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Rick Warren Responds to Criticism

Rick Warren remains prominent in the news this week after he agreed to give the invocation at Barack Obama's inauguration on January 20.

Here's a bullet-point roundup of the latest:

– Warren posted a three-part video to his church's website responding to the backlash over his selection.

"The media never gets it 100 percent correct. I've never seen an in-print article that gets everything right," Warren says, adding, "The media lives for conflict. If there's no conflict, then somebody's going to create it."

In the series, Warren insisted he wasn't equating gay marriage with incest or child molestation referring to Steve Waldman's earlier interview.

"I have in no way ever taught that homosexuality is the same thing as a forced relationship between an adult and a child, or between siblings," Warren said in the video. "I was trying to point out I'm not opposed to gays having their partnership. I'm opposed to gays using the term marriage for their relationship." Waldman posts his response here.

– Several bloggers, including Gary Stern of The Journal News, pointed out that the church removed a part of its website on the Bible and homosexuality.

A Saddleback spokesman, Kristin Cole, told me that the section "has not been permanently removed, but rather repurposed for clarity." Saddleback Associate Pastor Tom Holladay will post an audio clip titled, "What Does the Bible Say About homosexuality ? is it a sin?"

– Warren will be the featured speaker at the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Service in Atlanta the day the inauguration.

Over the weekend, he spoke at the Muslim Public Affairs Council at its convention in California Saturday night. The L.A. Times reports that recognizing the potential for controversy, Warren said near the beginning of his speech: "Let me just get this over very quickly. I love Muslims. And for the media's purpose, I happen to love gays and straights."

Dan Gilgoff interviewed Muslim Public Affairs Council executive director Salam Al-Marayati about Muslim-evangelical relations.

We don't know the percentage [of evangelicals] that Robertson or [Focus on the Family founder] James Dobson represents. They're certainly significant but they are two voices. The rise of people like Rick Warren and Chris Seiple and Joel Hunter has changed that in the last 10 years.... It's a much needed and refreshing phase in terms of Christian-Muslim relations that we're in right now.

– Just about everybody has an opinion about whether Obama should have chosen Warren.

It's particularly fun to read headlines if you click the "Rick Warren" tag on the Huffington Post:

Rick Warren Announcement Is Slap In The Face To GLBTQ Army

Obama's Pastor Warren Pick; A Bridge Too Far

Barack, Get a Klue

Right Message, Wrong Messenger

Dump Rick Warren - Letter to President-elect Obama

Rick Warren: What Was Obama Thinking?

However, Bil Browning, longtime LGBT activist writes, "Calm down. Rick Warren is not a big deal. This tempest in a teapot will only harm our community."

– Rachel Zoll of the Associated Press wrote a piece yesterday about how Warren has battled complaints from fellow evangelicals that he isn't nearly conservative enough.

"The comments from many of the evangelicals further to the right of him are often critical for his lax stance on their passionate issues," said Scott Thumma, a professor at Connecticut's Hartford Seminary.

However, some conservative evangelicals such as Pat Robertson and Franklin Graham have jumped to Warren's defense lately.

Michael Paulson at The Boston Globewrites that CNN's The Situation Room has an interview with Pat Robertson today. Robertson also praises Warren, and says, "All he's been asked to do is give an invocation. He isn't asked to endorse Obama. He's going to stand up there on the steps of the Capitol and he's going to say, God, please bless this country. And he will do that very well."

On a side note, Robertson told CNN's Suzanne Malveaux that he is "remarkably pleased" with Obama.

"I had grave misgivings about him. But so help me, he's come in forcefully, intelligently. He's picked a middle of the road cabinet. And so far, if he continues down this course, he has the makings of a great president."

– Finally, a CNN poll suggests that public opinion on same-sex marriage has not changed in the last six months. In June, 44 percent of those surveyed said that gay marriages should be recognized by law as valid, and 53 percent said they should not. A poll release today showed that 55 percent oppose gay marriage.

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