Any American who cares about freedom and equal rights regardless of race, religion, sex, etc., probably experienced some goose bumps yesterday. After all, an African American man is now our President. And, a dream has come true.
Unfortunately, I was driving to a business meeting yesterday and had to listen to the inaugural events on the radio. Everything I heard seemed so festive and exciting leading up to the swearing in of our 44th President. And then, I listened to the invocation given by the Reverend Rick Warren. His short prayer made me shake my head in great disappointment.
You see, this holy man used the global light that was shining so brightly on his bully pulpit to push out an agenda that had little to do with respecting all Americans. In fact, it ran opposite to Obama's theme of acceptance of all and finding ways to bring people together regardless of religious or political beliefs. No, instead this narrow minded pastor pushed out his two points that should never have been uttered on this magical day: A blessing for Israel and the need to pray to (his lord) Jesus Christ. And, that was just wrong.
Why? Well for one, by allowing this man to do this, it sent a message to millions of American Muslims or others who don't support Israel or have never believed in Jesus Christ, that this administration doesn't really support their views. To do this on a national stage, in front of the world, this new President actually allowed this controversial agenda to be set on his post. And, it greatly conflicted (ironically) with Obama's inaugural speech given just 30 minutes later.
There isn't a preacher in America who wouldn't have mentioned God in this invocation. And, I think that regardless of one's specific belief in religion, Americans everywhere would have been just fine if this prayer were focused on just that word because all of our mainstream religions believe in their own God through their own traditions and prayers. But, praying to Jesus (regardless of what language his name is uttered in)speaks volumes to Jews (who, by the way helped to elect Obama,) Muslims and other non Christian religions in our country. And, as much as I believe in Israel, supporting it like he did, probably more than offended the countless Arab American communities across our country.
Clearly, by selecting Warren to preside over this time honored prayer, Obama was actually trying to heal wounds with the right wing and bring these two sides closer together (if that is at all possible.) Ironically though, it only served to loosen the binds that are already weak between those other religious groups who wonder whether they will ever get a fair shake in this country that is supposed to now become a beacon of tolerance under a President who has promised so much change.