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Archive for Friday, December 26, 2008

When prayer gets political

December 26, 2008

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These days everything is political, or can be made so; even an inaugural prayer.

That isn’t exactly correct. The inaugural prayer in question is not the Rev. Joseph Lowery’s benediction, but Rick Warren’s invocation. Lowery favors same-sex “marriage” and Warren does not.

Homosexual activist groups and individuals such as Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., are angry, upset and hurt (and probably many other things, too) that Barack Obama would invite Warren to pray at the inaugural. Warren openly supported California’s Proposition 8, which voters approved. The measure changed the state constitution to restrict marriage to opposite-sex couples.

Obama, so far, has stood by his choice, noting he favors much of the gay-rights agenda (though not marriage). Warren, too, felt the need to say “some of my best friends are ...” at a Dec. 20 event in Long Beach, Calif., sponsored by a Muslim organization. Warren tried to pacify gays opposed to him by saying how much he loves singer Melissa Etheridge, who is a lesbian. He said he owns all of her albums. He also said he loves Muslims, Jews and everyone else.

Warren has been dubbed the successor to evangelist Billy Graham, who has known every president since Harry Truman and counseled several of them. Graham could serve as an example to Warren of how to (and how not to) relate to presidents should he become even closer to President Obama.

All presidents want the cover of religion for their policies, and preachers, who are just as human as the rest of fallen humanity, are sometimes vain enough to think they can be unofficial advisers to the most powerful person on earth and not be compromised by him. The problem comes when the pastor and representative of another king and another kingdom waters down his advice, or endorses bad decisions in order to maintain access to the president. People of different faiths — or no faith — and those with political objectives will seek to use the preacher not only to advance their agendas, but to get him to compromise his, which is primarily sharing a message not of this world.

Secretly recorded conversations between Graham and President Richard Nixon expose some of the dangers in such relationships. Graham told Nixon he thought the president should bomb the dikes in North Vietnam to help bring the war to an end.

In an embarrassing recording from early 1972, for which Graham later profusely apologized, the evangelist is heard volunteering to Nixon that the Jewish “stranglehold” on the media “has got to be broken or this country’s going down the drain.”

“You believe that?” asks Nixon.

“Yes, sir,” replied Graham.

“Oh boy,” said Nixon, “So do I. I can’t ever say that but I believe it.”

“If you get elected a second time,” said Graham, “then we might be able to do something.”

If Obama plans on having Warren as a presence in his presidency, Warren should seek to model himself more after Nathan the prophet. Nathan confronted King David over his affair with Bathsheba, whose husband, Uriah the Hittite, David sent to the front lines to ensure he would be killed so that David could have his wife. God sent Nathan to David. Nathan told David a story about a rich man who stole a poor man’s lamb rather than take one from his own flock to feed a visitor. Nathan asked David what should happen to such a man. David replied, “that man should surely die.” To which Nathan replied, “You are the man.” (2 Samuel 12)

Nathan’s confrontation led to David’s repentance and one of the most beautiful Psalms ever written (Psalm 51). The point is that Nathan did not compromise truth, but confronted David with what he had done wrong. How many modern preachers would confront a president like that? Probably not many if they wanted to maintain access.

I suspect Rick Warren knows these dangers, but what he could use are some people around him to say he’s not as great as people might think. Checks and balances are not only good in government, they are also helpful to people who ascend to high places. No one is above the temptations of pride, including preachers who pray at inaugurals and possibly in the White House.

— Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.

Comments

Andrew Stahmer 5 years, 3 months ago

Hey, I'm suprised he's only using one Bible and just two Christian figures. I would have guessed he'd use every possible 'religious' text he could get his hands on, and every type of religious leader he can find. A 2-day inaguration is the kind of change we can believe in after all!! (...and inclusive instead of exclusive. What a bigot.)

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Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 3 months ago

Wow, Waddletree, that is one of the best stream of consciousness sentences I have read in a long time. :-) I think people should say what they want and let the chips fall where they may. So, some people really don't understand homosexuals and don't want to be friends with them? So, what? You can communicate with someone and let them live without wanting to invite them to your house. If you don't like what someone says or how they live, you don't have to know them. Nixon was raised as a Quaker. At some point he ceased to practice his faith. If he had things might have been a lot different. Everyone should chill, and stop being so aggressive, and hostile, and my way or the highway, oh, please. Can we all just get along? No. Can we all learn not to trespass on our neighbors property, ideas or faith? Yes.

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ariadne 5 years, 3 months ago

why did Cal dance around the topic or not mention that like Billy Graham, Warren is bascially another Baptist.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Warren

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Darin Wade 5 years, 3 months ago

the david parable doesn't fit the description:" the bible says" (judgement starts in the house of the lord),I recently argue'ed with a pastor over the supreme court given the right to say what jesus looks like and the bible doesn't say what he looks like only in Revelations and the old testament law says not to give place to any graven image and say that it is jesus because he is supposed to be in our heart and in our lives,and remember the old testament law is not universal but to God's childern and not to the gentiles,if it was then judgement wouldnt fall on the unrighteous,but it fell on the righteous the bible give numerous judgements from God to his people for oppressing the sinner.

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