Tonight Senator Obama has a date with hate. Unlike Obama’s flip-flop on his promised opposition to FISA amnesty, the ambitious Senator chooses to honor his commitment to Rick Warren. Why would this ambitious politician who has long desired to be Most Powerful Man In The World forsake his promise to defend the Constitution, yet keep his promise to the eliminationist hate preacher Rick Warren? What does it tell us about what passes for our democracy that the presumptive Democratic nominee chose to appear before — and answer questions from—a demagogue who opposes human rights and reproductive freedom?

First, a few facts.What is eliminationism? A few weeks ago Jonathan Huston, Physicians For Human Rights’ chief communications officer, visited the Lake. Writing in a personal capacity, he reminded us what David Neiwart wrote at Orcinius:

"That’s how eliminationist hate works, regardless of its target: Its aim is to threaten and intimidate not merely the immediate target, but anyone who might think of speaking out on their behalf. This cuts the target off from the community support it might normally enjoy and leaves them feeling even more isolated.

"What, really, is eliminationism?

"It’s a fairly self-explanatory term: it describes a kind of politics and culture that shuns dialogue and the democratic exchange of ideas for the pursuit of outright elimination of the opposing side, either through complete suppression, exile and ejection, or extermination."

Jonathan also pointed out:

When Rev. Warren suggests that gay rights are other than human rights, he is advancing eliminationist rhetoric. When he states that homosexuality is not natural and not to be tolerated, he is advancing the position that homosexuality is unnatural and to be – what’s the opposite of tolerated? – oh yeah: eliminated.

What does Rick Warren say about LGBT people, one-seventh of all humanity, when he’s out of American media view?

What was the context for Warren’s statement? Writing at Talk To Action, Richard Bartholomew stated:

Warren was speaking in support of Ugandan Anglicans who intend to boycott the forthcoming Lambeth Conference, and this harsh rejection of tolerance for gays and lesbians may have serious consequences in a country where homosexuals face harrassment and and the threat of imprisonment.

Warren’s comment is of a piece with his support for Martin Ssempa, the Ugandan evangelist who has been a keynote speaker at a Warren conference, and who has received US global AIDS prevention funds. As I wrote in August, Ssempa wants to ensure that homosexuality remains illegal and that gays and lesbians are identified in the public mind as sexual abusers. Ssempa calls for media censorship against opposing views and the dismissal of dissenting academics, and last summer he organized a rally with the theme "A Call for Action on Behalf of the Victims of Homosexuality", at which he railed against "molestation and sodomy."

(kjm: emphases mine)

What African religious leaders does Rick Warren exult when he’s home in the US? In a fluff job for Time magazine, Rick Warren sings hosannas for the virulently anti-gay Archbishop Akinola By coincidence, Akinola just happens to be point man in the the schism paralyzing the politically influential and hitherto tolerant Anglican Communion: the same global congregation that — before the schism — vigorously and effectively promoted a global vision of tolerance and social justice antithetical to American evangelicals’ hate speech and prejudice.

New African, Asian and Latin American church leaders like Akinola, 61, are bright, biblical, courageous and willing to point out the inconsistencies, weaknesses and theological drift in Western churches…

…Akinola has the strength of a lion, useful in confronting Third World fundamentalism and First World relativism…

…He has been criticized for recent remarks of frustration that some felt exacerbated Muslim-Christian clashes in his country. But Christians are routinely attacked in parts of Nigeria, and his anger was no more characteristic than Nelson Mandela’s apartheid-era statement that "sooner or later this violence is going to spread to whites." I believe he, like Mandela, is a man of peace and his leadership is a model for Christians around the world.

Gee. Guess Reverend Warren — that very ambitious man of God — left out a little bit. Like the bit about Akinola’s own hate speech and eliminationist views.

[Akinola] has been a mouthpiece for the most homophobic tendencies within the church, telling the New York Times that he jumped back in horror the first time he met a gay couple, comparing homosexuality to everything from pedophilia to zoophilia, and pushing for Nigeria to enact a five-year mandatory sentence for homosexual acts or "associations", a bill so broad that it could lead to the imprisonment of AIDS caregivers.

