So Pastor Rick Warren has been invited to deliver the invocation during Barack Obama's inauguration?
What disappointing news! Warren, an increasingly prominent evangelical who penned the successful book The Purpose-Driven Life, likes to portray himself as above the partisan fray. But he's not. Warren is a kinder, gentler Jerry Falwell in a Hawaiian shirt and blue jeans with better P.R. – and he's slick enough to know how to play both sides of the political aisle.
In 2004, Warren endorsed George W. Bush and talked about how happy he was that Al Gore had not been able to take office in 2000. As the 2008 election gathered steam, Warren remained cagey. He was smart enough to see that John McCain was having a tough time of it and refrained from endorsing him outright.
Warren did try to help McCain in more subtle ways, however. He hosted a forum for both candidates at his Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., featuring an array of loaded questions that were designed to prod McCain and Obama into explaining how they planned to base public policy on religion.
Just before Election Day, Warren joined other Religious Right leaders in announcing his support for Proposition 8 in California, a measure that took away the right of same-sex couples to marry in the state. Warren likes to portray himself as a different kind of evangelical, but it seems he can't break free of the tiresome gay bashing that marks so many in the Religious Right.
More recently, Warren has taken to interjecting himself into other political issues, spouting off reckless and ill-informed opinions. Former Americans United employee Steve Benen, who now blogs for Washington Monthly, noted that on Dec. 3, Warren appeared on the Fox News Channel with right-wing loose cannon Sean Hannity, where he invoked the Bible to endorse Hannity's call for the U.S. government to "take out" Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"Well, actually, the Bible says that evil cannot be negotiated with," Warren told Hannity. "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."
Warren's office later cited Romans 13 as his justification for this statement. There are no fans of Ahmadinejad here, but having the U.S. government assassinate him and then cite Christian scriptures as the justification might inflame things just a little bit in the Middle East, don't you think?
Warren poses as a moderate, but he's just another Falwell wannabee. It's a shame he is appearing at this important event.