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In fact, he said in a videotape released by his own church, then subsequently withdrawn from YouTube, that Syria does not countenance “extremism” and is worthy of praise for its protection of Christians and Jews.
I know I have dealt with all of these issues in recent days already. But, today, in light of what transpired in Lebanon yesterday, I am calling on Rick Warren to repent for what he said and to condemn Syria now.
In case you missed it, prominent anti-Syrian Christian politician Pierre Gemayel was assassinated in a suburb of Beirut yesterday.
Gemayel, the minister of industry and son of former President Amin Gemayel, was a supporter of the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority, which is locked in a power struggle with pro-Syrian factions led by Hezbollah. He was named for his grandfather, who founded the Phalange Party in 1936 to exert Christian power in Lebanon. It dominated Christian politics for decades after Lebanon’s independence from France in 1943.
Neither Gemayel nor his family nor the party he represented are perfect. There is no political perfection in a fallen, sinful world. But it is imperative that Christians – and especially Christian leaders – have discernment about evil in our world. And true, unadulterated evil is what you have running Syria today. The government led by Bashar Assad, who met with Rick Warren last week, is anti-American, anti-freedom, anti-Christian, anti-Jewish and pro-terrorist.
Rick Warren should know this. Yet, he has placed himself in a position of apologizing and excusing the government in Damascus, one of the most evil on the face of the earth.
It is not an exaggeration to say that government got cover last week as a result of Warren’s shameful public relations on its behalf. I won’t go so far to say there was a direct cause-and-effect relationship between Warren’s embrace of Assad and the assassination of Gemayel yesterday, but it is both a coincidence of striking proportions as well as an illustration of the true character of Damascus’ totalitarian police-state regime.
Before any more blood is shed, before any more damage is done, before any more Christians are run out of the Middle East, before any more momentum is gained by the Syrian regime, it’s time for Rick Warren to admit he was mistaken in suggesting Damascus is hospitable to Christians and Jews.
I cannot even imagine the horror Christians and Jews trapped in the Middle East must feel, surrounded as they are by the jihadists and the tentacles of fascist dictators like Assad, when they hear so-called Christian leaders like Rick Warren explaining that things really aren’t that bad in hellholes like Syria.
I’m persuaded by the Holy Spirit in me that this is sin. And Rick Warren needs to repent for further victimizing the voiceless and powerless martyrs in the Middle East.
Is Syria the worst place in the world for Christians? No. But, according to organizations like Voice of the Martyrs that work full-time on persecution issues, it is a place where Christians fear to evangelize. It is a place, much like other Middle East dictatorships, Christians are fleeing when they can. It is a place serving as a hub for the worldwide spread of jihadism. It is a place, as we saw once again yesterday, that spreads death to Christians in foreign countries in hopes of spreading Syrian hegemony over less-powerful neighbors.
Influential people are susceptible to mistakes like all of us. But they must own up to them as all of us are expected to do. They need to be held accountable for their actions, just as every individual will be held accountable by God.
I’m calling on Rick Warren to condemn Syria for its role in the assassination of Pierre Gemayel, the earlier assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, its spread of anti-Semitic bigotry, it’s control of the Christian church inside Syria, its support for terrorism around the world and its unceasing threats and hostility to the very existence of the Jewish state.
That would be a good start in undoing the damage that has already been done by Rick Warren to the Christian community held hostage in the Middle East.
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