Rick Warren Coverage — Media Matters Set the Record Straight

January 21st, 2009

Reporting on Warren’s invocation, NY Times repeatedly ignored his comparison of same-sex marriage to incest, pedophilia, polygamy

Summary: In separate articles, The New York Times mischaracterized opposition to the selection of Rev. Rick Warren to deliver the inaugural invocation as a function solely of Warren’s opposition to same-sex marriage or same-sex marriage and abortion. In fact, Warren has compared same-sex marriage to incest, pedophilia, and polygamy.

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In January 19 and January 20 articles, The New York Times mischaracterized opposition to the selection of Rev. Rick Warren to deliver the inaugural invocation as a function solely of Warren’s opposition to same-sex marriage or same-sex marriage and abortion. Neither article noted that Warren has compared same-sex marriage to incest, pedophilia, and polygamy. By contrast, a January 21 Boston Globe article about Warren’s invocation noted Warren “compared gay relationships to incest and polygamy,” and a January 21 Los Angeles Times editorial about same-sex marriage noted that Warren “has infuriated many by equating homosexual unions with incest, child molestation and polygamy.”

Similarly, a January 20 USA Today
article about the invocation delivered by “[c]ontroversial evangelical pastor Rick Warren” reported that he “has been excoriated for weeks by gay rights activists outraged that a leading opponent of gay marriage had been offered a national podium by Obama” but did not note Warren’s comments.

As Media Matters for America has
noted, in a Beliefnet.com interview, Warren compared same-sex marriage to “having a brother and sister being together and calling that marriage … an older guy marrying a child and calling that marriage [or] … one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage.”

From the January 20 Times
article, headlined “Few Protesters at Inauguration”:

Some advocates of gay rights booed when the Rev. Rick Warren of California’s Saddleback Church delivered the invocation. Mr. Warren, one of the nation’s best-known evangelical preachers, opposes gay marriage. He spoke at Mr. Obama’s invitation. About 100 people rallied outside his church in Lake Forest, Calif., on Monday to protest his inclusion in the inaugural ceremonies.

From the January 19 Times article, headlined “Transition Holds Clues to How Obama Will Govern”:
Mr. Obama opted not to play it safe during the transition. He brought his Democratic rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton, into the cabinet, and angered gay and liberal supporters by inviting the Rev. Rick Warren, an opponent of abortion and same-sex marriage, to give the inaugural invocation. Although Mr. Obama deferred foreign affairs with his “one president at a time” rule, that did not apply to domestic policy, where he lobbied Congress to release $350 billion in financial bailout money and set about negotiating roughly $800 billion in spending programs and tax breaks.

From the January 20 USA Today article:

Controversial evangelical pastor Rick Warren opened Barack Obama’s inaugural ceremony Tuesday by touching on the two greatest prayers in Judaism and Christianity and asking God to grace the nation with clarity, responsibility and civility, “even when we differ.”
Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., has been excoriated for weeks by gay rights activists outraged that a leading opponent of gay marriage had been offered a national podium by Obama.
—A.J.W.

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