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    December 19, 2008

    Newsweek: Warren outrage justified?

    Posted by: Chris

    Newsweekwarrendebate Newsweek.com has posted my debate with Leah McElrath Renna over whether gay outrage over Rick Warren's role in the inauguration is justified.

    My thanks to Carl Sullivan at Newsweek.com and to Leah for being such an provocative debate partner. She surprised me a bit by coming at the controversy from a spiritual perspective, and I'm curious whether our exchange raised any new issues for any of you.

    Just a quick highlight:

    Chris Crain: Leah, you and others are criticizing the selection of Rick Warren as a betrayal of Barack Obama's promise to unify the country, but the way you define "unity" is really very exclusionary. … Obama's point was to unify us around areas of agreement, and here you are focused on disagreement, so where's the betrayal? For "unifying the nation" to mean anything, there must be "inclusion" for conservatives, including the many millions like Warren who oppose gay marriage. Excluding those with whom we disagree is the antithesis of unifying. …

    We are only deferring that happy day when we win our equality if we are unwilling to find common ground and respectfully engage those with whom we disagree—especially those like Rick Warren who are so influential with so many. We can't get away with "refusing to get into" whether Warren in fact "equated" our relationships to abusive ones. The argument isn't beneath you, Leah, it's in front of you. 

    Leahmcelrathrenna Leah McElrath Renna: I need to return to my central point that is not about marriage equality for same-sex couples or any other policy-related issue. The reality is that Rick Warren does not believe that lesbian and gay people exist. In his worldview and spiritual perspective, LGBT individuals are people who choose to engage in sinful, sexually disordered behavior. This worldview is justified by him and others by a narrow, ahistorical and literal interpretation of a very small number of Biblical passages. It is not shared by all religions, nor by all people or denominations within the Christian faith.

    As long as LGBT people and our allies continue to allow others to define our very existence as a so-called "social issue,'' we will not succeed in creating a world that is safe for ourselves, our loved ones and our families.



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    1. North Dallas Thirty on Dec 20, 2008 12:54:24 AM:

      Given the fact that Leah McElrath Renna supports and endorses a gay community that is viciously antireligious and filled with people who state that those with religious faith are ignorant, delusional, and superstitious, who mock religion is nothing more than "Middle Eastern fairy tales", who call for the abolishment of organized religion, and who call gay and lesbian people of religious faith traitors, it amuses me beyond belief that she is whining about "spiritual violence".

      As a gay person of faith who does not kowtow to antireligious bigots or bigotry, she does not speak for me. She is nothing more than a PR hack who is trying to spin a pretty face on what is ultimately very ugly antireligious bigotry.

    1. tristram on Dec 20, 2008 2:12:52 AM:

      Chris - well, you get props for posting a link to the Newsweek debate where you come off rather badly. As with your chronological series of posts on this website, in the debate you keep backing and filling and correcting your previous assertions about Pastor Warren. In fact, he believes and has repeatedly stated that we queers are sick and/or willfully sinful. I know that he's by no means unique in this respect, but that does not mean I should applaud Obama's decision to give him the prestige of speaking to the world at this historic moment.

    1. Tommy on Dec 20, 2008 11:18:04 AM:

      I think it is important to realize the what and why the majority of Christians believe regarding homosexuality: that it is sin because our god-given nature is heterosexual.

      I and a minority of Christians do not believe this to be true. In fact, we beleive this majority stance to be blind, morally abhorant, and indeed, evil.

      Nonetheless, as the minority, no one needs dialogue and respect more than us. To get it, we have to give it. To be worthy of it, we have to live it.

      The civil rights movement of the 40s, 50s and 60s suceeded because they saw in thier opponants some general decency that could be appealed to.

    1. Shtuey on Dec 20, 2008 2:09:14 PM:

      Disappointing that there are still people in the gay community that are propping up, aiding, and abetting Obama. The Democrat Party threw you under the bus back in the winter. This was documented on this blog. Was it not Donna Brazile who said that the struggle for gay rights is not a civil rights struggle, and that to categorize it as such is insulting to black people? The LGBT community should have wised up then. You got another warning when the language of the Democrat Party platform came out, and that until it was revised y'all didn't really exist to the party. Obama repeatedly spit in the eye of the gay media thoughout the election, snubbed gay leaders, on and on. But so many of you knee-jerk voted for him because he's the Democrat.

      You bought him, you own him. No whining.

      You want unity? You want dialogue? Fine. But you don't give a man who helped promote Prop 8, and holds the views he does on homosexuality, a platform on the national stage like this. This isn't about unity at all. This is about kissing the ass of the religious right, which has been Leah Daughtry's agenda for some time now. Message to Gays: You do not have a seat on the back of the unity pony. Wake up!

      Here's a tip for 2012; leave the top of the ballot blank!

