Saddleback Church’s Rick Warren will provide Invocation at Obama’s Inauguration

Saddleback pastor Rick Warren will lift the “Cone of Silence” to deliver the invocation at President-elect Obama’s January 20th inauguration.

I’m glad President-elect Obama isn’t holding any grudges for the sand-bagging he got from Pastor Warran in August when John McCain was NOT in the cone of silence as Pastor Warren claimed to be.

My family and I have begun attending Saddleback services at their facility in Irvine.  Last Sunday’s “The Real Meaning of Christmas” sermon was, for the most part, very good.  The sermon was interrupted by short video clips that define words like “Power” and in the clips Republican images flipped across the screen like slo-mo subliminals.  A stoic photo of Ronald Reagan followed by an awful photo of Nancy Pelosi; a GOP elephant logo followed by a poor rendition of an unofficial Democratic Party logo; a stately John McCain followed by a bad photoshop of Barack Obama in a superhero’s costume.

God isn’t Republican.  Nor is he a Democrat.  Isn’t it time church leaders like those at Saddleback remember they should be non-partisan?


  30 comments for “Saddleback Church’s Rick Warren will provide Invocation at Obama’s Inauguration

  1. Gustavo Arellano
    December 17, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Dan: I hope you’re attending Saddleback for research purposes and not for salvation…

  2. Dan Chmielewski
    December 17, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Honestly, the service isn’t bad. None of that “sit, kneel, stand” stuff and direct applications of Bible readings to your daily life; my daughter likes the youth program.

    We’re trying to find something meaningful; Saddleback isn’t perfect but the message seems more hopeful than going to the Catholic Church where it seems more focused on the Old Testament God and less on the hopeful message of his Son.

    Perhaps I’m still ticked at the Catholic Church for invalidating my son’s baptism in Boston; and still ticked about the kid-diddling that went on all over the country. It no longer seems like a second home.

  3. The Lovable Curmudgeon
    December 17, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    Rick Warren is an awful human being.
    A few years ago I spoke with some folks who were a part of his African AIDS Ministry.
    They explained that Pastor Rick told them it was OK to help people in 3rd world countries with AIDS because most of them were unknowingly infected through heterosexual sex. In other words, where it’s not a “gay disease” it’s acceptable for them to help. But they were dissuaded from providing assistance in places where people were infected through “unnatural acts.”
    Mr. Warren’s behavior during his presidential forum (packing the room with church members, claiming McCain was sequestered when he was not) and his support of Proposition 8 affirmed my beliefs.
    I do not support the decision to make this horrible man a part of the inaugural festivities.

  4. Field OC
    December 17, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    \”Isn’t it time church leaders like those at Saddleback remember they should be non-partisan?\”

    Let\’s just thank god we\’ll actually have a bi-partisan President! You know, its not bad what Obama is doing — reaching out to the right. He really hurt himself by affiliating his brand so closely with Reverend Wright.

    In my opinion Obama is a very intelligent guy — he is associating himself with a popular moderate-right-wing Reverend in order to balance his image against the weight of Wright. You heard that correctly, Obama is USING this pastor.

    Obama has plenty of support on the left in order to effectively preside over the country. What he lacks is sufficient support on the right. And WRIGHT is a big part of that. Warren helps balance out Obamas image with Moderate-right Christians, and that helps Obama be a more effective leader, coming into the presidency, because he is softened and people will give him more of a chance.

    Obama is a pragmatist and a realist, as much as an idealist. I don\’t expect him to declare that gay marriage must be enforced, but the benefit of Obama in office is that they will have an ally in terms of affirming their right to be in relationships and have their rights protected. Thats far better than the last 8 years.

    We cant expect the country to make 2 steps forward after just having taken 1 step back. Obama is a step in the proper direction for civil rights. But the nation — a good MAJORITY of it is going to settle this matter one day. And if CALIFORNIA is voting against gay marriage even during an Obama election!!, Obama will realize that this isn\’t the fight for today.

    The best thing Obama can do, is make the nation feel more at ease about gay rights, if not gay marriage quite yet. Obama isn\’t associating himself with Warren to say anything against gays. Hes associating himself with Warren to help himself against the far-right. If they lower their guard, then Obama can govern more effectively toward the left.

