Mega-church pastor Rick Warren is hosting a candidate forum for Barack Obama and John McCain. He is also the focus if a recent Time Magazine feature piece. Throughout the piece there is much to admire from Warren. For one, his skepticism about government is laudable:
“I have never been considered a part of the religious right, because I don’t believe politics is the most effective way to change the world,” he says now. “Although public service can be a noble profession, and I believe it is our responsibility to vote, I don’t have much faith in government solutions, given the track record. It’s why I am a pastor, not a politician. None of my values have changed from four years ago, but my agenda has definitely expanded.”
Good for him. No pastor should be a tool of either party. But according to this statement, Warren is more conservative than he knows. A deep distrust of government schemes plus a belief that everyday people not politicians are the best agents of change — these are hallmarks of conservatism. But that is an aside in this post.
The real issue is that Warren should not shy away from advocating principles of the faith that will make candidates uncomfortable.
Excerpts from the piece like this have some worried:
A shift away from “sin issues” — like abortion and gay marriage — is reflected in Warren’s approach to his coming sit-downs with the candidates. He says he is more interested in questions that he feels are “uniting,” such as “poverty, HIV/AIDS, climate change and human rights,” and still more in civics-class topics like the candidates’ understanding of the role of the Constitution. There will be no “Christian religion test,” Warren insists. “I want what’s good for everybody, not just what’s good for me. Who’s the best for the nation right now?”
Warren’s apparent desire to avoid divisive issues while focusing on uniting issues is a disservice to the forum. People of faith, who look to Warren to moderate this forum properly, want to see what divides the candidates as much as they do what unites them. That is how you make a proper assesment of a candidates worth — by knowing where they differ from each other.
Furthermore, as Hunter Baker points out in an open letter to Warren, ignoring the issue of abortion is a missed opportunity to highlight one of the greatest moral issues of our time:
If the year were 1958, instead of 2008, do you think it would be right to host such a forum and ignore segregation, knowing one candidate was ardently in favor of the separation of the races? You and I both know that it would be wrong to gloss over a glaring breach of that kind. We both know many in the church were wrong in just that way. (It is a terrible irony of history that Mr. Obama now stands with those who favor the persistent removal of an entire class of human beings from legal protection through legal fiat. How I wish it were not so.)
UPDATE: Wow…today comes news that the Democratic Party is officially lurching farther left on the abortion issue:
The Democratic Party platform of 2008 finally dropped its old abortion language (”safe, legal and rare”), which had asked that women not have abortions unless they absolutely must. The 2008 platform, just announced, says instead, “The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.”
In other words, the Democratic Party is emboldened by Barack Obama’s candidacy and the unabashed liberalism that he stands for. Now the Party platform betrays the Left’s desire to convince Americans not of the necessity of a woman’s right to choose, but rather, of the morality of the act of abortion itself.
Full steam ahead on the Leftward Express…
It would be a shame for Warren to let these developments go unnoticed.