Megachurch pastor Rick Warren, who often has drawn criticism in the Christian community regarding his engagement with Islam, is stirring the pot again.
This time he’s tweeted about a visit from Yusuf Islam, who was Cat Stevens before he became a radical Muslim.
On his @RickWarren account, Warren said: “Legendary Cat Stevens came by to see me today as I worked at home on a sermon.” The tweet includes an image of the two.
The statement immediately drew a reaction from Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch, who noted Stevens enthusiastically endorsed the Ayatollah Khomeini’s death fatwa against author Salman Rushdie in 1989 for insulting Islam.
“Who knew that Rick Warren and Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) were this close?” Spencer wrote. “Did they sing a few choruses of Cat’s nasheed that contains the lines, ‘I’m praying to Allah to give us victory over the kuffar?’”
Spencer said he was not surprised, however, noting Warren previously has addressed the convention of the Hamas- and Muslim Brotherhood-linked Islamic Society of North America.
Warren, Spencer said, also “apologized to Muslims, but wasn’t sure what for” and now “he is palling around with Mr. Peace Train” in the name of “dialogue” and “interfaith outreach.”
Spencer quoted from a 1989 New York Times report of Stevens’ response when asked about attending a demonstration to burn an effigy of Rushdie: “I would have hoped that it’d be the real thing.”
Asked what he would do if Rushdie turned up on his doorstep looking for help, Stevens said: “I might ring somebody who might do more damage to him than he would like.”
See a BBC News report on Stevens:
Spencer said Stevens is "praying for victory over the kuffar, while being embraced by Rick Warren."
"Peace train, holly roller, ride on the peace train!"
Spencer also linked to a description of Islam's "nasheed," or a cappella song, in which he sings, "What are you saying? I'm praying to Allah to give us victory over the kuffar."
Staffers at Warren's church, Saddleback in Lake Forest, Calif., did not respond to a WND request for comment.
In 2006, WND reported Warren stirred controversy during a trip to Syria by describing the Muslim nation's policies as "moderate," even though the U.S. listed it as a terror-sponsoring state that persecutes Christians and Jews. Today, Syria is torn by war between two Muslim factions, with Christian communities caught in the crossfire.
His pastoral staff and local Muslim leaders co-authored a document outlining points of agreement between Muslims and Christians, affirming that Muslims and Christians believe in "one God" and share the "love of God" and "love of neighbor."
Warren also invited Barack Obama, a pro-abortion president, to speak at Saddleback Church's Global Summit on AIDS and the Church in 2006. Some evangelicals at the time objected to a pro-choice Democrat being given the pulpit of a church that opposes abortion. At the 2007 AIDS summit, Sen. Hillary Clinton gave a warmly received speech while Obama was among several candidates who presented taped messages via satellite.
In 2012 WND reported on the fallout when an Orange County Register article about Saddleback's mission to heal differences between evangelical Christians and Muslims was published, giving critics fodder for claims "Chrislam" was being promoted.
At the center was an article co-authored by Jihad Turk of the Christian-Muslim Consultative Group in Los Angeles and Abraham Meulenberg, pastor of Interfaith Outreach at Saddleback, that reportedly claimed the two religions "worship the same God."
His staff acknowledged the newspaper article was factually correct, but Warren said the reporter had gotten the information wrong.
"This is an example of why I always doubt what I read in newspapers and blogs about ministries," Warren said in a statement sent to church members.
"King's Way" is a document that was a central focus of the Register story.
The document was unveiled at Saddleback Church to an interfaith audience of more than 300 Muslims and Christians. Under the heading "A Path to End the 1,400 Years of Misunderstanding Between Muslims and Christians," the presentation included Bible verses and Quran verses side by side to make the case that the God for both religions are one in the same.
Warren also signed in 2007 a document called "A Common Word Between Us and You" in which the first few lines say that "many Christians have been guilty of sinning against our Muslim neighbors."
The document contends Muslims and Christians serve the same God, much as the "King's Way" document unveiled at Saddleback Church.