Here's a bit of a surprise: Dr. Rick Warren of Saddleback Church will give the formal invocation at Barack Obama's inauguration. The good pro-life theologian first met Obama in 2006 at a Saddleback AIDS forum in California. Obama used the occasion to press the evangelical pastors present to embrace "realism" when they considered the issue; preach abstience, yes, but preaching against contraception can kill. (Here's some of what Obama said that day: "I know that there are those who, out of sincere religious conviction, oppose such measures. And with these folks, I must respectfully but unequivocally disagree. I do not accept the notion that those who make mistakes in their lives should be given an effective death sentence.")
More here from The Atlantic.
Given Warren's stance on issues ranging from gay marriage to abortion to an abundance of issues that the religious-right attempts to pass-off as truth, I was somewhat troubled that Obama would chose him.
That's when I started to think about how Obama promised to "reach out" to people. When Warren's viewpoints are taken into context, this is an interesting person to be reaching out to. Then again, that could very well be the point.
But, I also noticed who was giving the closing prayer at the inauguration:
Rick Warren, whose recent remarks on issues ranging from war and torture to sexuality and abortion have generated some justifiable pushback lately, will give the invocation at the inauguration. The pick was news to us.
But he's not the only one who will be praying from the podium on January 20. Rev. Joseph Lowery a civil rights icon and supporter of same-sex marriage, is giving the benediction at the end of the event.
From the Faith In Public Life blog.
A larger question to be asked is this - is it only Barack Obama's choice to have, not just Warren, but any guest at the inauguration give a speech? The scheduling of guest speaker at any Presidential inauguration is surely determined by a variety of people who are chosing from a large list of likely guests.
One interesting way to look at this, at least in my mind, is that Warren is going to be giving the invocation while Bush is still "technically" President, and then Lowery will be delivering the benediction when Obama becomes President. Although some may view this as a bit of a "reach", to me, it is the very definition of change.