ribs-warren-rick.thumbnail.jpgPresident-elect Obama chose eliminationist hate preacher Rick Warren to give the invocation at Obama’s Inaguration. With this choice, Obama sends three destructive messages. Number one: In Obama’s America, equal rights and reproductive freedom aren’t for everyone. Number two: President-elect Obama likes sharing the national stage with hate. Number three: While Obama enjoys his equality before the law, LGBT Americans can go to Hell. Literally. Gee. Is this change we can believe in? Does Obama’s America include GLBT’s, along with the fundamentalists who want to take away their rights?

Here’s what Jonathan Huston, Physicians For Human Rights’ chief communication officer, had to say at FDL in July:

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.

So: just what does Rick Warren say about LGBT people — one in seven Americans — when he’s out of American media view?

Where did Warren say this? When he was in Uganda, addressing the anti-gay "Christians" opposed to universal human rights in the worldwide Anglican communion. Who else does Rick Warren support in Uganda? Richard Bartholomew at Talk To Action knows who: Martin Ssempa. Who is Martin Ssempa?

…Martin Ssempa [is a] 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 organised a rally with the theme "A Call for Action on Behalf of the Victims of Homosexuality", at which he railed against "molestation and sodomy."

Nice company your Inauguration invocation preacher keeps, Mr President-Elect.

Who else does the President-elect’s preacher support? In a fluff job for Time magazine, Rick Warren sang hosannas for the virulently anti-gay Archbishop Akinola. By coincidence—or design—when he praises Akinola Rick Warren just happens to be supporting the point man in the the schism paralyzing the politically influential and hitherto tolerant Anglican Communion. Yep, the same global congregation which, before the schism, vigorously and effectively promoted a global vision of tolerance and social justice antithetical to American evangelicals’ hate speech and prejudice.

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."

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

President-elect Obama: is this something you can be really proud of?

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 President-elect Obama and Reverend Warren — and hence not to be acknowledged by their faithful congregations and/or 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 Warren’s organization.

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 President-Elect Obama’s — ask us to believe these are all unhappy coincidences. In their 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.

Barack Obama’s had too many repeat performances with Rick Warren for his choice to be explained away as an accident or an oversight.

Barack Obama has all the equality any American could ever imagine. Now that he’s used progressive American to support his effort to be President, he’s got what he wants. Whatever his appointments may seem to offer LGBT folk and their allies, the choices Barack Obama makes about the Inauguration show Americans and the world who and what he holds close. Barack’s repeated elevation of the hate preacher and eliminationist Rick Warren show us all who Obama chooses to associate with: an ambitious, influential hater.

Are these the values, the beliefs, that Obama really wants to embrace? Is this what he wants to show to the world, or even to his family and children?

There are many preachers in America who don’t hate gays; who don’t have all these "concidental" associations in their past. It would be simple enough for Obama to show that he believes in tolerance and equality by choosing one of them. If not, who he chooses here, will be used, fairly, to judge who he is.