Earlier this evening, Peregrin rightly noted the insulting way that Barack Obama and his inaugural committee have treated openly homosexual Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson, when compared with the exaltation and honor they have given to right wing Creationist preacher RIck Warren. There’s more to the story than that, however.
What gay Christians, and Gene Robinson himself, seem too uncomfortable to acknowledge is the even greater disdain with which Barack Obama has treated nonreligious Americans. Barack Obama’s inauguration is a faith-based extravaganza, through and through, and Christians get most of the church-and-state-mixing limelight.
There’s official, government-sanctioned prayer at practically every inauguration event. There was inauguration prayer on Sunday, inauguration prayer today, Rick Warren’s prayer at the main event, and then on Wednesday, a official prayer meeting with the President of the United States – and only some religious leaders are invited, no one else allowed.
Yes, Barack Obama has decided that it’s the job of the President of the United States to choose which religious leaders will get the professional establishment of government support, and which religious leaders will get left out in the cold.
But then, Barack Obama is deciding to leave all non-religious Americans out in the cold. Not a single leader of an organization of non-religious Americans has been invited to take a role in the Inauguration.
Bishop Gene Robinson’s supporters may feel upset that he was shoved off into the corner, but they fail to recognize the problem of having the President select certain religious leaders for special government recognition at all. This is the sort of thing that the First Amendment was written to prevent: Government establishment of religion. Barack Obama has no business using the power of the federal government of the United States of America to promote the preaching of certain religious leaders, and marginalize the preaching of other religious leaders, while excluding non-religious Americans altogether. The whole thing is a rotten mess.
Gene Robinson’s own government-sanctioned prayer attempted to be inclusive, but even Robinson couldn’t get it right. Consider the ignorance of the following declaration Robinson made during his prayer: “Every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.”
Whether you think that helping vulnerable people is a good thing or a bad thing, the simple fact is that Gene Robinson’s statement isn’t true. It fails to recognize the true diversity of religion, by characterizing all religions as centered around God. Not all religions promote belief in the Jewish-Christian-Muslim character of Jehovah/God/Allah. Not all religions even include beliefs in other gods.
Certainly, many religions that include belief in gods don’t characterize gods as sitting in judgment over human beings, as Gene Robinson describes. Consider Deism, which was the religion of many of the founders of the United States of America. Deists believe only in a god who created the universe, and in doing so became removed and uninterested from the creation. That’s not a judging God.
Gene Robinson is asking for diversity and understanding, but he isn’t even providing understanding himself. Instead, Gene Robinson, just like Rick Warren, has decided to use the power of the President of the United States to try to promote his own career. Gene Robinson has bought into the corrupt and unconstitutional system of power which says that religious Americans deserve perks and privileges from the President that non-religious Americans are not entitled to.
From the beginning of the presidential campaign, through this Inauguration, the awkward and ignorant intrusion of religion into America’s civic life has been a divisive force. The religious leaders who have been hanging on as camp followers of Barack Obama and the other presidential candidates of 2008 have tarnished an opportunity to find truly common ground.
If Barack Obama really wanted to bring Americans together, he send these opportunists packing, and take a neutral ground as a President for all Americans, regardless of religious belief. Sadly, Obama is more interested in using religion as a tool for maneuvering for political advantage.