What Was Up with Rick Warren’s Surprise Visit to West Hollywood?

Rick Warren, the right-wing meg-achurch preacher from Orange County, Calif., who is set to give the invocation at Barack Obama’s inauguration next month, made a surprise visit last week to a thrift store in the heart of West Hollywood, southern California’s gay Mecca, that left a lot of us locals scratching our heads.
Obama’s invitation has catapulted Warren to fame. In just three short weeks, he has become the most famous conservative in California, bar none.
The store, which is a branch of a locally famous chain called Out of the Closet, a non-profit that benefits HIV services, is on Santa Monica Blvd., about three blocks from Pensito Review’s West Coast office. I did not find out about Warren’s appearance there until later, which is probably a good thing because Out of the Closet sells shoes.

TMZ, the television and internet gossip network that is also based nearby on the Sunset Strip, had an exclusive report on the visit, including a photo of Warren with the thrift store manager, Erol Sarabi, that was apparently taken on a cell phone:

[Warren] bought 8 to 10 books, two of which were his own (that doesn’t help with his Amazon ranking). Warren told Sarabi not to believe everything he reads, that he does a lot for AIDS research and was happy that Out of the Closet does free AIDS testing…

By the way, Warren gave a signed copy of his book to Sarabi. The inscription from the Bible, Proverbs 19:21: “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

What Warren was up to here is a bit hard to suss out. Out of the Closet is hardly a gathering place in West Hollywood — thrift stores are not usually hangouts — so if his intent was to make a show of his support for the gays, he would have done better by stopping next door at the Gold Coast, a bar catering to older gentlemen his age, including especially those with his body type.

And there’s something hamfisted about the incident. What Warren seems to have been communicating was, yes, I believe your marriages are equivalent to incest and pedophilia and will do everything in my power to stop you from achieving happiness in marriage, but if you contract a life-threatening virus, the message is, I care.

He seems to have had a small entourage with him, but it is unclear who took the snapshot of him and Sarabi. If he was seeking publicity, he did a piss-poor job. If he was not seeking headlines, then WTF?

Obama’s invitation has catapulted Warren to fame — as I’ve noted elsewhere, in just three short weeks, he has become the most famous conservative in California, bar none. But as he’s been over-exposed hereabouts something rather unexpected has been revealed about Rick Warren. He is a dumbass. We’re talking George Bush-Sarah Palin stupid. Listening to him speak extemporaneously prompts one to wonder if it’s possible that he wrote his mega-selling self-help book himself.

Whatever Warren’s objective was on his adventure in Gay Town, it did not work. There is not now, nor will there ever be, any love for Rick Warren in what the media calls the gay community.

In an interview with CBS News (see video above) about the visit, Out of the Closet’s manager Erol Sarabi spoke for millions of Californians and gay Americans:

“I can’t understand why [President-elect Obama] would pick somebody who would spew hate, spew homophobia,” he said.

Amen.

3 Comments

  • burndtdan
    December 30, 2008 - 1:05 pm | Permalink

    “What Warren seems to have been communicating was, yes, I believe your marriages are equivalent to incest and pedophilia and will do everything in my power to stop you from achieving happiness in marriage, but if you contract a life-threatening virus, the message is, I care.”

    considering the number of prominent evangelicals that would convey the message “i will do everything in my power to stop you from achieving happiness in marriage, and if you contract a life-threatening virus, then you deserved it. god hates you. oh and you caused katrina and 9/11″…

    considering them, i don’t see why you insist on finding fault with him saying he cares at least somewhat.

    to me, that says that his problem with gay marriage is with the word marriage, not with the gays. if he didn’t view gays as human beings, why would he care about their physical well-being? which seems to say that his problem with gay marriage is more along the lines of a desire to keep tradition.

    that desire might be faulty. it might be ill-considered. it might be downright stupid. but it seems to me that people are trying to make it worse than it is.

  • December 30, 2008 - 2:13 pm | Permalink

    There goes the neighborhood!

  • December 31, 2008 - 6:32 am | Permalink

    But burndtdan, if Warren’s rationale is likely faulty, ill-considered and downright stupid, why on earth should we respect it? And if we based our marriage laws on “tradition,” wouldn’t women still be property for barter and inter-racial marriage still be illegal?

    The fact is Warren sits on top of a multi-million dollar empire, much of which is derived from fanning the flames of gay hatred. We don’t need to reach out to him, he needs to exposed as a bigot who hides behind the Bible.

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