"Rick Warren was apparently quite unhappy with last week's press... about his recent foray into Syria as an American pastoral diplomat. For the first time he responded to criticism directly by issuing a statement to his Saddleback Family entitled MESSAGE THIS WEEKEND! that put forward the best "spin" on his recent controversial activities.The re-strengthening of Christian principles into our government is a noble goal, but I suspect that is not the goal of these PR-playing power salesmen. It looks more and more that the parties involved simply want to have a form of godliness but deny its power. The only way our country or any other will turn to Christian ideals is for Christ Himself to change the hearts and lives of those involved. Pray that for our leaders, and for all world leaders, including those who are enemies.
Rebutting the accuracy of Warren's statements was WorldNetDaily: "Rick Warren on Syria: 'A moderate country,' 11/26/06, and Sandy Simpson of Deception in the Church, "Rick Warren 'Explains' Himself," 11/25/06.
In Warren's letter defending of his recent activities, he denied several times that he was engaged in politics:1. "But my visit [to Syria] was not political,…"Perhaps Warren is naive about the political nature of an American evangelical leader of his stature hanging out with the internationalist big boys. Or perhaps he is being disingenuous. But in his letter to the Saddleback family he devoted an entire paragraph to outline some of his recent activities, which included:
2. "Left or Right is irrelevant to me. I'm not a politician."
3. "Of course, you friends know my heart, my motivation, and my 26 year track record. What matters to me is not pleasure...possessions...prestige...politics...power.. or popularity. I couldn't care less about these things.""No matter where I've been invited to speak- to Congress, to the Davos World Economic Forum, at Harvard and Oxford and Cambridge, to the United Nations. to the Foreign Affairs Council…."Obviously, these are politically-tinged events of the international variety. And this list is incomplete. An October 2005 Fortune magazine [ http://tinyurl.com/y84cgv] article by Marc Gunther, entitled "POWER PASTOR: Will Success Spoil Rick Warren - America's new superstar pastor wants to rebrand evangelical Christianity. He's got the management genius to do it. Here's where he's leading his troops," detailed a few of his other political-sounding endeavors, including:"…[T]he Aspen Ideas Festival, the Young Presidents Organization, a Pew Foundation forum for religion writers, and the University of Judaism.… He has gone before the Council on Foreign Relations to pitch his newest idea: a breathtakingly ambitious project to mobilize American Christians to fight poverty, illiteracy, and AIDS in Africa."Again, these are not all apolitical organizations.
...despite Warren's protests that he does not engage in politics, he has been actively working in the political realm to forge new political ties for evangelicals with the Democratic Party. For example, a news account from July 2006 entitled "Democrats attempt to close the faith-gap with the GOP" by A. B. Stoddard, describes Rick Warren's involvement with House Democratic Caucus Chairman James Clyburn (D-S.C.), a "minister’s son, handpicked by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to lead a new Faith Working Group as part of the party’s larger undertaking on values issues." Nancy Pelosi is now the Democratic Majority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives. The article explained:"Major players in the party — including Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Howard Dean — have held and attended conferences in the faith community and met with bishops and religious leaders including Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, and Bishop T.D. Jakes, who runs a popular megachurch in Texas."The article notes that these meetings were closed:"The DNC’s interfaith program, known as Faith in Action, has employed staffers to reach out to the evangelical, Catholic, Muslim and Jewish faithful. The visits and conversations have been closed to press to foster candid, open discussions."The purpose of such meetings? You guessed it! Politics!"Democrats are hoping the groundwork they are laying will broaden the values debate and ultimately help them capture the new voters necessary to reclaim majorities nationwide and win the White House in 2008."(For more information on the Democratic Party's Faith Working Group see, for example, http://tinyurl.com/y54scm and http://tinyurl.com/y4xfmu.)
"Last month, when Democrats dominated a bipartisan event joining lawmakers, clergy and lay leaders to address poverty, at which Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) received national press for a rousing speech…."
One astonishing feature of Rick Warren's foray into Democratic Party politics this past year was the inclusion of his public relations manager, A. Larry Ross, mentioned in the same July news account:"In searching for that winning formula, A. Larry Ross, a public-relations executive representing the top Christian leaders in the country who accompanied Warren on his visit with Senate Democrats in February, offered up a public-relations adage.Pardon our incredulity over his proclaimed innocence in politics, but why would Rick Warren -- who tries to be everybody's image of the casual-pastor-next-door -- need to take his hired PR guy into secret meetings with him? Unless, of course, he anticipated problems with his "image" if this type of information about his political activities ever came out in the public."
"'The largest number of people focused on the smallest point of agreement gives you your greatest impact,' he said."
update: Maybe I was too quick to judge Mr. Warren. Maybe his cause is just. However, I stand by my conclusion that if America is to return to Christian values, it will not happen by church leaders selling out on those values.