Rick Warren creepeth upon his belly

Wendy Kaminer has some thoughts on ‘vain and unctuous right-wing pastor Rick Warren’ (what an elegant way of putting it).

Obama justified appointing Warren as his inaugural invocator-in-chief as a gesture of inclusiveness. Warren’s own notion of inclusion has its limits, considering his belief that millions of his heretical fellow citizens are going to hell.

Quite, and that’s certainly one reason I find the man rebarbative.

[D]espite Warren’s extreme social and religious conservatism – reflected in his denouncement of stem cell research, reproductive choice and homosexuality, and his belief that only good Christians are bound for glory…- he is widely regarded as a moderate evangelical by the mainstream press and centrist intellectuals.

And that’s the problem – he defines rabid conservatism downwards. Religious lunacy has gotten so rancid and off the map here that a guy who believes in hell and the ‘sinfulness’ of homosexuality is seen as ‘moderate.’

Warren described God’s positions on social programmes and war as ‘debatable’ for ‘Bible-believing Christians’, but he singled out as ‘non-negotiable’ five issues that should determine the votes of good Christians: abortion rights, stem cell research, gay marriage, cloning, and assisted suicide. In a subsequent 2005 email exchange with Warren, I wondered why God was clear about his ‘non-negotiable’ positions on the Culture War but equivocal about war and social programmes: ‘Does God really care more about gay marriage than the obligation to alleviate human suffering?’, I asked. Not surprisingly, I received no response.

Just what I wonder.

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.

We see a pattern here, don’t we – the Vatican thinks cracker-damage is more serious than genocide, Rick Warren thinks stem-cell research and gay marriage are among the worst things. These people have a hideously warped sense of morality – which is not new, but they do keep performing it in public…

Kaminer and Warren had a brief correspondence after she wrote a critical piece about him, in which she called his book ‘childish and platitudinous and questioned his commitment to religious pluralism and civil liberty for all.’

A few months later, on the occasion of Yom Kippur (which I do not observe), I received an email from Warren assuring me of his personal love and friendship, and seeking my forgiveness ‘for any ways that I may have ever unknowingly hurt you. Your article showed a lot of hurt by, and fearfulness of, what you think I represent … I want you to know that I would like to be your friend. I thank God for you, for your talent at writing, and I ask you, on this sacred day, to forgive me.’…He concluded by assuring me that I was in his prayers and his heart: ‘I respect you, thank God for you, and I am praying for God to bless you this new year. With love in my heart for you.’

Have you ever read anything quite so sickening?

Warren didn’t know me…I have no love in my heart for him, or other people I have briefly or never met. But Warren, it seems, is more like a benevolent deity, who doesn’t simply harbour indifferent goodwill towards others but loves them – loves us all, despite our sins and failings. In fact, Warren’s email to me was apparently a variation of a Yom Kippur form letter that he sent to Jewish journalists. In any case, I didn’t see myself anywhere in his extravagant protestations of love for me and requests for forgiveness; I saw a reflection of Warren’s self-image.

And very cloying and disgusting it is, as well as effrontery in someone who sorts people into sinners and the other thing for the arbitrary reasons that Warren does. Sanctimony and bigotry: a nasty combination.

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