I was not at all surprised that Barack Obama picked Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration. Not that I called it, but hey, I did write that “he’s headed towards being the next Billy Graham, only without the anti-Semitism.” I was surprised at the outraged reaction of many of my fellow liberals, including those who are generally thoughtful and reasonable—see for example Dahlia Lithwick (whose writing I love) et al. of Slate‘s “XX Factor.”1 We liberals loved Obama’s inclusive bipartisan rhetoric, but many of us are apparently appalled to find that he actually meant it.
Now I understand not much liking Rick Warren. I wouldn’t go to his church. His book left me cold.2 I am annoyed about Proposition 8. But (AFAICT) Warren is very much not Pat Robertson and James Dobson. Maybe I’m deluding myself, but he really does seems to represent what’s good about evangelical Christianity. And there is much that is, or can be, good about evangelical Christianity. The fact that so many of us liberals don’t seem to understand that saddens me. Anathemizing anyone who disagrees with you just isn’t good policy. Warren and the many evangelicals he represents don’t demonize us; we shouldn’t demonize them.
The Bush administration and its many admirers lived in an echo chamber that drowned out anything they didn’t want to hear. We shouldn’t make that mistake.
[But if you’d prefer to think of Obama as Machiavellian than broad-minded, see this.]
1. Christopher Hitchens, on the other hand, objects to Warren for more considered self-consistent reasons: he objects to anyone religious.
2. True, I had a hard time getting past the font.