• Many liberals and gay-rights advocates are up in arms because Warren opposes gay marriage, and fear that Obama just pulled a little bait and switch, promising equal rights and giving more of the same.
• Conservative evangelicals are in a tizzy because Obama is pro-choice, and they feel that Warren’s fraternization with him sends the wrong message.
• Dan Barker and other offended atheists think there shouldn’t be prayer at political functions in the first place. Mr. Barker is filing a lawsuit against the formal invocation tradition, which has been around since FDR’s second inauguration.
This choice, in one fell swoop, has raised three of the hottest-button issues of our day: gay rights, abortion, and the separation of church and state.
I suppose being an Obama supporter and part of a queer-friendly church should make me want to set up camp with the first group of the offended. Really, though, when I think of Rick Warren being chosen as the token Christian, I have to suppress a yawn. Sure, he has made some uneducated (all be they Purpose Driven) remarks about our homosexual brothers and sisters, but he did not, as many would like to believe, spearhead a political effort to pass Proposal 8 in California, though he did release a short video message sharing his opinions on it at the request of his parishioners.
Can I suggest that conservative evangelicals chill out a bit as well? Obama and Warren are men who have different views, and they have once again chosen mutual respect and dialogue over finger-pointing. (Warren invited Obama to speak at an AIDS conference in his church in 2005.)
I acknowledge that there may be larger political and religious implications to this move, though I doubt each side will abandon their promises or beliefs because of their alliance.
I think the third camp might actually have the most credible reasons for being offended. Why is the constitutional separation of church and state seemingly disregarded in this once special instance? Could Obama, if he should choose to, start every State of the Union Address in prayer?
Don’t get me wrong; I am a fan of prayer. But even as a Christian, I find this prayer a bit, well, showy. And though some may yearn for the days of blissful homogeny when we didn’t have to consider other religions or viewpoints, this can and should no longer be the case.
I see the prayer at inaugurations similar to a Wimbledon player’s nod or curtsy to the box where the king and queen used to sit. The tradition was upheld so long not because it meant anything, but because it was tradition. And I predict, like the Wimbledon nod that died out in 2003, the inaugural prayer will soon bow out as well.
But that’s just my opinion. I’m just offended that you hadn’t asked me until now.