The Dark Side of Pastor Rick Warren

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Ben Cohen
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By Ben Cohen

Rick Warren has always struck me as a decent man, a passionate believer in doing good work, alleviating poverty and bringing people together. Warren tries not to involve himself in politics, and has urged evangelicals to move beyond labels of Left and Right.

But Warren has injected himself and the power of his massive church into the Gay marriage rights issue, and insisted his followers support Proposition 8 that bans Gay marriage. As The Daily Beast writer Max Blumenthal writes:

A week before Election Day, here is what “America’s Pastor” told the
22,000 members of his Saddleback Church in Orange County: “Here’s an
interesting thing: there are about 2% of Americans [who] are
homosexual, gay, lesbian people. We should not let two percent of the
population determine—to change a definition of marriage that has been
supported by every single culture and every single religion for 5,000
years. This is not even just a Christian issue, it is a humanitarian
and human issue, that God created marriage for the purpose of family,
love and procreation. I urge you to support Proposition 8 and to pass
that on.”

Warren has also supported every major ballot measure opposing gay
marriage that sprouted up in his native California in the past ten
years, a fact that is barely mentioned in accounts of him as the
pioneer of a “New Evangelical” movement that sees beyond the old
hobgoblins of the far right. Warren waged a sub rosa campaign to
re-elect George W. Bush, but was still described as never having been
”written or talked about…in the context of any political issue,”
according to the non-partisan Religion News Service. Fighting
the culture war with a velvet glove, Warren has constructed an
international platform using two powerful constituencies few figures
before him have been able to reconcile: conservative evangelicals
hungry for more sophisticated leadership and opinion elites frantically
searching for post-partisan heroes.

I'm disappointed in Warren on this issue, as he had an opportunity to lend a voice to an oppressed minority and instead reverted to homophobia and prejudice, a hall mark of religious fundamentalism. One day the church will recognize Gays as equal members of society, just as it accepted blacks, women and minorities. It's a shame Warren decided to remain behind the times.