August 14, 2008

Rick Warren and Political Discussion

Has anyone else heard about Rick Warren's approach to political discussion between the candidates? Check out this article for more.

Here are some quotes:

"This is a critical time for our nation, and the American people deserve to hear both candidates speak from the heart – without interruption – in a civil and thoughtful format absent the partisan 'gotcha' questions that typically produce heat instead of light," Warren said on announcing the event, called a Saddleback Civil Forum.

His questions will focus on how the candidates lead and make decisions and will cover five topics: leadership, stewardship, worldview, compassion issues, and their vision for America.

"This can be important as a model for a religious leader who is bipartisan in reaching out to find out about candidates," says C. Welton Gaddy, head of the Interfaith Alliance, in Washington, which has criticized some uses of religion in the campaign. "He's putting himself on center stage at a critical moment, with a tremendous amount of responsibility riding on his shoulders."

I am impressed with this approach. Giving each candidate a chance to speak, and allowing them the time to express themselves. Do I believe they will be completely honest? They are, of course, still politicians speaking during a no, not completely. But I do admire the attempt to get civil discourse from both political parties represented in the church.

What do you think?


  1. I actually wrote Rick Warren to see if he would be willing to include the Libertarian candidate Bob Barr in the discussion. Bob is polling at around 6% nationally right now, and needs to get at least 15% to be included in the general debates. Something like this would really help to boost his numbers I think, but I'm not holding my breath to see if he gets an invite.

  2. As a follow-up, I received an email from Bob Barr's campaign...

    "For the past several weeks, we have put in requests and phone calls to the church's pastor, Rick Warren, who was quoted this week in Time Magazine as saying, "I want what's good for everybody, not just what's good for me. Who's the best for the nation right now?"

    Unfortunately, Pastor Rick Warren doesn't care to know the true answer to that question as he has willingly excluded Bob Barr and other candidates from his forum on Saturday.

    After weeks of negotiations and calls to Saddleback Church from leaders from every corner of the political spectrum supporting Bob Barr's inclusion, we've been left out in the cold.

    The only people getting into the event are Obama, McCain and those who reportedly paid $500 to $2,000 to the church to sit in the audience.

    Yesterday, I reported to former Congressman Barr that we've exhausted every avenue. I told him, "We've had calls placed to Pastor Warren from very powerful leaders from the left and the right, we sent in our personal request, and placed numerous phone calls that have not been returned. You are not going to be included. "

  3. This bothers me. Once again Rick Warren puts himself in the spotlight and I question his agenda. I'm old fashioned in not wanting my religious leaders to discuss politics nor do I want my government leaders discussing religion. I listened to one of Pastor Warren's interviews on this upcoming forum and I was particularly disturbed when he said he was looking for someone who had "a relationship" not someone who had a "religion". Linda

  4. An injunction against Saddleback Church to include Bob Barr in their forum this Saturday has been filed. I suspect that being Saddleback is in violation of campaign finance regulations, Bob Barr will be allowed to participate, or the event will not happen.

  5. The judge denied the injunction despite the fact that it was in complete defiance of the McCain/Feingold legislation. Apparently Rick Warren is above the law.

  6. It always interests me which posts get the most comments.

    Here are just some of my off the cuff responses...

    Bob Barr? I had never heard of him before you brought him up. I guess I wouldn't include someone who I believe had no chance of winning either. But that is not to say that if he got more exposure he couldn't make some waves. I don't know him. As I see it there are only two major players in our current political structure. I definitely think we need more.

    As you know I disagree. We have had similar discussions before.

    I think the church is and should be a highly political should not, however, be partisan. Everything we do as a church, in the democratic society at least, is deeply connected with politics. We desire to see the poor taken care of and the hungry fed. We need to protect innocent lives. We need to make the biblical stance known as it regards the political landscape around us.

    Your stance is "old fashioned" if you mean only about 30-40 years old...because the church and politics have always been intertwined. Even Jesus made some radically political statements. Paul, too, in claiming that "Jesus is Lord" knew he was making a political statement in direct opposition to Caesar. It is only recently that people have wanted the church to keep quiet on all issues except those it deems the church should be allowed to talk about.

    Without religion and politics there would be no Martin Luther King Jr. There would be no Abraham Lincoln. America would be without a school system that educates the poor, hospitals that care for the sick, and colleges that educate for professional degrees. These are all religious (at least for Christians who take the Kingdom of God seriously) and political issues.

    I don't think we answer them the same way. I also don't think the church should rely on the political system to accomplish what it alone is called to accomplish. The Kingdom of God can only be brought by God's people working for him to make it happen...politics is only one small tool in the belt.

    Still friends?

    I do like the discussion.

  7. Eric,

    don't you find it odd that the presidential candidate for the 3rd largest party files and injunction against a church that is hosting the debates (Rick Warren's church at that) and it doesn't even make the mainstream news? The funny thing is that the McCain/Feingold legislation could have potentially put the man who drafted it out of the running for president. That would have been one of those great ironies I would have loved to have seen (I do not like that legislation and feel it violates the constitution).

    Perhaps the most amazing this is the judges reasoning....

    “Plaintiffs will lose out on a fair amount of exposure and the opportunity to express their views in a popular forum,” Carter conceded. “On the other hand, halting this event would deny the other candidates the opportunity to be heard and would deprive the public of an opportunity to see the candidates and hear their views."

    The judge went on to say that Barr would have plenty of time and opportunity to share his views later on during the course of the election.

    It just amazes me how the law will be used to protect the democrats and republicans, but when it backfires on them, it doesn't apply all of the sudden.

    Bob Barr is currently polling at 6% and needs 15% to participate in the other debates. This opportunity I think would have put him well past that mark. If you put his name into youtube, you can check out some videos of him and see what his positions are.