Rick Warren is not just a one-trick menace

Yes, Rick Warren, lying and lurching his way toward babbling a few meaningless words at the swearing in of the next U.S. president in three weeks, holds some disgusting views on homosexuality. But as Chris Hitchens pointed out in Slate yesterday, don’t let this obscure the fact that Warren, in accordance with what his favorite book of faery tales instructs him to do and think, is not only a creationist dupe who thinks man and dinosaurs frolicked together, but an anti-Semite in the strict sense that every Bible-believing Christian is.
(OK, granted: An adult claiming that an entire class of people are barred from going to an imaginary utopia because they refuse to acknowledge that an imaginary fellow is “the Messiah” is no more fraught with real-world implications than a child administering his playground buddy a “cootie shot”–i.e., a knuckle to the deltoid–in order to protect him from the various diseases carried and spread by little girls. But it’s the intent that counts.)
As Hitchens puts it:

[A] shame, too, that on Inauguration Day we may also have to stand still–out of respect rather than fear, it is true–and listen to a man who is either a half-witted dupe, a hopeless naif, a cynical tourist who does favors for the powerful, a religious nut bag, a cowardly liar, or perhaps some unappetizing combination of all five. I personally think that the all-five answer is the correct one, because you cannot just find yourself in Syria, smirking into the face of the local despot and being treated like a treasured guest. The thing has to be arranged, and these things take time.

Warren is a de facto supporter, it seems, of Hezbollah and Hamas. And indeed, he lies grandly and with apparent disregard for the likelihood he will be caught; as the Slate piece describes, he told an audience of Syrians that fully 80 percent of Americans were against the Bush administration’s policy in Iraq. The fact that Warren seems not to care about being caught in lies should, in and of itself, establish a clean separation him in the minds of concerned observers between Warren and legitimacy. No one should pretend that what he says on January 20–and I’m sure his jowly face with be spouting his best attempts at ecumenism and peacemaking–is earnest in the least.
Of course, this pig is likely capable of basic arithmetic and believes on this basis–or has to this point–that he can afford to alienate every Jewish and gay voter in the land, as the two populations combined probably make up no more than one-tenth of the U.S. citizenry. If so, it means he’s counting on non-Jews and heteros to simply ignore his alarmingly despicable views and not form judgments of our own.
But it should be clear to Warren by this time that resistance to such a poor representative of American ideals is not merely a product of his direct targets, and that (if you’ll allow me the luxury of wishful thinking) Sarah Palin’s months-long trail of vigorous rhetorical self-embarrassment has opened people’s eyes to the real danger of delusionals and liars professing a belief in black magic having few obstacles along the path of political ascendancy, and that the incurious, racist, nutjob faction of the U.S. is hardly limited to a handful of crackpots playing with snakes in the swamps of a Dixieland state or the Phelps-Roper clan. Perhaps, for the first time, people having just read the latest opinion polls in the morning paper or on the Web are looking around at their fellow countryfolk in line at the supermarket and wondering silently, “Are you one of them? What the hell are you thinking?”
Hitchens again:

[O]ne has not merely a right but a duty to object to having as an inaugural auxiliary a man who is a pushover for anti-Semitism, Islamic sectarianism, “rapture” theology, fascist dictatorship, 10th-rate media trade-offs, and last-minute panicky self-censorship all at the same time. Is there nobody in the Obama camp who can see that this is not just a gay issue? And is there no gay figure who can say that Warren is objectionable for reasons that have more to do with decency, democracy, and the Constitution? The televised, Bible-bashing entrepreneur is perhaps the single most unattractive and embarrassing phenomenon that modern American culture has ever produced. It would be nice if we could begin a new era in the absence of this racket and these racketeers, and if enough people can find their voices, we still may be able to do so.

So, it’s possible that people will one day thank Warren for opening their ideas to the reality of how common, and institutionalized, backward thinking is in the U.S. For now, the man is just a revolting spectacle given a platform in one of the few moves which, far from ironically, right-wingers are not criticizing Obama for making.

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  1. #1 by Lofcaudio on December 30, 2008 - 1:52 pm

    I am confused by the following statement:
    The televised, Bible-bashing entrepreneur is perhaps the single most unattractive and embarrassing phenomenon that modern American culture has ever produced.
    Who or what is Hitchens referring to with such a statement? Warren?

  2. #2 by Kevin Beck on December 30, 2008 - 1:57 pm

    I think he means in general. The sentence would have read better as “The spectacle of the televised…” etc.
    I actually read >i>A Purpose Driven Life a while back because the maintenance guy in my apartment complex saw me reeling drunk and reckoned I needed some help. I read it all at once in spite of myself, not in a search for guidance but in a literal search for truth. I don’t think Rick Warren believes much of anything he says, although maybe I’m not giving him enough dubious credit.

  3. #3 by Lofcaudio on December 30, 2008 - 5:03 pm

    I too have read The Purpose-Driven Life and thought it was outstanding. I really know nothing about Rick Warren outside of that context other than what I have heard about the money from the sale of his books going to philanthropic organizations for assisting AIDS victims in Africa and other such charitable causes.
    I’m still a bit fuzzy about the terminology being used in the Hitchens quote which I referred to in my first comment. Can you give me an example of a “televised, Bible-bashing entrepreneur”?
    (In my part of the world, a Bible-basher is one who is highly critical of the Bible and uses every opportunity to denounce it and the principles contained therein. It appears that this is not the definition Hitchens is using for “Bible-bashing.”)

  4. #4 by Pierce R. Butler on December 30, 2008 - 5:15 pm

    Nope, some rightists are venting their well-practiced spleen at their nominal brother as well: see Corporate Media Erroneously Portrays Rick Warren, The Pied Piper of Global Warming Buffoonery, as Being ‘Conservative’ or the 12/19 Christian Newswire press release, “Operation Rescue Decries Rick Warren’s Role in Obama Inauguration as Unbiblical”, or the 12/23 rant by the head honcho of liveprayer.com (also via Xian Newswire) that

    … Keller says that Warren’s compromise and questionable associations are all part of his desire to pursue a global social agenda. …
    “For Pastor Rick Warren to bless and give the invocation at the upcoming inauguration for a man who will help ensure millions of babies around the world are slaughtered – and force U.S. taxpayers to fund this legalized infanticide – is no different than if Adolph Hitler had asked Warren to give the blessing and invocation when he became Chancellor of Germany,” laments Keller.

    Lots of these people simply cannot be appeased.

  5. #5 by JimFiore on December 30, 2008 - 5:19 pm

    Yeah, I think this might be a British/American usage problem. I assume he means “Bible-thumping”.
    As far as money going to help AIDS victims, isn’t Warren an “abstinence-only” kinda guy, eschewing condoms and the like?

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