Rick Warren and the InvocationThis post is for Matty V, who asked where my outrage over Obama's invitation to have Pastor Rick Warren give the invocation at his inauguration.
I can honestly say that up until today, I really haven't had much outrage. I think Rick Warren is wrong about gay marriage and gay rights, but in the past I've given him the benefit of the doubt. If I went around protesting everyone that didn't agree with me on gay rights and gay marriage, I'd never get anything done (and let's not forget that I believe Obama himself is wrong on gay marriage). So, I was willing to not get up in arms about Rick Warren. From what I have seen of him, he's no James Dobson or Pat Robertson, and I had given him credit for that.
That is until this morning, when I cam across a post over at Box Turtle Bulletin. In an interview with Ann Curry, Warren answers a question about homosexuality possibly being biological and demonstrates both his ignorance on what he is requiring of gay people, and also what I see as a complete lack of respect for gay folks in general.
I'll start with the lack or respect part. I admit this claim is a bit harsh, but this interview is the second time that I've heard Rick Warren refer to his "gay friends" and then follow that up with a negative stereotype about gays. The first time, Warren was asked about gay marriage, and he said he was against gay marriage just like he was against incestuous marriage and pedophilia marriage (I may have just made that word up). When asked specifically if he thought those two types of marriages were equivalent to gay marriage, Pastor Warren said yes, and then proceeded to say he had gay friends and that no church as done more to help AIDS than his own. What? When did we start talking about AIDS?? Oh yeah, we were talking about gays, so AIDS would be the next logical step (and we can all pretend his church was helping AIDS in the gay population and ignore that the majority of his church's assistance went to AIDS sufferers in Africa).
So, the first time Warren was asked about gay marriage, he compared it to incest and pedophilia and then brought up his "gay friends" just to mention that he supports AIDS funding (in Africa). Now, the second time he talks about his "gay friends" he comes up with this doozey, "Here’s what I’m saying. I’ve had many gay friends tell me, “Well Rick, why shouldn’t I have multiple sexual partners? It’s the natural thing to do.” He's 2 for 2 on this one--when he brings up his "gay friends," he only brings them up to reinforce negative stereotypes of gays, that they have AIDS and now that they are promiscuous." Note to self--do not be a "gay friend" to Rick Warren.
So, on to his ignorance about gay people and what he is calling for from them. The problem is that Warren's little example about promiscuity is off base, whether intentionally or not, he's sugar coating his "call" to gay people, and just like that judge on Top Chef, I can't help but spit this stuff out (worst reference ever; don't kill me). Warren claims that he's not promiscuous, so gays shouldn't be either. Ok, I'll give you that. Really, most people would. But what he doesn't mention (and this is a clever obfuscation), is that he gets to have a healthy outlet for his sexuality, but he doesn't offer one to gays. He's not asking gays not to be promiscuous. No, gays have to be celibate. He's comparing his own sexual fidelity to his wife to a call for celibacy for gays. That's not the same thing at all, no matter how you spin it (I wonder how he would take to a demand that he be celibate?). And, before someone goes in and says all single people have to be celibate, gay or straight--it's still not the same thing. He's asking gays to suppress all romantic feelings and activities completely, not just abstain from intercourse. We're talking about holding hands, cuddling, kissing, etc. Of course, his message sounds a lot more effective when it sounds like he's only asking gays to do what he asks of himself. It's not true or honest, but it's effective.
So that's that. I was giving Pastor Warren a pass. I'm not going to go around getting mad at everyone that isn't 100% gay positive. I'll disagree with them, and I'll think they're wrong, and if I know them I'll explain that to them, but I'm not going to boycott or even get mad about every instance of someone not agreeing with me. But Rick Warren has gone beyond that now. He's used an opportunity to make a conciliatory gesture to demean gays. Rather than offering a middle ground, he's throwing up stereotypes and ignorance. I can't support that.