Which purpose?

Time to get cross with Obama. Rick Warren

compares legal abortion to the Holocaust and gay marriage to incest and paedophilia. He believes that Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and other non-Christians are going to spend eternity burning in hell. He doesn’t believe in evolution. He recently dismissed the social gospel – the late 19th- and early 20th-century Protestant movement that led a religious crusade against poverty and inequality – as “Marxism in Christian clothing“. Yet thanks to his amiable attitude and jocular tone, he has managed to create a popular image for himself as a moderate, even progressive force in American life, a reasonable, compassionate alternative to the punitive, sex-obsessed inquisitors of the religious right. And Barack Obama, who should know better, has helped him do it.

He’s invited him to give the dang ‘invocation’ on January 20th. That’s depressing.

Warren supported the ballot initiative that stripped gay Californians of their marriage rights. He made the absurd argument that legalised gay marriage constituted a threat to the first amendment rights of religious conservatives. If gay marriage were to remain legal, Warren claimed, those who opposed it could somehow be charged with hate speech should they express their views. This is an utterly baseless canard, but one with great currency in the religious right, the milieu from which Warren consistently draws his ideas.

Canards of that kind are in fact (ironically enough) genuinely destructive of various rights, such as for instance when the Catholic church claims that gay rights violate the freedom of religion because Catholics want the ‘right’ to persecute gays. It’s bad that Obama is encouraging and sucking up to someone like that.

[W]hile Warren says he opposes torture, he doesn’t treat the subject with anything like the zeal he accords gay marriage and abortion. As he recently told Beliefnet.com, he never even brought up the subject with the Bush administration, where he had considerable access. Just before the 2004 election, he sent out an e-mail to his congregation outlining the five issues that he considered “non-negotiable”. “In order to live a purpose-driven life – to affirm what God has clearly stated about his purpose for every person he creates – we must take a stand by finding out what the candidates believe about these five issues, and then vote accordingly,” he wrote. The issues were abortion, stem-cell research, gay marriage, cloning and euthanasia. Torture, apparently, is something that decent Christians can disagree on.

How ridiculous – how pathetic. Stem-cell research, gay marriage, cloning are ‘non-negotiable’ and everything else is more trivial. What a tiny-minded man he must be if he really thinks those are the five worst crimes in the world.

Furthermore – it is absolutely outrageous for anyone to claim that ‘God has clearly stated’ anything. God has done no such thing, and no one has any business trying to enforce that ridiculous notion. It is ludicrous to think that if God really wanted to clearly state some non-negotiable principles it would manage nothing better than to dictate a long rambling patchwork book full of all kinds of things over a period of a couple of thousand years and then stop updating it at an arbitrary point some nineteen centuries ago. If God really wanted to clearly state some non-negotiable principles then it would do that. Even if you think God has stated some non-negotiable principles – it’s still ridiculous to claim that God has done that clearly. Clearly is the very last thing you can call the way God is supposed to have done that. It’s just stupid bullying to say that God has clearly stated that everyone must do what one particular political movement thinks it ought to do.

19 Responses to “Which purpose?”