Mega-pastor Rick Warren is being challenged by other Christian leaders for not disciplining a prominent member of his California Saddleback Church flock for being one of the world’s leading pornographers.
That would be Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., which, in addition to building a media empire on the chests of topless models and edgy, pushing-the-envelope Fox TV network shows, recently began building a stable of hard-core porn channels for its BSkyB subsidiary.
“Rupert Murdoch is a born-again Christian and Rick Warren claims to be his pastor,” says Chris Rosebrough, head of the Christian Accountability Network. “As a Christian, Murdoch is committing an egregious sin by owning, expanding and profiting from pornographic channels, and Rick Warren, his pastor, has a biblical duty to call Murdoch to repentance and/or put him out of the church.”
He is supported in that call by Jim Lupacchino of the Christian Research Network, Pastor Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries, and a growing list of others who have the Internet buzzing with stories about the pastor and the porn purveyor.
Rosebrough said Murdoch’s decision to run porn channels represents “a clear case of a Christian openly committing a monstrous and unthinkable sin.”
“Sadly, Murdoch’s actions have already damaged his credibility as a Christian,” added Rosebrough. “If Pastor Warren does not act swiftly and call on Murdoch to dismantle his porn distribution network, then the credibility of the Christian message will be compromised around the globe.”
The ties between Warren and Murdoch go beyond the spiritual. Murdoch also owns Zondervan, the company that published Warren’s explosive bestseller “The Purpose Driven Life.”
“We hope that Warren’s business ties to Murdoch’s company haven’t clouded his judgment and impacted his resolve to carry out his biblical duty as Murdoch’s pastor,” added Rosebrough.
News of Murdoch’s hard-core porn venture broke in the London publication The Business late last year. The story alluded to the seeming contradiction of a “born-again Christian” building a hard-core porn network.
Multiple WND messages left with News Corp. seeking a response were unanswered.
Warren, who did not respond to WND’s email requests to address the controversy, has at least twice publicly claimed Murdoch as a member of his church.
In a New Yorker interview published in September 2005, Warren is quoted as saying: “I had dinner with Jack Welch (former chief executive officer of GE) last Sunday night. He came to church, and we had dinner. I’ve been kind of mentoring him on his spiritual journey. And he said to me, ‘Rick, you the biggest thinker I have ever met in my life. The only other person I know who thinks globally like you is Rupert Murdoch.’ And I said, ‘That’s interesting. I’m Rupert’s pastor! Rupert published my book!”
In a Nov. 12, 2006, Orange County Register story, Warren was asked about pastoring a man who publishes tabloids featuring topless women. He responded: “I don’t have to agree with 100 percent of what another person does in order to work with them on the 20 percent that we do agree on.”
The article also points out Murdoch was among the first patrons to support Warren’s PEACE plan, contributing $2 million.
Even Warren’s critics point out he maintains an otherwise exemplary record in speaking out against pornography and its effects. His church’s website, Pastors.com, regularly publishes condemnations of porn and urges Christians to battle it in their communities.
Yet, even before the BSkyB venture into hard-core porn, Murdoch’s News Corp. was steeped in the business.
“News Corp. is a major owner of DirecTV, which sells more pornographic films than (Hustler magazine founder and porn film producer Larry) Flynt,” says porn fighter Gail Dines, professor of American Studies at Boston’s Wheelock College. “In 2000, the New York Times reported that nearly $200 million a year is spent by the 8.7 million subscribers to DirecTV. Among News Corp.’s other media holdings are the Fox Broadcasting and cable TV networks, 20th Century Fox, the New York Post and TV Guide. Welcome to synergy: Murdoch also owns Harper Collins, which published pornography star Jenna Jameson’s best-selling book, ‘How To Make Love Like a Porn Star.’”
Murdoch built his media empire as an Australian newspaper heir who added topless, alluring Page 3 girls to the mix – a practice some of his papers, including the British holding the Sun, still follow today. Last week he made a bid to buy the Wall Street Journal.
Silva says Warren does not seem to be living up to his own convictions about how pastors are to deal with people in sin. He points to an article by Warren dated May 1 of this year in which he writes: “Sin is to be confessed only as widely as it affects others. Private sin requires only private confession to God. Personal sin that involves others requires interpersonal confession to the people involved. Public sins (those that affect a large group of people in our congregation) regrettably must be dealt with publicly as a warning to others.”
“One would certainly have to think that ‘owning and expanding a network of pornographic channels in Europe’ has to qualify as ‘public sins,’” concludes Silva. “Since Rupert Murdoch’s flagrant and obvious ‘public sins’ have now been brought before the church, and because Warren is a pastor-teacher who is very well known to the public himself, then Warren simply must deal with Murdoch publicly ‘as a warning to others.’”
Saddleback Church, with 30,000 members, was begun by Rick and Kay Warren in 1979 and now has more than 200 ministries in the Orange County, Calif., area. “The Purpose Driven Life” has now sold about 23 million copies.
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