Is Rick Warren Outing His Tolerant Self of Just Bluffing?


The choice of Rick Warren as Barack Obama's inaugural invocation giver has apparently so touched the leader of Lake Forest's Saddleback Church that he has become The Most Tolerant Pastor Ever!!!

He posed for a photo that has his arm around an openly gay guy at the Out of the Closet thrift store in West Hollywood. He met with  Melissa Etheridge, apologizing for the way he vehemently supported Proposition 8 and agreeing to come to the home of the preeminent out lesbian songstress so he can meet her wife and kids. Now missing from his megachurch's website is this message that was there just days ago: "Because membership in a church is an outgrowth of accepting the Lordship and leadership of Jesus in one's life, someone unwilling to repent of their homosexual lifestyle would not be welcome at Saddleback."  

(Here is the cached link, where your eyes can also gaze at purged bits about dinosaurs being mentioned in the Bible and how Catholicism is sort of a cult.)

Over the weekend at the Muslim Public Affairs Council conference in Long Beach, Warren told the audience, "For the media's purpose, I happen to love gays and straights"—scoring a rare two-fer by displaying simultaneous tolerance for gays and Islam. Hell, any gay Muslim in the crowd must've been giddy.

The day before Warren touches down in D.C., he will the featured speaker at the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Service Jan. 19 at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

If only Pastor Rick's reinvention was that simple.

In "Is Rick Warren a Vampire?" on the Huffington Post, psychotherapist Leah McElrath Renna dissects Warren's recent, supposedly tolerant language about gays and civil unions and wonders if he's hiding a dark secret.

I would love nothing more than to hear Rick Warren overtly and publicly express his support for full legal recognition for same-sex couples at a state and federal level under any name. I would love for the fact that Saddleback Church decided to remove such divisive language from its website to be an indication that Warren is re-thinking his understanding of what it means to be gay or lesbian.

But — until I hear a clear, unambiguous statement from Rick Warren's own lips to this effect — I am protecting my neck and keeping garlic and a wooden stake handy.

Japhy Grant at the website Queerty ("Free of an agenda. Except that gay one") does some dissecting of his own, posting a video of Warren denying he ever said gays and lesbians are like pedophiles and people who commit incest. Then Grant follows with text of the pastor saying gays and lesbians are like pedophiles and people who commit incest. The title of the post more than hints at Grant's verdict: "Rick Warren will lie right to your face."

The purpose-driven pastor's main purpose is to drive liberals crazy, Alan Bisbort writes in "Brokeback to Saddleback" for the Hartford Advocate.

The Reverend Rick Warren wants us to lead "purpose-driven lives." We, of course, would love to do this, but every time we turn around some member of the clergy, like the Rev. Warren, is quite purposefully pissing on our leg — metaphorically and metaphysically speaking, of course.

Bisbort really gets going when he writes about Warren's Orange County base, "a bastion of extreme Republicanism whose last big gift to Washington D.C. was Rep. Robert 'B-1 Bob' Dornan.

Dornan's idea of a witticism was, "Don't use the word 'gay' unless it's an acronym for 'Got Aids Yet?'" Warren would make Dornan proud. Because he is on the fast track to becoming America's next Billy Graham — the preacher who blesses the bombs — Warren warrants closer scrutiny. His past statements seem to indicate that he holds some rather un-Christian attitudes toward, among others, homosexuals. He has equated homosexuality with child molestation and incest and he has been quoted as encouraging George W. Bush to "take out" foreign leaders who are "evil." Indeed, he all but advocated national policy in this exchange with Sean Hannity on Fox News: "The Bible says that evil cannot be negotiated with. It has to just be stopped ... that is the legitimate role of government. The Bible says that God puts government on earth to punish evildoers. Not good-doers. Evildoers."

Over the weekend, Barney Frank, the longest serving openly gay Member of Congress, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that Obama "giving that kind of mark of approval and honor to someone who has frankly spoken in ways that I and many others have found personally very offensive, I thought that was a mistake for the president-elect to do."

Noting that Warren compared same-sex couples to incest, the Massachusetts Democrat said, "I found that deeply offensive and unfair. And the president-elect was wrong when he said, well, he invited me to speak; I'm just inviting him to speak. If he was inviting the Reverend Warren to participate in a forum and to make a speech, that would be a good thing. We should have these. But being singled out to give the prayer at the inauguration is a high honor."

In a MSNBC appearance, Frank said he was glad Warren seems to be reaching out of late, but he fear Obama "overestimates" his ability to charm those he disagrees with and overestimates the right's willingness to be "post-partisan." Having worked for decades with the GOP, Frank said, "I suffer from post-partisan depression."

Ironically, Warren is still fending off criticism from other evangelicals, who complain he backed Proposition 8 belatedly and unenthusiastically, that he was missing from stadium rallies Christian conservatives held to raise tens of millions of dollars for the ballot effort, that neither he nor his wife Kay donated any of their considerable fortune to the campaign. Indeed, Warren has dealt with the perception he is not conservative enough since began his climb to prominence in the 1980s.

Scott Thumma, a professor at Connecticut's Hartford Seminary who researches megachurches and writes about the challenges for gay and lesbian Christians, tells the Associated Press' Rachel Zoll: "The comments from many of the evangelicals further to the right of him are often critical for his lax stance on their passionate issues."

Speaking of fundamentalist right outrage directed at Warren, check out this Orange County Register piece, where Pastor Wiley Drake of First Baptist Church of Buena Park says in an email of the Saddleback leader's "recent plan to invoke the presence of almighty God on this evil illegal alien" (Obama): "I pray He is kind to you in this punishment that is coming. . . .God will deal with you on this ... God will not wink at this."

Gee, Wiley, you only called Obama "the first illegal-alien president in U.S. history" in my story.


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