The Purpose Driven Invocation



With the announcement of Rick Warren’s selection by the inaugural committee to give the invocation at the most historic inaugural ceremony in American History, it shows that the realpolitik that is Barack Obama never misses an opportunity to make a symbolic appeal. The selection of Rick Warren is significant because it extends an olive branch of tolerance to the religious conservative and evangelical christian communities that are historically so resistant to Democratic Presidential candidates. Showing deference and respect to a moderate conservative powerhouse like Rick Warren, an admitted McCain supporter, narrows the psychological chasm between people of faith and the Democratic Party.

Don’t believe me? How about the Pew Forum?

Overall, 45% of Protestants voted for the Democrat, an increase of five points since 2004…Interestingly, Obama’s gains were among white evangelical Protestants (5 points), a traditionally Republican constituency, rather than among white Protestants who do not describe themselves as evangelical or born-again (no gain).

..Just as Obama made gains among most religious traditions, he also held steady or improved over Kerry’s 2004 support among people of all levels of religious observance. More than four-in-ten people (43%) who attend religious services regularly, that is, once a week or more, supported Obama, compared with 39% who supported Kerry.

Obama’s gains were particularly pronounced among the subgroup who attends religious services most often – that is, more than once a week; 43% of this group supported Obama, up from 35% who supported Kerry in 2004. Obama also received support from nearly six-in-ten voters (57%) who attend church occasionally (a few times a month or a few times a year), while Kerry won 53% of this group.

Rick Warren, despite his faith based a conservatism, is not a sanctimonious phony like a Pat Robertson or James Dobson. He is not totally bound by the straight jacket of homophobic religiosity and judgmental hypocrisy. Pastor Warren does not believe he’s on a personal mission from God to galvanize religious conservatives into supporting the Republican Party and it’s entire slate of right-wing candidates. While he is clearly on the conservative side of the abortion divide and marriage rights for same-sex couples, he also believes that same sex couples are entitled to partnership benefits, insurance, and hospital visitation rights. That tells me he has a firm grasp on reality and has both feet firmly planted on Earth. Robertson and Dobson are literally a stonesthrow away from homicide. Their unbounded intolerance and malevolent influence polarizes people of faith and goads them into negating the gospel they profess to live by.

I know that some of you find my criticisms of Barack Obama interesting and thought provoking, but this ain’t one of my critiques. I am more interested in making policy based criticisms instead of criticisms based on political correctness. The politics of this invocation are crystal clear and I admire Obama’s peerless skills.

Barack Obama, unlike the ignorant patrician who preceeded him, is really trying to unify the nation. I can’t think of a better way to do that than inviting Rick Warren to give a purpose driven invocation.

34 thoughts on “The Purpose Driven Invocation

  1. spirit_55z

    Skeptical Brotha,

    I appreciate your perspecitve. I’m not a religious person, though I do nuture myself spiritually. Big proponnet of seperation of church and state. I want to see BHO get sworn in. That is what matters to me.

    Thank you!

  2. I respect your position, SB, and in other circumstances, I’d agree with you, but I can’t forget the role Warren played in his “Christian” debates between Obama and McCain, and how, BECAUSE he was a McCain supporter, he allowed McCain to violate the rules of the debate in an attempt to hand Johnny Mac ammunition to sandbag Obama.

    We agree on Obama’s political platform – but in this case, Obama could have chosen evangelicals like Chuck Swindoll and still accomplished his purpose of uniting the Nation, because Swindoll is just as respected as Warren.

  3. Found this at Balloon Juice:

    If you followed the internal politics of evangelical and fundamentalist leaders, you’d see this for what it is—not an elevation of Warren, but a slap in the face of the old guard leaders like Dobson and LaHaye. They’ve been fighting to see who gets to be the spokesman for the movement, and lately it’s been a tie. Obama just broke it.

    And let’s be clear, there is a difference between those groups. Warren may not be progressive on gay rights, but he’s been out front on a number of issues of global justice—traveling from Davos to Damascus, and working hard to get rank-and-file evangelicals invested in “creation care” environmentalism and the fight against global HIV/AIDS.

    If he were put in charge of HHS or listened to on gay policies, I’d be pissed. But what Obama is doing here isn’t that. It’s a move that marginalizes the worst on the religious right, elevates a guy who’s more progressive than most religious leaders on a number of issues, and earns him some moderate cred at the outset.

    If Obama sells out on the progressive promise in actual policy, I’ll be in the streets protesting with everyone else. But if his “selling out” is having a fairly moderate, popular evangelical give the invocation at the inaugural—when large sections of this country still worry Obama’s a scary evil Mooooslim—then who gives a flying f*ck?

  4. I am new to reading this blog and I find this post interesting. I think a lot of time people underestimate Barack Obama. He is not perfect, but he is strategic and he really thinks before he makes decisions which I love. Some people say he is too cool or that he is not forceful enough, but I feel he is who he is and he is trying to make the right decisions for our country. Just like he picked Rick Warren for the invocation he picked Rev. Joesph E. Lowery for the benediction.

