Rick Warren Smacks Down ‘Disingenuous’ Media for ‘Bait and Switch’ Exploitation of Christian Holidays

When ABC’s Jake Tapper held up Andrew’s Sullivan’s “Forget the Church, Follow JesusNewsweek cover story on how, as Tapper described Sullivan’s premise, “American Christianity is in a ‘crisis,’ it’s too focused on politics and policy, too little on spirituality,” Pastor Rick Warren took the opportunity to air “a little personal gripe.”

He contended: “I think it’s disingenuous that magazines like Newsweek know that their circulation goes up at Christmas and Easter if they put a spiritual issue on the cover, but it’s always bait and switch. They never tell the stories, never tell the stories of what good the church is doing.”

 

Audio: MP3 clip

Warren suggested “there’s a general tendency throughout our society to distrust leadership and institutions. And not just the church but  government.” Tapper chipped in with “corporations” and “media,” prompting Warren to agree and mock Newsweek’s concern: “So this is a general trend. It’s like, this is news? This is worthy of putting on the cover?”

From Tapper’s session with Warren, recorded earlier in California for ABC’s This Week:

JAKE TAPPER: This week’s Newsweek magazine, which has a very provocative cover, has a different perspective on what ails America’s religious communities. Under the headline “Forget the Church, Follow Jesus,” Andrew Sullivan argues that American Christianity is in a “crisis,” it’s too focused on politics and policy, too little on spirituality. And that’s the same theme that was in this video by Jeff Bethke that went viral earlier this year with over 20 million views.

JEFF BETHKE: Religion might preach grace, but another thing they practice, to ridicule god’s people they did it to John the Baptist. I love the church. I love the bible. And yes, I believe in sin. But if Jesus came to your church, would they actually let him in?

TAPPER: So what is your reaction to this line of criticism from people who like faith but don’t like religion?

RICK WARREN: Well. First place, let me give a little personal gripe. I think it’s disingenuous that magazines like Newsweek know that their circulation goes up at Christmas and Easter if they put a spiritual issue on the cover, but it’s always bait and switch. They never tell the stories, never tell the stories of what good the church is doing. Never. Does the church have problems? Of course it does. Like every institution that’s made up of human beings, so there’s sin, failure, mistakes, stuff we would disavow. Of course. But, there’s a general tendency throughout our society to distrust leadership and institutions. And not just the church but  government.

TAPPER: Sure. Corporations.

WARREN: Corporations. And academics.

TAPPER: Media.

WARREN: The media. Everything like that. So this is a general trend. It’s like, this is news? This is worthy of putting on the cover?

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center