President-elect Barack Obama announced a few weeks ago that Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and author of The Purpose-Driven Life, had been invited to give the invocation at Obama’s inauguration on January 20. Given the controversial religious and political stances he has taken, most recently his strenuous opposition to legalized same-sex marriage in California, should Rick Warren give the invocation at Barack Obama’s inauguration?
The year 2008 wasn’t such a great one for gay people in the United States. It was like a bad screenplay — the false dawn over the summer when the California Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, which led to the crisis of having Prop. 8 on the ballot, and finally the tragic resolution in November when the measure passed and homophobia was inscribed in the state constitution. California wasn’t the only place — anti-gay marriage initiatives passed in Arizona and Florida, too — but it got the most attention. Now, as a final slap in the face to disappointed and defeated advocates of gay rights, the guy giving the invocation at President Obama’s inauguration is Rick Warren, one of the biggest and best-funded cheerleaders for Prop. 8, the man who helped ban gay marriage in California.
This shouldn’t be. I know that Obama and Warren have apparently been friendly for years, and I know that Barack wants to be the president of all the people, but there must be someone else he can send out there to give a prayer and a hello to the teeming masses on Inauguration Day. What about Mel White, founder of Soulforce? What about Gene Robinson? What about Benny Hinn — wouldn’t that be great for a laugh?
There are other reasons to object to Rick Warren giving the invocation than his anti-gay bigotry. There’s also his religious bigotry. Christopher Hitchens wrote that Obama ought to demand that Warren repudiate some of his past statements, including publicly claiming that every Jew who doesn’t convert to Christianity is going to Hell.
Let’s not forget Warren’s mentor, W.A. Criswell. You thought Obama’s old pastor was nuts — get a load of this guy. Criswell, who Warren has called the greatest American pastor of the 20th century, preached Biblical inerrancy and dispensational premillennialism, reassuring his congregation that they would all be raptured safely up to Heaven before Armageddon, while all the non-Christian sinners would be left behind (to coin a phrase) to suffer torment and death during the great tribulation. A real humanitarian, this Criswell. I never thought the phony psychic from those Ed Wood movies would wind up being the most respectable famous person with that last name.
You would never know it from most of what you see on TV, but there are lots of religious people in the United States who don’t want to deprive other people of their civil rights, who don’t go in for the laying-on of hands or faith healing or any of that phony crap, and who don’t get all giddy at the thought of everyone of a different faith burning for all time in a lake of fire. I’m glad Barack won. Were stuffed dogs a part of our voting franchise here in America, as they are in the Netherlands, I would have voted for him in a second. But why can’t he choose one of those non-bigoted, non-crazy Christians to pray him into office? Or maybe Christopher Hitchens. At least it’d be a short prayer.
Should Rick Warren give the invocation at Obama’s inauguration? You bet your ass he should! The nerve of some people. Do you have any idea who the fuck Rick Warren is? Do you know how many people go to his church? (It’s like 20,000 people.) Do you have any clue how many books he’s sold? (I don’t know any numbers, but it must be a lot, right? Hasn’t he written like fifteen of those fucking things — The Purpose-Driven Cookbook and shit?) He’s sold more books and made more money than Barack Obama, that’s for damn sure. Now that I think about it, Obama’s lucky Warren even accepted the invitation! If I were Warren, I wouldn’t have settled for the invocation. I’d have demanded the presidency itself!
Not only is Rick Warren the richest, most famous (and therefore best) Christian in the country, but these whiny criticisms of him have no legitimacy to them at all. What are people bitching about — the gay marriage thing? “Boo-hoo, Sulu can’t make an honest woman out of Chekov!” You fucking pussies. You wanna get married, gay people? Try one of the many other nations in the world that recognize your stupid rights. Go to one of those Scandinavian countries like Holland or Canada or the Netherlands. I just hope you don’t mind going skiing for your honeymoons, you fucking perverts.
You gay rights people are as bad as those fucking abolitionists who caused the Civil War two hundred years ago. First they pissed and moaned about slavery. Then we got rid of slavery and they were all like, “Oh, no, that’s not good enough! People need to be able to freely exercise their rights, no matter what race they are!” I mean, when does it ever stop?
What’s something else people jump on Rick Warren for? The religious thing. People get all bent out of shape because he says that only Christians get into Heaven. Well guess what? That’s not Rick Warren talking. That’s God, baby. God said you have to be down with Jesus or your ass is grass — eternally burning grass. Tough break, Jews, but what do you expect Rick Warren to do about it? And even if he could do something to help you out, why would he? What did any Jew ever do for him?
So I say leave Rick Warren alone and let him say the prayer when President Obama takes the oath. In the long run it doesn’t matter anyway, since Rick Warren and Barack Obama and all the rest of you humans are going to Hell, too. Did you ever see that movie Only Dogs Go to Heaven?* I didn’t, but whoever came up with that title had it right. Heaven’s no place for humans; it’s strictly for the dogs. Especially the stuffed ones.
*Editor’s Note: After Toby Benson submitted this essay, it was brought to his attention that the title of the film is actually All Dogs Go to Heaven. Sgt. Benson acknowledged the error and refused to correct it.