Monday, December 22, 2008

Perplexed over Obama's Choice, Rick Warren

I know I said I wouldn't get too political on this blog (which is supposed to be a lighthearted look into pop culture), but I feel this issue is important enough to veer into the world of politics just this one time. I feel justified in doing this because the line dividing pop culture from politics seem to be disappearing currently anyway (sign of the time we live in I guess).

I'm perplexed over President Obama's choice of Pastor Rick Warren to do the invocation at his inauguration. Here's a little back-story about Rick Warren:
He's an evangelical preacher with a HUGE following. He has very outspoken anti-gay views. Earlier this year he lead the charge to pass proposition 8 in California, which repealed an earlier judicial decision to legally recognize gay marriage in that state. This homophobic bigot has also equated homosexuality with pedophilia and bestiality in numerous interviews and sermons. Despite all this, his church boasts having the 3rd largest congregation in the US with a seating capacity of 3,500. He built a $20 million dollar student ministry facility called the Refinery. It houses the middle school (Wildside) and high school (HSM) consisting of nearly 1,500 students. He is most famously known for a book he wrote called "The Purpose Driven Life" which has sold over 20 million copies, becoming one of the best selling non-fiction books of all time. That's what makes this man so dangerous to anyone that believes in civil rights, and the separation of church and state. He's not some lone backwoods nutcase living out in the woods somewhere in West Virginia. He's an opportunistic religious leader with the ear of white middle America. Whenever I would hear people talk about how polarized this country is, I really didn't give it much thought. I chalked it up to media hype, and republican spin... but this whole situation with Rick Warren opened my eyes to a dark and glib reality. There's a huge force of Christian Evangelicals that are growing in number as we speak. They want to impose their beliefs and way of life on everyone living in the US. And they think anyone that's not straight white and Christian doesn't deserve any rights or protection under this government. I'm sure I made my opinion of Pastor Warren very clear. So you might ask, what am I perplexed over? I obviously disagree with this man, and his perversion Christianity... so you'd think I'd be 100% against and strongly opposed to Obama choosing him to speak at his inauguration? ...right? Well, not exactly... and here's why:

When Obama announced his decision to run for president, I really didn't know much about him. I knew he was a Senator, and I remembered what a great speech he gave during the Democratic convention back in 2004 when John Kerry was running. Other than that, I didn't know a thing about this man or his beliefs. The more I found out about him, and the more I found out about his politics, I instantly switched my whole attitude about politics from absolute cynicism, to energized optimism. I made it my business to do anything I could to help this man get in office. I happily volunteered at the local Democratic office every chance I got. I wholeheartedly believe in this man and his ability to lead this country in the right direction. When Obama won the election, he said something that made a whole lot of sense, and it was so simple and so true, it made me think why haven't I heard this before from any politician. He said that although a majority of America cast their vote for him, he still had a great number of Americans that voted the other way. He then went on to say that he's not going to be President to just the "blue states" and all who voted for him, but all of America. He said he wanted his office to be as inclusive and diverse as our country is. That means that we need to listen to those we agree with, as well as the ones we disagree with. That's what a true democracy is supposed to be. We're still extremely polarized in this country, but ignoring a particular group just gives them more power and more of a reason to separate themselves from us. In a way it legitimizes their cause. So even-though I don't agree with Pastor Rick Warren, he has very strong influence with middle America. And the way our economy is looking, we can't afford to ostracize anyone.

I think we need to change the way we look at politics. We're so use to the "status quo", of how our government and elected officials operate, that we think that is the way it should be done. For instance, everyone has made such a big deal over Obama's staff choices. He has women, men, Democrats, Republicans, Blacks, Whites, Asians, etc etc. He's picking the people that he thinks are best qualified for whatever position. Previous Presidents have always picked only staff members from their political party, and family members, and even people that they owe a favor to. We've seen this happen that way for so long, that we're blinded to the ugliness of it.

Ok, there's my "two cents" (lol). In conclusion, I strongly disagree with all of Pastor Warren's religious and political views, but I think President Obama made a wise choice in choosing him. He's reaching out to a huge Evangelical community, and showing them and all Americans a lesson in love and togetherness.

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