    This will be an interesting inauguration and look forward to the other announcements to come.

  5. Peace

    Has anyone read the news this morning?

    While i don’t necessarily care enough to either agree or disagree with this glowing review of Rick Warren, it seems as though gay rights advocacy groups have almost universally taken issue with the fact that Obama has asked Rick Warren to lead the invocation.

    President of the Human Rights Campaign, Joe Solomonese, wrote Obama about Warren, “We feel a deep level of disrespect when one of the architects and promoters of an anti-gay agenda is given the prominence and the pulpit of your historic nomination.” has the full story, if anyone is interested.

  6. RisingTide

    They had to drag FDR kicking and screaming into the New Deal. This one at least has his eyes open, and is willing to MOVE! From what I’ve seen , he’s picked the right direction, too!

  7. You’re wrong to say Warren supports civil unions for gays. Watch him dance around it here:

    In the same interview, Warren claims that STDs are the result of “sinful” sex acts. Granted, he extends this beyond AIDS, but the point applies to AIDS. Warren thinks every STD is god’s punishment of people’s sinful conduct. Neat!

    Warren also rejects evolutionary science ( Neat!

    I can’t be for Obama “reaching out” to this backward bigot without a very clear sense of what he’s “reaching out” for. There are a lot of pastors and preachers in this country; I see absolutely no good reason to give a big stage to this right-wing kook.

  8. My first time here and I am very pleased with what I see so far. I have been awash in a sea of misgivings over this trying to read each and every point of view before I base a final decision, if that is even what I wish to do.

    More importantly I think that I am sorry that this first big issue with Obama had to be over what I see as a Separation of Church and State issue which I totally abhor. This should never be part of a political discussion.

  9. TripLBee


    This is a very interesting post. I think you’re analysis of Obama’s decision making process is spot on. That being said, I think this country needs to move away from the social movements inspired by the religious right. Rick Warren clearly is not a looney toon like Dobson, Robertson, Falwell,etc. But those guys set a pretty low bar, and being better than them is hardly laudatory. I do respect the fact that Warren has had the gumption to invite Obama to several high profile forums he has organized, but I’m not down with someone who holds his views on gays, immigrants, women,etc.

  10. zeitgeist9000

    The netroots have been seething with venom all day over the Rick Warren/Barack Obama convocation pick.

    But why?

    I’m beginning to think the netroots are irreligious zealots who really don’t want people to believe in anything that causes conflict.

    Rick Warren basically wrote the postlude to the Holy Bible: “The Purpose Driven Life.”

    I’m jumping all over the place, here.

    SB, you’re right when you call him a “moderate conservative.” It wasn’t until that Barack Obama/John McCain forum back at the beginning of the GE that conservatives invited him back into the fold, so to speak, after his speaking out over global warming and world poverty–not the lightning rod issues of abortion and gay marriage.

    SB, you’ve convinced me that this was a masterful pick on Obama’s part.

  11. I appreciate your points and I continue to have deep respect and admiration, and compassion for Barack Obama. That said, I still find this pick disquieting and disturbing. Surely there would have been many other opportunities to reach out to that particular mass of people–or maybe a different way to do it at the Inauguration.

  12. Chesapeake

    While Obama can pick any clergy he wants, and there are some great ones from whom to choose, the combination of Warren for invocation and Lowery for benediction is refreshing. Both Warren and Lowery eschew the prosperity theology that is so popular today, opting instead to preach personal holiness and intimate relationship with God.

    Warren shares with Obama interests against environmental destruction and poverty. Lowery shares with Obama interests against injustice. Lowery is a stalwart who has lived a long life of applying his faith principles to guide his personal responsibility to all people. Warren is a relative newcomer whose messages inspire personal responsibility and discipline – he stands out among the controversial modern day mega-evangelists as disciplined and true.

    Obama is on tract. These men illuminate Obama’s intimate, personal, responsible, and disciplined character. The political issues notwithstanding, this country has to come to grips with the fact that the core and undercurrent leading to our improvement is in ideals, principles, and character.

  13. tabt

    Warren is, after all the show biz make-up is stripped away, just another hardcore, old fashioned conservative. Why do we need prayer or religion at the inauguration at all? This would be a good time to demonstrate “change” by showing that church and state are indeed separate.

    However, Warren is minor player compared to the creatures Obama has picked for his Cabinet of Death. Congratulations! We have just elected another republican. The dynasty lives on.

  14. The website to Warren’s church clearly states that gay people can not be members of his church. This type of discrimination is illegal when practiced by the government. Why should the leader of this church be chosen to perform in a government ceremony?

  15. Ernesto,

    When all is said and done, it is just a prayer. Nothing more, nothing less. The Lgbt friends that I have are far more concerned with keeping their jobs, paying their bills, and keeping a damn roof over their heads. After seeing Warren on the Today Show and Larry King, it is without question that he is an assclown of the first rank how could never be my pastor, but the power he has in the evangelical community to guide them into doing some genuine, honest-to-gawd-good works on issues like HIV/AIDS and climate change is really tantalizing to Obama as are the evangelical voters with semi-open minds that he represents.

