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    December 25, 2008

    Bill Clinton's Rick Warren

    Posted by: Chris

    Hillarybillbilly It's worth remembering, as you consider the competing viewpoints over Warren-gate, that there was no outcry surrounding Bill Clinton selection of evangelist Billy Graham to give the prayer at his 1993 inauguration, and again four years later. Graham's views are far more conservative and damning than Warren's, whether on sexual morality, homosexualtiy and (most disturbingly) AIDS and other STDs.

    In 1997, Clinton presented Graham with the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the nation's highest civilian honors. There's a certain irony, of course, to Clinton's choice given his own record of sexual morality and marital fidelity, and his presidency's record on gay issues isn't one we hope Barack Obama replicates.

    But the broader point is the insidious way that ideological intolerance (liberal and conservative) has grown over the years, and the divisive effect it has, eschewing debate in favor of exclusionary demands. As we saw throughout the Republican and Democratic primaries, it's not enough that candidates agree with these ideologues, they must never associate themselves with anyone who fails the litmus test.

    Just imagine if Rick Warren had said something similar to what Billy Graham preached on the subject of AIDS back in 1993, when the death toll from HIV was reaching its peak, especially among gay men:

    "Is AIDS a judgment of God?" asked Graham before a record-breaking crowd in Columbus, Ohio. "I could not say for sure, but I think so." After seeing letters criticizing that comment, Graham contacted the Cleveland Plain Dealer to retract his statement. "I remember saying it, and I immediately regretted it and almost went back and clarified the statement," said Graham in a telephone interview. He said he never intended to make the remark, explaining that he was tired during the sermon and forgot to retract or clarify his statement. "I do believe God stands in judgment of all sins...but AIDS is a disease that affects people and is not part of that judgment," Graham told the newspaper. "To say God has judged people with AIDS would be very wrong and very cruel."

    Don't take Graham's retraction too seriously. Later that year he repeated the same "cruel" condemnation in a syndicated newspaper column that is still available on his website under the heading "Homosexuality":

    I believe the "explosion in sexual freedom" is one of the most disastrous things that has happened to our society in the last 50 years. Think, for example, of the devastating impact this "explosion" has had on our families. A family isn't just a nice idea; it is a God-ordained institution, given to us for our happiness and protection. But almost every day I get at least one letter from someone whose family has been torn apart by sexual immorality. …

    The same could be said about another "explosion" today—the explosion in sexually transmitted diseases. Millions of people in many parts of the world are living under a sentence of death because of AIDS and other devastating sexual diseases. How can we possibly conclude that unbridled sexual expression is a good thing?

    (Jump to the end of this post for some additional tidbits about homosexuality from Graham and his evangelical association.)

    Bill clinton billy grahamI also can't imagine that Rick Warren will use language anything like that Graham used in 1993, and again when Clinton asked him back to offer a inaugural prayer four years later.

    From Billy Graham's 1993 inauguration prayer:

    Our God and our Father, we thank you for this historic occasion when we inaugurate our new President and Vice-President. We thank you for the moral and spiritual foundations which our forefathers gave us and which are rooted deeply in scripture. Those principles nourished and guided us as a nation in the past, but we cannot say that we are a righteous people. We've sinned against you. We've sown to the wind and are reaping the whirlwind of crime, drug abuse, racism, immorality, and social injustice. We need to repent of our sins and turn by faith to you.

    His inaugural invocation four years later was longer and more subdued, at least when it came to sinful folk "reaping the whirlwind of immorality." (AIDS, anyone?)  But Graham nonetheless admonished Americans that the government depends on God's grace ("Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it"), and he prayed that God would "teach us to follow Your instructions more closely."

    Now, as promised, some additional pearls of wisdom and compassion from the page entitled "Homosexuality" on Billy Graham's website:

    The realization that someone you love is gay can be a shattering experience. If you are trusting in Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord, you can be conscious of your Heavenly Father's great love for you and your loved one (Jeremiah 31:3). God is the One who is able to transform lives and heal the scars of painful memories. We want to assure you that any willing person can be liberated from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ; see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, especially verse 11. (Billy Graham Evangelical Association, with contact info for "ex-gay" ministries)

    Q: Does the Bible approve of some homosexual relationships? A;The Bible provides God's blueprint for marriage and for His good gift of sex in Genesis 2:24. The gift is only to be enjoyed within a marriage between a man and a woman. There are no exceptions suggested, such as homosexual partnerships. (Billy Graham Evangelical Association)

