New Age leader Marianne Williamson has come to the aid of “The Purpose-Driven Life” author Rick Warren, under fire from me for statements he made during his recent visit to Syria.
In a Detroit News column, Williamson writes: “Evangelical leader Rick Warren has been criticized for meeting with the president of Syria, chastised into making sure we understand that he supports President Bush, the troops and the war on terrorism. It has been suggested that he has fallen for a huge sin that sometimes tempts religious people: They get involved in politics. For shame! For shame!”
Though she doesn’t mention my name, I had to scratch my head after reading her bizarre defense of Warren. After all, who else is criticizing Rick Warren? Who else has raised the issue of Warren’s trip to the level of a national debate?
What Williamson does is a familiar tactic in defending the indefensible – change the subject, spin, reframe the debate, accuse others of saying things they are not saying.
Let’s be clear about what Rick Warren did and why he is being criticized.
It’s not because he met with Syrian President Bashar Assad. In fact, I would encourage any Christian leader who can get in Assad’s face to do so. He needs to be called to account for keeping Christians in Syria in a state of “dhimmi” status. He needs to be called to account for murdering Christian political leaders like Pierre Gemayel. He needs to be called to account for his continued repression of his own people as well as those of Lebanon. He needs to be called to account for his support for the terrorist organization Hezbollah. He needs to be called to account for allowing his country to play host to more terrorist organizations than any other country in the world.
So, I did not criticize him for meeting with Assad. I criticized him for playing footsie with the dictator, for giving him cover to continue his atrocities against believers and non-believers alike, for lying to the world about the state of the church in Syria and for not even mentioning Assad’s bellicose threats to the very existence of the state of Israel.
Of course, it’s laughable that I suggested his “sin” was getting involved in politics. His sin is getting involved on the wrong side.
Williamson continues: “If Rick Warren, or anyone else for that matter, has a better idea for how to handle Syria, Iran or any other nation – even if I don’t agree with it – unless it hurts someone, then I hope he or she shouts it from the rooftops.”
Here’s the problem. Rick Warren’s reckless diplomacy did indeed hurt someone – many “someones,” in fact.
What he said in Syria, in case you missed it, was that the totalitarian police state, this official Islamic nation, treats Christians well and provides them religious freedom.
Listen to Rick Warren talk about Syria:
That is untrue. And by giving this impression to his followers – and the rest of the world – Warren has done a grave disservice to the persecuted church as well as all freedom-loving people in the Middle East.
I wouldn’t expect New Ager Williamson to understand what I am saying. I wouldn’t expect her to agree with me. I wouldn’t expect activists who see America and Israel as the major threats to peace and freedom in the world to get it.
But, until a few days ago, I didn’t expect one of the most prominent evangelical leaders in the country to side with the forces of evil in the world over the forces of truth and freedom.