Rick Warren complimented Barack Obama's invitations to himself and other clergy to pray at inaugural events as a sign of the president-elect's commitment to govern on behalf of all Americans.
The invitation to openly gay Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson to pray at the inaugural kick off event on Sunday has again stirred great controversy.
"President-elect Obama has again demonstrated his genuine commitment to bringing all Americans of goodwill together in search of common ground," Warren said in a statement provided to Christianity Today. "I applaud his desire to be the president of every citizen."
Warren and Obama have continually been taking heat from members of the gay community since it was announced that the California megachurch pastor would give the invocation at the swearing-in ceremony next Tuesday. Robinson was one of the earliest critics, saying "it was like a slap in the face."
"I'm all for Rick Warren being at the table," Bishop Robinson told The New York Times, "but we're not talking about a discussion, we're talking about putting someone up front and center at what will be the most watched inauguration in history, and asking his blessing on the nation. And the God that he's praying to is not the God that I know."
"While that is a holy and sacred text to me, it is not for many Americans," Robinson said. "I will be careful not to be especially Christian in my prayer. This is a prayer for the whole nation."
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Warren's statement quoted above initially appeared to focus on Obama's invitation to Gene Robinson. The statement, e-mailed by a media relations firm, bore the headline: "Statement by Dr. Rick Warren on the Invitation for Bishop V. Gene Robinson to Give the Inaugural Opening Ceremony Invocation (which Warren Gave Four Years Ago)."
Based on that headline, this post was originally titled "Warren Applauds Obama's Invitation to Gay Bishop." The Washington Post ("Rick Warren Reaches Out to Gene Robinson") also interpreted the statement as a response to the Robinson invitation. Numerous bloggers followed suit.
Sunday, January 18, a follow-up statement from Larry Ross of A. Larry Ross Communications, a firm that frequently represents Rick Warren, clarified the intent of Warren's original statement: "In his recent statement, Dr. Warren was not applauding the person invited, but rather affirming the principle of President-elect Obama's commitment to serve as a President of all citizens and hold an inclusive inaugural."