Somebody needs to explain this to me, because I must be dumb: Rick Warren was somehow an inclusive choice to deliver the Invocation at the Inauguration?

Let’s look for a moment at what an invocation is. It’s that moment when the walls between us are supposed to melt, when we move beyond the mind and surrender our hearts into the hands of God. It’s a prayer that we make as a nation, asking that God’s hand be upon us, that He forgive us our errors, and that He bless our new President and his administration.

So having one of the more judgmental people in the ministerial world deliver the invocation seems odd to me, and extraordinarily cynical. Rick Warren has supported what would be the first legislation ever passed in the United States to specifically limit the rights of a group of American citizens. What does he bring to the table at the Inauguration other than a cynically calculated wink in the direction of right-wing evangelicals? That kind of motivation, and the name Barack Obama, are supposed to be oxymoronic….aren’t they?

Warren seems like a good man, and I like his book a lot.  But the person who leads the nation in prayer on January 20th should be someone asking God to forgive us our sins, not someone who dresses up one of our baser national instincts in pseudo-religious packaging. I want all spiritually-minded Americans to feel like bowing their heads during the Invocation at Obama’s inauguration, for what could and should be a profound and blessed moment of national healing. Yet now millions of gay and lesbian Americans in this country are supposed to…what?….bow their heads and surrender to the voice of someone who they know has tirelessly worked against their rights? And how does that work? You close your eyes and forget what you know, put it in the background, just say to yourself that this is what being inclusive means?

The problem with that is that by the time you’d done it, even if you could do it, the prayer would be over. At that point on January 20th, Rick Warren will have been given even more of an exalted place in American culture than he has already, with more power to continue his crusade against gay rights.

Barack Obama was and is my choice for President, but in this one thing, he sure doesn’t have my vote. He said today that he’s a fierce advocate for gay and lesbian Americans, but slaps in the face and advocacy do not go together.

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