Inaugural Pastor: The Two Faces of Rick Warren
Rick Warren has spent his entire career building a reputation as an Evangelical who doesn't cause the kind of outrage and protests that have greeted his selection to deliver the invocation at Barack Obama's Inauguration.
Warren wasn't a polemicist like Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson; he was the one who talked about a loving Jesus, who promised that God had a purpose for your life. "Pastor Rick" took on progressive causes like third-world poverty and sex trafficking and implored evangelicals to care about HIV/AIDS. Both Obama and John McCain were comfortable enough with Warren that they agreed to join him for a presidential forum at his Saddleback Church in Orange County, California.
But there has always been the other Rick Warren, who sounds for all the world like the new leader of the Religious Right. The one who proclaimed a week before the 2004 election that the five "non-negotiable issues" for Christian voters were abortion, gay marriage, human cloning, euthanasia and stem-cell research. The one who bragged about taking Obama and other Democrats to task over abortion but said he "didn't have the opportunity" to ever talk with George W. Bush about his opposition to torture. (See TIME's Cover Story "The Global Ambition of Rick Warren)
In short, Warren wants to be both the universally admired pastor who speaks to the nation and the influential leader who mobilizes religious conservatives for political ends. But those are two inherently conflicting roles, and he cannot be both, no matter how hard he tries.