US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Prayer smackdown: Warren versus Robinson

Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

God may end up feeling a bit confused on January 20, when prayers galore for the new president will rise like incense from a variety of sources. President-elect Obama chose Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren to offer the inaugural prayer, much to the consternation of the prez-elect's gay and lesbian supporters: Warren was an outspoken proponent of Proposition 8, which outlawed same-gender marriage in California. Others have expressed concern that Warren will pray in the name of Jesus--as one would expect an evangelical to--and so offend everyone except the Christians. And then there are evangelicals who think Warren is an EINO--evangelical in name only--evidenced by his support of Obama, and they don't want Warren speaking for them. And, hey, why not a Catholic? Or a lay person? How about a woman?

At least interest group will be happier today, however, as openly gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire will be giving the invocation at an inaugural event at the Lincoln Memorial, according to the Concord Monitor, although Robinson says he doesn't think the selection is because of the flack Obama has gotten over Warren. (Yeah, right.) That's one unhappy group down, 100 to go.

I have a solution to the problem: No prayers at official inaugural events! You'd think a prayer at a federal swearing in would be unconstitutional. Besides, I'd love to meet the person who can write a totally "inclusive" prayer. But even from a religious perspective: Why would any minister want to appear co-opted by the politician du jour?