More on the Rick Warren Wrangle: It’s Not About Gay Marriage

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


rick-warren-250x200.jpg

On Friday morning, I was on the CBS’ The Early Show to talk about the Rick Warren controversy. Opposite me (via satellite hookup) was Robert Jeffress, a Baptist pastor from Dallas, who was billed as a friend of Warren.

Asked by Harry Smith to explain why gay and lesbian outfits and progressives were upset by Barack Obama’s decision to hand Warren the invocation slot at the presidential inauguration, I noted that it was good that Obama has an inclusive approach toward political and policy debates, that he should make common cause with Warren on issues like poverty and climate change, and that it was wrong for him to grant Warren this high-profile platform because Warren’s anti-gay remarks–he recently compared homosexuality to incest and pedophilia–are insulting to a large number of Americans, particularly many who worked long and hard to bring Obama to the White House. It’s one thing to sit at the table with Warren and discuss how best to alleviate poverty; it’s another to enhance his status.

When Jeffress had his chance, he went on about how it was unfair to slam Warren as a hate-monger because of his fervent opposition to gay marriage.

Gay marriage? Who said anything about gay marriage? Not me. I had pointed out that Warren’s big sin had been to equate gays and lesbians with loathsome pedophiles. Is that hate-mongering? Some people might see it that way. But I was not going to judge Warren on that front. His words speak for themselves–and for him.

Jeffress, I’m guessing, realizes that his side is on more solid ground when the issue is gay marriage, not gay rights. Much of the public does seem to be opposed to gay marriage, but each year Americans are becoming more tolerant and accepting of homosexuality. Not Warren, though. He and other fundamentalists who despise homosexuality (hate the sin, right?) are on the losing end of a generational shift in the United States. Consequently, they are clinging to the gay marriage issue as a lifeline. And that’s why Jeffress quickly tried to redefine the issue. They want to keep attention focused on the altar, not acceptance.

By the way, Jeffress last year made some news of his own, when he proclaimed that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney was “not a Christian” because “Mormonism is not Christianity. Mormonism is a cult.” He has also called Islam and Hindu false religions.

So here’s a question: would Obama consider inviting Jeffress to give an invocation at an official event? I don’t believe he would, for that could rightly be considered an insult to Mormons, Muslims, and Hindus. Which brings us back to the original matter: since Warren goes beyond arguing against gay marriage to denigrate gays and lesbians as the moral equivalents of those who engage in incest and pedophilia, it is a slap in the face of gays and lesbians for Obama to award Warren this prime plum. He should have selected someone who, when it comes to morality, is more inclusive.

This was first posted at www.davidcorn.com.

Photo by flickr user All About You God used under a Creative Commons license.

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate