Missing the Forest for the Trees

Rev. Rick Warren as we know has been invited to offer the invocation at President-elect Obama’s inauguration. The firestorm being raised by the LGBTQ community from my perspective is very sad, embarrassing and a whole lot of whining over something that will not matter in a year.

In fact I honestly think it is much hell raising over nothing. Further, as much as I love my community I wish they would just shut up.

Why? Let’s start with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The religious and political right tried to make a big deal out of this preacher because he said some things that did not set well with them. He was called every name in the book, except a child of God. It was said this was reason enough to be suspect of the presidential candidate. Sean Hannity a voracious right-winger raise the question of how could one be in the pews for 20 years and not have this alleged hate rube off-not hate America too?

I said then and many in my community agreed it was not right or appropriate to be going after then Senator Obama’s pastor. What is said from the pulpit by a preacher does not reflect on the policy or positions taken by a particular candidate. My goodness if it did adultery and divorce by our leaders would be cut in half! Homelessness and hunger would be a thing of the past. Our weapons of destruction would have been beaten into plowshares long ago!

So where do we get off throwing this idea aside just because we do not like the preacher who has been asked to pray?

Come on folks let’s get real. Years ago when I first came to Toledo I was invited to give the opening invocation for the city council. Now you know damn well there were people on that council that knew I was gay, from a gay church and had nothing but a headache to offer them. Yet other then private comments, nothing was said or done to try and stop it.

There was no outcry of outrage: Why? Because I was there as a PASTOR to PRAY. I was not there to make policy, carry out an agenda, or speak on behalf of the LGBTQ community. I was there to ask for God’s blessing on that meeting, nothing more and nothing less. Rev. Rick Warren is a PASTOR who has been asked to PRAY, nothing more and nothing less.

Further more President-elect Obama is keeping his word to reach across the lines that divide us. We know and understand this Pastor and the President-elect do not agree on any number of issues. In fact we are pretty sure this Pastor worked pretty hard at defeating the President-elect. So for Obama to reach out and say “would you pray for me” is an act of grace, a courageous act of inclusion.

Have we forgotten how Jesus, called the tax collector out of a tree to have lunch with him? There was no one in Jesus time more hated then a tax collector. Yet, Jesus reached across a line to begin the process of healing.

Have we forgotten how Jesus spent time talking with Nicodemus the Pharisee, answering his questions concerning his teaching?

I am fully aware that at this moment in time the Rev. Rick Warren is not our friend. I am aware that he has gone out of his way to stop our community from obtaining marriage rights. Yet even with this awareness I dare say most pastors who could have been asked, would be controversial to some group or another for various and sundry reasons.

This is not the fight we want to have folks…this is not where we spend political capital… bitching about who has been asked to pray. My goodness could you imagine what would have happen had he ask an Imam to pray? The firestorm, which would have ensued from that, would be just as stupid and ignorant as this controversy is.

My sisters and brothers we have far more important issues to be concerned about.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” being over turned is far more critical then who prays at the inauguration.

“ENDA” which includes the T is far more critical then who prays at the inauguration.

By the way Joe Solmonese of the HRC doesn’t have a whole lot of room to be throwing rocks here…

Homeless gay kids and what happens to them is far more important then who prays at the inauguration.

The treatment of Transgender veterans is far more important then who prays at the inauguration.

Kids being bullied in school because they are perceived to be gay are far more important then who prays at the inauguration.

Adoption rights for the LGBTQ community are far more important then who prays at the inauguration.

HIV and the black community is far more important then who prays at the inauguration.

A solid “hate crimes” bill is far more important then who prays at the inauguration.

Our community is small, our resources and allies are limited, so let us spend our time our resources and gathering our allies on that which will really make a difference for our community. Let us spend our time, our resources and gathering our allies on that which will save our lives. Let us spend our time, our resources and gathering our allies on that which will give us the dignity that is our birthright. So, please in the name of all that is holy, take a deep breath and chill.

Rev. Paul M. Turner

About Rev. Paul M. Turner

Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Rev. Paul M. Turner grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994. He is the editor of the Seeds of Hope blog whose posts from 1999-2005 are at http://whosoever.org/seeds/ -- and which now resides at https://gentlespirit.org/topics/blog/seeds-of-hope/.

3 thoughts on “Missing the Forest for the Trees”

  1. I agree 100%! No, Rick Warren would not have been MY choice, but all this uproar is a tempest in a teapot. As you point out, there are much more important issues for us to focus on!

  2. Do we really always cry out loudest about the most insignificant things? Or does the media just turn the camera on the people who are most irrational?

    Eh, so Rick Warren prays at the inauguration. I pray with people I disagree with every Sunday. Funny thing, God loves them, too.

  3. Thanks so much for your perspective. I wasn’t thrilled about the Rick Warren choice, but as a lesbian pastor who serves as a chaplain in a hospital, I know there are lots of folks who wouldn’t have me as their first choice to pray, preach or whatever. But I am called and I go. I pray, preach or whatever.

    However, mostly, with my calls, folks don’t care where I was born, how I voted, what groups I support, or who I sleep with at night. And none of that stuff about them matters to me. Before that moment in time, we were strangers. I come into their lives an empty-handed stranger who can’t fix or even explain any of it, but I come. So what matters to both of us is that I am there…that I am present…and that I care…and that maybe, just maybe God is somewhere in the midst.

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