Dear Lord Baby Jesus, we come before you today to inaugurate the new president of the United States of God…

Well, here’s a fine howdy-do: Rick Warren, pastor of the mother of all mega-churches, has been tapped to channel Jesus conduct a seance deliver the invocation at Barack Obama’s inauguration. Because Warren is, you know, a “moderate.”

…in 2004 Warren declared that marriage, reproductive choice, and stem cell research were “non-negotiable” issues for Christian voters and has admitted that the main difference between himself and James Dobson is a matter of tone.  He criticized Obama’s answers at the Faith Forum he hosted before the election and vowed to continue to pressure him to change his views on the issue of reproductive choice.  He came out strongly in support of Prop 8, saying “there is no need to change the universal, historical definition of marriage to appease 2 percent of our population … This is not a political issue — it is a moral issue that God has spoken clearly about.” He’s declared that those who do not believe in God should not be allowed to hold public office.

“Tone,” my well-toned ass. At the risk of reopening some delicate old rhetorical wounds, the difference between Warren and James Dobson/Jerry Falwell/Pat Robertson is lipstick.

Oh, and he also believes that God wants us to whack Ahmadinejad. Good thing for him that Warren is a moderate, huh? Just imagine what a real conservative Christian would want to do to him.

So, what is Obama thinking here? Possibilities include:

1: The Uber-Unity Angle: I know Obama is hell-bent on being a man for ALL the people, ALL the time, regardless of whatever sorts of barking loonery they profess great faith in, and I’m sure this is part-and-parcel of his realpolitik theory about getting us past our partisan divisions. I’ve written before about the ways in which our power-elites have played us against each other, and I’m not a fan of artificial divisions. But at the same time, I don’t think we want everybody on the team – not unless they join on the right terms. There are people in America who don’t need to be courted or united, they need to be changed, and until this happens you’re inviting disaster.

2: The Strictly Personal Angle: Maybe Pastor Dan is right – maybe Barack just likes the guy. I don’t know that this makes me feel a whole lot better, but by the same token, no politician ever got elected by pandering to the likes of me.

3: The Use ‘Em and Lose ‘Em Angle: Perhaps Obama is just about tossing the fundagelicals a bone to make them feel like he’s representing them, too. If so, Warren doing an invocation is something I can live with as long as that’s all he’s doing. I won’t like it (listen, I’ve read the Constitution and Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists, so to my understanding the word “God” should never occur in any remotely official legal context) but if this is the extent of Warren’s involvement in the next four to eight years of my life I suppose I’ll hold my nose and deal with it. But if this well-heeled neo-Puritan becomes an intimate consultant and policy driver I might not be quite as forgiving. Nor should you.

Whether it’s 1, 2, 3, all of the above or none, this is a bad move by Obama. You don’t effectively promote unity and progress by handing the show over to a guy who has offended every American with a working brain. So – off to a bad start. Maybe the change we can believe in comes later on the card.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an inauguration to plan for and I can’t find my Ouija board or my official Increase Mather prayer book anywhere….

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7 thoughts on “Dear Lord Baby Jesus, we come before you today to inaugurate the new president of the United States of God…”

  1. Definitely the wise political move. Obama is creeping lightly into the White House trying to keep everyone happy. I don’t mind Warren doing the swearing in. It is an old tradition and I am alright with that.

    But as wrote in my blog a while back, when Warren gets a televised sit down with both candidates during an election year I find myself wishing for lightning to strike down from the heavens.

  2. Of all the interesting religious/spiritual people who might have done it, this jackass gets picked. That’s not change, that’s more of the same.

    There’s nothing Christian about Warren and his cohort; in fact, they’d be the ones gleefully nailing Him to the cross if Christ returned in any manner short of riding a cloud and dishing out celestial vengeance to all that isn’t Old Testament righteous.

  3. Angering the very people that got you elected isn’t a terribly wise political move no matter how much you want to be a man of all the people all the time.
    Especially pissing them off before you’ve even been sworn in.
    If *just* the rationalists and homosexuals don’t vote for him next time, he’ll lose by a large margin. The religious right isn’t going to vote for him no matter what he does.
    So if this sets the tone for his administration, he probably shouldn’t get too comfortable in the oval office.

    That’s not to say I hate the man or something. I just don’t think this bodes well. He’s going to have to be that much better once he’s in there to convince us he should get a second term.

  4. That “pissing out of the tent instead of pissing in” metaphor comes to mind. I’m inclined to think it’s a purely political move.

    Let’s assume Obama sticks with the agenda he layed out earlier. Some time down the line, he would draw ire from the evangelical crowd and Warren for supporting any number of social measures, at which point he could say to Warren, “You swore me in, you accepted my invitation. Perhaps you should have stuck by your principles.” Suddenly Obama as the snake is forgotten and Warren is remembered as the one who was tempted, and those who are tempted are not leadership material in evangelical circles. Obama is making Warren invest in his success, and should Obama stray from the strictures of evangelism, he’s going to use Warren as a fall-guy. Warren’s only option for survival is to then change the evangelical community into moderates.

    Far-fetched, but possible. Either that, or it’s option 1 and 3.

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