This posting has been submitted to the Blog Against Theocracy blogswarm.
Regardless of the corporate media's lost interest in the involvement of Rick Warren in the inauguration of President Obama, the issue is still quite important. No matter how hard he tries to put a mainstream facade on his religious extremism as is the habit of Orange County, CA fundamentalists, Warren's real agenda hasn't changed.
In a previous posting, I ran this YouTube video of Warren preaching to his flock in a stadium. There, he asked them to emulate the behavior of followers of Hitler and Lenin. He then had his worshipers hold up sign saying the chant, "Whatever It Takes."
He claimed to have built a network of 400,000 churches for his "revolution." The video includes a transcript.
When you listen to Warren's speech, it is obvious that he wants to be in charge of a theocratic revolution. Do you want to live under such a regime?
Warren had way too much clout even before Obama and McCain shamelessly pandered to him during the 2008 presidential election. The Nation ran an expose of the favoritism Warren has been getting from Congress.
The California megachurch minister and opponent of gay marriage who will deliver the invocation at Barack Obama's inauguration had his income tax returns audited in 1996. When the IRS tried to collect the taxes it claimed he owed, Warren went to court. Congress then passed a law granting Warren's tax deduction, pre-empting the US Court of Appeals from even taking up the case against him. The votes in the House and Senate were unanimous.
The IRS permits members of the clergy to claim exemptions for their housing. At the time of Warren's audit the amount claimed had to be "reasonable"--it shouldn't exceed the fair market value for the rental of the home. That 1996 audit concluded that Warren was deducting more than that--the IRS said he owed it $55,300. Warren challenged the IRS in tax court, arguing that his housing exemption should be unlimited.
The facts were simple: in 1993 Warren deducted $77,663, his entire Saddleback Church salary that year, as a housing expense--and paid no taxes at all on that salary. In addition, he claimed a deduction for his mortgage expenses--even though they had been covered by the salary. He made similar claims in subsequent tax returns.
Warren is an incredibly powerful man with a dangerous agenda. His speech at the inauguration have made him even more prominent and politically powerful. Warren's efforts to create a relatively harmless public image cannot be taken seriously by anyone who cares about state/church separations or the consequences of theocracy for queers, women, and non-Christians.