Thursday, November 30, 2006

Just How Far Down Do You Wanna Go...

Rev. Rick Warren, the Purpose Driven Life guy who is one of America's more prominent evangelical leaders, is hosting a conference on Christianity and HIV/AIDS at Warren's SoCal church. In my opinion, he rightfully believes that Christian morals dictates that he do something about fighting the spread of a disease that has decimated African populations.

Warren invited over 60 speakers to his event. I suppose he figured that he needed someone who a) was intimately acquainted with the African continent and the problems of the AIDS epidemic there, b) is an openly religious Christian, and c) is a face people could recognize. This is presumably why he invited Illinois Sen. Barack Obama to speak. And not entirely unpredictably, he was met by a group of angry people. Led by Rob Schenck, they believe that Obama's pro-choice stance disqualifies him from any knowledge about AIDS and the role of Christianity in fighting it.

Apparently, a certain point of view on abortion is necessary to understand the AIDS crisis. Funny, I didn't think the two were related.

I'll add Schenck and his ilk to people who need to shut up. Reasonable people can disagree on the morality of pro-choice vs. pro-life stances. But disagreement on one issue should not preclude an alliance on A TOTALLY UNRELATED ISSUE. Send these people a memo on my behalf, please: you and Obama both want AIDS to go away. You are both Christians. You both have a place at a conference on the Church's role in fighting AIDS. Duh.

This highlights a disturbing trend in modern politics - the belief that because someone has certain disagreements with you they are therefore your enemy, and you should always oppose them. This is completely untrue. I don't know if there are too many people in American politics with whom I disagree 100% of the time. Or with whom I agree 100% of the time. Alliances form one issue at a time - bitter enemies on one issue can be allies on others. Generally I oppose what the Christian Coalition stands for, but I'll happily stand alongside them on a certain issue if they agree with me on that issue. But the idea that politics makes strange bedfellows seems to be lost on most political activists nowadays. If Hillary Clinton and Bill O'Reilly can find the time to work together on children's issues, pro-life conservative evangelicals can find it in their hearts to work with Sen. Obama on AIDS. Come on, folks - which is more important? Ideological purity, or getting stuff done? So applause to Warren for keeping his eyes on the prize. The rest of you - and I don't say this often - follow the pastor.


Anonymous said...

Well, thanks for getting that song stuck in my head for the remainder of the day.

As I've mentioned before I think, Rick Warren was the pastor at the Saddleback church my sister attended back in California (the one with 10000+ members where worship services were more like rock concerts). From what little I know about him, and from what my sister says, he seems a reasonable guy and one of the evangelicals likely to lead us away from the Robertson/Falwell types. So it's nice to see him making a step for positive social change that the Christian Coalition would never make. But let's face it, the reaction by Schenck and co. is not really surprising.

Do you have a link to an article?

Ben said...

Rick Warren is one of those conservative Evangelicals who is giving conservative Evangelicals a good name by not being an asshole and by being concerned with more than "The Gay Agenda."

My only disagreement with Jeff is to call this a "modern trend" in American politics. Members of the Revolutionary War generation literally considered those who disagreed with them to be enemies...traitors to the nation who had to be stopped at all costs. I bet even Schenck doesn't think Obama wants to overthrow the nation and return it to Britain.

Ben said...

And over 2 years later, I come back to this blog post as the roles are reversed. Barack Obama is President-elect and he invites Rick Warren to pray at his inauguration.

The response on the Left today bears a remarkable similarity to the response on the Right in 2006 to Warren inviting Obama. "He's the enemy! He's wrong on this issue and should therefore be shunned and hated! Two Minutes' Hate, starting now!"

Never mind that he wants to work for some of the same issues as the Obama Administration. (Such as....) Never mind that he wants to put the massive resources of his church behind issues like fighting AIDS and child prostitution and global warming. He disagrees with the Left on some hot-button issues and therefore he's evil.

For the first time, I seriously wonder if there's a place for me in the Democratic Party......

(Oh, and chances are I'll never see if you respond to this particular post. I'm just skimming around your blog while waiting for Christy to finish up some stuff at work and stumbled upon this.)