Chelsea Clinton vs. Rick Warren on Marriage Equality

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Chelsea Clinton  Photo: Chelsea Clinton/FB Page

NBC Special Correspondent Chelsea Clinton
Photo: Chelsea Clinton/FB Page

By: Lisa Keen/Keen News Service–

California evangelist preacher Rick Warren hasn’t changed much in four years and neither, apparently, have the questions he’s asked by reporters. In a recent interview with NBC special correspondent Chelsea Clinton, Warren complained about that when former President Bill Clinton’s daughter asked him to explain his opposition to marriage for same-sex couples.

Four years ago, Warren grabbed widespread media attention when then President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration committee gave the head of the national spotlight to deliver the invocation at the inauguration ceremony. As founder and head of the mammoth Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, Warren put his weight behind Proposition 8. LGBT groups were furious over the invitation and some LGBT commentators suggested it was a major sign of trouble with the new president.

In an interview for the December 21 installment of the NBC news magazine program Rock Center with Brian Williams, Clinton repeatedly pressed Warren to explain why he could not accept the right of same-sex couples to marry.

“This is the question every single journalist asks – every single journalist asks,” said Warren. “It’s like the hidden agenda.”

The statement was clearly intended to throw Clinton off-guard and to become defensive, but she held her own and came back at him.

“It’s not a hidden agenda,” she said, “but, in a year in which we had equal marriage in different ways on the ballot and, now, after those votes, there are equal marriage rights in nine out of our 50 states, and a majority of Americans now said, in 2012, ‘We as a country support equal marriage, largely’ — It’s why people keep asking you.”

Warren tried again to deflect the question, this time by implying it was a question whose answer was obvious.

“What do you expect a Christian pastor to answer? ‘I don’t believe the Bible anymore’?” asked Warren, staring at her and clearly trying to turn the tables.

“No,” said Clinton, “but you can say the Bible has one place in life and the state has a different place.”

Warren talked all around the topic and, when pressed, insinuated Clinton had failed to do her homework was simply parroting other journalists.

“What I say, in multiple interviews, is everybody has a source of authority,” said Warren. “…I have chosen as my source of authority the Bible. I believe it is God’s word. I believe it is true … Some people — their source of authority is popular opinion, whatever’s popular. Some people have majority rule …

“If I went out and I said, ‘Everybody ought to be baptized. The entire nation ought to be baptized. And you should all accept baptism.’ If you said to me, ‘Rick, I don’t agree with that,’ I can’t say, ‘Well, then, you hate me.’ I can’t say, ‘Well, then, you’re afraid of me.’ You just disagree with me.”

But then Clinton, who was hired by the NBC show last year as a “special correspondent,” revealed that she or somebody on the program had done some homework.

“I think one of the reasons so many people keep asking you about equal marriage,” she said, “is that marriage historically in America has been both the province of religion and the province of the state.” She asked him whether government has the right to extend the right to marriage to gay couples.

“We’re in a democracy, Chelsea, so nobody wins all the time,” said Warren, glancing up with a strained smile. “Gay marriage might become the rule someday. That doesn’t mean I think it’s right.”

© 2012 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.