  5. December 17, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    With respect, LC, while Warren may well have said that, I think it’s a somewhat unfair to accept a second-hand version of his comments on so important a topic.

    I really don’t understand all the brouhaha about this. Obama intends to attempt to be the President of all the people, and Warren is pastor to a great many Americans.

  6. The Lovable Curmudgeon
    December 17, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    Really, Gila? You’re serious?
    Inviting a person who believes that certain privileges in our society should not be afforded to people like me, and Andrew and Bill and Chris and Mike is OK with you?
    Making that person a key part of your history-making inauguration is just fine?
    It’s not OK.
    I am a gay man.
    For that simple reason I can be fired from my job in many states in this county.
    If I want to fight for our country, I have to hide my identity.
    Should I be lucky enough to fall in love and partner with someone from another country, I cannot sponsor his citizenship.
    I am prohibited from marrying in 48 states. If I marry in Massachusetts or Connecticut, my marriage is not recognized in most of the others.
    I supported Obama’s candidacy.
    But I am profoundly disappointed in the decision to make Rick Warren a part of inauguration festivities. I hope it is reconsidered.
    It is an affront to my equality and my humanity.
    By choosing Rick Warren, I have to wonder if perhaps Obama’s “Vision for America” doesn’ include me after all.

  7. anon
    December 17, 2008 at 9:31 pm


    If you’re interested in finding a church that aligns better with your politics, I recommend checking out NewSong, in Irvine.

  8. December 17, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    Frankly, it’s not at all clear to me that Obama himself believes equal rights should be afforded to my gay friends. I think we have to wait and see how it plays out, but I think it’s pretty safe to assume it’s not going to be a priority for the Obama administration.

    One of the things I took away from the result of the November election is that there’s still much work to be done. Hearts and minds haven’t been won. And the symbolism of who gives the invocation at the inaugural isn’t going to cause anyone to think differently about equality, IMO.

    A concern I have about political life today is the igniting of the culture wars. Part of the reason Obama won the election is that he succeeded in keeping the culture wars from spiraling out of control, in spite of Sarah Palin’s constant efforts to stoke the flames. When the culture wars get going in earnest, Democrats lose.

    I think the Warren thing is a culture war issue. I think it’s an area where we lose if we fight it. If I believed it really made a difference I might feel otherwise, but as I say I think it’s insignificant. It won’t cause anyone to think differently about equality. I think we need to choose our battles, and this is a poor one to choose.

  9. Northcountystorm
    December 18, 2008 at 12:17 am

    Gila, as usual, makes sense.

    You know, all the progressives who supported Obama are going to find out pretty quick (if they haven’t already)that Obama isn’t going to be the uber liberal he was as Senator from Illinois. The Rick Warren decision is a pretty clear announcement: Welcome to Triangulation, Obama style.

    Dan—according to People for The American Way, Warren described himself as being different from James Dobson not in substance but only in tone. Sounds like you might be getting some more of that Old Time Old Testament @ Saddleback. Good luck.

    By the way, my Church uses both Old and New and the mix seems to work well. Plenty of hope there.

  10. Paul Lucas
    December 18, 2008 at 12:19 am

    I was a parishoner at Saddleback church when it was in a storefront in El Toro (Lake Forest). I knew Rick warren back then. he was a nice guy. I left the church, or at least stopped attending when they kept trying to baptise me to wash the catholic off of me. I always maintained that they should love me for who I am and stop trying to convert me. Anyway, when the church moved into a giant tent at its current location, I kept attending for a while but had to leave because my friends who brought ke to that church kept trying to get me to be baptised.

  11. December 18, 2008 at 12:47 am

    Can’t say I’m inspired by Warren’s selection.

    That said, it is not really a secret that President Elect Obama is on record as opposing same-gender marriage. For us to be “pissed” that he selected a pastor who shares that belief is a bit of an over reaction.

    What will matter is what President Obama actually does when he is in office. For that we will have to wait and see. Would we have preferred McCain and Palin be sworn in on January 20th?

    I will simply mute the TV when Warren speaks. If I were attending the inauguration, I would show him my back. If we get hung up on symbolism we will fall into the same trap we did with Bill Clinton and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

    I think it s a little early to indict Obama; he hasn’t even taken office yet.

