Famed pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren on Wednesday had to defend his invitation to Sen. Barack Obama to speak at his church despite objections from some evangelicals who oppose the Democrat's support for abortion rights. He had invited Sen. Obama to speak at a along with nearly 60 speakers scheduled to address the second annual Global Summit on AIDS and the Church beginning Thursday at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif.
But Conservative evangelical Rob Schenck, president of the National Clergy Council, e-mailed reporters Tuesday to protest the visit because of Obama's support of abortion rights. "Senator Obama's policies represent the antithesis of biblical ethics and morality, not to mention supreme American values," Schenck wrote.
Saddleback responded with a statement acknowledging "strong opposition" to Obama's participation. The church said participants were invited because of their knowledge of HIV/AIDS and that Warren, author of "The Purpose Driven Life," opposes Obama's position on abortion and other issues.
"Our goal has been to put people together who normally won't even speak to each other," the Saddleback statement said. "We do not expect all participants in the summit discussion to agree with all of our evangelical beliefs. However, the HIV/AIDS pandemic cannot be fought by evangelicals alone. It will take the cooperation of all - government, business, NGOs and the church."
Sen Obama issued a written statement saying while he respects differing views on abortion, he hopes for unity "to honor the entirety of Christ's teachings by working to eradicate the scourge of AIDS, poverty and other challenges we all can agree must be met. "It is that spirit which has allowed me to work together - and pray together - with some of my conservative colleagues in the Senate to make progress on a range of key issues facing America," Obama's said.
It sounds like "The Purpose Driven Life" meets the "Audacity of Hope".
I hope that Rick Warren does not renege on his invitation to Sen. Obama. And I hope he can withstand the heat he is going to get for joining forces to work agains the HIV/AIDS pandemic. It is going to take everyone cooperating and working together for the Kingdom of God. And perhaps that is just what God is up too, breaking the barriers, breaking down our labels, bringing us together. Tomorrow Dec 1st is World AIDS day. What will you be doing to end the prejudice to HIV and to fight to help the forty million people are living with HIV throughout the world?
You can go to Pastor's.com for the full response made by the church and Rick Warren.