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The purpose-driven lie

Rick Warren wrote to me this morning to protest this column. He claims he didn’t say anything he was actually quoted as saying by the official press in Syria. However, in a video posted on YouTube but removed today, he says
Syria “does not allow extremism of any kind.” In fact, Syria is, in many ways, the No. 1 sponsor of terrorism in the world.

For a long time I’ve held off criticizing mega-church leader Rick Warren, author of the best-selling “The Purpose Driven Life,” even though I have been sorely tempted.

When he joined up with now-disgraced National Association of Evangelicals leader Ted Haggard to suggest man-induced global warming represented an impending calamity, I didn’t say too much. I questioned it, but I let it go.

When he joined Haggard again in writing an open letter to President Bush urging government action to fight global poverty, I didn’t say a word – even though I thought it ironic. After all, it is the church’s responsibility to help the poor. It is not government’s responsibility.

But now that Rick Warren has traveled to and provided legitimacy to a hostile foreign government, presided over by a brutal fascist dictator who hates Jews, threatens Israel, subverts neighboring Lebanon, imprisons and terrorizes its own citizens and even kills them in massive numbers when they stand up in revolt – now I have to denounce this impostor in the strongest terms possible.

It is my biblical mandate to do so.

Other Christians may be holding back, waiting to hear Rick Warren’s explanation for his behavior in Syria. Some are cautiously suggesting that accounts of his activities there may have been distorted by the controlled press. Some want to give him the benefit of any doubt.

I’m going to give it to you straight: Rick Warren had no business traveling to Syria and being used for propaganda purposes by Bashar Assad, the terrorist-supporting president. There are only two possibilities to explain what happened:

Take your pick. Neither option is very attractive.

Here’s what we know now.

The official press in the Syrian police state is suggesting Warren is taking sides with Syria against his own country with regard to issues in the Middle East. The reports indicate we can soon expect Warren, upon his return to the U.S., to lecture Americans about our abusive role in the region.

The Syrian newspaper Umar Jaftali quotes Warren as saying: “Washington is wrong not to hold dialogue with Syria, which wants peace. I call on the Americans to visit Syria and meet its beautiful people. I will tell the Americans that their idea about Syria does not reflect the truth.”

Here’s what the Syrian Arab News Agency reported:

If I were a betting man, I would wager that Warren will come home and allege he was widely misquoted. He probably was. I HOPE he was. But here’s the problem: When you place yourself in the position of being used – and you ARE used – whose fault is it?



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