling Barack Obama a liar, skepticism prevails in this decision. Rick Warren is no stranger to a different kind of shock doctrine. Let’s keep in mind the Saddleback pastor has compared abortion to the Holocaust:  “Don’t tell me [abortion] should be rare. That’s like saying on the Holocaust, ‘Well, maybe we could save 20 percent of the Jewish people in Poland and Germany and get them out and we should be satisfied with that. I’m not satisfied with that. I want the Holocaust ended.”

Likewise, Rick Warren also clearly explained how basic human rights did not extend to homosexuals. “Homosexuality is not a natural way of life and thus not a human right. We shall not tolerate this aspect at all.” To Warren, this specific sexual orientation is nothing but “molestation and sodomy”.  Joe Solomnese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, wrote in a letter to the President-Elect: “Let me get right to the point. Your invitation to Reverend Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at your inauguration is a genuine blow to LGBT Americans.”

If by “genuine blow”, Solomnese understands “straightfoward, unforgivable insult”, I am on board. If by “LGBT Americans”, he also regroups any progressive, critical thinker, any liberal, libertarian, any member of a visible or unvisible minority, every human rights activisits and any freedom lover, yes, I agree. Rick Warren’s presence at Barack Obama’s inauguration still remains a painful, extremely bitter pill to swallow. The necessary transition and bridge-mending that could restore the American population’s faith in politics doesn’t need another mental terrorist.

Advertisements