(UPDATE: Rick Warren pulled the anti-gay language from his church's web site (see the Google cache for the original language). The relevant question is whether the church now suddenly welcomes "unrepentant gays," and if this is about Warren being embarrassed or Team Obama putting some heat on him - a good journalist would ask the obvious questions of the megachurch pastor). Perhaps some "unrepentant gays" need to contact Saddleback and see if they can join.

UPDATE 2: Read how Soulforce's Jeff Lutes was given the calculated cold shoulder by Rick Warren after the Saddleback pastor agreed to meet with a group of gay and lesbian couples -- then did everything in his power to back away from the commitment after the get-together was outed in a Newsweek piece.

The news keeps breaking on the Rick Warren situation...

First, Dyana Bagby @ the Southern Voice reports that gay rights ally Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, who will deliver the benediction at the Obama Inaugural, weighs in on the controversy -- by steering clear.

“I’m not getting into that,” Lowery said with a chuckle when asked about the controversy. “I’m the other preacher on the program. I’ll leave those who are upset to their calling. “I would hope we would not create a distraction,” he added. “The president-elect promised he would reach across the divide and that is what he’s doing.”

...Lowery, 87, a founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, was the first to mention Coretta Scott King’s support for gay civil rights at her funeral in February 2006 at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, reminding the audience that she "frowned on homophobia."

...“By the time Aretha sings, the poem is read, people may have already forgotten what Warren said,” Lowery said.

Dr. Sylvia Rhue, director of Religious Affairs at the National Black Justice Coalition, has shared her views on the Warren invitation. (You'll recall that she gave a smashing smackdown to the insane anti-gay rant of "Dr." Firpo W. Carr last week.) The emphasis below is mine.

Rev. Rick Warren at the Inauguration

By Sylvia Rhue, Director of Religious Affairs, National Black Justice Coalition

One of the overriding goals of the Religious Affairs Program of the National Black Justice Coalition is to change the conversation of homosexuality from being a sickness and a sin, to a genuine understanding of sexuality with inclusion replacing exclusion, and fact replacing fears.This is no small task with the kind of opposition we face on a daily basis. I see first hand the damage that spiritual abuse can do to body and soul.

We work with people of faith and people of good will to accomplish this goal.We are interfaith and ecumenical in reaching out to powerful religious forces that are adamently allied against equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. We reached out to Bishop Harry Jackson of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and others who do not agree that LGBT people should sit at the table of full equality.

Dr. Rhue continues below the fold.

We agree with President-Elect Obama that we should talk to everyone about ideas and beliefs that are different from our own. We believe in dialogue, that is how the conversation about change happens.

But, there is a difference in engaging people in dialogue about poverty and AIDS and elevating Rick Warren, a rigorous opponent of LGBT rights to the position of the nation's pastor in the inaugural prayer. He does not represent change but a status quo of discrimination. He is symbolic of a tone setting circumstance that does not bring us together in spiritual terms.

We are aware that Mr. Obama is dealing with pressures from all sides and that we are in the honeymoon phase of his impending presidency. But this choice has seriously jarred the wedding night of the honeymoon and has given us a wake-up call of deep and righteous concern. We are concerned that the choice of Rick Warren foretells of a potential continuation of the callous disregard for the lives and aspirations of LGBT people in America.

President-Elect Obama, many of us will be at your inauguration. We will dance and party and drink a toast to your success upon which so many hopes are tethered. But, you have to understand that we are once again coming to Washington DC to cash a check. Yes, like the 1963 March on Washington, organized by a black gay man, Bayard Rustin, we LGBT people have been given the same promissory note that is the heritage and pride of every American. The right to pursue life, liberty and happiness, "the riches of freedom and the security of justice." And this is fierce urgency of now has been tainted by the choice of a man who is so deeply flawed that he equates the lifelong love and commitment of a same gender couple to be equivalent to incest and pedophilia.

Thank God we will be able to see and hear the words of an authentic civil rights warrior. The Reverend Joseph Lowery will be there to provide the benediction. Rev. Lowery is a stalwart believer in full and equal rights for LGBT people.

We will be praying that the value system that energized the Obama campaign, a notion of inclusion and respect, will continue. Many of us will be praying that the words and actions of Rev. Rick Warren will not continue to harm us.

Speaking of Coretta Scott King, Rick Warren has been invited to be the keynote speaker at Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Commemorative Service, according to The Atlanta Progressive News. That is sickening. Local gay rights activist Darlene Hudson is appalled and says there will be protests.

"I'm completely baffled by this Rick Warren piece," Hudson said. "Inviting someone of his caliber, of comparing GLBTQ people to bestiality, that's a pretty low blow in our community, and to pedophiles, that's pretty grappling information to try to deal with."

"It’s just absurd. It’s ridiculous. In my opinion, nobody should be given a platform that’s that divisive," Betty Couvertier, WRFG radio host and homosexual activist, told Atlanta Progressive News. "They’re promoting discrimination."

"He [Warren]... puts the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community... in this other place that doesn't give us humanity. People talk about civil rights and human rights," Couvertier said.

"I think it's inappropriate for him to be involved in the inauguration. I think it’s inappropriate for him to be involved in the King event," State Sen. Vincent Fort, a prominent civil rights leader, told APN. "What he represents in his slander of the gay community-- it is slander--seems to be antithetical to the spirit that Obama was communicating during the campaign as well as the spirit of the King Center--antithetical, at cross purposes," Fort said.