Friday, December 19, 2008

Not In My Name: No National Prayer By Rick Warren

(Robin Tyler and Diane Olson being married at the Beverly Hills Courthouse, Monday, June 16, 2008, in Beverly Hills, Calif. AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

Not In My Name: No National Prayer By Rick Warren

I'm not especially surprised that President-Elect Barack Obama has chosen to honor a Christianist fundamentalist like Rick Warren who earns his income and his standing by steadily endorsing hate beliefs against certain segments of American citizenship. Obama has seldom acted on his so-called belief in the human rights of lesbians and gays, not in a political sense. Him throwing us under the bus again was to be expected. I voted for him knowing he would.

What choice did I have? He knows that about us. Much of his gathered leadership knows it as well. If a point can be scored, a favor earned, by reiterating our expendability, they will do it. They're not progressives as I define the term, and this is part of the reason why.

But the choice to have Warren deliver his invocation at the inauguration is more than handing us shit on a plate with an extra-big spoon. It's a shocking mistake, I believe, for at least three reasons:

(1) It validates, in the grandest possible manner, the choice of Christian belief and behavior which seeks to punish anyone who does not agree with them. Validating those who preach intolerance does not promote tolerance and does not "turn them around" or encourage them to follow your example. He could easily have found another preacher who is just as devout, just as respected, who has not made a career from hate. Having a strong following should not constitute a right to lead prayer at an inauguration -- if that were the case, David Duke would be on the list.

(2) The November elections were a victory for progressivism in this country from coast to coast with one major exception, the passage of Proposition (h)8 in California which stripped newly won human rights from lesbians and gays in that state. Even as we celebrated Obama's victory, we mourned this simultaneous tragedy. One of the key figures in visiting this tragedy upon us was Rick Warren. He did everything he possibly could to pass Prop (h)8. How can Obama not comprehend the direct insult we feel at rewarding this man with personal access and a public pulpit? Is Obama that removed from our lives?

(3) The repressive events in California have created a backlash even among people who didn't necessarily support lesbian and gay marriage, but who now are uneasy at what they see as "going too far". That loss actually created MORE generic support for this human rights advance. Obama is pissing in the face of that groundswell, a tone deafness about public sentiment that is not usually demonstrated by him.

Warren is making the most of the limelight being handed him by Obama. He has again stated his equation of lesbian/gay marriage with incest and pedophilia. He claims that in 5000 years of human organization, marriage has never been defined as anything but a man and a woman, in every culture and every religion, which is a flat-out lie: Even early Christianity practiced polygamy. And countless cultures have not only endorsed polygamy (polygyny and polyandry both), but marriage between two people of the same gender. He is of course ignoring the marriage practices of brown people before Christian conquest (who are not really people to white evangelicals, because they carry the mark of Cain), but also the fact that same-sex marriage was sometimes done in Christian churches during the Middle Ages. There are books of reference material on the subject. He knows better. He's playing to the "We get to hate you because you're unnatural" crowd, which is what funds him.

THIS is the man who will lead the inaugural prayer?

I'm not attending the inauguration, but I can promise you that if I were, I would not participate in prayer led by a hate-monger. I would make my non-participation visible and vocal. We have the right to such protest in this country -- at least, we did until the Bush regime began stripping us of it -- and where better than at the swearing in of a man whose campaign vowed change and listening to others? I'm a pacifist, to my bone, so I advocate only legal and intelligent protest. Stand up and turn your back. Lead an alternative mass prayer in many languages. Sing the national anthem and drown out the voice of a man who seeks to forcibly impose his hate-based view of love and intimacy on others. These are a few ideas which come easily to mind.

And for those of us at home, watching on television: When the shameful prayer begins, stand and go to your front door to shout "Equal rights for all Americans!" until it is over.

But do not let Rick Warren speak for you in G*d's name. Not at the inception of this Presidency. Obama's mistake does not have to be ours.

Pass it on.