A Really Stupid Idea
Can any of us imagine Billy Graham hosting a public event where he moderated a debate between Nixon and Kennedy? I was not comfortable with my old classmate interviewing GOP candidates for President while he headed the Southern Baptist Convention. His public sharing of private conversations appeared to violate pastoral ministry.
Rick Warren brought Senators McCain and Obama into his arena to ask them questions. He chose the questions and controlled the length of response. I know enough about criticism of journalism to wonder at such. Each week I receive emails about how slanted the media is against McCain or how they let the Arizona Senator off the hook not asking him the right questions. The conclusion is you will never be able to please all sides in the public debate and will only serve to offend someone. Warren left himself open to this criticism. Conservative, right wing, www.onenewsnow.com claims McCain was the clear winner. Obama fans I know are upset that the debate was slanted in favor of McCain. McCain followers might ask about a minister seeking to come up with the largest moral lapse in a candidate's life as none of their business if it is going to be blurted out over the nation's airwaves. Critics might wonder at the Constitutional grounds violated by religiously slanted questions asked potential government leaders.
USA TODAY carried an article by Dewayne Wickman taking Warren to task for acting like the candidates were running for church vicar. Wickham's opinion was that Warren was using double speak when he claimed to believe in separation of church and state. Brent walker of the Bapatst Joint Committee voiced concern about Rick's claim to believe in separation yet he advocated violating Civil Rights in faith-based organizations. Walker has serious problems with Warren's view of the First Amendment promoting the government funding of religious organizations. A position most Baptist experts claim is a violation of the Constitution. Warren, who stated he believed in separation of church and state, would be hard pressed to find a scholar, court, or informed Baptist who would go along with him on this. Richard Land is one of the few who favors this and is the only one I heard of who thought Warren's program was great.
Mark McEntire wrote in www.ethicsdaily.com that Warren was in violation of the spirit of the Constitution. He was uncomfortable with the entire thing and stated Warren lied to the media and church claiming he did not know McCain heard the questions beforehand.
Rick grilled the candidates on when life began whenever there is no legal or Christian agreement on that fact. There is not a clear agreement on when life begins and ends with either church or state. Does Warren hold funerals for women who had miscarriages? Does he tell his congregation that women who take some birth control pills which destroy a fertilized egg are murders? Does Rick know that Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson have all gone on public record as supporting some reasons for abortions? Is saving the life of a mother reason for an abortion?
Sources are now claiming McCain has just gone ahead in the polls. Will this all fall at the feet of Rick Warren who controlled what was asked and had a huge influence on the nation's future? Warren backed Bush before in an election that was not close. If a close election is decided in McCain's favor and an extended time in Iraq does not work out for the nation, will Rick Warren be held accountable?
Warren has been promoted as the golden boy to deliver us from the religious right and a more tolerant view about global warming than religious right figures allowed. He was the great hope and some thought he would replace Billy Graham as the unofficial pastor of the nation. Wether of not he takes Graham's place is left to history. One thing for sure is that he shot himself in the foot on this one.
You might say you get what you pay for. Warren heads a counter culture church movement. It represents a movement in rebellion against church traditions. He preaches in shorts and a golf shirt. There are no hymnals and traditonal programs. There is no denominational name. The building does not look like a church. All these traditions are viewed as excess luggage. One of those discarded bags is government endorsement of religion. If Rick is going to be such a huge player in the nation, one hopes he will take the time to look at the First Amendment.
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