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Obama’s pastor pick irks many

world Updated: Dec 20, 2008 22:34 IST
Reverend Rick Warren

With his choice of the Reverend Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration, President-elect Barack Obama has found himself enmeshed in a new controversy involving a pastor, facing criticism this time from liberal and gay-rights groups outraged at the idea of including the evangelical pastor at a Democratic celebration.

Obama’s forceful defence of Warren, the author of The Purpose Driven Life, has signalled an intent to continue his campaign’s effort to woo even conservative Christians. As his advisors fielded scores of angry calls from Democrats, Obama has insisted a range of viewpoints be expressed at the inauguration festivities.

“That’s part of the magic of this country, is that we are diverse and noisy and opinionated,” Obama said, speaking to reporters here this week. He added, “That’s hopefully going to be a spirit that carries over into my administration.”

V Gene Robinson, the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, whose consecration caused a painful divide in his church because he is openly gay, said that when he heard about the selection of Warren, “it was like a slap in the face.”

“I’m all for Rick Warren being at the table, but we’re not talking about a discussion, we’re talking about putting someone up front and centre at what will be the most watched inauguration in history, and asking his blessing on the nation,” Robinson said. “And the God that he’s praying to is not the God that I know.”

The New York Times