Thursday, December 18, 2008

Second thoughts on Rick Warren

John Cole's commenters are smart. Even as I was pounding out my rant yesterday, I had a recollection lingering at the edge of my mind of hearing some progressives defending Warren during the uproar over the presidential debate. He has apparently done some good work despite his stone age views on social issues. One of the Balloonjuicers who clearly follows fundie politics more closely than I do, offers up this rationale for the choice.
If you followed the internal politics of evangelical and fundamentalist leaders, you’d see this for what it is—not an elevation of Warren, but a slap in the face of the old guard leaders like Dobson and LaHaye. They’ve been fighting to see who gets to be the spokesman for the movement, and lately it’s been a tie. Obama just broke it.

And let’s be clear, there is a difference between those groups. Warren may not be progressive on gay rights, but he’s been out front on a number of issues of global justice—traveling from Davos to Damascus, and working hard to get rank-and-file evangelicals invested in “creation care” environmentalism and the fight against global HIV/AIDS.

If he were put in charge of HHS or listened to on gay policies, I’d be pissed. But what Obama is doing here isn’t that. It’s a move that marginalizes the worst on the religious right, elevates a guy who’s more progressive than most religious leaders on a number of issues, and earns him some moderate cred at the outset.

If Obama sells out on the progressive promise in actual policy, I’ll be in the streets protesting with everyone else. But if his “selling out” is having a fairly moderate, popular evangelical give the invocation at the inaugural—when large sections of this country still worry Obama’s a scary evil Mooooslim—then who gives a flying fuck?
I don't think anyone believes the choice of Warren signals some huge shift in policy for Obama and the point on the political advantage for him in reaching out to this group to build consensus for the future is valid. And granted, in the greater scheme this is really a trivial matter but nonetheless, I still think it was a bad choice on a symbolic level.

This isn't just any inauguration. It's one of historic proportions and choosing Warren elevates fundamentalist Christians over all other religious denominations when they are in fact a minority and more importantly a minority that uses its church to advance a political agenda seeking to impose their intolerant doctrine on all of us by law. Somehow, that doesn't really send a message of tolerance to me but rather reinforces the unacceptable blurring of the separation of church and state.

[More posts daily at The Newshoggers and The Detroit News.]

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Blogger (O)CT(O)PUS said...

The lesser of the two poisons, in my opinion. If I didn't think their influence is waning, I would be bouncing off the walls along with Fogg.

I am thinking of that adage: "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer." If the theo-cons were denied a public voice, they would become an underground, seditious force (and a more dangerous one). That is why I am not chest-thumping over this.

4:03:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

It's not the biggest deal in the world Octo, but it's still bad messaging and bad precedent.

4:58:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

That's supposed to be a Sun Tzu quote, for what it's worth. But yes, I would prefer them to be out in the open. I'm thinking staked on an ant hill in the desert sun somewhere.

5:04:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

I knew you would know the source of that quote. It keeps coming up doesn't it?

For myself, I say we give them that little walled town in Florida that the Domino's Pizza guy builty and lock them in.

5:22:00 PM  

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