It had to happen. Every new president has to move toward a consensus. But I'm troubled by Barack Obama's decision to have Rick Warren give the invocation at his inauguration. Yes, it's purely symbolic. But symbolism is important in a presidency, and Warren symbolizes intolerance. Most recently he was active in supporting California's Proposition 8, which outlawed gay marriage in that state. But personally, his his efforts to bring about a schism in the Episcopal Church--my church--trouble me even more. He's been working to break up my church for at least three years. In November, 2005, he spoke at a Pittsburgh meeting of Episcopal Church dissidents opposed to the consecration of Gene Robinson, an openly gay man in a committed relationship, as Bishop of New Hampshire. An excerpt from a November 11, 2005 New York Times article:
The Episcopalians and Anglicans were joined by well-known American evangelical Christians, most notably the Rev. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and author of "The Purpose-Driven Life." Mr. Warren gave encouragement to conservative church dissidents who are trying to break with the Episcopal Church but who have often been stymied by disputes with their dioceses over ownership of church property.
"What's more important is your faith, not your facilities," he told the crowd at the Convention Center here. "The church is people, not the steeple. They might get the building, but you get the blessing."
Warren, whose megachurch is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, is self-serving at best when he works to break up another church. He is a divider, not a uniter. There are conservatives who oppose the ordination of gays and lesbians, but are committed to the staying in the Episcopal Church. Bishop Edward Stuart Little of the Diocese of Northern Indiana is a good example.
For Obama to un-invite Warren would cause even more problems for the president-elect. If Warren has any decency, he'll politely decline the invitation and allow Obama to choose someone who will bring the country together.