Despite appearance, Obama event still comes down on left

Friday, December 19, 2008

Some observers contended early that President-elect Barack Obama would be more of a disappointment to his liberal supporters than to his conservative opponents, and at least one of his decisions proved that to be true.

Obama's pick of Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration is the case in point. Warren is the Baptist pastor of the Saddleback Church in southern California, the fourth largest church in the United States. His book, "The Purpose Driven Life," has sold more than 20 million copies, one of the best selling nonfiction books of all time.

He holds traditional evangelical positions on issues such as abortion and gay marriage -- Warren's support of Proposition 8 overturning a court ruling that allowed gay marriage in California is the main reason activists oppose his appearance in Washington.

They may not realize, however, that Warren has plenty of opposition from the right because of his reluctance to rubber-stamp the Republican Party platform. Warren urges evangelicals to focus on fighting poverty and disease, combat global warming and improve education. His wife, Kay, condones promotion of the use of condoms in addition to abstinence -- the religious right's sanctioned method of prevention of sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy.

Obama is giving gay rights advocates the last word, asking the Rev. Joseph Lowery to deliver the benediction. Lowery, 87, is the longtime civil rights activist, co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, who gave a famous speech in 2000 calling for gay clergy before the United Methodist Church's general convention.

At first blush, it appears that Obama must be doing something right -- drawing criticism from both ends of the political spectrum.

With Warren fashioning himself as a moderate, however, and Lowery solidly liberal, Obama's first major act as president leaves him leaning well toward the left.

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