Should Rick Warren’s inaugural prayer include Jesus Christ?

It seems that the Rick Warren debate is not solely about his stance on same-sex marriage.  Now there are many nervous and distraught over whether or not Warren will pray a decidedly Christian prayer during the Presidential inauguration.  By praying “in Jesus’ name”, many feel that Warren will be crossing the line of Separation of Church and State.  It seems like this is a common theme from those who do not like Christianity.  You can read a full article on this debate at the link below.

To me, it seems odd to ask a known Christian pastor to pray in a non-Christian manner.  It seems like the U.S. has a similar political atmosphere as 1st and 2nd century Rome.  Rome was open to religion and gods.  They made sure to build shrines and temples to as many as possible so they could be sure to have the gods on their side.  However, when the early Christians started making claims that there was only one true God and it was theirs, it was not well received.  It led to persecution and martyrdom for many.

It seems like many in the U.S. are now happy to accept any religion except Christianity.  What do you think?  How  do you think Warren should pray?  Do you think that Christianity’s claim of being the one true religion and way to God is the reason so many are opposed to Christianity?

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10 Responses to Should Rick Warren’s inaugural prayer include Jesus Christ?

  1. Dave says:

    I hope Warren prays “in Jesus name”. Not for the sake of religious tradition, but for the sake of personal integrity.

    He wasn’t invited as an agnostic-middle-of-the-road mouthpiece, but as an influential person who has been making a difference in people’s lives.

    I think to be true to who he was, he wouldn’t be watering things down for the sake of political correctness, he would be the person that brought him into the spotlight he is in.

  2. myhumanwrites says:

    Interesting post. I personally think any type of prayer (unless it’s frankly just a statement of hope with no mention of God or request for grace or permission, or whatever) at a government function is a violation of secularism, which may be a moot point given the circumstances at this point. However, I actually don’t think there is an opposition to Christianity at all. It’s an opposition to Christianity, or any other religion, in government. Christianity happens to be at the forefront of this issue because many of the religious-based policy issues use the New Testament as support for that point of view. Does that make sense in a country like the United States? Absolutely not, given that it alienates 20% of the US population. That’s 1/5 of the entire country whose beliefs are being completely marginalized when politics based off the Bible are at the forefront of social issues. So, no, I don’t think the country is opposed to Christianity, just opposed to it’s dominance in the politics of a legally secular country.

  3. Tim Farley says:


    Thanks for your comment. I agree. Warren’s integrity is at stake in the eyes of many of those who have been faithfully reading his books and/or attending his church over the years.


    If praying to a specific god is a violation of “legal secularism”, why would praying to an unnamed god be any better? This is still an acknowledgment of the Divine. This violates the beliefs of those who want absolutely no mention of a god at all. Also, I do not believe we are a “legally secular” country, but a “legally pluralistic” country. All beliefs are allowed, not only non-religious. To deny people the freedom of religion (in every area of life) is to deny them their 1st Amendment rights.

  4. myhumanwrites says:

    Perhaps my statement was poorly worded. In no way do I believe that the freedom of religion should ever be denied. However, I do believe our government is set up constitutionally to be a completely secular country, which means complete separation of church and state. I also think that at the same time this allows for a pluralistic society. Freedom of religion should always be protected and exercised, but I don’t think it has any place in official government ceremonies or legislation, both of which are not cases of individual rights but representations of, as you said, a pluralistic society. Perhaps the simplest, albeit not the most comprehensive, example of my personal argument is the upcoming inauguration and the statement “So help me God” inserted into the presidential oath–a statement that is not part of the original oath as written in the Constitution. In this situation, the chief justice delivering the oath does not have a right to insert that phrase into the oath because his role there is not as an individual practicing his rights, but rather as a representative of the diverse government of the US. On the other hand, Obama does have the right to make such a mention if he so chooses because it is his personal oath–he is swearing himself to abide by the oath he is taking, and he is doing that as an individual, not as a representative for the entire country at that one moment. I hope that better explains my view on this issue.

    In regards to your first statement about praying to an unnamed god being any better, well, as I stated above, what I would consider more appropriate for the US would not in fact be a prayer, but perhaps a statement of purpose and introduction, invoking the will of the people of the US rather than any deity.

  5. myhumanwrites says:

    By the way, just wanted to mention that this is a great blog. Thank you for creating a forum for constructive discussions like this.

  6. Tim Farley says:


    Thank you for clarifying your thoughts. I think I agree with you for the most part. I agree that the U.S. government should not take an “official” position in regards to religion. I also agree that individuals should be free to practice their religion even in the political arena. I am not sure that Rick Warren praying a specifically Christian prayer should be considered a violation. Is he a representative of the U.S. or is he there as an individual who has the flexibility to exercise his personal religious freedom?

    Thank you for your compliment pertaining to my blog. It has been very beneficial to me as I seek to think through the different issues I have raised here. I hope it is a benefit to others as well.

  7. Jon_York says:

    “Prayers are not to be sermons, speeches, position statements nor political posturing. They are humble, personal appeals to God,” Warren wrote. His spokesman would not elaborate.

    Barack has lost his extremist’s support in this decision to invite Pastor Warren. This is a good thing.

    The fear of the name of Jesus is telling.

    Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

  8. jonyork1958 says:

    Should Rick Warren’s inaugural prayer include Jesus Christ?


  9. I think Jesus would be deeply offended if Rick Warren included His Name in the prayer.

    The Christian Right resemble Christ-like thoughts and actions as much as a shoe horn resembles a musical instrument.

    Obama should have stuck with the Christian Left, and representatives of OTHER religions.

  10. Tim Farley says:


    “I think Jesus would be deeply offended if Rick Warren included His Name in the prayer”

    What is your reason for thinking this is the case? I believe Jesus would be more likely to approve of Rick Warren using His name in prayers than of your promotion of illegal activities to make a political point. If you read Matthew 22:15-22, Jesus specifically addresses paying taxes to the government, even when the government is not your “friend”, which was definitely the case for Jews in the 1st Century Roman Empire.

    Stop promoting illegal tax evasion so you can have a voice in the debate.

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