Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Rick Warren Continues to Play the Victim

Yesterday I posted on Rev. Rick Warren. I received a complaint via e-mail that I wasn't treating him as a Christian brother. Today I was sent a link to this interview in Christianity Today. Here is the relevant portion:

You told Larry King last night, "During the whole Proposition 8 thing, I never once went to a meeting, never once issued a statement, never — never once even gave an endorsement in the two years Prop. 8 was going." But just before the election, you filmed a video for your congregation and said, "If you believe what the Bible says about marriage, you need to support Proposition 8."

What I was trying to say is, those who obviously opposed my viewpoint on the biblical definition or the historical definition of marriage were trying to turn me into an anti-gay activist. The truth is, Proposition 8 was a two-year campaign in the state, and during those two years, I never said a word about it until the eight days before the election, and then I did make a video for my own people when they asked, "How should we vote on this?" It was a pastor talking to his own people. I've never said anything about it since. I don't know how you take one video newsletter to your own church and turn that into, all of a sudden I'm the poster boy for anti-gay marriage.

Obama called me the first week in December and asked me to do the invocation [prayer]. I made a commitment to say nothing to the press about it until after the inauguration. For nearly 40 days or 50 days — I called it 40 days of persecution (laughs) — I took all kinds of flak and never responded back.

The only response that I made was, I wrote an e-mail to all of the gay leaders that I know. I have many friends who are gay leaders whom we've worked with on AIDS campaign on health, poverty, and disease. The guys that I knew, I apologized to them.

In a Beliefnet interview, which was an hour long, Steve Waldman asked me about gay marriage. I said I believe marriage, that term, should be reserved for a man and a woman. I'm not saying same-sex couples don't love each other. I gave some examples of what I think shouldn't be considered to be marriage, like an older guy with a younger woman. Then [Waldman] said, "Are you saying that those are the same thing?" I said, "Oh sure." It made it sound like I was equating homosexuality with pedophilia and incest. I don't believe it, never have, and never would.

I don't believe that, but because I made a commitment to not say anything about it, people just ran with it. They were looking for a new poster boy. There's a lot of hatred out there. People don't realize that you don't have to agree with somebody to love them. I am commanded to love everybody. I can disagree with people, but I'm not free to not love them.

Rev. Warren is claiming he is not an anti-gay activist. I agree. So why is he having all of these interviews (Larry King, Christianity Today) to show people he isn't? He said the video in which he said, "If you believe what the Bible says about marriage, you need to support proposition 8," was a "pastor talking to his own people."

True enough. Except that "his own people" includes a 20,000 member congregation, now at several locations. All of his services are on-line. His Easter service will be broadcast on Fox News. He hosted a nationally televised conversation between the two presidential candidates. He has written best-selling books. Not only that, Warren is a powerful, influential, national (perhaps international figure) who has access to the corporate media and to the halls of power including the President of the United States. In the span of 24 hours he has interviews on Larry King and in Christianity Today. I am tickled when I get an interview in the Elizabethton Star. He is not simply a country preacher talking about his views at the church potluck.

I agree that he is not an activist or that he sees himself as such. We think of an activist as someone who writes a blog, organizes a meeting, passes out flyers, makes phone calls, and so forth. He doesn't do that. He doesn't need to do that. All he needs to do is what he did. He posts a homey video on his church's website that the entire planet (including California) can see just a few weeks before the vote. It had influence. Huge influence.

Now he plays the victim, "there's a lot of hatred out there." Rick, let me spell it out for you. You are a powerful, influential figure. You took a side. There's nothing wrong with that. But in so doing you stepped in a hornet's nest. Now take your stings like a big boy.