President-elect Obama has cited his belief in inclusiveness as the reason for inviting Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration. Inclusiveness is all well and good, but it should not be extended to Rick Warren, who has done so much to exclude an entire class of people.
You have surely heard by now the question “What if Obama had invited an anti-Semite or racist to give the invocation?” It’s a fair question (and yes, this hypothetical bigot would have a sympathetic résumé on the environment and poverty like Warren). I’d like to think that Obama’s response to it would be more probing than the agree-to-disagree logic with which he has defended the Warren invitation. Actually, I’d like to think that the answer would be a simple: “It would never happen. My vision of inclusiveness ends with those who sow hate for others.”
At best, Obama’s decision here reflects a stubborn insistence on ramming home the theme of inclusiveness. He seems to think, twistedly, that this is best accomplished through provocative moves like inviting a polarizing figure like Rick Warren to christen his administration. At worst, it speaks to a far more deep-seated hostility to the GLBTQ community on Obama’s part than was apparent during the campaign.
Rick Warren has used rhetoric to strike a blow against civility, comparing gay marriage to incest, pedophilia, and polygamy. He has used politics to strike a blow against civil rights, working to help pass Prop 8 in California. This is exactly what the president-elect spent two years declaiming against, and it is exactly why he should not have chosen Rick Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration.
Jamaica Plain MA