Shuck and Jive

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bishop of Washington on Warren

Here is a fine letter from Rt. Rev. John Bryson Chane about Obama's selection of Rick Warren to deliver the big prayer:

December 18, 2008

I am profoundly disappointed by President-elect Barack Obama’s decision to invite Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church to offer the invocation at his inauguration. The president-elect has bestowed a great honor on a man whose recent comments suggest he is both homophobic, xenophobic, and willing to use the machinery of the state to enforce his prejudices—even going so far as to support the assassination of foreign leaders.

In his home state of California, Mr. Warren’s campaigned aggressively to deny gay and lesbian couples equal rights under the law, relying on arguments that are both morally offensive and theologically crude. Christian leaders differ passionately with one another over the morality of same-sex relationships, but only the most extreme liken the loving, lifelong partnerships of their fellow citizens to incest and pedophilia, as Mr. Warren has done. The president-elect’s willingness to associate himself with a man who espouses these views as a means of reaching out to religious conservatives suggests a willingness to use the aspirations of gay and lesbian Americans as bargaining chips, and I find this deeply troubling.

Mr. Warren has been rightly praised for his efforts to deepen the engagement of evangelical Christians with impoverished Africans. He has been justifiably lauded for putting the AIDS epidemic and global warming on the political agenda of the Christian right. Yet extravagant compassion toward some of God’s people does not justify the repression of others. Jesus came to save all of humankind, and as Archbishop Desmond Tutu has pointed out, “All means all.” But rather than embrace the wisdom of Archbishop Tutu, Mr. Warren has allied himself with men such as Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda who seek to “purify” the Anglican Communion, of which my Church is a member, by driving out gay and lesbian Christians and their supporters.

In choosing Mr. Warren, the president-elect has sent a distressing message internationally as well. In a recent television interview, Mr. Warren voiced his support for the assassination of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. These bizarre and regrettable remarks come at a time when much of the Muslim world already fears a Christian crusade against Islamic countries. Imagine our justifiable outrage if an Iranian cleric who advocated the assassination of President Bush had been selected to offer prayers when Ahmadinejad was sworn in.

I have worked with former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami to improve the relationship between our two countries as hawkish members of the Bush administration pushed for another war. He has spoken at the National Cathedral, which will host the president-elect’s inaugural prayer service, and I have visited with him several times in Iran and elsewhere. Iranian clerics are intensely interested in the religious attitudes of America’s leaders. In choosing Mr. Warren to offer the invocation at his inauguration, the president-elect has sent the chilling, and, I feel certain, unintended message that he is comfortable with Christians who can justify lethal violence against Muslims.

I understand that in selecting Mr. Warren, Mr. Obama is signaling a willingness to work with both sides in our country’s culture wars. I appreciate that there is political advantage in elevating the relatively moderate Mr. Warren above some of his brethren on the Religious Right. But in honoring Mr. Warren, the president-elect confers legitimacy on attitudes that are deeply contrary to the all-inclusive love of God. He is courting the powerful at the expense of the marginalized, and in doing so, he stands the Gospel on its head.

The Rt. Rev. John Bryson Chane, D.D.
Bishop of Washington

Whoa! Did the good bishop say Warren was homophobic and xenophobic? We better get Viola the blog mother on the case!


  1. So, Church Lady is up to her old tricks again?

    She excommunicated me from her blog for being demon possessed!

    (I still chuckle about that)

    Maybe we should report her Blog to the SNL. :-)

    About Rick Warren, Obama is not going to retract the invitation, but maybe we should ask Rick to decline.

    There is nothing reformed about his theology, but we shouldn't expect it either.

    Ronald Reagan was a Presbyterian so he invited his pastor to the invocation. Obama is an African American Baptist. I think it's amazing - even shocking - that he invited a white man. Knowing what he has said about his own faith journey, I really can't think of who he should have invited instead. In its own context, it's an olive branch.

  2. I view the whole thing as an opportunity to make some noise.

    We can do that by exposing the agenda of the religious right (and Warren's role in that).

    We can use his speech and the build up to it as an opportunity for awareness about inequality in our country.

    We can have fun and raise money on pledging an amount for every word in his prayer!!

    I bet there are many other creative things we can do if we put our minds to it.

    Just came to me--

    To go along with 40 days of purpose driven, how about 40 reasons to support equality?

    All y'all can do even better. Help me out here...

