I think it is fair to say his views wrt Hamas and the validity of the State of Israel are diametrically opposed to mine -- including support for Hamas' "struggle for liberation" by any means necessary. This did not stop me from inviting him to share my home as my housemate for almost four years, or from my regarding him as my friend. As we remarked to one another when we first had discussions on this topic back in 1993 "just because under different circumstances we would have to kill each other doesn't mean we shouldn't be friends now."
It does not trouble me that Barack Obama has invited someone who expresses the religious view that I am going to Hell unless I accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior, or who believes that if we allow society to recognize gay marriage the next step is recognizing polygamy, bestiality or any other union. But to my knowledge, whatever Rick Warren has said or believes, he has not broken a single law. And he has said many other things besides those with which I disagree.
We all face the decision every day on whether and how we will engage with those who disagree with us -- whether on trivial matters or matters of fundamental principle. If this is a "slap in the face" to some, then rest assured that the inclusion of Dr. Lowery is a "slap in the face" to others. Barack Obama is President of the United States, meaning President of both sides slapped.
This is not a cabinet position. This is not a position of power and authority. It is a gesture that says -- in my opinion at least -- that although you may hold views I find outrageously wrong, you are a fellow American and as much a part of this nation as anyone else. We have had 8 years of a Presidency that says if you are not in the 50.1% of people who agree with me, then I am not your President and I owe you nothing. If it as wrong then, it is wrong now.
I have passionate views on what policies are the correct policies. I work hard to see them carried out as law. But I do it in a process that is stronger for including those with whom I violently disagree. I will oppose Rick Warren's efforts to keep same sex marriage from happening. But I shall not merely defend his right to say them, I will actually consider what else he may say.
And spare me the Hitler analogies. As far as I can tell, Warren has not killed a single person, nor sought their death. Better to ask whether I consider those who read Shakespeare morally deficient, or if I should despise those who enjoy hearing Wagner's music performed.
And yes, some will consider my strict compartmentalization as moral failure. Which, I suppose, will leave them with the question of whether to continue to associate with me. For if Obama is to be held accountable for all of Rick Warren's views, then my failure to hold Obama accountable in this fashion makes me guilty by association as well. Where, I wonder, does the chain become sufficiently attenuated that it is moral to associate with someone again?