The so-called “controversy” over Pastor Rick Warren’s invitation for Senator Barack Obama to join Senator Brownback and others at a church sponsored summit on HIV/AIDS Conference concerns me. It seems to me that liberals are much more unified in their public views than conservatives these days. Once again our attempts at internal, conservative self-policing have become public news. Warren’s attempt to solve one of the world’s most troubling health problems should have been applauded by everyone.
During the last few years, I personally have felt the sting of this kind of criticism. I have a heart to bring white evangelical leaders into a working coalition with black church leaders. Yet, as I have spoken with some civil rights leaders, I have been labeled as an “Uncle Tom” because I have interacted with the Bush White House. On the other hand, some conservatives have wondered about me because I have spoken on the same panel with Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan, and others.
Warren’s gesture of inviting politicians from both parties to speak at his summit makes sense to me. This may be the beginning of a new dialogue between evangelicals and the Democratic Party. We have to view the moves that men like Warren make as evangelistic in nature. Warren has a moral agenda that should embraced by every human on the planet, at the same time he never ceases attempting to win souls and to present his message to new audiences.
I believe that Warren’s decision to have Obama speak at his conference is a response to the unanswered questions from November 2006: “What should Bible believing Christians do about the last election?” “How should we feel about the way we were stereotyped by both the press and the major parties?” Many of us are still confused about what happened; while other Christians seemingly write off the fact the nation is in a major transition.
The results produce a variety of conclusions. The most obvious one is that Americans are desperate for a change. Further, they are tired of double dealing, hypocritical politicians of all parties, genders, and races. Just like George W. Bush’s victory of two years ago, the Democrats are claiming a mandate that may not really exist. Fifteen races in the House of Representatives were decided by less than 5,000 votes. In addition, Jim Webb’s Senate victory, which determined that house’s majority, was won by only 9,000 votes. To call these victories a “mandate” is more than exaggeration. It verges on the insane.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.