Monday, January 12, 2009

Obama's 'Pluralistic Christian' Reign?

Barack Obama will be giving platform to Pastor Rick Warren's pro-life, traditional marriage message, and to Episcopal Bishop Gay-Gene Robinson, as well as to Rev. Sharon E. Watkins, who believes everything (or nothing).

-- From "Gay NH bishop to offer prayer at inaugural event" Associated Press, 1/12/09

The first openly gay Episcopal bishop will offer a prayer at the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural event for President-elect Barack Obama.

The selection of New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson for Sunday's event follows weeks of criticism from gay-rights groups over Obama's decision to have the Rev. Rick Warren give the invocation at his Jan. 20 inauguration.

Robinson said last month the choice of Warren was like a slap in the face. In an interview with the Concord Monitor, he said he doesn't believe Obama invited him in response to the Warren criticism but said his inclusion won't go unnoticed by the gay and lesbian community.

Clark Stevens, a spokesman for the inaugural committee, said Robinson was invited because he had offered his advice to Obama during the campaign and because of his church work.

. . . Robinson said he doesn't yet know what he'll say, but he knows he won't use a Bible [saying,] "This is a prayer for the whole nation."

-- From "Obama Names Minister to Lead Prayer Service" by Laurie Goodstein, New York Times 1/11/09

President-elect Barack Obama has selected the Rev. Sharon E. Watkins to deliver the sermon at the national prayer service that is held the day after the inauguration.

Ms. Watkins, the first woman ever selected to lead the service, is the president and general minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a small, liberal-leaning Protestant denomination with 3,754 congregations and about 690,000 members in the United States and Canada. Ms. Watkins was elected to the post in 2005, the first woman ever chosen to lead a mainline Protestant denomination.

Linda Douglass, the chief spokeswoman for the inaugural committee, said the choice of Ms. Watkins was not an attempt to mollify critics of Mr. Obama’s decision to have the Rev. Rick Warren give the invocation at the inauguration.

“She was chosen before the inaugural program was even announced,” Ms. Douglass said of Ms. Watkins. “Her appeal is that she delivers a message of unity and inclusivity and tolerance and hope — and those are all central themes we’ve heard from the president-elect.”

Like many mainline Protestant churches, the Disciples is not unified on the issue [of same-sex marriage]. As a congregational church, each church in the denomination is free to set its own policies.

Ms. Watkins said in a telephone interview that the church in Bartlesville, Okla., where she served as minister before becoming president, could not reach a consensus on whether to allow gay union ceremonies and decided to hold off on a decision.

“We really emphasize the responsibility as well as the freedom of individuals within the church to study Scripture to prayerfully pursue their own spiritual journey,” Ms. Watkins said. “That means we end up being incredibly diverse politically, theologically and socially.

The sermon will be 10 to 15 minutes and will not be vetted by the Obama team, Ms. Watkins said. She added that she would preach in a way that was authentic to her Christian tradition but did not exclude people of other faiths.

To read the entire New York Times article, CLICK HERE.