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Dec.

23, 2008 Sacramento, CA


Nation's Press Institute*
Work has already begun on what is being dubbed "Proposition 1" to be placed on the
2010 California ballot. Proponents are especially angry at Christian minister Rick
Warren, founder and senior pastor of the evangelical megachurch, Saddleback
Church, in Lake Forest, California, whose influence and political clout helped
pass Proposition 8, which denied gays and lesbians the right to legal marriage.

Warren has been well publicized for what his critics say are offensive political
views, and especially for the way he communicates them. "He routinely compares gay
relationships to pedophilia, incest, and bigamy, and in the process dehumanizes a
group of Americans. His website notes that gay people are not welcome to join his
church."

Proponents of the so-called Proposition 1 are attempting to limit the free speech
rights of licensed pastors, priests, rabbis, clerics and others during a six month
span prior to any election. The Proposition would also limit the same free speech
rights of anyone working in a paid or unpaid capacity for any tax-exempt religious
organization.

In the United States, churchs receive their privileged tax-exempt position at the
cost of outright political involvement. The Bush Administration, say critics, has
not been enforcing this law. The Proposition as envisioned would close any
organization defined as "tax-exempt for religious purposes" for a period of three
months following convition under the new law, imprison the person(s) responsible
for the campaigning for not more than six months, and levy a ten thousand dollar
fine against the church for each violation.

The Rick Warren Whirlwind


Anything But Straight; Dec. 22, 2008

It could be that Barack Obama is simply smarter than the rest of us. The first
black president of the Harvard Law Review has made a career of turning
conventional wisdom on its head.

When people said that America was not ready for an African American president, he
ran anyway - and won. He was counseled by countless talking heads to "go negative"
against Hillary Clinton in the primaries and then John McCain - but he largely
stuck to his strategy of staying positive - and won. In the middle of the
campaign, Obama hit an iceberg named Rev. Jeremiah Wright, injecting race into a
campaign that had desperately tried to shy away from this explosive issue. Obama
discarded advice to spin the crisis and instead delivered a lecture on race
relations that has gone down as one of the greatest speeches in the history of
American politics - not to mention it saved his campaign. So, at this point in his
rocket-propelled career, it is unwise to bet against the political instincts of
Barack Obama.

Still, choosing pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration
seemed like a gaffe that has served, if nothing else, as a distraction to Obama's
central message of unifying America. This olive branch to evangelical Christians,
who largely supported John McCain, felt more like poison ivy to gay and lesbian
voters, who overwhelmingly cast ballots for Obama.

After all, Warren has a program to "help" homosexuals "pray away the gay" and
played a prominent role in passing Proposition 8, which prohibits same-sex couples
from marrying in California. He has even compared same-sex couples marrying to
incest and child abuse.

Even if scientists find that homosexuality is genetic, Warren would still counsel
gay people to fight their "sin," reducing our love to nothing more than perverted
impulses. While Warren presumably gets his basic needs met by his wife, he expects
gay people to abandon fulfilling relationships for dour lives of loneliness,
severe depression and suicidal thoughts.

Obama can talk about unity all he wants, but what he is really doing is upholding
the "Great Gay Exception. Obama would never have an anti-Semite on stage in the
name of common ground. If so, why did he distance himself from fellow Chicagoan
Louis Farrakhan during his campaign? Obama would also never dream of giving a
platform to an open racist. But, Obama seems to think we should not object to him
elevating Warren, who we find deeply offensive.

My hope is that Obama's plan is to offer heavy doses of symbolism and style to
power hungry preachers, like Warren - while delivering substantive policy
achievements to the gay and lesbian community. When gay and lesbian leaders
reacted with understandable indignation, Obama's rebuttal was, people need to
"learn to agree to disagree without being disagreeable."

This phrase, that many Evangelicals are nodding their heads to in agreement, is a
rhetorical trap. If they agree to this principle over the Warren flap, they have
essentially forfeited their moral high ground if they get "disagreeable" when
Congress passes a law that prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of
sexual orientation.

The only flaw in this logic is that social conservatives rarely play by the same
rules because they think they represent God. It is possible that Obama may have
outsmarted himself by appealing to his sanctimonious enemies, who will never
return the favor, while forfeiting support among his closest friends.

But, then again, maybe he really can buy goodwill by stroking the egos of
narcissistic holy men. Rick Warren begins his best selling book The Purpose Driven
Life with the refrain, "this is not about you." Of course not! It's always been
about Rick Warren - whose camera-ready compassion is legendary.

If any good can come from this controversy, it is that many Americans now realize
that Warren is masquerading as a moderate and posing as a pragmatist. Many
Americans - who previously respected Warren - now view him as a poll-tested Pat
Robertson who hides hate behind a Hawaiian shirt. He seemed arrogant and out of
touch on NBC's Dateline when he told Ann Curry that he wasn't homophobic because
he provided protesters outside his church with doughnuts. Gee, thanks, maybe next
time you take away our rights we'll get ice cream from His holiness.

The alternative storyline is really unthinkable.

In this version, Obama cynically used gay and lesbian people for money, votes and
volunteers. Then before he is sworn in, he swears off equality. This plot was
certainly advanced when not a single openly gay person was appointed to a high-
level cabinet position.

Within a year, we will learn whether Obama's decision to choose Warren was cagey,
careless or cruel. If it is the former, we will soon view this cultural flashpoint
as a flash in the pan. If it is the latter, it will cause an explosion of gay
activism, giving many people who were previously apolitical, purpose driven lives
- protesting Barack Obama.

© 2008 Wayne Besen. All rights reserved. Anything But Straight www.waynebesen.com

* Nation's Press Institute © The Free Assemblage of Metaphysical Naturalists LLC


"Proposition 1" is fictional for the purposes of illustrating how Federal law is
not being enforced under the Bush Administration.

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