After much speculation, Rick Warren, pastor of the Saddleback Church, delivered the invocation at the inaugural ceremony – a prayer that was heartfelt and true to his faith tradition.
Warren offered an inclusive prayer for a nation comprised of many faiths. “Help us, oh God, to remember that we are Americans, united not by race or religion or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all,” he said. “Help us to share, to serve and to seek the common good of all. May all people of good will today join together to work for a more just, a more healthy and a more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet. And may we never forget that one day all nations and all people will stand accountable before you.”
You may not realize it with all of the controversy surrounding his appearance, but Pastor Warren’s invocation also had the backing of most Americans. According to a new poll
released today, more than 60% of the American people approved of Obama’s invitation to Warren to participate.
In the days leading up to the inaugural, Barack Obama defended the Warren pick saying “during the course of the entire inaugural festivities, there is going to be a wide range of viewpoints that are presented. That’s how it should be, because that’s what America is about,” he said. “Part of the magic of this country is that we are diverse and noisy and opinionated and that’s hopefully going to be a spirit that carries over to the administration.”
Before concluding the invocation with the Lord’s prayer, Pastor Warren acknowledged that there’s much work ahead during these challenging times: “And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes, even when we differ. Help us to share, to serve and to seek the common good of all.”
And, yes, Rick Warren ended the prayer in the name of Jesus, which is consistent with his Evangelical Christian faith. There is nothing wrong with that. It would be ironic, indeed, if the government were to dictate the content of the prayer at the inaugural event. That is not the role of government.