  12. Toni
    December 18, 2008 at 1:55 am

    The outcry from many of the posts against Rick Warren is so grossly unfounded. Rick is perhaps the best outspoken conservative the Left is ever going to have unless they truly want everyone to become Left – which is to me most absurd. Many of us in the middle supported Obama as much as the Left did. I do not think he should cave in to any one group but he should serve the best interest of the country as a whole. I think Barrack is a realist. He does not support Gay bashing. He truly believes that Gays should have the same rights as everyone else. However, he does not believe marriage should be fundamentally changed because of the Gay movement. Marriage has many purposes one of which is to procreate and sustain human kind. (I conceed that procreation happpens outside marriage, but we can all agree that this is not the norm). As a practical matter, homosexual relationships do not fulfill this, but that does not mean we should legislate people’s private decisions. Marriage is not so much a right as the debate has reduced it. It is the core and pillar of every society. It is not an invention of the Religious right, it predates all known religions. And I am sure the opposition of Gay marriage is not limited to conservative christians alone. Almost all religions to some degree oppose redefining of marriage. But we all can agree that Gays should receive every right due a citizen. Gays may be different but they are definitely not inferior. The argument should be moved out of religious confines and addressed more fundamentally. Gays ought to recognize that insisting that the society change wholesale will ultimately hurt their cause. Gays should be fighting for equality not domination. And there is a smarter way to achieve equality.

  13. Misha Houser
    December 18, 2008 at 9:16 am

    For those of you who don’t think it’s a big deal…imagine if the pastor was someone who had preached white supremacy or anti-Semitism. Would you think it’s still ok? For those of us who are part of the LGBT, this feels like Obama has invited a naked bigot to mark this most historic of occasions.

    This is about civil rights. LC, I’m with you on this one…Gila, they’ve been playing Warren’s anti-gay comments all over the cable networks, so no, it’s NOT hearsay. It’s a fact that Warren is an anti-LGBT bigot.

    I will be at the inauguration and showing my back during Warren’s invocation is an idea worth considering…if there’s an open letter or petition to sign, I’m so there.

  14. Misha Houser
    December 18, 2008 at 9:35 am

    You have bought into the fundamentalist anti-gay talking points. I can list dozens of cultures and several religions who DO NOT define marriage as being between a man and a woman. As a matter of fact, your bible doesn’t define marriage as such (even though your preachers continue to spread that lie).

    I mentioned some time back that I had a hard time finding that “pesky passage” in your bible. I’ve studied your “good” book and read the analysis of biblical scholars…the passage that is often cited from Leviticus which states that lying with a man is abhorrent does NOT refer to sex. It is often taken out of context and interrupted as such, however it is referring to owing your allegiance to a human over your allegiance to god.

    If you take the time to read the surrounding passages, it’s clear that “lying with” has to do with idolizing mortals over your deity because the same phrase is used to describe non-Jewish people who “lie with the religion of their ancestors”. You can’t possibly tell me that this passage means having sex with your ancestral beliefs. LOL.

    It’s a shame that this non-Xtian knows your sacred text better than most Xtians I know.

    As for marriage as you define it being universally accepted as being between man and woman is a pile of stinking…well, you get my drift.

    Much of European culture is descended or related to the Celts, Goths, Teutons, etc. There are many observations of Celtic culture in particular which describe that culture as one of open relationships that would today be termed bi-sexual. Several instances of Gay and Lesbian relationships are cited as well.

    It’s not unknown for many cultures to honor LGBT people and not discriminate against them for their relationships. Many indigenous cultures honor members of our community as sacred beings.

    I’d appreciate it if you would stop perpetuating the religious right’s talking points as they are false and hateful.

  15. December 18, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Dan: You don’t want to attend Newsong, either, as they’re proud homo-haters. You being a good liberal, it surprise me you’d attend the church of a man who now seems to act as Sean Hannity’s personal ayatollah.

  16. The Lovable Curmudgeon
    December 18, 2008 at 10:28 am

    From my point of view, Rick Warren is simply an intolerant bigot.
    With all the faith leaders in the country, the inaugural committee chose HIM to give the invocation.
    From all the places of worship in OC, Dan chose Rick’s church to attend and support.
    Gila and NCS defend this decision as no big deal.
    By all giving their tacit approval, they are telling me that Warren’s brand of intolerance and bigotry is just fine with them.

