For Inauguration Prayer, Obama Splits Ticket

The clergy chosen by President-elect Barack Obama to pray at his inauguration fill separate symbolic roles: One is a nod to the civil rights activists who made Obama’s election possible. The other is an overture to conservative Christians who rankles some Obama supporters.

The Rev. Rick Warren, who will give the invocation, is the most influential pastor in the United States, and a choice that has already caused problems for Obama.

Warren is a Southern Baptist who holds traditional religious beliefs and endorsed California’s Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage. But he also wants to broaden the evangelical agenda to include fighting global warming, poverty and AIDS.

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PICTURED: US president-elect Barack Obama meets with students and teachers at the Dodge Renaissance Academy school in Chicago on December 16, 2008. Obama earlier nominated Arne Duncan, the tough-minded Chicago schools superintendent, as his education secretary with a mandate to overhaul failing US schools. At a news conference, Obama vowed new funding for schools plus new demands on teachers and parents, arguing it was ‘morally unacceptable for our children and economically untenable for America’ to allow standards to slip further.

(Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)