This week two very smart Christian believers — one by extending an invitation, the other by accepting it — have helped the fight against AIDS and burnished their respective reputations. But in the process, they also created a defining dilemma for the Religious Right.
Some time ago, Rick Warren, megapastor of the Saddleback Church in Orange County and author of the mega-seller The Purpose-Driven Life, along with his wife Kay, invited Democratic Sen. Barack Obama to speak today at the second annual AIDS conference at Warren’s church. Other politicians were to participate, notably Sen. Sam Brownback, a born-again Christian turned conservative Catholic who, like Obama, may have presidential ambitions. But while Brownback was to speak to his natural constituency, Obama’s participation is a divisive issue for one overriding reason: he is pro-choice.
That Warren should lend him a lectern has infuriated the pro-life activists and general hard-liners on the religious right. Conservative talk radio host Kevin McCullough wrote on his blog, “Why would Warren marry the moral equivalency of his pulpit — a sacred piece of honor in evangelical traditions — to the inhumane, sick and sinister evil that Obama has worked for as a legislator?” An open letter signed by Phyllis Schlafly, head of the conservative Eagle Forum, and 17 other less prominent figures, most from anti-abortion groups, contended “If Senator Obama cannot defend the most helpless citizens in our country, he has nothing to say to the AIDS crisis. You cannot fight one evil while justifying another.” The din became sufficiently loud that Saddleback posted a response stressing Warren’s disagreement with Obama on abortion but noting that “Obama was invited to share his views on AIDS, not abortion or any other issue.” more
Obama is smarter than your average bear. There are very few Dem’s that have the ability to talk religion with the Right and seem credible. Obama seems more than credible.