  17. Paul Lucas
    December 18, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Who would you guys have do the invocation? Is there a major religious leader in this country that has openly stated that he or she suports same sex marriage?

    if it wasnt Warren, would you bitch about Shueller? How about Billy Grahm? What religious leader of the same stature would you have do the invocation?

  18. December 18, 2008 at 11:00 am

    Those who said it’s not a big deal are right. But for the wrong reason. It’s really not a big deal. No,

    It’s a shit storm.

    And it is completely unnecessary. He could have chosen someone else in his effort to bring people together and given Rick Warren some other venue.

    Some intelligent assessments are at

    Letting Rick Warren speak at Barack Obama’s inauguration lends him undeserved legitimacy as America’s unofficial pastor


    Obama’s Vision – He Doesn’t See Us

    As for me, yes, I am seriously pissed off and no, I am not yet ready to draw conclusions about Obama’s plans to deliver. I am waiting to see what happens with DADT, DOMA, and the rest of the homosexual agenda — but I’m not waiting forever or even for a long time.

    California’s in the bag for Democrats. The fags are in the bag for Democrats. I’m tired of being taken for granted and then thrown under the bus.

    Mixing metaphors here — If you kick the dog often enough, the dog will bite you.

  19. December 18, 2008 at 11:25 am


    Ummm, let’s see… We have Sojourners leader Rev. Jim Wallis. We have AU President Rev. Barry Lynn. We have Episcopal Archbishop Katherine Jefforts Schori. And oh my, we have so many ministers from President-Elect Obama’s own UCC!

    TLC, Misha, & Mr. Bill-

    Agreed! This is a slap in the face to LGBT people. I don’t know how to candycoat this. How is this any different from the President-Elect having a KKK affiliated minister speak? Rick Warren may wear a nice smile when he calls LGBT people “a sinful abomination”, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a homophobic bigot & he has no place at an event that’s supposed to unite the country behind the new President?

    I’m sick & tired of Democratic “leaders” throwing LGBT people under the bus & expecting us to support them when they break their promises to us. When can we hold them accountable for once?

  20. Paul Lucas
    December 18, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Forgive my ignorance of those ministers you mentioned. Im simply not in theknow of LGBT friendly churches or ministers as you may be simply because thats not my main issue as it is with people I care abouit the most such as you and jeff letourneau etc.

    I seriously doubt that Obama chose Rick Warren with the idea of slapping the LGBT Community in the face with his choice. I thihnk he just chose him because of his national prominence.

    You knew Obamas stance on same sex marriage a long time ago. Joe Biden echoed the same sentiment. It may have been a strategic statement at a particular time in the campaign but none the lass it was a statement of position on that issue.

    You were once a fervent supporter of Obama and then switched to Hilary and then back to Obama after the primary. This reflects your acknowledgement of incrimental change.

    I beleive that there will be a day when same sex marriages will be fully recognized atthe Federal Level and in all 50 states. But I think that it will take time. The civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s took decades to make the progres they made. i believe that Obama will be the catalyst to facilitate that change. But it will take time. So have patience amigo that day will come. Just keep working and making progress towards that goal.

  21. December 18, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Drinking game – take a swig each time Warren lies in his endorsement of Proposition 8 here (but first make sure a friend has your car keys)

    We can’t help whatever triangulating games Obama thinks he’s playing, but Chmielewski, what are YOU thinking supporting this guy?

  22. Dan Chmielewski
    December 18, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    I’m not supporting this guy; I attend his church on Sunday’s and the sermons are actually meaningful. Believe me, the first time there’s a reference to Prop 8 or something anti-Gay, my family and I will rise as one to leave.

    Recent sermons: helping people going through a divorce. Helping those climb out of debt. There was some subtle Republican promotion in the “real meaning of Christmas” sermon, but you tend to expect that in OC.

    As far as a replacement to Warren, well its a short prayer for our country and our new president. I think its more important to focus on what the prayer is and what its about than who is saying it.

