I wasn't going to talk about Rick Warren. FAIL.
He's a smarmy religion-based capitalist who makes a ton of money off of his book(s) (Amazon.com Sales Rank: #339 in Books) and assorted products. He does good works and smiles in that phony condescending way no matter what he is saying. (Why are their wives always bleached blondes with way to much makeup?) And then there is that "mega-church" thing that has been popular of late. He's smart, I'll give him that. He updated the country preacher thing and made it acceptable to a generation reared on television and short attention spans.
I know I'm blithering. Go read the piece in The Nation entitled "What's The Matter With Rick Warren?" wherein they say, on point,
Warren represents the absolute worst of the Democrats' religious outreach, a right-winger masquerading as a do-gooder anointed as the arbiter of what it means to be faithful.
Obama, when questioned about his choice, argued that this represents outreach to those who disagree and besides, Obama was invited to Pastor Rick's church. (Yeah, he really calls himself Pastor Rick. Must be that California thing where everybody pretends that they are casual and familiar instead of remembering that manners exist for a reason.) These are pitiful arguments. Ok, invite him to the White House. But the inauguration is a representation of the nation's ideals and ought not serve as a platform for a bigot. I know I'm not the first to note that Mr. Obama surely wouldn't have a KKK member give the invocation arguing for inclusion. It give the imprint of approval to Pastor Rick. Billy Graham was the pastor who appeared to advise presidents for years. That didn't set so well with me but at least he didn't act like a political pastor.
I started out this rambling post to make a point. Finally.
Why do we still have an invocation and a closing prayer for the inauguration? Isn't this a civil matter? Don't we have a nation composed of many religions and none? Yet we have a Christian opening and closing -- Joseph Lowrey of the SCLC will give the benediction. Insisting on bracketing this event with Christian symbolism seems to be eliminating a lot of Americans who don't participate in this particular brand of religion. So why not just drop it?
Mr. Obama, his family, and those who choose could very well start the day or precede the ceremony by attending a church service. Or by inviting in a religious leader of his choosing to pray together. But why can't that be a matter of personal choice? Why the need to impose his religious preferences on all of us during what is clearly a civil matter? Isn't it time to end this vestigial practice?