Sunday, January 4, 2009

Rick Warren: Why it Isn't 'Just a Prayer'

Just to be clear, I'm not one of those who is braying about how absolutely betrayed I feel that Obama would have Rick Warren at his inauguration. I'm not surprised. Nor do I feel that he should be given a pass just because he's a Democrat. He should be held accountable for kowtowing to the basest of the evangelicals because he considers that "reaching across party lines".

That said, Rick Warren is not a moderate. At best, he's Jerry Falwell with a kinder, gentler facade. At worst, he's Fred Phelps with a suit and some pretty words to proffer. Either way, he is most certainly not a moderate. Jimmy Carter is an evangelical moderate. Rick Warren is not.

For the SGL and trans people of color out there who are proud that there finally is one of us in the White House, please keep in mind that Rick Warren has some significant connections to Peter Akinola, one of the leaders of the religious drive to augment the pre-existing laws that criminalized homosexuality in Nigeria in 2006. Where before it was "only" sex acts that were criminalized, the draft legislation Akinola and his cronies supported would have penalized same-sex couples for showing any displays of affection, getting married even in an informal ceremony, and even prohibited SGL/gay activism and affirmation as well as the existence of societies, organizations, and clubs that affirm SGL/gay people. By their own admission, the bill's purpose was to criminalize same-sex relationships. The punishment under this law ranges from 5 to 14 years in prison, and if one is unlucky enough to live in the parts of Nigeria where sharia applies, death. Rick Warren is quite open about his support of the (not-so) good Archbishop Akinola. Nigeria is not exactly the safest place for SGL/gay activists, be they Christian or not, and Warren has made it clear that he does not disagree with the Archbishop's stance on this law. This is what he supports doing in a country that very few Westerners care about or pay attention to. It is not that far a stretch to assume that he'd gladly support such a law here in the United States. It probably will not get to that point within the next four years, but keep in mind that giving him a pass is indirectly giving a pass to Western support for crimes (this law contravenes international law and the African Charter on Human and People's Rights) that affect people who are our kinfolk, however distantly. Were it Bush or McCain doing the same thing, we would be all up in arms about how he neither of them give a rat's ass about SGL/gay people of color. One would think that the grinding poverty in Nigeria would be a bigger concern of both Akinola and Warren, but I suppose the pesky gays are a nasty scourge responsible for killing 14% of children (warning: PPT file) before the age of 5. Oh, wait, that's poverty.

And before you say it can't happen here, it's already happened once. Luckily, that law was rescinded after word got out nationally and internationally. Rhea County may be in the middle of bumfuck, but those ideas are not, as Rick Warren amply demonstrates. This is a man who has compared gay people to pedophiles, zoophiles, and incestuous couples morally and with regard to how we should be treated under the law. I don't even want to think about what he would like to have done to trans people.

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