New developments in the backlash against President-elect Barack Obama’s unfortunate choice of anti-gay, anti-choice and anti-science televangelist Rick Warren to deliver the inaugural invocation. Warren is scheduled as the keynote speaker the upcoming MLK Day service at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. Martin Luther King served as pastor. The Atlanta Black LGBT Coalition wants Warren removed.
"Rev. Warren’s hateful opposition to civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and reproductive rights for women, and his intolerance of diversity contradict the values of freedom and equality that this day represents," the group said in a press release.
"Bestowing Rev. Warren such a prominent role does not foster greater understanding between divided communities. Instead it drives more wedges between disenfranchised communities that are continually pitted against each other by the agents of racism and homophobia."
This year's King Day service takes place on January 19, the day before Obama will be inaugurated as the nation’s first black president. The MLK service at Ebenezer attracts media, politicians and civil rights leaders from around the nation. On the last King Day, then-Democratic hopeful Barack Obama spoke to the church the day before the national holiday and delivered a well-received challenge to black churches to renounce homophobia.
Money quote from black gay activist Craig Washington: "I don’t know what [Ebenezer Baptist Church's] Rev. Warnock’s motives are. I do know that the invitation is an affront to queer communities. It does nothing to unify the community, it drives the wedge deeper. I think Ebenezer, like Obama, is seeking to find some political currency with the conservative movement in this country."
It's a curious decision for the church to follow-up Obama's historic message of tolerance and inclusion with Warren's divisive rhetoric and thinly-veiled anti-gay bigotry. It will be very interesting to hear Warren's message of peace, unity and tolerance on King Day. Perhaps the good reverend will boast about his work with anti-gay fundamentalists in Uganda. Or how many gay HIV positive Africans have been killed by the evangelical churches receiving his and the Bush Administration's support.
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