I (sort of) understand why the inauguration of the President of the United States begins with a prayer. Ninety-two percent of Americans believe in a God of some form, and while I do not include myself in that overwhelming majority, I do recognize that prayers comfort people and I am happy when those around me are comforted. Like when old people watch Regis and when young people eat Happy Meals.
Inaugural invocations are generally palatable for even the most fervent atheists. A generic God is humbly asked to bring peace and civility to an imperfect world and to protect the man who has been called upon to protect an entire nation. You'd have to be a real asshole to get in the way of that.
And yet...Reverend Rick Warren made me feel like a real asshole yesterday. And not just because he recently compared my desire to get gay married to that of an incestuous, polygamous, pedophile.
No, really, he did:
"...I'm opposed to the redefinition of a five-thousand-year definition of marriage. I'm opposed to having a brother and sister be together and call that marriage. I'm opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that a marriage. I'm opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage."
That's some good, moral shit there, Reverend Rick.
But no, that's not what made me feel like a real asshole yesterday. I felt like a real asshole yesterday because I couldn't unabashedly celebrate Barack Obama's inauguration, and I desperately wanted to do so. I could not do so because Reverend Rick seemed to be praying for everyone except me.
"We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled possibility..." unless you are gay and want to get married.
"Give to our new president, Barack Obama, the wisdom to lead us with humility, the courage to lead us with integrity, the compassion to lead us with generosity..." as long as that humility, integrity, and generosity is not bestowed upon homosexuals who want to get married.
"Help us, oh God, to remember that we are Americans, united not by race or religion or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all..." Did I say 'all'? Shit. I didn't mean 'all' at all. I meant 'justice for all who play by the silly, ever-changing, fantastical, archaic rules to which I subscribe.'
No, I am not overreacting.
The "Word of God" continues to drench every facet of American government. The "Word of God" has ostracized entire demographics of devoted citizens, including me. "The Word of God" continues to justify Islamic extremists' insistence that we are currently engaged in a "holy war." (How else is the inaugural recitation of the Lord's Prayer to be received in rural Afghan villages?)
If our new president is truly devoted to change, he will separate, once and for all, the sloppy, congealed mess that is Church and State. He will allow us to shed unsolicited religious ideology which suffocates us like a dirty, wet t-shirt -- unjustly emphasizing imaginary inadequacies and insufficiencies.
Let goodness and morality and kindness be pursued here and now, be enjoyed here and now, be loved here in now, be rewarded here and now - rather than in some far-off, unknown, other-wordly chamber.
Only then will Reverend Rick's prayer "to share, to serve and to seek the common good of all" be adequately answered.