  3. I say we start by cutting and pasting (the old-fashioned way) those 40 reasons onto that calendar you brought to Monkey's last night. He can scan it upload it and offer it as a fundraiser to overturn Prop 8 once and for all.

  4. Yeah, may be.

    But such matters are beyond my pay grade.

  5. Ohh,

    I just peaked over at Viola's blog. You? Inciting to violence????!!!!

    What a goat! I think she has finally gone over the deep end. That lady is nuts! Or maybe it's too much nog in her eggnog.

    Heck, she incites ME to violence.

    Seriously, her inability to see herself in the mirror, coupled with such arrogant self righteous hypocrisy is just over the top!

    Definitely good material for a Saturday Night Live skit.


  6. I went over there. Yawn. Nothing new---people who are convinced they have salvation opining on those they hope do not.

    Do they ever actually READ the Gospel they are always banging on about? I certainly see no sign that they have...since Jesus said only those who feed the poor, clothe the naked, tend the sick, and visit those in prison will get into heaven. What you do for the least is what you do for Christ.

    Nothing in there about believing in penal substitutionary atonement (or even the bodily resurrection!) as a prerequisite. It's all about love in action--God's and ours--and I don't see any love over there at all. OCICBW.

    Bishop Chane, OTOH, is a very loving man who walks his talk. He was my bishop for a while and I love him to bits.


  7. Ugh. Good lord, it's like middle school over there. Or worse.

    Viola, et. al, ignore their ordination vows by refusing to follow the proscriptions for dealing with a brother in Matthew 18, and by gossiping about someone, etc., and they're the ones complaining about John Shuck? Pot, meet kettle.

    This passive-aggressive school-yard gossip is ridiculous. I attempted to write about half a dozen comments over there, but I didn't post any of them because I couldn't figure out a way to write them without getting deleted by the blog nannies, but the overall theme was "Sh*t or get off the pot," as we say in my neck of the woods.

    That is, if a minister has done something one believes is wrong, then it is the duty (based on our ordination vows) of other people to follow the BoO and file the damned charges. To do otherwise is nothing but abject hypocrisy. And in this case, the phony piety of their passive-aggressive hand-wringing only indicts them further.

    Anyway, to get back on topic, I can't help but notice that Rick Warren thinks it's OK for the US to assassinate other world leaders, and yet Viola, et. al. think John Shuck is inciting violence? Feh.

  8. Snad--great idea! I knew that calendar could come in handy! There is a purpose!

    Doxy--OCICBW--our mutual friend, the Madpriest deals with the same MO from the righteous right in his ecclesiastical club. I never heard of Bishop Chane before. I like him.

    Alan--my executive presbyter, who I am sure has little to do at Christmas, will enjoy the holiday greeting from Viola and Company.

  9. If Jodie is demon possessed, what does that make me?


    And apologies to Alan while I'm here for our argument the other day.
    I became uncertain as to why we were arguing in the first place so I had to check.

    I wasn't referring to Alan as a "spineless centrist", I was referring to "SCs" in general. It seems I failed to make myself as clear as I would like to have.

    My bad, Alan.

  10. No problem. We all miscommunicate sometimes.

  11. Yeah, Chane is one of the bishops that makes me glad I am an Episcopalian...

  12. BTW... did you really give MVM that calendar he talked about? Where did you get it? I want one.

  13. Hey Susan,

    I actually paid money (and helped Rick Warren's ministry) by purchasing his 40 days of superstition calendar at the local Ingle's for Dr. Monkey. In East Tennessee you can buy this kind of crap anywhere.

    The good Dr.'s behavior already has been noticeably altered.

    It is a bit disturbing watching him stroll the neighborhood loudly singing Christian praise songs.

  14. You mean to tell me that he made those quotations up? You got him the 'straight' calendar?

  15. Yes, I am aware of that!
    I was just wonderin'. ;-)

  16. I would have got him a fake calendar if I could have found one. I thought the straight one was funny in its own way. It is hard to beat the Dr. for making up his own quotes!

  17. I went to Viola's blog...and I probably won't be going back. As Alan said, it is worse than Jr High...but more than passive-agressive, I think...some of it's just plain agressive with a lot of hypocrisy. And as Jodie noted, there seems to be no image in her mirror.
    It was a bit fascinating to read Chris Larimer's entries...kind of like watching a drunkard playing with gasoline. Sheesh, that's some creepy stuff. It feel so much safer over here with the heretics.