Rick Warren: 'I ... never campaigned'
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., has been accused in Internet reports of backing off on his support for last fall's California marriage amendment. One report, published April 8, declared Warren apologized to homosexual friends for his support of the amendment, popularly known as Prop. 8, and said he now claims he never endorsed the ballot measure, when in fact he did.
During an April 6 interview on CNN's Larry King Live talk show, Warren said, "During the whole Proposition 8 thing, I never once went to a meeting, never once issued a statement, never -- never once even gave an endorsement in the two years Prop 8 was going."
One of Warren's critics, however, produced a transcript of remarks they say Warren made to his congregation two weeks before the vote on Prop. 8. That transcript quotes Warren as saying, "Now let me say this really clearly: we support Proposition 8 -- and if you believe what the Bible says about marriage, you need to support Proposition 8. I never support a candidate, but on moral issues I come out very clear."
Warren also told King he was not "an anti-gay or anti-gay marriage activist." When King then asked whether that meant Warren would not criticize or comment on the recent Iowa court decision to permit "gay marriage," Warren said, "That's not even my agenda."
One Warren critic said that amounted to Warren "abdicating his biblical role as pastor."
The articles critical of Warren failed to mention that later in the interview he told King he drew a distinction between endorsing the marriage amendment to his congregation and publicly campaigning for the ballot initiative. When King asked if Warren encouraged his congregation to vote for Prop. 8, Warren replied, "Yes. I just never campaigned."
Responding to critics' charges that he apologized to homosexual friends for his support of the amendment, Warren said in the interview, however, that he apologized to homosexual acquaintances because his support for Prop. 8 resulted in homosexual activists saying he equated "gay marriage" with pedophilia and incest.
"There were a number of things that were put out. I wrote to all my gay friends -- the leaders that I knew -- and actually apologized to them," Warren said. "I was asked a question that made it sound like I equated gay marriage with pedophilia or incest, which I absolutely do not believe. And I actually announced that. All of the criticism came from people that didn't know me."
Baptist Press submitted the following questions to Warren's public relations firm but had not received a response by publication deadline:
-- Rick Warren said to Larry King: "There were a number of things that were put out. I wrote to all my gay friends -- the leaders that I knew -- and actually apologized to them." What specifically was it that was "put out"? What was he apologizing for?
-- Rick Warren said to Larry King: "During the whole Proposition 8 thing, I never once went to a meeting, never once issued a statement, never -- never once even gave an endorsement in the two years Prop 8 was going." Did he misspeak about not endorsing Prop 8, given the transcript of comments published in which he appears to endorse Prop 8? What was the context in which those comments were made?
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Mark Kelly.