“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”  Matthew 5:9, NASB

Rick Warren defended his position, and the invitation to lead the invocation at the inauguration of President Barack Obama later this month by saying that many of his critics have what he termed “Christophobia,” or an unreasonable fear of anyone associated with Christianity. 

“Some people feel today that if you disagree with them, then that’s hate speech,” Warren said. “If you disagree with them, you either hate them or you’re afraid of them. I’m neither afraid of gays nor do I hate gays. In fact I love them, but I do disagree with some of their beliefs.”

That does not make Warren either homophobic, or “anti-gay” as some activists in the gay community have stated.  Nor does his appearance at Obama’s inauguration indicate some kind of policy shift or political statement about gay rights by Obama, one way or the other.  It seems to me that the furor from the left over this particular choice is an egregious example of political correctness carried to an extreme. 

Warren also commented on criticism that has come from the right, including a comment from a conservative who wrote him and said that if he prayed at the inauguration, he was sticking a fork in the head of every baby aborted in America.  That, too, is an egregious example of political correctness gone to the extreme. 

Warren said, “What I’ve learned is if there is no conflict, then somebody is going to create it. Now the media loves to create conflict. The problem with that is it’s creating a more and more polarized nation, and that polarization is causing people to be ruder and ruder and more and more inflamed.”

Promoting civility doesn’t necessarily mean that you have either compromised your own beliefs, or that you have adopted the beliefs of someone else simply because you are involved in some kind of relationship, or because you are appearing on the same platform by their invitation.  Christians who have become caught up in the religious right often buy into political positions that they would not agree with, but they stifle their own criticism because they have this unilateral, monolithic kind of thinking that you have to buy the whole package.  There is also the single-issue thinking that causes polarization.  The Bible doesn’t teach that you can trade off support for a lesser sin to oppose a greater one.  God certainly knew what he was doing when he inspired Paul to instruct believers to respect the authority of the civil government which, at the time, was a Roman government with a lot of blood on its hands. 

It seems to me that Rick Warren understands the instructions that God inspired the Bible’s writers to give us regarding the civil government, and he is following them.


About LS

I'm 56, happily married for 25 years, B.A., M.A., career educator with experience in education as a teacher and administrator, native Arizonan living in Pennsylvania, working on a PhD and a big fan of the Arizona Wildcats, mainly in football and basketball.

3 responses

  1. KGray says:

    It’s interesting who Warren blames for rudeness and exacerbating polarization. It’s not the religious right.

    He is definitely promoting civil dialogue among differing groups. His forum with the leading presidential candidates was more enlightening and less cringe-worthy than the debates.

  2. Lee says:

    In criticizing Warren, there were many on the left, and particularly among Gay rights advocates, who showed the same kind of unwillingness to listen, made generalizations and snap judgements, drew inaccurate conclusions and generally painted with the same kind of broad brush they have criticized the religious right for doing. They want everyone to be as tolerant and open minded as they claim to be, yet when it comes to a Christian perspective, they are anything but tolerant, and they are not open minded. They seem to have particular trouble dealing with Christians like Warren, who express themselves clearly, in Biblical terms, without any hateful rhetoric or blanket condemnation.

    From the other side, I think we are seeing a good example of how God intends for his children to behave when it comes to secular politics. Holding strong convictions does not mean that we have to resort to the “do it like the world” methods to which most of the religious right has resorted. Our reputation in bearing the testimony of Christ is the most important thing we do, and our ability to preach our message has been damaged by the political activity in which some high profile Christian leaders have engaged. Rick Warren has made it very clear where he stands, and yet, in spite of the fact that there is clear disagreement between his position and that of Barack Obama on some issues, I’ll bet that President Obama will be far more willing to listen, and at the very least accord respect to most of what Rick Warren has to say. That’s more influence than the vast majority of the religious right has had in the political realm, including among Republicans who know they can count on their support whether they do anything for them or not.

  3. KGray says:

    But whom he spcifically singled out are the media and bloggers.

    I was hoping we did not have to segue from Rick Warren to blaming the steroetyped religious right, but here we are.