    If you engage in homosexual relations or lust (willful fantasizing about such relations) God is deeply grieved and sets about in a variety of ways to turn you from such a destructive course. … And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" (1 Corinthians 10:13). You must discipline your mind as an athlete disciplines his body. … God not only wants to protect you from homosexual behavior, but He wants to begin to meet the deep needs at the root of your same-sex desires. Apart from an occasional miracle, this psychological and spiritual healing which leads toward sexual wholeness does not happen quickly. Usually, outside help is necessary. For this reason, we would suggest that you contact a Christian ministry which assists men and women who want to deal with homosexual issues in their lives. (Billy Graham Evangelical Association, with contact info for "ex-gay" ministries)

    It must be emphasized that even if a biological predisposition to homosexuality in some people exists, it would not change God's opposition to the behavior. Neither would it change the fact that through the transforming power of Jesus Christ freedom from sinful behavior is always available. In addition, many strugglers discover growing heterosexual attractions as they address underlying problems with the help of competent Christian support and counseling. (Billy Graham Evangelical Association, with contact info for "ex-gay" ministries)

    When a little boy desires to dress as a little girl and play with little girls and their toys exclusively, it can be very troubling to parents. However, your son is not a homosexual. While gender-confused children may develop homosexual attractions in teen years if not helped, that is not the issue at this point. The reasons why a child develops opposite sex characteristics and preferences to an extreme degree is complex. Whatever the causes, you would do well to emphasize that he should be exactly what God made him—a boy. (Billy Graham Evangelical Association)



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    1. gkruz on Dec 25, 2008 3:20:06 PM:

      Trying to decide which evangelical preachers is the more vicious homophobe is like trying to decide whether it's better to be bit by a rattlesnake or a cobra.

    1. Bucky on Dec 25, 2008 5:27:49 PM:

      I want to make sure that I have this right.

      Because we didn't have a vocal protest well over a decade ago at Clinton's inauguration, we should continue to roll over and play dead and not stand up for our rights?

      Really? That's the argument you want to go with?

    1. James on Dec 25, 2008 6:33:18 PM:

      When, oh when, will we get a staunch ally that understands the concept of separation of church and state? I am as aggrieved by public prayer at the opening of Congress as I am when a public figure ends her/his remarks with "god bless you" or "god bless America." In many ways I am glad about the Warren debacle and proud of the responses from the GLBT community. Our civil rights should never be compromised by someone's religious beliefs, including self-proclaimed Christian Obama. I trust him on many issues, and I am "praying" that he will understand what this brouhaha is about.

    1. James on Dec 25, 2008 6:34:47 PM:

      When, oh when, will we get a staunch ally that understands the concept of separation of church and state? I am as aggrieved by public prayer at the opening of Congress as I am when a public figure ends her/his remarks with "god bless you" or "god bless America." In many ways I am glad about the Warren debacle and proud of the responses from the GLBT community. Our civil rights should never be compromised by someone's religious beliefs, including self-proclaimed Christian Obama. I trust him on many issues, and I am "praying" that he will understand what this brouhaha is about.

    1. Lucrece on Dec 26, 2008 1:10:10 AM:

      Right, because Clinton got away with means that so should Obama. This is faulty logic, and you know it.

      Let's consider some points:

      -1997 vs....2008
      -Invite of Warren--Champion of Prop 8-- came not too far from the early passage of Prop 8, a crushing event.
      -One would expect Obama would learn from the McClurkin fiasco. He mistakenly learned that he could shake off the gay community without consequence.

    1. Ron on Dec 26, 2008 4:26:55 AM:

      If you doubt the depth of Warren's homophobia, perhaps you should take a look here:


    1. Chuck on Dec 26, 2008 6:00:57 AM:

      I did, Ron, and I also came up with this as well.

      Death sentence for homosexual act in Nigeria

      afrol News, 8 July - A Shari'a court in northern Nigeria has handed down a death by stoning sentence for a man admitting to have engaged in homosexual acts. The middle-aged man has been on death row for several months, awaiting his execution. A human rights spokesman of the UN today urged Nigerian courts to give the man a milder sentence. http://www.afrol.com/articles/16722

      If civil rights can be voted away as they just were in California, Arizona, Arkansas and Florida, how long will it be before they are voting into law an American verison of the infamous Paragraph 175?

      Why are all the legal people in this country so silent on this issue? Don't they care that our Constitution is being trashed and that this country is on the road to facism?

    1. Kris on Dec 26, 2008 10:53:53 AM:

      Bill Frickin Clinton is no presidential role model. He gave us DADT and DOMA, and couldn't keep his pants zipped up while president. He also still agrees that marriage should only be between and man and woman.

      Michelle Obama is no Hillary, and will not put up with Barrack pulling a Bill while president. I bet she would cut off his di*k and throw it in the Rose Garden. Let's hope that Barrack has the morality to keep his pants zipped. However, from the signs of things in his home state and the Rev. Warren mess, I have severe doubts about his character.

