UNITED States of America

There has been a lot of fallout from Barack Obama’s choice of Rick Warren to pray at his inauguration. A plethora of blogs are commenting, both negatively and positively, about this (just search for blogs about Rick Warren). I first learned through my friend Holly’s blog and then did some thinking and investigating myself.

Politically, I think it is a great choice. Obama has relationships with plenty of ministry leaders – from the Christian Right, Center and Left. Choosing someone that many would consider on the right – mainly because of his pro-life stance – lends itself to promoting unity. This is the crux of Obama’s presidency. Is this political? If you consider promoting unity political, then yes. However, if you believe that unity is important in any organization – including a nation, then no. Promoting unity is an essential element of any leader; especially a President.

Additionally, although it has been referred to as a bi-partisan move, I think that characterization is a little off, if anything it is bi-ideological, which transcends the notion of party. This choice is one in which I see as Obama being true to himself and his campaign promises.

Spiritually, I see this as being true to what we, as Christians, are called to do in scripture. Pray for those in authority (note: the subsequent passage was written when the government was more corrupt than ours and the writer, Paul was in prison).

1I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

1 Timothy 2:1-4

I know that the current situation is particularly complicated, Warren is praying publicly. However, I think that a public has some considerable and positive weight. People know Warren’s opposition to some of Obama’s beliefs. They know that Warren and Obama come from different Christian traditions. Conservatives (both politically and Biblically) should not think that Warren is changing his views and Liberals should not think that Obama is changing his views.

Here are Warren’s views on the invitation

“I commend President-elect Obama for his courage to willingly take enormous heat from his base by inviting someone like me, with whom he doesn’t agree on every issue, to offer the Invocation at his historic Inaugural ceremony.

Hopefully individuals passionately expressing opinions from the left and the right will recognize that both of us have shown a commitment to model civility in America.

The Bible admonishes us to pray for our leaders. I am honored by this opportunity to pray God’s blessing on the office of the President and its current and future inhabitant, asking the Lord to provide wisdom to America’s leaders during this critical time in our nation’s history.”

The point for Christians is to openly and earnestly pray for our leaders – even when we disagree with them.

Socially, it is obvious, especially by many negative responses to this, that the nation does not and is not dealing with political and ideological differences with civility. Comments on the web have condemned Obama and Warren, and correspondingly conservatives and liberals, because of this choice. Obama and Warren don’t have to agree, that isn’t the point. The point for the nation is to exemplify unity.

Hypothetical question:

If a conservative Jew who was pro-life and was not pro-gay marriage was president-elect and Rick Warren was asked to pray for his or her inauguration would there be an issue?

    • Jared
    • December 29th, 2008

    I am glad to be “other” that religion needs to bind its members together. It seems that if a religion is based upon denying basic civil, human rights to a group of people that religion is fundamentally flawed.

    • Thanks for the comment. I don’t think that the “other” is in relation to religion, but more in relation to creating an American Unity. I personally, don’t believe that homosexuality is congruent with Christianity, but I also don’t think that gives me the right to say that the rights of those in the LGBT community should be restricted.

      I know that Christianity (religion in general) has done a poor job understanding and loving the LGBT community. And, unfortunately, Christianity has become synonymous with anti-LGBT, rather than pro-Christ. But I don’t think that in remedying past faults that any faith needs to move away from its stance on homosexuality. That would be dishonest. I believe it is possible to live in a society where you disagree with the moral choices of others and for the Christian believe that they are a sin (not congruent with your faith). I have friends in the LGBT community and I disagree with their choices the same way I disagree with the choices of those who have multiple sexual partners before marriage.

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