    1. Tommy on Dec 20, 2008 3:20:26 PM:

      Interesting that one would write so many whiney paragraphs about not whining. But most telling is that in your last paragraph you embrace a dead end.

    1. Thanks, but no thanks on Dec 20, 2008 3:34:15 PM:

      My offense springs from the knowledge that any church who allows a shit-heels like Warren near the pulpit near the pulpit isn't concerned about 'sanctity' in the least. Even Moses was obliged to remove his shoes; I can't imagine what sorts of smudges Warren's fingers leave on the pages of The Good Book. But such are the results of Evangelism: faith by plebiscite and doctrine a la carte.

      I'll readily admit that this man represents the faith of most Americans, who need someone there to "shake up" the gospels for them. Which is a shame, as America was a much more decent place when faith was boringly stable.

      If anything, this proves that Obama is agnostic, and so this choice is entirely diplomatic: he couldn't put a Presbyterian, a Lutheran or a Catholic up there, so he just chose someone who is generically 'Christian'. If anything, this bodes well for the gays. But I am disappointed that Obama had no real religious guidelines in who he appointed to represent his faith through the invocation.

    1. Paul on Dec 20, 2008 4:52:14 PM:

      I can't find common ground with someone who considers my gayness equivalent to pedophilia and polygamy. You can bend over backwards to find common ground and try to convince them who we are, but I don't think that is the issue. Just as the KKK are not provided open forums and we don't hear people talking about "inclusion" of them and their ideals, nor should we accept homophobic or bigoted people in open forums.

      There is no room for tolerance of the intolerant. They are not merely "disagreements", like whether to use paper or plastic. They are about our very existence and equality. I am not going to debate a bigot to accept me, but I am going to demand my rights.

      We are not silencing them. We are not preventing their speech. We are not forcing them to live by our ideals. We are demanding equality and that their narrow views not be forced on us.

      Simply having Warren speaking at the invocation is an outrage. An absolutely unacceptable outrage. I don't care what other nice things Warren has done for society. He does tremendous damage to us by not viewing us as equal human beings entitled to the same rights he is. You can dress him up any way you want, he's our enemy.

    1. Ray on Dec 20, 2008 6:21:16 PM:

      Great job in this piece, Chris!

    1. Shtuey on Dec 20, 2008 6:23:03 PM:

      Truth hurts Tommy. You voted for Obama didn't you...you own this. Enjoy banging your head against Warren's wall. My advice to you is get a helmet. You're going to need it. There will be unity with him and Obama...unity in keeping you under the bus. Enjoy!

    1. Shtuey on Dec 20, 2008 6:28:30 PM:

      BTW, if you want to get into the biblical notion on the ban on homosexuality, the real conversation is happening in the Jewish community. It is not about the fact that our god-given nature is heterosexual (though it is for ignorant Christians obsessed with taking the Bible literally). The Torah bans men having relations with men dressed as women. So now the debate is what is the real prohibition? Is it against homosexual sex or homosexual sex with transvestites? You will not experience this dialogue with Christians like Warren, so like I said, get a helmet.

    1. Tommy on Dec 20, 2008 6:40:36 PM:

      My head is plenty hard. Just need a raincoat.

    1. Mawm on Dec 20, 2008 7:32:53 PM:

      If unifying means we have to sit down with people who think we are sub-human, I want Obama to invite David Duke to the inauguration. Isn't that the same thing as giving Warren a voice? We will never be treated as equal until we consistently demand it.
      Obama has been courting the evangelicals at our expense since at least 2006 when he started to see Warren. Don't you remember Donnie McClurkin, James Meeks, Douglas Kmiec, all homophobe preachers that Obama alowed to speak for him?
      Obama and the Democratic party will continue to ignore us until we, in large numbers, withhold our votes from them. They know we won't want to vote for Republicans, so they feel they have us in their back pockets.
      For now, we can only look to court challenges. I do not expect anything from this Legislature or Executive.

    1. Attmay on Dec 20, 2008 10:39:56 PM:

      I will not forget Donnie McClurkin and I certainly won't forget Rev. Dick. This is strike two.

      I knew there was a reason to quit the "Democratic" Party. At least I know exactly where I stand with the Republicans: on thin ice.

      There is no other side when it comes to human rights. There is no compromise. There is no dialogue.

    1. Shea on Dec 21, 2008 1:19:54 AM:

      I am surely with Mawm on this. Where is David Duke? Would we be having this discussion if Warren were as active in opposing interracial marriage? No? At what point should we draw the line. How much hate and intolerance does one need to display to be considered hateful and undeserving of a government sanctioned platform? Or am I still just looking for the lesser of the evils here? Ultimately, I am not surprised. Obama himself has stated clearly he opposes gay marriage. After volunteering a great deal for his campaign, and all those before that I was legally able to(mid-term included) I can't help but feel a little naive. Chris, I like to be an optimist at times, but a realist is a much more pragmatic approach in politics.

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