Obama Chooses Divisive Inaugural Pastor

President-elect Obama announced the program for his inauguration this week, and it begins with an invocation from the Rev. Rick Warren, an evangelical mega church pastor. Although Obama and his spokesperson insist his inaugural will be inclusive and offer diverse viewpoints, the choice of two Protestants to open and close the ceremony suggests otherwise.

The Secular Coalition has sent the letter below to President-elect Obama, and we encourage our supporters to contact him as well. Please complete and submit this form at change.gov, the Office of the President-elect, to tell Barack Obama that you are disappointed by his continued indifference to nontheistic and secular-minded Americans.


December 19, 2008

Dear President-elect Obama,

Your decision to invite Reverend Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at your inauguration alienates American atheists, humanists, agnostics and other nontheists.

In an interview with Larry King in August, Warren expressed an unwillingness to ever vote for an atheist presidential candidate. Would you allow a speaker who expressed similar views about, for example, Jews or Muslims to participate in your inaugural? He has said the only reason nontheists are ethical is because his god makes them so, and that not believing in a god is intellectually dishonest.

Your spokesperson has said that yours will be "the most inclusive, open, accessible inauguration in American history." How is opening the program with one Protestant Christian and closing it with another inclusive? You yourself said it would include a wide range of viewpoints. Who on your inaugural dais will express the viewpoints of not only the tens of millions of nontheistic Americans, but that majority of citizens who believe there is now too much religious influence in our politics and government?

By choosing an intolerant religious leader to open your presidency, you are not creating change, but rather following the dismal tradition of your predecessor.

Lori Lipman Brown

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