Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California, has started what is called the Saddleback Civic Forum. Their church and political action ministry hosted a question and answer night with the two presidential candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain. The event was televised live on CNN. This was the first time the two candidates met publicly to openly discuss the issues, and it was at a Christian church. This was a history making moment.
Rick Warren began the night by saying something like, “Welcome to Saddleback Church. I want you to know that we believe in the separation of church and state, but we do not believe in the separation of faith and state. We all have a worldview, and faith is simply a worldview. The candidates that are here tonight and myself, we disagree on a number of issues. I think it’s time that we are allowed to disagree without demonizing each other.” He then went on to introduce Senator Barack Obama, and he had what I thought was an informative, friendly, revealing time of discussion. Then came John McCain, who answered the exact same questions.
I remember an earlier day of political engagement that was much different. The men who led the church to become more politically active are men that I admire. Often though at times, they took their stand on issues in such a way that it repelled others. It was, “We’re right and you’re wrong!” Never would we allow a liberal democrat in the doors of the church to speak publicly about the issues for fear vulnerable Christians might be led astray.
Rick Warren made me proud to be a Christian. He’s helping re-image the evangelical Christian. There is no doubt that he is a conservative and a Christian. He preaches the Bible and believes in the authority of God’s Word. But, he’s not angry. He’s willing to listen. He’s not afraid to let the church hear both sides speak, trusting them to make up their own minds. He’s given us room to disagree without demonizing.