A few days after the recent election I heard a right wing talk show host speculate that Barack Obama would choose the Reverend Jeremiah Wright to offer the prayer at the inauguration. Shortly after that I was involved in an online discussion, in which most of the participants were of what I call the Latin Right persuasion. One of them said that he had heard that Mr Obama had chosen the homosexual Episcopalian prelate Gene Robinson to do the honors.
Well, a couple of days ago Senator Obama announced his choice to offer the invocation: Rick Warren, pastor of the Saddleback Church and author of The Purpose Driven Life.
While the Reverend Warren’s white bread megachurch evangelicalism is not my favorite type of Christianity, or even Protestantism -although to his credit he does not limit evangelical social concern to the pelvic issues- what is important is that he is opposed to both abortion and homosexual marriage. And so his selection has prompted anger among homosexual activists. Abortion advocates, who are apparently more politically savvy than gay activists, have been silent, having counseled one another to have low expectations in light of expediency.
Now Mr Obama no doubt knew that his choice would not be popular among his gay supporters, but he chose to offend them rather than Evangelical and prolife folks. It’s hard not to see this as a peace offering, an indication that he does not wish to stoke the fires of the so-called culture wars. Certainly his cabinet choices have shown that he is not intending a radical change: the State Department is now full of Democratic interventionists instead of Republican ones, alas. While this in particular is regrettable, in most ways the way his administration is shaping up indicates that he is not going to come out with guns blazing, forging a radical proabortion path. It is doubtful, after offering an olive branch to Evangelicals that he will want war with Catholics.
Let us hope that the dire predictions of Obama closing Catholic hospitals who refuse to perform abortions and stripping all state limitations on abortion prove as misplaced as the ones about the Reverends Wright and Robinson.