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Posts Tagged ‘Inauguration’

Barack Obama’s recent selection of Evangelical preacher Rick Warren to give the invocation prayer at the Presidential Inauguration has set off a firestorm of protests among the lesbian and gay communities in America. Warren is one of the leading Evangelical preachers in America and has a very large following. He has very strong views on some topics and is not afraid to state them. Obama claims that by having Warren participate in the Inauguration it will bring us together.

If there is a consistency in Obama’s actions since he won the election it is in his choices of people to be on his “team”. He has opted for diversity of opinions. It is clear that he believes that the answer to America’s fragmented society is a shotgun marriage of the spokesmen for these diverse groups into a single working entity. At least that seems to be the strategy with his Cabinet and it also seems to be the approach he is taking for his Inauguration. I suppose that, for completeness, he will now have to find some other spokesman for the people that Warren preaches against who will also have a role in the Inauguration. It is an interesting approach that Obama has taken, but it leaves me wondering about one thing: what is Obama’s own position now on religion?

For many years he was a member of the black Christian church community, but he decided to put some distance between him and that church after the antics of Pastor Wright caused considerable damage to his campaign. So, does this mean that Obama has renounced the black church? I recall that, in 1961, John F. Kennedy asked Cardinal Cushing to give the invocation at his Inauguration. Although Kennedy was the only Roman Catholic ever elected to be President of the United States, and there were plenty of people who were afraid that he would inflict his Catholic views on the nation, Kennedy went ahead and asked a Roman Catholic Cardinal to give the invocation. He remained true to his religious associations despite the potential for controversy.

While Obama’s search for unanimity and cohesion is admirable, I have to wonder if he is sacrificing something here that should not be sacrificed. What about Obama’s inner core? What about his core beliefs? He has renounced Pastor Wright as his spiritual adviser. Does this mean that Obama no longer has any spiritual adviser? Does this mean that, in his mind, the principal purpose of the invocation prayer is to provide an opportunity for more political and national bonding?

So far, his choice has clearly infuriated the gay and lesbian community and may have turned them against Obama. There are also many of other positions held by Pastor Warren that various Americans disagree with. So has Obama’s choice backfired? Was it a blunder that could burst into Inauguration day protests in D.C.? Has it really served to pull us closer together? How many Catholics are thrilled with his choice? How many Jews? How many Mormons? How many Lutherans or Episcopalians? The fact is that there is no one he could choose for this task that would serve to bring us together. Almost any choice he could make would be controversial. He would have been better searching for a preacher from the black church who more accurately represents his own inner beliefs – at least that would have been an authentic choice.

Barack, this was a blunder. There are times in government when you need to compromise, and there are times when you have to be true to your inner core. This was one of those “inner core” times. There are many Americans, not just gays and lesbians, who fervently hope that Pastor Warren doesn’t speak for your own strongly held inner beliefs.

I wonder, is it too late to reconsider your choice?

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