Prayers and protests, inauguration style

carter-inauguration-largeSitting in my house a few blocks from the Capitol, I've heard sirens blaring for days. Parking is difficult to find. The bridges are closed. Many of my friends have fled to Miami for the week. The mainstream media, which gave fawning coverage to President-elect Barack Obama throughout his campaign for president, is continuing with the love fest. I became a reporter during the George W. Bush presidency so the difference is notable. But reporters on the Godbeat are doing rather well, giving in-depth coverage to one of the more interesting angles of the inauguration.

Yesterday we discussed Bishop Gene Robinson's prayer. Throughout the day, some folks were outraged that HBO hadn't aired the prayer. The Presidential Inauguration Committee issued a couple of statements about the matter.

The New York Times provides an update:

Bishop V. Gene Robinson's invocation at Sunday's "We Are One" inaugural event will be included in future repeats of the telecast on HBO, the premium cable channel, executives at the channel said Monday. HBO was criticized for not televising the appearance by the Episcopal bishop, who is openly gay.

It was the presidential inaugural committee, not HBO, who took responsibility for the perceived slight on Monday, issuing a statement saying that it had always intended for the bishop's invocation to be included in the telecast and that the omission was an oversight. The inaugural committee scheduled the opening event at the Lincoln Memorial, and HBO purchased the exclusive rights to broadcast it.

Sister-of-the-blog Sarah Pulliam at Christianity Today got major linkage all over the place due to her transcription of the actual prayer as well as some great video to boot.

The Rev. Rick Warren will be offering the benediction at the inauguration. But for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, he was preaching at Ebenezer Baptist in Atlanta. The Atlanta Journal Constitution had a solid write-up of the event:

Conservative pastor Rick Warren spoke to a packed house for the annual King Day service at Ebenezer Baptist Church on Monday, as the upcoming inauguration of the nation's first African-American president lent special significance to the event.

Warren, who will also speak at President-elect Barack Obama's swearing-in on Tuesday, took the podium more than 2 1/2 hours into the service, saying, "This means more to me" than giving the inauguration prayer.

He praised Martin Luther King Jr. as both a model pastor and a heroic civil rights leader.

But Warren's appearance also drew protesters who were angered that event planners invited an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage.

Several dozen gay activists gathered outside Ebenezer before the service. Two protestors made their way inside and rose to shout at Warren when he began speaking; they were escorted out to applause from many in the crowd.

Chicago Tribune religion writer Manya Brachear had some more details on the event.

We'll be sure to have more on coverage of the inaugural prayers. Will Warren be chastised for praying as a Christian (or, as Amy Sullivan at Time calls it, "if Rick Warren gets preachy when he prays," God forbid).

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