Sunday, December 21, 2008

Spreading the Social Gospel?

I must say that I'm still a bit conflicted about Rick Warren doing the invocation at Barack Obama's inauguration. Since I'm not that all religious, one part of me thinks that there shouldn't be an invocation anyways. But I recognize the role religion plays in many lives and in American society, so with that assumption, what does it mean to have Rick Warren give the invocation? I wouldn't want someone playing an important part in the inauguration to be a bigot in any way, be it anti-gay, anti-black, anti-Catholic, anti-Semetic, and so on. So what would be the reason to have Rick Warren there, who has made comparisons between gay marriage and incest?

I enjoyed reading Juan Cole's recent take on Warren, where Cole showed that in many ways, Warren is not the typical evangelical bigot. He bases his teachings on personal betterment and preaches a compelling social Gospel has been neglected from many religious teachings in recent years. 

Furthermore, if Barack Obama were a conservative Republican and picked Warren, then you could easily read into it as giving support to Warren's anti-equality views. But Obama obviously didn't pick him for that reason, or to give a wink to any particular political faction. I think that he did it in a sincere effort to bring people together (didn't he say once or twice or a million times while campaigning that he would be doing that?). I think what would be unfortunate with such gestures is that often they end up insulting many of your supporters while not meaning much to your political opposites. 

I think that in the end, this was a bad move, and I think that Rachel Maddow makes a good point: Obama's inauguration is to be a day that is a culmination of a long fight for equal rights in this country, so what's that guy who opposes equal rights for some people doing there?

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