UPDATE: Courage Campaign issued the following press release:
Courage Campaign Renews Debate Challenge to Rev. Rick Warren on Prop. 8, Marriage Equality
Previous Invitations for Public Forum Have Gone Unanswered by Saddleback Church
LOS ANGELES -Renewing the call of more than 25,000 Californians, the Reverend Eric Lee, President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) of Greater Los Angeles, today urged the Reverend Rick Warren, Senior Pastor at Saddleback Church in Orange County, to accept the Courage Campaign's invitation to debate his views on Proposition 8 and marriage equality.
"As a result of your strong public stand on same-sex marriage, we as clergy and spiritual leaders are obligated to present the issues surrounding same-sex marriage to the people of this state, many of whom are gay and lesbian," wrote Rev. Lee in the letter to rev. Warren. "We are responsible for healing, for building bridges, for creating community, and not for dividing."
The Reverend Rick Warren was chosen by President-elect Barack Obama to deliver the invocation to the inaugural, an event expected to be viewed by millions nationwide.
In an effort to give Warren an opportunity to explain his views on marriage equality, the Courage Campaign invited him to a public debate on same-sex marriage with Reverend Eric Lee, President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) of Greater Los Angeles. The invitation was signed by more than 25,000 Courage Campaign members and delivered in person on Christmas Eve to Warren's church in Orange County.
The invitation stated "As Americans who believe in equal rights for all, we would like to invite you to a debate about Proposition 8 and same-sex marriage... While we strongly disagree with your views, we also strongly believe that your views must be debated in a public forum."
The invitation has not gotten a response.
"While President-elect Obama has chosen to ignore the troubling beliefs of the man who will spiritually usher in his presidency, Californians cannot and should not ignore Rick Warren," said Rick Jacobs, founder and chair of the Courage Campaign. "We cannot ignore Rick Warren's fervent support for Proposition 8 or his mobilization of thousands of Saddleback Church evangelical Christians to enshrine discrimination into our state constitution."
The complete text Rev. Lee's letter is below. A pdf version of the letter is available upon request.
January 13, 2009
Rev. Rick Warren
1 Saddleback Parkway
Lake Forest, CA 92630
Dear Rev. Warren:
On Christmas Eve, my colleagues at the Courage Campaign delivered to your office an invitation to debate me here in California about our respective stances on same-sex marriage. That letter is attached. It was accompanied by the electronic signatures over 25,000 members of the Courage Campaign community here in California, which by the way includes my own father.
As a result of your strong public stand on same-sex marriage, we as clergy and spiritual leaders are obligated to present the issues surrounding same-sex marriage to the people of this state, many of whom are gay and lesbian. We are responsible for healing, for building bridges, for creating community, and not for dividing.
I recall the words of the late Coretta Scott King, who said, "Gay and lesbian people have families, and their families should have legal protection, whether by marriage or civil union. A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages is a form of gay bashing and it would do nothing at all to protect traditional marriages."
While you have not responded to the Courage Campaign invitation, I count on you to respond favorably to me as fellow clergy. Prior to the inauguration, where I expect to see you, let's schedule a date in February or March for our public discussion here in our state I would very much like to be able to announce at our Martin Luther King Memorial Dinner on January 15 that you have responded favorably to this invitation.
Very Best Regards,
Rev. Eric P. Lee