Christopher Hitchens thinks everyone is entitled to ask and keep asking every member of the Obama transition team until a satisfactory answer is received, the following three questions:
• Will Warren be invited to the solemn ceremony of inauguration without being asked to repudiate what he has directly said to deny salvation to Jews?
• Will he be giving a national invocation without disowning what his mentor said about civil rights and what his leading supporter says about Mormons?
• Will the American people be prayed into the next administration, which will be confronted by a possible nuclear Iran and an already nuclear Pakistan, by a half-educated pulpit-pounder raised in the belief that the Armageddon solution is one to be anticipated with positive glee?
Read his latest piece in Slate for the background information about Warren (whom Hitchens refers to, amongst other things, as “a tree-shaking huckster and publicity seeker”) on which the above questions are predicated — it’s Hitch at his remorselessly scathing best.
Slate also features a very thoughtful online “debate” regarding the Warren issue between various bloggers in a forum called the “XX Factor” which is well worth perusing. It’s hard not to feel pulled in different directions — first one way and then the opposite — after reading through the various posts.
Update: More disconcerting revelations about Pastor Warren and a discussion about the possibility of Obama rescinding the invitation to have him deliver the invocation at the inaugural with journalist and author David Corn.
I did mention the comments to a previous post on this subject that Pastor Warren has some pretty kooky ideas, didn’t I? Well, behold!
Appearing recently on Fox’s Hannity & Colmes to promote his new book The Purpose of Christmas, the conversation quite naturally turned to the subject of “evil” in the world. Case in point, at least according to Sean Hannity, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Hannity insisted America needs to “take out” the democratically elected Iranian president. Warren said he agreed. Hannity asked, “Am I advocating something dark, evil or something righteous?” Warren responded, “Well, actually, the Bible says that evil cannot be negotiated with. It has to just be stopped… In fact, that is the legitimate role of government. The Bible says that God puts government on earth to punish evildoers. Not good-doers. Evildoers.” I wonder if that little bit of holiday cheer will be in the invocation.
In another segment of the same interview, Warren suggested that people of all faiths (or no faith) need to open their hearts to Jesus and accept Him as their personal savior. “I’m saying that this perfect time to open their life, to give it a chance. To give Him a sixty day trial.” When Colmes suggested he was making religion sound like a book of the month club, Warren said “I dare you to try trusting Jesus for sixty days.” Good grief.
A great description of Rick Warren by Rob Boston of Americans United for the Separation of Church & State appearing on Countdown earlier tonight.
Maybe this was a “shrewd” move by Obama, but quite frankly, as the controversy continues to unwind, it’s looking dumber all the time.
Update: Sully softens his tone after looking at David Brody’s inbox… Meanwhile, John Cole has come to the firm conclusion that anyone who uses the phrase “slap in the face” needs a swift kick in the ass.
Now that would have been “change we can believe in.”
Other than the obvious political posturing and pandering that’s woven into the fabric of the historical moment, why does the inauguration of a president require the inclusion of the clergy to conduct a ritual? No chance of it ever happening of course, but just imagine if that part of the ceremony had been left out altogether…
I’d certainly rather have seen the fallout from that, rather than the dismal spectacle of Obama’s transition team defensively defending his “shrewd” decision to give Pastor Rick Warren a speaking spot at the inauguration.
Open & Inclusive Update: Warren thinks abortion a “holocaust” and urged his flock to vote for Prop 8. He compared gay marriage to incest and polygamy and pederasty, and when asked if he really thought those things “equivalent to having gays getting married,” he replied, “Oh, I do.”
Update2: Lee Stranahan at the Huffington Post makes a good point about the “mighty small politics” practiced in America these days. He writes: “I don’t understand how anyone who listened to Obama during the campaign would be shocked that Obama lets Warren give the invocation. It’s vintage Obama. It does not signal agreement with Warren’s political positions, some of which are clearly at odds with Obama’s. Warren isn’t making policy or even giving a sermon., He’s saying a prayer and then possibly dancing later at some inaugural parties. If anything, it’s the possibility of this dancing that should be deeply troubling to all Americans.” Indeed.