Published on Thursday, December 18, 2008 by The Guardian/UK
Rick Warren: A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
If nothing else, Rick Warren is a miracle worker in the realm of public relations. He is a man who compares legal abortion to the Holocaust  and gay marriage to incest and pedophilia . He believes that Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and other non-Christians are going to spend eternity burning in hell . He doesn't believe in evolution . He recently dismissed the social gospel - the late 19th- and early 20th-century Protestant movement that led a religious crusade against poverty and inequality - as "Marxism in Christian clothing ". Yet thanks to his amiable attitude and jocular tone, he has managed to create a popular image for himself as a moderate, even progressive force in American life, a reasonable, compassionate alternative to the punitive, sex-obsessed inquisitors of the religious right. And Barack Obama , who should know better, has helped him do it.
Yesterday brought the news that Warren would be giving the invocation at Obama's inauguration . For
Still, his taking part could be defended as an act of canny political outreach. After all, one of the great things about Obama was the way he tried to connect with audiences that hadn't previously been receptive to Democratic messages. It made sense for Obama to try and win the vote of
That's especially true given how bittersweet the election was for many gay people, who largely cheered the new president while grieving the loss of same-sex marriage in
Recently, Democrats have been much concerned with wooing religious voters, and with pushing back against the conservative calumny that they are a party hostile to faith. But the way for a progressive party to do that should be to enlarge the scope of discussion about morality in American life, not to pander to the same prejudices as the religious right. Democrats could foreground religious leaders who articulate the moral imperative of fighting poverty, torture and inequality. They don't need to get religion  by becoming more hostile to gay people and to reproductive rights. Rather, they need to empower the many religious voices who support both.
One doesn't expect Obama to surround himself only with spiritual advisers that meet some liberal litmus test. It is savvy to try and co-opt
© 2008 Guardian News and Media Limited
Michelle Goldberg is the author of the New York Times bestseller Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism
Donations can be sent to the
"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs