Religious Right, “Heartened” by Warren Pick, Accuses Us of Trying to Silence the Church

David Brody posts this statement from Tony Perkins, proclaiming himself heartened by Barack Obama’s decision to have Rick Warren deliver the invocation during his unpcoming inauguration:

I’m heartened by his choice of one of America’s leading evangelical pastors who is pro-life and pro-marriage for this honor. It was magnanimous of Obama, in light of the fact that his debate with John McCain at Warren’s church in August was one of the high points of the campaign for McCain. (This was the event where Warren asked, When does life begin? and Obama replied that the question is above my pay grade.) Warren has distanced himself from the religious right by emphasizing issues more popular with liberals, such as AIDS relief and global warming. But he has also been consistent in his support for the unborn and for the natural definition of marriage, and late in the campaign Warren did endorse California’s marriage amendment, Proposition 8 (which Obama opposed).

Perkins then goes on to cite our opposition to this decision, as well as the opposition from the Human Rights Campaign, which he sees as proof that we are trying to silence the church: 

Joe’s desire to exclude Pastor Warren from the inaugural, based upon his religious convictions, proves the concerns over the homosexual desire to silence the Church. Let’s hope that Rick Warren will use his channel of communication to the new President to press him for more pro-family policies*rather than simply being used by Mr. Obama to make political inroads with evangelicals.

Focus on the Family is pleased as well:

“It’s nice to see a conservative evangelical pastor play such a prominent role in such an important event,” said Tom Minnery, a senior vice president at Focus on the Family, which has fiercely criticized Obama over his support for abortion rights and other issues. “I think what it does is it underscores the importance of evangelicalism in the country.”

If the goal here was to excite the Religious Right and allow them to play the victim while angering the progressive base, then mission accomplished.  But that is probably not a particularly good strategy since, as Michelle Goldberg notes: “insulting your supporters to win the support of your opponents is no way to build unity.”