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Dear fellow Liberals,
Obama's decision to ask Rick Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration is not a slap in the face. It's not a betrayal. It's not an indication that Obama is a secret conservative who is going to force you to have babies with a non-same-sex partner.
It's a freaking prayer.
Yes, he's ultraconservative on social issues. He supported Proposition 8. He thinks abortion should not be legal. But he appears to be a rare evangelical leader who actually walks the walk. Due to the success of his book sales, he not only doesn't take a salary from the church, he's paid back his salary from the last 25 years and he claims to give away 90% of his income. He's also committed to raising awareness of critical global issues like climate change and poverty. He's the Tony Robbins of Evangelism, encouraging his flock to lead "purpose-driven lives."
Warren has been invited to the inauguration to say a prayer. He's not lobbying. He's not setting policy. He's not invited to the Cabinet meetings. He doesn't get a vote in Congress. It bears repeating: He's only going to say a prayer.
What's more, Rick Warren's inclusion in the festivities sends a signal that Obama wasn't just blowing smoke when he said he intends to be the president of all Americans. I spent the last eight years not just feeling marginalized by the guy in the White House, but feeling utterly invisible to him. I'm not interested in having the same thing happen to my countrymen and women who hold views different from mine. They live here too, and they should have the attention of the president. All opinions deserve to be heard and respected, if not for their content, then for the holder's humanity. Warren has the 4th biggest church in the country and he's a religious leader of international stature. Whether we like it or not, a lot of Americans agree with him.
And anyway, it's generally a pretty good idea to let all ideas see the light of day before making policy. The White House has been devestatingly myopic for eight years and the country is in some serious trouble as a direct result.
So, my suggestion is that we all take a deep breath, bow our heads in reverence or at the very least respect for tradition, choose to listen or not, and let the dude pray.