Friday, December 19, 2008

No Rest For the Wicked

Barack Obama's decision to invite Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration has created a firestorm of protest from the left and the right. The people on the right are upset with Warren for accepting the invitation and Obama's supporters are upset with Obama for inviting someone they see as an agent of intolerance to such a historic and symbolic event. Obama has explained his pick by saying that he has always believed in trying to find common ground with those who hold opposing views.

Rick Warren has stated that he sees no difference between Gay marriage and pedophilia, incest or polygamy. In his mind they are all equal. He not only doesn't think that gays should have the right to get married, he sees their unions as equal to the most despicable form of child abuse. He has equated abortion to genocide and said that the supporters of abortion are basically supporting murder. I would like to ask the President-elect to show me the middle ground in that argument. My co-contributor SJ made perhaps one the most astute observations I have ever heard when he said, "you can't argue with people who think they're going to heaven". Mr. Warren believes that he's going to heaven and unless you believe everything he does, you are not. There is no ground for compromise in his position.

Mr. Warren has put a kinder, gentler face on the same kind of intolerance that the likes of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson made so popular. His great claim to fame for being a "new" school evangelist is that he is "environment friendly". He thinks that we should be doing more to reverse global warming. Well, that and the fact that he doesn't wear a jacket and tie every day. However intolerance dressed down and warmed over, is still intolerance. It is true however that his stance on gay marriage essentially mirrors the public stance of the President-elect. While Obama has never said that he equates gay unions with vile criminal activity, he has publicly stated his opposition to same sex marriage.

I have already stated my position on same sex marriage, however I think it's important to realize just how fundamentally wrong it is to arbitrarily decide that certain people don't have the same rights as everyone else. Suppose Rick Warren were opposed to left handed people marrying each other. That position would be viewed as ridiculous, but his argument would be that those people are choosing the left handed lifestyle and until the decide to do things the right way, they shouldn't be allowed to marry. The position of evangelicals is that homosexuality is a deviant lifestyle choice, therefore those who make that choice should not have the same rights as the rest of society. Throughout history, people have been persecuted for things are ridiculous as hair color, eye color, and believe it or not being left handed. They all seem unthinkable to us today, but at the time, people believed that had perfectly legitimate reasons to discriminate and shun those afflicted with the various "maladies".

There is no doubt that the overwhelming majority of those "practicing" the homosexual lifestyle are not doing so by choice. In fact, I think it would be fair to say that there are currently more homosexuals "practicing" the heterosexual lifestyle than there have ever been of the reverse situation. Homosexuality is no more a choice than being a heterosexual is, or being white is, or being left handed is, or being blue eyed is. Why would someone chose to be part of one the last minority groups that it is still perfectly acceptable to discriminate against? The line to sign up for daily persecution would be very short indeed. And yet this is the premise that people like Rick Warren ask us to accept. And trust me, they know they're right because they are going to heaven and you're not.

Ultimately, I have to have to believe that Barack Obama's reasons for making this choice will bear fruit is some manner. Perhaps he's just using this selection to provide him some cover for some sweeping announcement that will benefit the gay community. I have to believe that because otherwise this choice makes absolutely no sense to me. Has he chosen to offend a significant portion of the people who supported him in order to make a point? And what point would that be? That hatred and intolerance are part of the fabric of American society? I think we all got that point a long time ago. The inauguration is the wrong place for that kind of civics lesson.

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