Christian leaders from across a wide spectrum of theologies and missions are rising up together to urge Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren to rescind an invitation to Sen. Barack Obama to speak from Warren’s pulpit.
The Illinois Democrat, an enthusiastic supporter of abortion, is scheduled to speak at a seminar Dec. 1 called, “We Must Work Together” at Warren’s 30,000-member California church. The seminar is about coordinating efforts to address the AIDS crisis worldwide.
“You cannot fight one evil while justifying another,” a joint statement from dozens of leaders of Christian groups said in condemning Obama’s support for abortion and Warren’s support for Obama.
“The evangelical church can provide no genuine help for those who suffer from AIDS if those involved do not first have their ethic of life firmly rooted in the Word of God,” the group said. “Accordingly, we call on Pastor Rick Warren to rescind his invitation to Sen. Obama immediately.
“The millions of silent victims who have died because of the policies of leaders like Sen. Obama demand a response from those who believe that life is a gift from God.”
It’s the second round of criticism for Warren in just days. Earlier criticisms arose because of Warren’s recent trip to Syria, where he described the government and its policies as “moderate” even though the U.S. government describes Syria as “terrorism-sponsoring,” and Mideast experts confirm it has punitive policies discriminating against Christians and Jews.
“It is clear Rick Warren would never have a racist or sexist speak at his church concerning any topic,” said Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, a spokesman for the Christian Defense Coalition. “In light of that fact, why would he feature a speaker who supports violence against women and children?”
“Having Sen. Barack Obama speak on issues of social justice is like having a segregationist speak on civil rights. Mr. Obama supports partial-birth abortion and has voted against bills prohibiting taxpayers paying for abortion. It is hypocritical at best for him to speak out against the horror of AIDS on children and then support abortion which has killed 50,000,000 children in America alone,” Mahoney said.
The Who’s Who list of names joining in the call to Warren included Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum, Judy Brown of American Life League, Tim Wildmon of American Family Association, Joe Scheidler of Pro-Life Action League, Cheryl Sullenger of Operation Rescue, Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth, Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries, Chris Rosebrough of Capo Valley Church in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., Kevin McCullough of WMCA Radio, Ingrid Schlueter of Crosstalk Radio, Vic Eliason of VCY American Radio Network and Cal Zastrow of Christian Action for the Preborn and others.
“Pastor Rick Warren, who is one of the most influential evangelical leaders in the world, should realize the terrible signal he is sending by inviting a speaker who tramples on the historic teachings of Christianity and the Bible,” Mahoney said.
“Sen. Obama’s policies represent the antithesis of biblical ethics and morality, not to mention supreme American values,” said Rev. Rob Schenck, who heads the National Clergy Council and serves as chairman of the Committee on Church and Society for the Evangelical Church Alliance.
“As a supporter of abortion, Sen. Obama nullifies the first of all human rights, the right to life. Only God gives life, and only God can determine when life ends. Our founders assured this when they enumerated in the Declaration of Independence the rights endowed to us by our ‘creator,’ among them ‘life,'” Schenck said.
The National Clergy Council executive committee includes representatives from African Methodist Episcopal, Assemblies of God, Baptist, Catholic, charismatic, evangelical, Lutheran, Methodist Episcopal, Orthodox, Presbyterian and Reformed denominations.
“If pastor Warren cannot find the courage to rescind his invitation to Sen. Obama, he must at least make clear through a public statement that the senator’s support of abortion stands in contradiction to what the Bible teaches and what the Christian church has historically taught on the sanctity of life,” Schenck said.
Operation Rescue, one of the front-line organizations battling abortion today, said Obama “is disqualified from speaking from a Christian pulpit” because of his “blatant disregard for human life.” The senator, the group said “lacks moral credibility to speak about AIDS victims.”
Also signing up to protest Obama’s appearance were Matt Trewhella of Missionaries to the Preborn, Brannon Howse of Worldview Weekend, Janet Folger of Faith2Action, Greg Cunningham of the Center for Bioethical Reform in Lake Forest, Calif., and Peggy Hamill of Pro-Life Wisconsin.
“As those who have worked to defend preborn children from the horrors of abortion in America and who have stood uncompromisingly against the legalized slaughter of an estimated 50 million Americans in the womb since 1973, we join with one voice in expressing our indignation and opposition to Rick Warren’s welcoming of Sen. Barack Obama to his church,” the group’s joint statement said.
“Sen. Obama comes to Rick Warren’s church believing that abortion should be kept, ‘safe and legal,'” the group continued. “Sen. Obama actually supports the barbaric practice of allowing abortionists to kill babies by allowing them to be partially born, their skulls punctured and their brains sucked out. … Killing a child at any stage of life is a violation of God’s clear command, ‘Thou shall do no murder.'”
“In the strongest possible terms, we oppose Rick Warren’s decision to ignore Sen. Obama’s clear pro-death stance and invite him to Saddleback Church anyway. If Sen. Obama cannot defend the most helpless citizens in our country, he has nothing to say to the AIDS crisis,” the group said.
The leaders also noted Obama’s solution to AIDS isn’t a biblically-oriented standard for monogamous relationships, but includes condoms.
“The name of the seminar at which Senator Obama will be appearing is entitled, ‘We Must Work Together.’ No, Mr. Warren, Mr. Obama, we will never work with those can support the murder of babies in the womb.”
Just a day earlier, Brigitte Gabriel, a Lebanese-American who wrote “Because They Hate,” and founded the The American Congress for Truth, suggested Warren’s comment about Syria’s status as a “moderate” nation would better have been left unsaid.
“Rick Warren can do us all a favor and keep his remarks and opinions to himself. When you don’t stand up against and condemn evil, let alone say misrepresented facts about an evil regime, you become an enabler and defender of evil, plain and simple,” she said.
“Rick Warren’s comments about Syria are an insult and a slap on the face to every Christian who ever lived under that regime or suffered from Syria’s evil dictatorship not only in Syria but also the Christian Lebanese,” said Gabriel.
“Rick Warren needs to speak to some of the Christians who fled Syria because of the oppression of the Syrian regime and are now here in America. They can tell him about the Syrian troops storming their Christian schools when they were children and burning (the schools) because they were Christians.”
Ergun Mehmet Caner, president of the Liberty Theological Seminary at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., agreed. He said what Warren saw in Syria was “religion toleration.”
“He was shown open churches, and worshiping people. He was not shown a single Muslim who converted to Christianity, he was shown people who are ‘grandfathered in,” Caner continued. “If he would have seen a Muslim convert, the scene would be different, and tragic. He would have seen one of my kinsmen … buried up to his waist in his burial cloth … and then stoned to death. Killed for the sole crime of finding faith in Jesus Christ.
“That is not religious freedom, and that is not tolerance. That is religious genocide,” said Caner, who has authored 14 books on Christian apologetics and world religions, including “Unveiling Islam.”
“To call Syria a moderate peaceful country where Christians and Jews live peacefully protected by the regime is nothing more than a statement of his ignorance, lack of intelligence and lack of grasp and understanding of the Middle East conflict. There are Christians in Syrian prisons now whose families do not know anything about them or if they are still alive or dead. My neighbor’s son was kidnapped over 25 years ago and until today they do not know if he is dead or alive,” Gabriel said.
According to the Syrian Arab News Agency, Warren, who met with various religious and political leaders in Syria including President Bashar Assad, had “hailed the religious coexistence, tolerance and stability that the Syrian society is enjoying due to the wise leadership of President al-Assad, asserting that he will convey the true image about Syria to the American people.”
Warren said he was misquoted by the news agency, but in a recording he describes Syria as moderate.
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