Politically, I think it is a great choice. Obama has relationships with plenty of ministry leaders – from the Christian Right, Center and Left. Choosing someone that many would consider on the right – mainly because of his pro-life stance – lends itself to promoting unity. This is the crux of Obama’s presidency. Is this political? If you consider promoting unity political, then yes. However, if you believe that unity is important in any organization – including a nation, then no. Promoting unity is an essential element of any leader; especially a President.
Additionally, although it has been referred to as a bi-partisan move, I think that characterization is a little off, if anything it is bi-ideological, which transcends the notion of party. This choice is one in which I see as Obama being true to himself and his campaign promises.
Spiritually, I see this as being true to what we, as Christians, are called to do in scripture. Pray for those in authority (note: the subsequent passage was written when the government was more corrupt than ours and the writer, Paul was in prison).
1I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 2:1-4
I know that the current situation is particularly complicated, Warren is praying publicly. However, I think that a public has some considerable and positive weight. People know Warren’s opposition to some of Obama’s beliefs. They know that Warren and Obama come from different Christian traditions. Conservatives (both politically and Biblically) should not think that Warren is changing his views and Liberals should not think that Obama is changing his views.
Here are Warren’s views on the invitation
“I commend President-elect Obama for his courage to willingly take enormous heat from his base by inviting someone like me, with whom he doesn’t agree on every issue, to offer the Invocation at his historic Inaugural ceremony.
Hopefully individuals passionately expressing opinions from the left and the right will recognize that both of us have shown a commitment to model civility in America.
The Bible admonishes us to pray for our leaders. I am honored by this opportunity to pray God’s blessing on the office of the President and its current and future inhabitant, asking the Lord to provide wisdom to America’s leaders during this critical time in our nation’s history.”
The point for Christians is to openly and earnestly pray for our leaders – even when we disagree with them.
Socially, it is obvious, especially by many negative responses to this, that the nation does not and is not dealing with political and ideological differences with civility. Comments on the web have condemned Obama and Warren, and correspondingly conservatives and liberals, because of this choice. Obama and Warren don’t have to agree, that isn’t the point. The point for the nation is to exemplify unity.
If a conservative Jew who was pro-life and was not pro-gay marriage was president-elect and Rick Warren was asked to pray for his or her inauguration would there be an issue?