Rick Warren's feeling the heat and he's trying to dodge it.
The image to the right will live on in infamy. It's Rick Warren at the Out off the Closet thrift store in LA with his new gay friend. It reminds me all too much of that series of images Stephen Colbert put together a while back, along the lines of "Here's me with my Black friend!" "Here's me with my latino friend!" "Here's me with my gay friend!"(Video of that's after the jump if you don't know the reference.)
Warren wants to be the compassionate moderate out there, but he either just isn't or doesn't want to take the heat from his own book-buying base by showing it in any material way. While he's being exposed for the charlatan that he is, his damage control comes across as ridiculous.
Rick Warren's efforts with his congregants
Matt Comer already posted earlier today about Warren's email blast to his church saying that his words are being taken out of context... which doesn't square away with what he actually said. Not at all.
To his church, he's blaming the media and he's on the attack against gays, saying that we're using "hate speech" and need to "get a life."
Here's part 1:
And part 2:
The Saddleback Church's website used to say that homosexuality was a sin, one of the worst ones at that. Here's an excerpt from their old FAQ, preserved for posterity by Google:
While all sin is destructive, Romans 6 warns us of the great dangers in sexual sin when it says, "Run away from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body." (1 Cor 6:18 NLT) This includes not only homosexuality, but all sexual immorality: adultery, sex without marriage, pornography. We must not act as if homosexuality is the only serious sexual sin, and we must not act as if homosexuality is not a serious sexual sin.
I've heard it asked, "Isn't being homosexual something that a person is physically born with?" First of all, there are absolutely no facts to support this claim. From time to time studies have been reported in the news that seemed to indicate this, but every one of these studies has proven to be wrong. Secondly, even if some physical difference were discovered, it would be no excuse for sin. We know that some people can develop a stronger physical addiction to alcohol than others, but that's obviously no excuse for living an alcoholic lifestyle.
Finally, a word about being judgmental. It's not judgmental to say that what the Bible calls a sin is a sin, that's just telling the truth. Not being willing to talk to someone caught up in sin, or not believing that they can be forgiven, or thinking that you are not just as much in need of Jesus as they are ... that's being judgmental.
Because membership in a church is an outgrowth of accepting the Lordship and leadership of Jesus in one's life, someone unwilling to repent of their homosexual lifestyle would not be accepted at a member at Saddleback Church. That does not mean they cannot attend church - we hope they do! God's Word has the power to change our lives.
In equal desire to follow Jesus, we also would not accept a couple into membership at Saddleback who were not willing to repent of the sexual sin of living together before marriage. That does not mean this couple cannot attend church - we hope they do! God's Word has the power to change our lives.
Well, that's been scrubbed. It's very inconvenient for national journalists to be reading those words coming from Warren's own church, so they had to be removed. Hopefully, the policy of excluding gay and lesbian congregants was removed as well (fat chance).
Rick Warren's gay friends
A bit more from TMZ about Warren's gay friend from before the jump:
We got this pic, taken yesterday at Out of the Closet thrift store. That's Warren on the right (naturally), his arm around Erol Sarabi, who is openly gay. Warren, who supports the ban on gay marriage which has not sat real well with some Obama supporters, bought 8 to 10 books, two of which were his own (that doesn't help with his Amazon ranking). Warren told Sarabi not to believe everything he reads, that he does a lot for AIDS research and was happy that Out of the Closet does free AIDS testing.
Rick also apparently met with Melissa Etheridge and said that everything bad he's said about gays was wrong and that he's bought a lot of her albums:
I told my manager to reach out to Pastor Warren and say "In the spirit of unity I would like to talk to him." They gave him my phone number. On the day of the conference I received a call from Pastor Rick, and before I could say anything, he told me what a fan he was. He had most of my albums from the very first one. What? This didn't sound like a gay hater, much less a preacher. He explained in very thoughtful words that as a Christian he believed in equal rights for everyone. He believed every loving relationship should have equal protection. He struggled with proposition 8 because he didn't want to see marriage redefined as anything other than between a man and a woman. He said he regretted his choice of words in his video message to his congregation about proposition 8 when he mentioned pedophiles and those who commit incest. He said that in no way, is that how he thought about gays. He invited me to his church, I invited him to my home to meet my wife and kids. He told me of his wife's struggle with breast cancer just a year before mine.
When we met later that night, he entered the room with open arms and an open heart. We agreed to build bridges to the future.
Telling Melissa Etheridge that he "regrets" what he said, in private, and then have her report it on the Huff Po, a site that Warren's homophobic supporters don't read, isn't enough. It isn't anything at all, actually. It's an attempt to get us to shut up without actually making up for any of the hurtful things he's done.
Mike Rogers raises the stakes
Here he is on MSNBC, asking Warren to meet the gays:
It's an interesting proposition. I doubt Warren would do it, considering that if he's too gay-friendly, his words will be in the press and his followers will see that, or if he shows his true colors, then he's just feeding this beast.
But it does highlight that the queer side isn't the intolerant one here. If he is the tolerant, non-homophobic evangelical pastor, then where's the problem?
The only issue we'd have is that we wouldn't want to be stood up again.
"King: There has been much controversy over the selection of Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the inaugural.
He's been a guest on this show an awful lot, and he supported California's Proposition 8, a measure that outlaws gay marriage. He is also very opposed to abortion. I know the gay community in America appears to be up in arms. What do you make of this?
Biden: Well, I'd make of it [as] Barack Obama keeping his commitment.
Barack Obama said you've got to reach out. You've got to reach a hand of friendship across the aisle and across philosophies in this country.
We can't continue to be a red and blue country. We can't be divided like we have been. And he's made good on his promise.
And I would say to the gay and lesbian community, they have nothing to worry about. Barack Obama, every aspect of his life, every aspect of his public life, and every commitment he's made relating to equality for all people, will be things that he will stick with and that they should view this in the spirit in which he offered the opportunity to -- to Mr. Warren."
Don't worry, folks. Obama only chose a die-hard homophobe as America's new spiritual center....