But before anyone questioned his statements, Warren’s Saddleback Church had recorded him as he strolled down a Damascus street explaining what a peaceful and tolerant place Syria really is.
As soon as I hotlinked to the YouTube video last week and questioned Rick Warren about it, the church yanked it. I didn’t have time to download a copy, but, thankfully, one johnny-on-the-spot talk-show host did.
You may not be able to see it, but you can at least hear it. Here is a word-for-word transcript of what Warren said in the 50-second video:
“Syria’s a place that has Muslims and Christians living together for 1,400 years. So it’s a lot more peaceful, honestly, than a lot of other places because Christians were here first.
“In fact, you know Saul of Tarsus – Saul was a Syrian. St. Paul, on the road to Damascus, had his conversion experience and so Christians have been here the longest, and they get along with the Muslims and the Muslims get along with them. There’s a lot less tension than in other places.
“It’s a moderate country, and the official government rule and position is to not allow any extremism of any kind.”
This is what Rick Warren said about Syria. You can hear him with your own ears:
Listen to Rick Warren talk about Syria:
It’s not a press release from the Syrian government that Rick Warren can deny. He didn’t make these remarks under duress. He spoke these words of his own free will. By the way, this audio clip is not taken out of context. It represents the entire content of what Rick Warren and his team produced, posted on YouTube, then removed once I linked to it and questioned him about it in an e-mail.
It’s not a case of someone twisting his words. Rather, it’s a case of twisted ideas expressed in words.
Let’s analyze this statement carefully.
When Warren suggests Christians were in Syria first, he’s certainly forgetting the progenitor of monotheism – Judaism. Firstly, Tarsus was not part of Syria. And, more importantly, Saul was not a Christian. He was a Jew until that Damascus road conversion. It’s not a technicality. It is more than worth noting that someone who praises Syria, one of the most viciously anti-Semitic regimes in the world, claims Christians, not Jews, were there first.
Then Warren moves into this Muslim-Christian brotherhood sophistry. The only way Christians get along with Muslims in an officially Muslim country is by accepting the role in Islam known as “dhimmi.” Think of the dhimmi life as religious apartheid. It’s a good analogy. Christians are not free to evangelize Muslims. In a civil dispute between a Muslim and a Christian, the Christian’s word is worth less than nothing.
Again, Warren neglects even to mention the Jews – the pathetically small community of Jews in Syria who have historically been subjected to barbaric pogroms to keep its members in line and to give the average Syrian Muslim an artificial feeling of superiority.
Less tension? Let me explain how Warren’s buddy, dictator Bashar Assad, manages to keep peace and tranquility. Secret police. Wiretapping. Torture. Political prisoners. Death squads.
Bashar’s father, Hafez, was the master at heavy-handed Big Brother tactics. When the citizens of Hama rose up to challenge his authority in February 1982, Assad sent in Syrian troops to massacre between 10,000 and 25,000 civilians. The town was paved over and marked permanently to ensure that others would learn the terrible lesson.
It worked. There’s been “peace,” as Rick Warren would call it, ever since. There’s been a lot less “tension,” as he would put it.
Lastly, Rick Warren says: “It’s a moderate country, and the official government rule and position is to not allow any extremism of any kind.”
Where does one even begin answering such a lie?
True, the Assads simply crush any extremism that threatens their tyrannical rule. But Syria plays ball with the terrorists by allowing them to use Syria – and neighboring Lebanon – as staging grounds under the proviso they do not subvert the Assad regime. That’s why Syria serves as the headquarters for more terrorist organizations than any other country in the world – yet experiences little of its own.
My goal is not to beat a dead horse with Rick Warren’s trip to Syria. My goal is to bring understanding and truth to an issue that has been perversely distorted by Rick Warren.
And I have to note that Rick Warren has been deceitful about the nature of this trip and the content of his statements from the beginning. Last week, after I first challenged him about the trip, he denied making any statements like this. He claimed his words were misrepresented by the Syrian government. When I asked him if he made any recordings while there that could help clear his name, he said he did not.
Yet, not only did he indeed record something, but what he recorded affirms the essence of what the Syrian government claimed Warren told officials. Warren’s church posted that recording on YouTube and pulled it down only after it was cited as evidence of his mischievous activities in Syria.
In other words, Rick Warren seems to want to be everything to everyone. He seems to want to please the whole world – everyone, that is, except the voiceless victims of tyranny, anti-Christian persecution and anti-Jewish bigotry in Syria.
Hear Rick Warren’s own words
Listen to what Rick Warren said about Syria in an audio version of the video message his church pulled down from YouTube after it was exposed by Farah: