Gay rights advocates are criticizing President-elect Barack Obama‘s choice of a popular evangelical minister to deliver the invocation at his inauguration, saying it shows disrespect for a constituency that strongly supported his campaign.
Pastor Rick Warren, a best-selling author and leader of a Southern California megachurch, is one of a new breed of evangelicals who stress the need for action on social issues such as reducing poverty and protecting the environment, alongside traditional theological themes. But the , the nation’s largest gay rights organization, said Warren’s opposition to is a sign of intolerance.
“We feel a deep level of disrespect when one of the architects and promoters of an anti-gay agenda is given the prominence and the pulpit of your historic nomination,” the group said in a letter to Obama, asking him to reconsider.
Obama’s selection of Warren is seen as a signal to religious conservatives that the president-elect will listen to their views. During the campaign, Warren interviewed Obama and Republican John McCain in a widely watched television program that focused on religious concerns.
Gay rights advocates say they are troubled by Warren’s support for a California ballot initiative banning gay marriage, approved by voters last month. “By inviting to your inauguration, you have tarnished the view that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have a place at your table,” the letter said.