  23. December 18, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    Statement by Dr. Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church
    Regarding the Invitation from President-elect Obama to Deliver
    the Inaugural Invocation
    Lake Forest, Calif., Dec. 18, 2008

    “I commend President-elect Obama for his courage to willingly take enormous heat from his base by inviting someone like me, with whom he doesn’t agree on every issue, to offer the Invocation at his historic Inaugural ceremony.

    Hopefully individuals passionately expressing opinions from the left and the right will recognize that both of us have shown a commitment to model civility in America.

    The Bible admonishes us to pray for our leaders. I am honored by this opportunity to pray God’s blessing on the office of the President and its current and future inhabitant, asking the Lord to provide wisdom to America’s leaders during this critical time in our nation’s history.”

  24. duplojohn
    December 18, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    Gila writes: “…….and my Gay friends” That smacks of distancing one from the issue. Why not say “Gays”. I guess her Gay friends are different than others???

    Chris writes: “……a bit of an over reaction”

    Talk about Rats running from a sinking ship.

    Let’s call it what it is: Political Pandering.

    Obviously Chmielewski has’nt been to Mass in Orange county lately, where they are running from “Sit, Kneel, Stand as fast as Psueduo Obamites are from Prop-8!.

  25. December 18, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    I really hope a lot of people who go to the inauguration stand up and turn their back when Warren speaks. That seems very appropriate.

  26. Steve Perez
    December 19, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Oh No! How dare all of you criticize Barack Obama, he’s our President Elect and a Democrat! He hasn’t even taken office yet! We can’t criticize his decisions! He’s not perfect! Blah, blah, blah, etc etc etc.

    In case you didn’t catch it… I’m mocking quite a bit of you, who told me it was unfair to criticize Obama, or who criticized my criticisms of him. So let me return the favor.

    It’s Obama’s inauguration, he should pick who he wants! He is bringing everyone together! Why cant we just move on! He campaign as the all-inclusive candidate, and now you folks don’t want everyone to come to the party?


  27. Northcountystorm
    December 19, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Why stop there? Why not turn their backs on Obama when he starts to speak? After all, he does not support gay marriage and he’s the one who chose Warren.

    Most people will realize that this tactic will be counterproductive. It will have all of the participation of a Day Without a Gay.

    Many of you who are po’d about this were die-hard Obama supporters….did you not believe him when he said during the campaign that there was not a liberal or conservative America but only America and that his post-partisan Administration would reach out to all the country; ? I doubt if he ever heard Reverend Wright cite Matthew 5:43-48
    but I suspect Obama has incorporated those verses into his spiritual and political vault.

    I’m not suggesting that you have to be happy about this decision—in fact, Kos( who I often disagree with) is probably right that the outcry about the decision probably got Obama to make his comments about intending his Administration to be strongly supportive of gay /lesbian issues. But if you are surprised by this decision you weren’t listening to Obama.

  28. Misha Houser
    December 19, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    I was a Hillary delegate…I simply believe that Hate is not a value we need to embrace. Obama’s campaign comments about gay rights weren’t hateful, just misguided or uninformed.

    Warren’s comments however encouraged intolerance and voters to legislate discrimination. Telling people to act on their bigotry is different. I understand Obama’s strategy–that doesn’t mean I have to agree with it.

  29. Northcountystorm
    December 19, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Misha—You said “telling people to act on their bigotry.” Obama said he did not support same sex marriage but supported domestic partnerships. Does that make him a bigot? Are all the people who think marriage should be limited between a man and a woman a bigot or is just those people who voted their beliefs and voted yes on 8?

    But again, as it was explained to me last night, Obama is thinking 5 chess moves ahead of the rest of us. He’s trying to change the tone, tenor and substance of the conversations we have in this country on social and moral issues. This was a move to reach out and your disagreement and that of others with the decision only underscores the significant move it was. It wouldn’t have the same value in trying to bridge the ideological and social chasm if you and others thought his selection was peachy keen. Obama gets Matthew 5:43-48 for the country and I suspect that it will be a big factor in his probable success as a President.

  30. Steve Perez
    December 19, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    I couldn’t have said it better myself NorthCountyStorm, I know I was listening very, very carefully, as it appears you were. Although at the same time, I think we feel differently about what we heard.

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