Can we all stop pretending that Rick Warren is some sort of moderate, reasonable Christian leader now?
Pastor Rick Warren has a reputation for being far more stable and grounded than religious right leaders and TV preachers like Pat Robertson, but it's worth remembering that he's not exactly a moderate.
Last night, on Fox News, Sean Hannity insisted that United States needs to "take out" Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Warren said he agreed. Hannity asked, "Am I advocating something dark, evil or something righteous?" Warren responded, "Well, actually, the Bible says that evil cannot be negotiated with. It has to just be stopped.... In fact, that is the legitimate role of government. The Bible says that God puts government on earth to punish evildoers. Not good-doers. Evildoers."
Matt Duss explained why Warren's comments are problematic on a variety of levels.
Does Warren really consider it part of his ministry to sanctify the inch-deep theologizing-cum-warmongering of thugs like Sean Hannity? If so, who else does Warren think Jesus would bomb?
I contacted Pastor Warren's office for clarification, specifically to find out where, exactly, the Bible says that "God puts government on earth to punish evildoers" like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. They said they'd get back to me. I'll update if and when they do. I suspect Warren was referring to Romans 13, in which the Apostle Paul admonished Christians to submit to governing authorities (Hear that Hannity? Submit!), and also addressed the power of civil government to punish criminals. This has nothing to do, as far as I know, with invading foreign countries and killing their leaders, which is the context in which Warren is speaking.
In any case, if this were a conversation between an Iranian TV host and an ayatollah in which they discussed scriptural justifications for "taking out" high ranking members of the U.S. government, you'd probably see Sean Hannity running the clip on his show -- while slowly shaking his head in pious disapproval -- as evidence of what crazy extremists those Iranians are. As it is, they'll probably be running this on Iranian TV as evidence of what crazy extremists those Americans are.
Any Christians in the audience who may have been wondering why atheists take such a jaundiced view of faith: let this be an answer.
Let's add one more bit to the Breathtaking Hypocrisy file, shall we? Here's what Rick Warren has to say about his PEACE Award:
WARREN: Well, the Peace Award was not about peace in domestic — or foreign policy.And here's what his press releases say:
According to a press release from the organization, however, the award was given in recognition of an “outstanding contribution toward alleviating the five global giants recognized by the Coalition including pandemic diseases, extreme poverty, illiteracy, self-centered leadership and spiritual emptiness.” The Coalition introduced its “P.E.A.C.E. plan” as a means to reduce the five “global giants.” The first tenet of that plan is to “promote reconciliation,” which cites the problem of international “war” and “conflict” specifically: