Friday, December 19, 2008

Diverse, noisy and opinionated.

“That’s part of the magic of this country,” said Mr. Obama, “is that we are diverse and noisy and opinionated.”

Diverse, noisy and opinionated. I guess that’s supposed to be a good thing -though “opinionated” generally has a negative overtone. “Holds strong opinions” doesn’t seem as cunty as “opinionated.” Kind of like “childless” vs. “childfree.” But anyway, diverse is supposed to be good, right? (though in college all it really meant was that we had to shell out a buttload of money for X-to-the-Z-ibit, leaving us with only enough left over for Sponge on the “undiverse” side of the aisle). But “noisy”? Is that supposed to be a compliment?

Obama was, of course, defending his decision to have the douchebag evangelist asshat Rick Warren give the opening prayer at his inauguration.

Yes, Rick Warren of the Biggest Honking Church In The Galaxy (because you know you can’t pray to your god unless your altar is at least a hundred feet wide). Anti-gay anti-abortion anti-the-ability-to-understand-how-people-could-possibly-live-without-religion-infiltrating-and-controlling-every-aspect-of-their-lives Rick Warren. Rick Warren of the indigestible “A Purpose Driven Life,” which is one of only three books that I have thrown down with great force upon being unable to finish. Ah yes, just the sort of man to pray over the beginning of a (hopefully) new era for our country.

Fuck Rick Warren. Yes, he’s done a lot of good, from a certain point of view. Yes, he speaks lefty-like about things that evangelicals normally shun (global warming, genocide), but he still compares gay marriage to incest and child abuse, and still values the potential life of a fetus over the current and actual life of me. And as for choosing him to pray over our country? Well, Mr. Obama, I am not disappointed. I am mad.

But I’m also mad for an entirely different reason. Can you tell me why we have an opening prayer and benediction at the inauguration at all?? Despite what the e-mail forwards try to convince you of, we are still technically a secular nation (and Christmas is actually a secular federal holiday, not a federally-approved religious one), and the government really isn’t supposed to pimp one religion over another, or any religion over none at all. “Wall of separation” and all that. Should atheists and pagans and Muslims and Buddhists and Taoists (et. al) really be forced to sit through an opening prayer by Warren and a benediction by Reverend Lowry? How inclusive and welcoming is that?

Not even a little.

...If you want something a bit more eloquent, though, here's what I wrote to the Obama campaign through The Obama-Biden Transition Team:

I was very disheartened to hear of Mr. Obama’s choice of Reverend Rick Warren to read the opening invocation at the inauguration. As a non-theist, I regularly feel slighted by the common acceptance of pre-event prayers and religiously motivated speeches at public occasions. I am confused by the need for an invocation and benediction at a government function such as the inauguration, regardless of conventionally accepted habits, as I was under the impression that it was not government’s job to push one religion or another upon the American people.

I find the regular mixing of government and religion inappropriate -whether it is public prayer, nativities and ten commandment displays in government buildings, the Bible being used for swearing in ceremonies, the pledge, our currency- and I find the choice of a man such as Rick Warren to perform a religious ceremony at a government event even more inappropriate.

Mr. Warren is undoubtedly a man devoted to his religion and his cause, and certainly his celebrity has enabled him to address serious concerns such as climate change, AIDS and genocide. However, he has regularly compared gay marriage to incest and child abuse, and he values the potential life of a fetus over my current and actual life and well being as a woman.

I realize that Mr. Obama is seeking to be inclusive, to foster a culture of tolerance and acceptance, to “reach across the aisle,” but perhaps choosing someone who disagrees so vehemently with many of his supporters on such matters as homosexuality and women’s health is not the best ambassador of civility for the inauguration.

I strongly urge Mr. Obama to reconsider this invitation, and hope that he will consider the rights and hopes of secular Americans, as well as those of the more religious, at this historic time in our country’s history.

Lauren Cocilova

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