Rick Warren: Evil Genius

Breakdown album coverImage via WikipediaThe Net has been abuzz with Melissa Etheridge's comments about the Rick Warren Problem. It seems that Melissa was promoting her new Christmas album and ran into Warren at an event yesterday. He graciously agreed to meet with her for a bit to talk about the bruhaha over the inaugural invocation.

According to Melissa she was suitably impressed with what a nice guy he actually was:

On the day of the conference I received a call from Pastor Rick, and before I could say anything, he told me what a fan he was. He had most of my albums from the very first one. What? This didn't sound like a gay hater, much less a preacher. He explained in very thoughtful words that as a Christian he believed in equal rights for everyone. He believed every loving relationship should have equal protection. He struggled with proposition 8 because he didn't want to see marriage redefined as anything other than between a man and a woman. He said he regretted his choice of words in his video message to his congregation about proposition 8 when he mentioned pedophiles and those who commit incest. He said that in no way, is that how he thought about gays. He invited me to his church, I invited him to my home to meet my wife and kids. He told me of his wife's struggle with breast cancer just a year before mine.

When we met later that night, he entered the room with open arms and an open heart. We agreed to build bridges to the future. (Huffington Post)

Heartwarming isn't it? Melissa goes on to chastise her "brothers and sisters" for our uproar over Warren being invited to deliver the keynote prayer for Obama's historic inauguration. She calls on us to "Maybe instead of marching on his church, we can show up en mass and volunteer for one of the many organizations affiliated with his church that work for HIV/AIDS causes all around the world."

In other words, in those few brief minutes Rick Warren managed to convince Melissa Etheridge that everything he'd said, everything he'd written had all been a big mistake and misunderstanding. Somehow, in those brief moments he even managed to erase from her mind the fact that he and his church were the backbone of the Prop 8 campaign. What's even more amazing is he managed to convince her to use her celebrity status to preach to the rest of us that we should drop our opposition to him, his church and his policies and instead sit down and shut up - or even more amazingly give our time and money to support him, his church, and its "social programs" that still include conversion therapy!

Immediately, the appeasement and assimilation crowd cheered Melissa's conversion. Her message was hailed as "beautiful" and "inspiring" and those who expressed doubts or concern over her new found faith in the Religious Right were shouted down as agitators and "hatemongers" - exactly the same talking points that Warren would use only hours after his meeting to reach out to his own supporters - about LGBT people.

Yes, while Melissa Etheridge was basking in the glow of her audience with the Pentacostal Pope he was hard at work crafting a new attack on LGBT people to put on his website. In his new attack he has his Associate Pastor deliver the invective against LGBT people in a new webcast. Warren himself takes to the Internet not to own up to his own missteps as Melissa claims he did in their private meeting, but to blame everyone but himself for the trouble.

In the hours after their "meeting of the minds" and "bridge-building" Warren did not call up the lawyers paid in part by his church and ask they withdraw their motion to invalidate Etheridge's own marriage. He did not issue a statment to his church asking them to put their money behind a new measure to create Civil Unions even if he can't quite stomach "homosexual marriage." No, he did none of those things. What he did was continue his past pattern of behavior behind the scenes while using Melissa Etheridge as his shill and posing with a gay worker at an AIDS charity thrift store.

In other words, Warren is an evil genius. Like the best cult leaders he managed to sway a very bright and smart woman's long standing opinions in mere minutes. He completely broke down her defenses and all but converted her to his belief system by playing to the "common ground" of peace and service that she holds dear.

The man is smart, I'll give him that. If there were ever a stronger argument that anyone can be susceptible to a cult it would be the way he manipulated such a brilliant artist as Melissa Etheridge in an evening.

That, is truly scary and I wonder how long it might be if Melissa remains his "friend" before she will have thrown Tammy aside and entered Rev. Warren's own Conversion Therapy program.

PS: If you need any confirmation how bizarre things have become, Andrew Sullivan that self-hating GOP/War hawk Queen thinks Melissa's conversion is just peachy keen!

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