Activist Criticizes Warren, Reveals Christian Right's Fear

A conservative activist revealed the Christian Right's fear in the alliance between megapastor Rick Warren and President-elect Barack Obama in a column Monday that criticizes Warren for accepting the invitation to give the invocation at Obama's inauguration.

In her syndicated Scripps Howard column, Star Parker criticized Warren for giving Obama - who she emphasizes is pro-abortion rights and pro-gay rights - legitimacy among evangelicals.

Recalling the Saddleback Civil Forum last August, Parker accused the California pastor of contributing to the "moral ambiguity" crisis in America.

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"Only Barack Obama would gain, I felt, being showcased as an acceptable candidate by one of the nation's best-known evangelical pastors," she wrote regarding her feelings about the evangelical forum with the then presidential candidates.

"In retrospect, I cannot prove that I was right," she reflected. "But I think the evidence powerfully supports my claim."

Obama, Parker noted, gained five percentage points more than 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry among evangelicals. The five percentage points translate to a third of Obama's winning vote margin over Republican rival John McCain, she highlighted.

"Sure, the Saddleback Forum alone does not explain this shift," she acknowledges. "But the legitimacy Obama gained that night certainly didn't hurt."

Parker is a noted African-American spokesperson for conservative causes. During speaking engagements, she often shares about her troubled past, which includes four abortions, being arrested for shoplifting in her teens, and living off welfare as an unemployed mother.

She later became a devoted Christian and has become an outspoken critic of the welfare system and of abortion.

The activist has spoken several times at the annual conservative Value Voters Summit hosted by Washington-based Family Research Council. Parker is founder and president of the Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education (CURE), which seeks to encourage national dialogue on issues of race and poverty.

In her new column critical of Warren, Parker listed statistics on the shift among young evangelical voters toward Democrat Barack Obama despite their objection to abortion. She noted a 2007 Pew Research report that found young white evangelicals are significantly less likely than their predecessors to identify with the Republican Party.

Young evangelicals also break with older evangelicals when it comes to the issue of same-sex marriage. Nearly three times as many young evangelicals, age 18-29 years old, say they support same-sex marriage (26 percent) compared to those over 30 (9 percent), according to the survey by Greenburg Quinlan Rosner Research.

Parker's attention to statistics on young evangelicals shifting away from the Republican Party and its key values in her column suggests she and other Republicans are fearful that the Warren-Obama relationship will break loose the GOP's grip on evangelical voters.

She rejects the idea of the invocation invitation being an "olive branch to conservative evangelicals," as the New York Times views it.

"An olive branch? Warren helped get Obama elected and our president-elect understands that there is still evangelical gold to be mind in the pastor from Saddleback Church," she wrote.

Following Obama's announcement last month of his choosing Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration, both he and Warren came under fire from liberals and conservatives for their partnership. But both have publicly stated that they want to show America that people with opposing views can have a civil relationship.

In a video message to Saddleback Community Church, Rick Warren said he believes America is being destroyed by "the demonization of differences."

Instead of focusing on his opposition to gay marriage and Obama's support for gay rights, the media should see the real story is "that a couple of different American leaders have chosen to model civility for the rest of he nation and that Barack Obama and Rick Warren have decided to try to create a new politic that says 'we can disagree without being disagreeable; we can walk hand in hand without seeing eye to eye; we can have unity in our nation without uniformity; and we can have collaboration for the best of America."

Warren said he and Obama hope that their cooperation will "bring America into a new day of civil discourse."

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