I'm very sensitive to the issue of separation of church and state. I know that the United States is, for all practical purposes, a Christian country; however, the founders purposefully established a line between church and state. I react negatively when I see religion mixed into government; the inauguration ceremony of President Obama activated my church-and-state alarm.
The primary assault was the invocation by Rick Warren. An invocation, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is: "1 a: the act or process of petitioning for help or support ; specifically often capitalized : a prayer of entreaty (as at the beginning of a service of worship) b: a calling upon for authority or justification." When I see the word "invocation" on a program, I know that I'm going to hear someone ask something of some god (usually, of course, God). This always bothers me at an event that is not a religious service, and particularly at a government-sponsored event. Any petitioning of any god at a government event should not be allowed - period. Separation of church and state.
The invocation by the Rev. Rick Warren was a very Christian message, quoting the Lord's Prayer and invoking the name of Jesus Christ. I guarantee that every U.S. citizen watching or listening to this speech was not Christian. (As an aside, let's not overlook the hypocrisy of Warren's words in the context of his very public campaign to deny basic rights to gay people: "Help us, oh God, to remember that we are Americans, united not by race or religion or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all. When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you, forgive us. When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone, forgive us. When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the Earth with the respect that they deserve, forgive us.)
Not withstanding the blatant violation of church-state separation, the choice of the Rev. Warren in itself was controversial. Warren's anti-gay marriage (California Proposition 8) stand and campaigning was the primary reason many people, especially gays, questioned the choice. But a quick googling of the man reveals other items that make me wonder. Here's a video with out takes from a Rick Warren talk at a stadium rally in California.
I find this very chilling. If I were using the Sarah Palin Playbook, I would ask if Barak Obama is "palling around" with known domestic religious extremists whose goal is world domination.
Barak Obama asked for the words "so help me God" to be added to the end of the oath of office - it isn't there in the Constitution, Article II Section I. If an elected official wants to add the god phrase to his or her oath, that's OK with me because it is an expression of that person's faith; however, I'm guessing that most people think that the oath comes with that phrase built-in.
Separation of church and state is one of the basic building blocks of our country. We need to be certain that this separation remains.