    1. the troll on Dec 26, 2008 12:08:36 PM:

      "ideological intolerance (liberal and conservative) has grown over the years"

      Just the opposite. When FDR war president there would not have been a Christian to be found that apporved of homosexuality. We have moved on though. It is becoming clearer as each year passes that excluding gays from the "Body of Christ" is unacceptable. This hard for you to understand as a son of conservative fundys. You see a stagnant world that never changes. But the world does change.

      Lets hope that fifty years from now we don't put forth a homophobe to recite the invocation justifying it by saying "back in 96 we had Billy Graham so what are you complaining about".

    1. Hawyer on Dec 26, 2008 12:32:06 PM:

      Oh come on: All bad things happened because of Clinton -- and all good things happened in spite of Clinton. YAWWWNNN. Chris --- you and every right wing talker cannot continue to whack this straw man ad infinitum.

      Bill Clinton was a miserable capitulating failure on gay rights - a legacy we will live with for a generation.

      I would be just as outraged if any Catholic clergy were selected - as the Catholic church has a more deplorable global record than Rick Warren's lowbrow for-profit gambit.


    1. Hawyer on Dec 26, 2008 12:45:06 PM:

      More to the point ...

      Billy Graham comes from another age and time. He is now a sententious old fool. Even his daughter Ruth Graham has fundamentally repudiated her father's stance on homosexuality.

    1. Hawyer on Dec 26, 2008 1:31:07 PM:

      A bit more rational rhetoric on the subject - from Rachel Maddow via Andy Towle's blog


    1. the troll on Dec 26, 2008 2:06:46 PM:

      In defense of Clinton, DADT was an improvement over what we had before. Before if you did not tell you could be investigated just because a superior had a hunch. I know this from having served in the Army.

    1. Bucky on Dec 26, 2008 2:36:40 PM:

      Actually, TT, the numbers disagree with you. Discharges under DADT are way up over the pre-DADT period.

    1. Double T on Dec 26, 2008 2:37:36 PM:

      Chris, You make an excellent point. That was exactly how Slick Willy did it.

      BUT....if Obama is the president of CHANGE, should we really be repeating the Past? Are you agreeing with the protest against Warren or objecting to them.

      You seem confused.

    1. Chris on Dec 26, 2008 4:29:16 PM:

      gkruz, Bruce, Lucrece, Kris, Double T: Rather than constructing a straw man that was raised and answered in the post itself, try rereading the point of the post, contained in the paragraph that begins, "But the broader point is..."

      Ron: And because you read it in HuffPo, it must be true? Have you tried tracking down original sources, or even secondary sources, for the Nigerian story? It comes from a local newspaper article written by someone for whom English was clearly not his/her first language, meaning the quotations and paraphrasing -- not to mention journalistic standards -- are questionable.

      the troll: Intolerance based on race, gender and religion (not to mention sexual orientation and gender identity) are of course in decline. Ideological intolerance within American political discourse is headed the other direction. Republicans use "liberal" to try to shut progressives out of a debate, and progressives use "ist" or "phobe" or "hate."

      Also, you and I disagree on DADT. Discharges are much higher under DADT, and the old policy was a clearer and cleaner case of discrimination, making it more likely to be struck down than the Clinton-Nunn-Thurmond "compromise." That said, the 1993 debate over DADT represented the true 'arrival' of gay rights in national politics, and our loss there (and over DOMA) set the stage for our two-steps-forward, one-step-back gains ever since.

      Hawyer: I'm sure the irony of you creating a straw man by complaining about one is completely lost on you. Meanwhile, your intolerance of "any Catholic clergy" is even more telling about the state of things that gay outrage over Rick Warren. Thanks for proving my point, along with calling me "a right wing talker," which would be laughed out of the room by anyone familiar with the ideological spectrum in the United States.

      Also lost on you is the irony of offering up as rational or open minded the likes of Rachel "No Guests Allowed Who Disagree With Me" Maddow or Mike "Gossip Columnist cum Outing Activist cum ACT UP activist cum Gay Rush Limbaugh" Signorile.

    1. Chuck on Dec 26, 2008 5:04:58 PM:

      Well, where is my towel? That's an awful lot of "cum" that got splashed around in the above post! HeeHee

    1. Lucrece on Dec 26, 2008 5:26:29 PM:

      Chris, you should try not to imitate Hawyer (for what you pointed out earlier). You are using Bill Clinton to illustrate a point, and it was simply pointed out why it is not the best example to pull.

    1. Chuck on Dec 26, 2008 5:46:19 PM:

      All the blathering to one side, both pro and con, the simple fact remains, is that if one is going to pursue a politically correct platform in America, you cannot, no matter who you are, go on National TV and make the blatant statement that blacks, Asians, Jews, Muslims, Germans, Irish, Italians, Catholics, Mormons or any other groups too numerous to list in this blog, that marriage for any of the above named is comparable to incest and pedophilia which, incidentally is an allusion to the blatant lie that only homosexuals are guilty of those transgressions, but not heterosexuals.

