On January 11, selected African American clergy from around the nation received a flattering and enticing form email and offer from Rev. Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church. The email offer celebrated a specific sermon of theirs he had read in the African American Pulpit, praised them for their insights, and then requested their input into the sermon he was preparing as the “first white pastor to preach” at the Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration at Ebenezer Baptist Church.
This is the same Warren who has yet to respond to a letter from an interfaith group of clergy on racism in America, sent in July 2008.
This is the same Warren who is in need of some public legitimacy and affirmation from the African American faith community and others, because of what his record and words said he believed in, before the Obama presidential election. Now that we are in the Post-Obama presidential election era, the chameleon is in a constant state of change as he calls for support to fulfill his ministry of reconciliation.
And the net has been cast to see how many African American clergy can be caught for the journey.
Forget the part about truth, confession and contrition. It’s just time to move on to the post-racial era.
Forget about the data on what’s really happening in African American and poor communities across the nation. If it’s not on CNN, it did not happen. Well, it’s almost like the post-Emancipation jubilee; after all the inaugural celebration is done, African American spokespersons, especially clergy, will again be at the crossroad of choice. Will they serve the interests of powers and principalities or will they hear and respond to the cries of the people?
Oh, by the way, Pastor Warren, for the record, you are not the first white pastor to preach the Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration at Ebenezer. But, perhaps truth does not matter.
Dr. Iva E. Carruthers
General Secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Inc.
Founder and Director of Lois House, an urban retreat center,
Trustee for the Chicago Theological Seminary
January 15, 2009