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President-elect Barack Obama chose California megachurch pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at the January 20 inauguration, igniting fury from same-sex marriage advocates and progressives.

Obama and Warren both defended their decisions to reach across the aisle, even though the future president and megachurch pastor. Evangelist Franklin Graham was in the hot seat once after he prayed in Jesus' name at President Bush's inauguration in 2001. He spoke with Christianity Today about his reaction to Obama's decision and his advice for Warren.

Were you surprised that Obama chose Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration?

No, not at all. Rick Warren had invited President-elect Obama two years ago to his AIDS forum, and, of course, he held the unofficial debate at his church with Obama and Sen. McCain. Rick demonstrated to Obama that he's a friend, but at the same time, he's not going to change his convictions. I think he's a natural and many people will appreciate Rick Warren being there. I think he's a great choice. He's a Southern Baptist. He believes the Bible the way I believe it.

Rick Warren seems to be taking criticism from both sides, from same-sex marriage advocates and from evangelicals who say he should not pray at Obama's inauguration. You filled this role at President Bush's inauguration in 2001, and your father has also played this role. Did you face the same challenges?

President Bush was sued because I prayed in the name of Jesus. Eventually that suit was thrown out. But any time you take a stand for Christ, it's going to be controversial. Rick Warren is a man of God. He is a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The people on the far left hate God, they hate his standards, and hate the name of his ...

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December 2008

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