Believing that Rick Warren, the megachurch pastor chosen by Barack Obama to give the invocation at the presidential inauguration in less than four weeks, is perfectly within the realm of both reason and moral rectitude when he compares homosexuality with incest and pedophilia is one thing. Sure, it’s a disgusting and benighted attitude to hold, and no one can logically justify the condemning of behavior between consenting adults that has no impact whatsoever on their own lives.
But it’s at least possible for people of a certain unfortunate bent to generate some toxic internal framework in which harboring such ideas is consistent with their core values: If you believe that the Bible is true, then you are perfectly positioned to promulgate all sorts of worthless and damaging ideas while legitimately believing that you are not only in the right, but compassionate.
Most Americans, however, do not approve of outright, easily recognized lying. There’s something in all of us (sociopaths excepted) that disapproves at a gut level of people who intentionally deceive others. So a good many people who can abide by Warren’s unabashed (until this week, anyway) bigotry even if they do not necessarily agree with him would be apt to reject him and his ideas outright were he to indisputably present himself as a liar.
And man, has he ever.
Ed Brayton has a straightforward example of Warren’s flaming dishonesty, but he’s been frantically trying to cover his tracks behind the scenes as well, cleansing his church’s Web site not only of most anti-gay material but of also some of its more absurd pro-creationist gibberish. Warren will say or do whatever is most expedient while taking care not to alienate his scatterbrained and deluded base, whose members’ intellects process faux-meaningful Rove-ian slogans (e.g., “values voters,” “homosexual agenda”) and little else. And it’s clear that in relating the experiences that supposedly led him away from evolution and into the arms of creationism, he’s again dissembling (and note that this page is now available only in Google’s cache).
All of which finally brings me to my point: My comments about the human tendency to spurn liars notwithstanding, there are large groups of people out there who do not, in fact, mind being lied to at all, either because their convictions about the supernatural are sufficiently raucous or they are too biased or dumb to notice the fibbing. One of them is the online “news” arm of the truly hysterical American Family Association, OneNewsNow.com, which yesterday ran this antigem of a column defending Warren and slamming gays. I can really only stand to stain this blog–which is profane, high-flown, and grandiose in its own right–with one passage:
[Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr.] believes the controversy over Pastor Warren also says a lot about the homosexual community. “What’s being revealed in this process is that the intolerance of the radical left is coming out. They want to be received and tolerated, but when someone takes one little overture like praying a prayer at a major event, they can’t take it,” he points out. “And whether we like it or not, this man Rick Warren has become the next generation’s Billy Graham.”
Does any sentient person really believe that the reaction to Warren is about the fact that he’s going to “pray a prayer” and not about his remarks, recently and over time? All possible answers here are ugly ones. People blinkered enough to believe this guy are a lost cause, and those willing to overlook it are as well, but for different reasons.
If you want to read an honest assessment of the entire Warren circus-in-the-making, try this Slate piece by Chris Hitchens instead. I’d love to see Hitchens and Warren discuss things on Hardball or a similar venue, because even if they didn’t let Hitchens get plastered beforehand, it would be another one-sided and thoroughly entertaining “debate.”
Warren is more politician than pastor, so as a public prevaricator he has plenty of company. Still, it’s especially distasteful when people lie in ways that take flagrant swipes at a considerable segment of the population–I don’t know how many gay people there are in the U.S., but I bet it’s at least 10 million, greater than the number of people in all but about ten states.
I’m glad there are so many hours, relatively speaking, before Inauguration Day, because I believe that by the time Warren steps up to the mike, he will have become a livid joke in the eyes of the average American, with only the staunchest 10 or 20 percent of the idiot segment of the population believing that his supposed devotion to Christ compensates for his various forms of buffoonery and deceit.