Perhaps the good Rev. Warren’s purpose drives him too rapidly for Rick to slow down and smell the corpses. When praising his chosen Archbishop to the heavens for Time’s readers, Warren somehow overlooked how the "lion" Akinola — that confronter of First World relativism and theological drift — gave tacit approval for massacring women, children, and babies. Attaturk, however, noticed:

In May, The Atlantic magazine raised new and more troubling concerns about Akinola. In "God’s Country," the writer Eliza Griswold, daughter of the Rt. Rev. Frank Griswold, former Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, describes a retributive massacre in the Nigerian town of Yelwa carried out in 2004 by a well-organized band of men, wearing clothing and tags that identified them as members of the Christian Association of Nigeria. Akinola was president of CAN during the massacre, which Human Rights Watch reports claimed the lives of approximately 700 Muslims. Dozens of others were kidnapped, raped or maimed…

When asked if those wearing name tags that read "Christian Association of Nigeria" had been sent to the Muslim part of Yelwa, the archbishop grinned. "No comment," he said. "No Christian would pray for violence, but it would be utterly naive to sweep this issue of Islam under the carpet." He went on, "I’m not out to combat anybody. I’m only doing what the Holy Spirit tells me to do. I’m living my faith, practicing and preaching that Jesus Christ is the one and only way to God, and they respect me for it. They know where we stand. I’ve said before: let no Muslim think they have the monopoly on violence."

Gee. Is this how Rev Warren wants to confront "theological drift"?

The very driven Reverend’s supporters—and many faithful Obama supporters and Dem party loyalists—maintain these are all mere coincidences. Mere accidental association.

Sure. Just like the fact the good Reverend Warren’s very own Purpose Driven Ministry just coincidentally employed and paid Mark Carver as one of their very own executive directors… the sort who — just by happenstance, you see — concurrently worked as business advisor for Left Behind Games.

Mark Carver, a top aide to mega-church pastor and best selling author Rick Warren, has resigned as a business advisor to Left Behind Games, the developers of a video game in which Christian militias wage physical and spiritual warfare using the power of prayer and modern military weaponry to convert New Yorkers and kill those who resist. Mr. Carver’s abrupt resignation, announced in a statement e-mailed to Talk to Action by Mr. Warren’s Purpose Driven Ministries on June 6, 2006, came in response to a two-part series on Talk to Action that criticized the game’s antisocial nature (warriors shout "Praise the Lord!" as they blow infidels away, and players can switch to the side of the AntiChrist to kill Christians). The series also revealed the game developer’s links to Mr. Warren’s empire and their emulation of his network marketing techniques. For example, Mr. Carver, Executive Director of Purpose Driven Church, served on the Advisory Board of Left Behind Games, a corporation formed in October 2001 (weeks after the attack on the World Trade Center) to develop the violent video game and distribute 1 million sample discs through pastoral networks and mega-churches.

In another of the odd "coincidences" beneath notice of exalted leaders like Senator Obama and Reverend Warren — and hence not to be acknowledged by their faithful congregations vociferous partisans — until Talk To Action broke the story, the developers of the hate video game just happened to be touting Carver and his links to Warren and the church where Senator Obama has chosen to appear tonight.

And until June 6, the Left Behind Games web site featured Mr. Carver’s name and detailed his prominent role in Purpose Driven Church. [Update: here is a screen shot from the Left Behind Games site taken before June 5, showing Mr. Carver's name and invoking the name brand of Purpose Driven Church.]

Reverend Warren’s faithful supporters — and Senator Obama’s — ask me to believe these are all unhappy coincidences. In that universe, I guess Job was plagued by trials, and Rev Warren is plagued by coincidence (kinda like the coincidence of choosing the same PR firm the patriarchical Promisekeepers and the extremist Rod Parsely chose).

In my universe, the improbability drive doesn’t take me there. Too many random "accidents" to be ascribed to mere chance. Nope, to me this looks like Intentional Design. Talk to Action sees a purpose driven connection, as well.

Do we think that Mr. Warren would allow his name brand and reputation to be casually invoked in a major business venture that involves one of the largest publishers in the Christian marketplace, who published the Left Behind novels, one of the best selling fiction series of all time? Does anyone think that Left Behind Games invoked the name brand of Mr. Warren’s Purpose Driven Church without his permission? Since this possibility is far-fetched, what we are looking at here is a business/marketing alliance between several evangelical business and ministerial entrepreneurs for whom the Great Commission also means great profits.

Who cares? Well, observers from the rightwing New Republic to corporate CBS News note that:

Regardless of which candidate benefits the most from this joint appearance, however, the biggest winner is Warren himself

Given the intense focus on tonight’s events, for once even the New Republic and CBS seem to be right.

So why is Senator Obama choosing to elevate Rick Warren and his eliminationsist, anti-choice message?

And what does his choice say about the Democratic Party and what passes for America’s democracy in the 21st Century?

At long last, have the Dem "leaders" no shame? Have We The People no sense of decency? What won’t we tolerate in those we hope to see advanced to Power?