Warren’s church responds on Obama

I blogged yesterday about how displeased many Christian anti-abortion leaders are that Sen. Barack Obama is speaking on Friday at Rick Warren’s California megachurch.

He’s speaking at a much-publicized two-day conference on fighting global AIDS, a cause that is dear to Warren and his wife, Kay.

But Obama is pro-choice and, according to those protesting his appearance, opposed to stopping late-term abortions.

Today, Saddleback Church released a “statement”:http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/864651610.html about the controversy.

It reads, in part:

“While knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS, the speakers at the Summit do not necessarily reflect the beliefs of Saddleback Church, its pastoral leadership or the congregation. As a result, we’re not making an endorsement of Obama or any of the other speakers. Rather by coming to Saddleback, the Summit speakers are affirming and supporting the vital role of the Church in fighting the pandemic of HIV/AIDS.”

The statement says that not all participants at the AIDS summit are expected to share Saddleback’s evangelical beliefs. It also affirms the Warrens’ anti-abortion views:

“Anyone who has read The Purpose Driven Life, specifically chapters two and 22, knows the Warrens are staunchly pro-life, because it’s the biblical position. In a letter to all pastors in the Purpose Driven network before the 2004 election, Pastor Warren called this one of the five non-negotiable moral issues, writing, ‘God’s purpose for your life precedes your birth, according to Psalm 139, so abortion short-circuits God’s purpose for that human being. To be truly pro-life means far more than opposing abortion. It also means doing everything in our power to keep people alive, so they might respond to the grace of Jesus Christ. Sometimes that means working with people you disagree with. With AIDS killing 8,000 people a day, saving lives is more important to us than political alignment.’ ”

So both sides have spoken out. They agree that supporting abortion is unacceptable. But Saddleback Church says this issue, however important, can be overlooked in favor of pursuing another vital goal. The church’s critics say abortion can never be overlooked at an evangelical church.

What will the Warrens say tomorrow and Friday?

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.