      All 'good" Christians are happily married with a gaggle of rug-rats and anyone who is not, and that includes all of you single str8s, are going straight to hell for not obeying God's immutable law that only one man and one woman can (and should) be married, if they wish to enjoy sex.

      What part of that do y'all not understand?

    1. the troll on Dec 26, 2008 6:18:13 PM:

      On discharges higher since DADT it is true. However it really does not make sense. Those discharged were discharged either because the told or a superior asked. Asking is not allowed therefore someone told. But why? My guess is that telling was an easy out, compared to before DADT. what were discharge types before and after DADT? My guess that before DADT the discharge was OTH (other than honarable) and honorable afterward. Just a guess.

    1. Bucky on Dec 26, 2008 6:43:41 PM:

      The Troll,

      You may be right about the honorable/OTH issue being a factor in the larger discharge rates. My father was an Air Force Colonel and was a base commander in Alabama in the early/mid 80s and I recall the gay purges that he had on a regular basis. Turning out barracks looking for anything that might indicate that someone was a big 'mo. It was all very open and routine. I'm sure that despite the DADT policy, the gay purges are much more subtle these days. Hate is nothing if not adaptable.

    1. Bucky on Dec 26, 2008 7:23:49 PM:


      If the point of your post was to say that our political discourse breaks down along ideological lines then I'm afraid it was lost on me amid all of the Clinton comments. I'll admit that when I read you post, I wasn't entirely sure what point you were trying to make. Not trying to be rude in any way at all.

      I think that there has always been a large ideological intolerance from the extremes on both the left and right. That is not a new thing by any means. Look at the animosity we saw over civil rights and Vietnam. Perhaps the change you see is that a large swath of the country became much more political starting in the 80s with the Reagan Revolution as Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals were groomed by the GOP into a potent voting bloc. The rise of AM hate radio and GOP TV news outlets certainly coarsened the political discourse and further strengthened the ideological rigidity on the right.

      The left just hasn't had anything comparable until just very, very recently.

      I keep hearing people suddenly say that things are so "divided" these days. I think what they are reacting to is the that left is finally getting more organized -- from the bottom up -- as a new generation of activists come of age.

      I wonder where all these people worried about the nasty tone of political discourse were when Rush was screaming for hours every day in the early 90s?

      It only seems to upset people now that the Dems are standing up for themselves.

      One last point, and it's important. I am certainly not saying that Obama shouldn't talk with Warren, or join forces with Warren where we have common cause. The problem with the inauguration is that there are no issues to find a common cause with Warren. He is empowering a man who thinks that homosexuals should not exist. Despite his newfound friendly front, Warren has worked very hard to make sure that we don't have any rights anywhere in this country.

      Given the purely symbolic nature of his role at the inauguration, the giant symbolic middle finger that Obama just gave to his gay and lesbian supporters is a deliberate message Obama is sending out.

      Message recieved.

    1. Mike on Dec 27, 2008 11:06:29 PM:

      The interesting thing about the reference to the Towleroad post is how many commenters there think that this Warren issue is stupid. Never thought the commenters there would outshine the ones here.

      You want symbolism: how about a homophobe preacher praying for the president, the president speaking well of gays and lesbians, and the benediction (ie., the LAST WORD) from a supporter gay and lesbian rights. That is genius.

    1. Houston on Dec 28, 2008 12:59:35 PM:

      Anyone who thinks DADT is better than what existed previously is smoking wacky weed. And I know of that which I speak: drafted 11/12/01, openly Gay, served openly as a Gay until discharge on 9/3/03. When I was being sworn in, the guy in charge warned me about having sex with other men would land me in prison, not being Gay. By the way, a non-Gay person can be discharged using DADT just because he has Gay friends. Thanks, Bill Clinton, I didn't know how distasteful butt-fucking could be before you got through with us.

    1. Double T on Dec 29, 2008 3:14:18 AM:

      But the broader point is the insidious way that ideological intolerance has grown over the years, and the divisive effect it has, eschewing debate in favor of exclusionary demands. As we saw throughout the Republican and Democratic primaries, it's not enough that candidates agree with these ideologues, they must never associate themselves with anyone who fails the litmus test.............

      WOW.....this is a mouthful.

      Here's my problem. When Politicians start associating themselve with people who have daily conversation with their imaginary friend(who we'll call GOD). This friend is all knowing and can never be disagreed with.

      I wonder why the foundering fathers seperated Church and State. Because playing with this fire, burns us all.

      P.S. “Ideological Intolerance” and” Theological Intolerance” are NOT interchangeable. I think you have the terms confused.

      P.P.S. A candidate who promised to take the "moral high ground" can not suddenly start hanging out with whores and junkies and expect every turn a blind eye to this out of the battle cry of tolerance.

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