    If half the energy expended on this faux controversy were channeled into getting a GLBT cabinet member, which he should have had, it would have been more productive.

  16. Tabt,

    How many Republicans were opposed to the Iraq war from the outset? How many pro-choice Republicans are there? How many pro-affirmative action Republicans are in office? How many Republicans are out there courting the union vote and appointing pro-union Cabinet members? I could go on for about a hundred pages. Just because the guy is not Che Guevara does not make him a Republican. Give me a break.

  17. SB, the fact that the economy is in a shambles doesn’t really have any relevance to this particular issue. Warren’s church practices a type of discrimination that is abhorrent and would be illegal for the government to do. I just can’t get on board with giving this guy any recognition for any politically motivated reasons. It’s the essence of the type of cynicism in politics that Obama was supposedly going to eradicate. And yes, you and I know better, but…

    To call this a faux controversy belittles everything the civil rights movement was and is about.

  18. Andrea

    I became really busy late last week when this was announced but I wrote on another blog a similar response that you summed up in your concluding comment.

    You know I think Barack is a lot like Hitler in how he sees himself as a savior while others see Barack as Jesus. I believe he wants to really change the world at the expense of using people’s neediness for a Messiah to extradordinary things most men (mankind) cannot do within their mortal limitations. The President has more proxy to try to move the world and shape it more than a regular person that may want to.

    I believe Barack wants to “heal the world” and understands that sometimes their are casualties of hurt feelings and he must dismiss factions.

    People have always drawn Barack so one-dimensionally. They refused to draw his complications. People were so intoxicated on the kool-aid that they refused to understand his nuance shrewdness. I saw it, got my feelings hurt, and caught a clue. For most, they are complaining when they should have saw it coming.

    I learned what he is willing to risk in order to change the world HIS WAY of thinking it should move. I saw this coming but his devout followers never knew the man to understand when he was doing something like this two fold as an ego-maniacal superficial move to mark his inauguration as the most socially conceptual controversial and as well they can’t see that there is a need to tackle the polarity of divisions by inviting your opposition to the party. Shrewd and courageous.

    When White Supremacists used to contact me, I would tell them where I was and invite them to meet me. Never did they take up the opportunity but it sent messages that I was not afraid to die, I was not afraid of them, and if they wanted to fix the country as they said they did, they had to deal with me. That is not how we have been raised to tackle opposition.

    Also, I do think Barack is a closet fascist too. I see the nuance. He leans conservative in his values and that conservatism in his known lifestyle is rather not liberal at all. That’s for another day.

  19. Merry Christmas Skeptical Brotha. Thanks so much for this blog.

    And to all the regular posters, Merry Christmas to you too. Please have a safe and peaceful holiday.

  20. Cliff

    Obama is always looking for the good ones among them. Okay some of us may argue that the best of them have migrated to Oregon and Washington, to get away from the most aggressive of themselves. The most Northwestern part of our country right.
    Even when dealing with them up there, it is hard for us, because we’re thinking, “What type of white person are you?” “You are not white, just tell me, c’mon.” Even when we go there and witness them, how damn nice they are, we’re thinking that they’re going to snap out of the portrayed personality and say “Booooy, get your black ass back there in that kitchen, and fix me somethin’ ta’ eat.”

    Andrea, “People have always drawn Barack so one-dimensionally. They refused to draw his complications. People were so intoxicated on the kool-aid that they refused to understand his nuance shrewdness.”

    Okay, well one-dimensional foresight, with him thinking that he has the ability to not only heal our country politically, but also racially.

    Only God can do that, and Obama may be a helper, but only a helper, not He, The Messiah, or He, God. Now shrewdness can be measured with actions applied to stragegy.

    SB, Let Dr. Obama work,

    Satan: Separate them from their homosexual peers, division is better than multiplication.

    Obama: “I have never been in agreement with gay marriage, but I have always been in agreement with civil unions.”


    Happy Holidays to SB, Rikyrah, Angie (A Scientist), Akech, TPJ Aka CPL (Welcome Back Girl), Andrea (Welcome Back Girl), Ernesto (You are the Truth), TLB, and Imhotep (Fire, and Truth), and to all the SB family.

    Rikyrah, what I get?

  21. mitch


    Have you lost your mind? I am so amazed at how people continue to use the old tactics from the past and expect a better result. Have we not learned by devaluing and humilating our own children just helps to destroy their self-esteem?

    This father has shown he is at his wit-end most likely because he is failing on the job front because of the bad economy. To relieve his fustration he has chosen to degrade his own son.

    A better solution would have been to send the young man to work with the custodian (for free) at the school for the next three months. Helping to keep the school clean by moping and waxing floors, taking out trash and working to keep the school clean. It would show him the amount of work it requires to maintain a quality and clean school.

    Also, when will Black people learn that children make mistakes just like their PARENTS. No one is without fault. It’s how you help your child rebound from his or her mistakes that ensures they have a great future.

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