[Marxism] What's the Matter With Rick Warren?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Dec 18 07:37:51 MST 2008

What's the Matter With Rick Warren?
By Sarah Posner

December 17, 2008

Now it has officially gone too far: Democrats, in their zeal to appear 
friendly to evangelical voters, have chosen celebrity preacher and 
best-selling author Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at Barack 
Obama's inauguration.

There was no doubt that Obama, like every president before him, would 
pick a Christian minister to perform this sacred duty. But Obama had 
thousands of clergy to choose from, and the choice of Warren is not only 
a slap in the face to progressive ministers toiling on the front lines 
of advocacy and service but a bow to the continuing influence of the 
religious right in American politics. Warren vocally opposes gay 
marriage, does not believe in evolution, has compared abortion to the 
Holocaust and backed the assassination of Iranian President Mahmoud 

Warren has done a masterful job at marketing himself as a "new" kind of 
evangelical with a "broader agenda" than just fighting abortion rights 
and gay marriage. He dispatches members of his congregation to Africa to 
perform AIDS relief and has positioned himself as a great crusader for 
bringing his "purpose-driven" pabulum to the world.

Faith in Public Life, a nonprofit cultivated by the Center for American 
Progress, was so wowed by Warren that it co-sponsored a presidential 
forum in August at Warren's Saddleback Church. There, his "broader 
agenda" included asking Obama whether he believed that life began at 
conception (which Warren believes, he says, based on the Bible, not 
science) and to ruminate on the nature of evil. (As for Pastor Rick, he 
believes the Bible dictates that the US government "punish evildoers," 
as in Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.)

Beneath the sheep's clothing lurks a culture warrior wolf. After the 
Saddleback forum, he told the Wall Street Journal that the only 
difference between him and James Dobson was that of "tone." After 
insisting that his agenda was "broad," and holding himself out as an 
impartial arbiter of the forum, he declared that voting for a "Holocaust 
denier" (i.e., someone who is pro-choice) is a "deal-breaker" for many 
evangelicals. Obama was pressured to talk about "abortion reduction," 
but Warren likens such rhetoric likening it to Schindler's List: an 
attempt to save some lives but not end a "holocaust."

In the world of the "broader agenda" evangelicals, when liberals 
advocate for gay marriage, they're stoking the culture wars; when a 
"broader agenda" evangelical crusades against it, he's merely upholding 
biblical standards. In that tradition, Warren in October implored his 
followers to vote for Proposition 8 because "there are about 2 percent 
of Americans are homosexual, gay, lesbian people. We should not let 2 
percent of the population...change a definition of marriage that has 
been supported by every single culture and every single religion for 
5,000 years." Warren called opposition to gay marriage a "humanitarian 
issue" because "God created marriage for the purpose of family, love and 

Warren, a creationist, believes that homosexuality disproves evolution; 
he told CNN's Larry King in 2005, "If Darwin was right, which is 
survival of the fittest then homosexuality would be a recessive gene 
because it doesn't reproduce and you would think that over thousands of 
years that homosexuality would work itself out of the gene pool."

Warren protests that he's not a homophobe; it's just that two dudes 
marrying, in his mind, is indistinguishable from an adult marrying a 
child, a brother marrying his sister, or polygamy. He thinks his AIDS 
relief efforts represent an elevated form of Christianity over those 
non-evangelical do-gooders whom he compares to "Marxists" because 
they're more interested in good works than salvation. The rejection of 
the "social justice" gospel in favor of the salvation-focused 
evangelicalism that has come to dominate the definition of "Christian" 
lies at the heart of the religious right agenda to marginalize 
liberalism and harness its political power.

Warren represents the absolute worst of the Democrats' religious 
outreach, a right-winger masquerading as a do-gooder anointed as the 
arbiter of what it means to be faithful. Obama's religious outreach was 
intended, supposedly, to make religious voters more comfortable with him 
and feel included in the Democratic Party. But that outreach now has 
come at the expense of other people's comfort and inclusion, at an event 
meant to mark a turning point away from divisive politics.

More information about the Marxism mailing list